THIS DAY IN MOTORSPORTS
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JANUARY 21st



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JANUARY 21

1923
Jud Larson... Born ... He was a hard-drinking, hard-driving racer, a colorful character from the days when few drivers survived to retire, and roll cages were for sissies. Larson drove in the USAC Championship Car series, racing in the 1956-1959 and 1964-1965 seasons with 53 starts, including the 1958 and 1959 Indianapolis 500 races. He finished in the top ten 38 times, with 7 victories. He had a 27-year career, competing in hundreds of races. He spent his early years racing in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa on the half mile dirt bullrings that spawned many fierce competitions in the post war years. In 1964 he broke into the USAC sprint ranks, proving he was a serious competitor . In his first year in the ranks, he won six out of 19 sprint races and finished a strong second in the rugged sprint division point standings. In 1965 he won four of the first six sprint races and led the points standings for more than half the season, but mechanical ailments hit during the last half of the season and he slid to ninth in the final standings. In the '66 season, Jud was once again leading the sprint division until the night of June 11 at Reading Speedway in Reading, Pennsylvania. During that race Jud Larson and Red Riegel were running side by side going into the first turn. There was contact between the two cars and both started flipping. Jud Larson's sprinter ended up upside down on the guard rail with Red Reigel's, which was also upside down a little further down the track. The crash killed both drivers. Jud Larson was a very popular personality, who was always surrounded by autograph hunters win or lose.
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1942
Ernie Saxton... Born ... Columnist, Motorsports Marketing and President of the Eastern Motorsports Press Association
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1951
Troy Ruttman won the 30 lap Pacific Coast AAA Sprint Car race at the Carrell Speedway, Gardena, CA.
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1967
Bobby Hamilton wins the Three Quarter Midget feature at the indoor Atlantic City Convention Hall.
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1968
Dan Gurney, overcoming a blown tire and a resultant long pit stop, won the NASCAR Grand National Motor Trend 500 at Riverside International Raceway for the fifth time. Gurney took the lead for good on the 160th lap, going on to take the Wood Brothers Ford under the checkered flag 36 seconds ahead of David Pearson. Parnelli Jones, Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough rounded out a Ford top five sweep. Gurney led Jones by 52 seconds when a rear tire blew on lap 145. The pit stop took 1 minute, 25 seconds when chunks of rubber had to be removed from around the rear axle. Gurney re-entered the race in third, but it only took him 15 laps to regain the lead. A new safety device made it's first appearance as a number of cars carried a screen over the driver's side window. Gurney drove #121, marking the last time that a car with a three digit number won a NASCAR GN race. He also earned victories there in 1963, '64, '65 and '66.
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1973
Mark Donohue drove Roger Penske's AMC Matador to victory in the NASCAR Grand National Western 500 at Riverside International Raceway. The Matador was equipped with disc brakes on all four wheels. Donohue, who led 138 of the 191 total laps, took the lead to stay on lap 117 and won by more than a lap. Bobby Allison's Chevy was 2nd with GN West champ Ray Elder, Bobby Unser and GN West driver Jim Insolo rounding out the top five. The win was the first and only NASCAR GN win for Donohue, and came in only his fifth NASCAR start.
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1989
Robby Gordon won the Grand National sport truck race in the season opener of the Mickey Thompson Off-Road Championship Gran Prix series at the Anaheim Stadium, Anaheim, CA. ( Click here for the race report. )
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