Mel Kenyon... Born ... A hall of fame midget car driver. He is known as the "King of the Midgets" The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America says "Many consider him to be midget car racing's greatest driver ever." Kenyon began his racing career in 1954 racing a 1937 Chevy Coupe. He totaled the car when a tire blew out. He raced modified stocks in 1955. In 1958, Mel began his career in the midgets. Kenyon's first championship was in NASCAR's Florida midget series in 1962, but he changed to USAC in the middle of the season and finished fifth in the USAC National Midget championship points. Kenyon failed to qualify for his first Indianapolis 500 in 1965. Kenyon's tenth career race in a USAC IndyCar was at Langhorne Speedway in Langhorne, Pennsylvania in June 20, 1965. Mel's engine blew up sending oil all over the car, his firesuit, and the track. He lost control of the car, hit the wall, and was knocked unconscious. Jim Hurtubise and Ralph Ligouri slid in the oily track, and ran straight into Mel's fuel tank. Kenyon suffered severe burns. Kenyon went through multiple operations at the San Antonio Burn Center, and he lost nearly all of his fingers on his left hand. Mel, his brother Don, and their father Everett designed a special glove with a rubber grommet sewn into the palm. The glove fit on Mel's hand and hooked in to the steering wheel. The trio formed a racing team called 3-K Racing, with Don as the crew chief. Kenyon returned to racing in 1966. He had twelve first or second place finishes, and finished second in the National Midget points. He qualified for his first Indianapolis 500 just eleven months after his fiery crash, and finished fifth. Kenyon has seven USAC National Midget championships, eight runner ups in the season points standings, and Top 5 point finishes in 21 of 27 seasons between 1966 and 1988. At his Motorsports Hall of Fame induction in 2003 he had 111 feature wins], 131 seconds, 107 thirds, 81 fourths, and 69 fifths, for a total of 419 Top 5 finishes. He also had 688 Top 10 finishes. The totals are for USAC National midget races only, and don't include races in the NAMARS national races, regional or local races. He had counted 380 midget total feature wins, including wins in Australia and New Zealand. three NAMARS midget championships, and over 380 midget feature wins in all.
Kenyon competed in 65 USAC Championship (IndyCar) and eight Indianapolis 500 races with a best finish of third in 1968.
Richard Petty won the NASCAR Grand National 'Gwyn Staley Memorial' on the 5/8 mile paved North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Petty's Plymouth finished 4 car lengths ahead of Fred Lorenzen's Holman-Moody Ford. 2 time GN champ Herb Thomas ended a 5 year retirement, finishing 14th. The supply of racing gas ran out just past half-way. Some crew members siphoned gas out of passenger cars. A yellow was throw on lap 250, to allow a fuel track to leave the track and get more gasoline. The truck never returned.
Johnny Mackison won the Modified Stock Car race over Gene Goodling, Ed Ortiz, Bobby Hersh and Laudon Potts at the Susquehanna Speedway, Newberrytown, PA.
Richard Petty drove away from determined bids by Benny Parsons and Friday Hassler to win the NASCAR GN 'Maryville 200' on the 1/2 mile paved Smoky Mountain Raceway in Maryville, Tennessee. Independent Hassler, who won his first career pole, led the first 52 laps in his Chevelle before Petty took over in his Plymouth. Parsons led laps 140-154 before Petty regained the lead & went on to triumph by 8 seconds over Parsons.
David Pearson drove the Wood Brothers Mercury to a 13 lap victory in the NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National 'Rebel 500' at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina . ( Click here for the race report. )
A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti drove to victory in twin 150 mile USAC Championship races at Trenton Speedway in Trenton, NJ, ending long winless streaks for both drivers. It was Andretti's first Champ car win in 3 years while Foyt's was his first in more than a season. Gordon Johncock won the pole for the races with a 168.434 mph lap, which was noteworthy because it broke Bobby Unser's streak of 4 straight poles on the on the 1.5 mile kidney shaped track. In race 1, Foyt outpulled Johncock to lead by the end of lap 1. Soon, Unser put Dan Gurney's Eagle into the lead and began pulling away while Foyt's engine began "sneezing". It looked like a runaway for Unser, but, on lap 68, Unser suddenly slowed and came into the pits with a broken gearbox. From there, Johncock, Andretti and Foyt contended for the win. Andretti was leading when the turbocharger and handling went sour on his Offenhauser powered Parnelli. Foyt went by and went on to the win ahead of Johncock and Billy Vukovich. Foyt's first Champ car win since Phoenix in October 1971 came driving with a bad back. Foyt, who originally injured his back in a 1965 Stock Car crash at Riverside, re-injured himself doing chores on his Texas ranch. It was Foyt's 9th Trenton win, but first since the tracks 1969 re-configuration. After a 1 hour, 20 minute break to allow teams to make repairs, the second 150 took to the track with 19 of the 24 race 1 starters and an alternate making the parade lap. As the pace car pulled off, Gurney's crew fired up Unser's Eagle and Bobby roared off 1/2 lap behind the field. Johncock got by Foyt in turn 1 to take the lead, but then fell behind Foyt, Vukovich and Andretti, retiring after 2 laps with a broken valve. Andretti pulled a neat manuever coming on to the front straight to take the lead. Shortly afterwards, Vukovich pulled under Andretti to re-take the lead. B. Unser had charged to 5th by lap 20 and to 3rd by lap 70 when smoke began pouring from the Eagle. 4 laps later, Unser parked with a broken piston. A struggling Foyt retired after dropping a valve 88 laps in. Andretti went on to take the win ahead of Vukovich's Eagle-Offy and Parnelli "super team" teammate Al Unser. Andretti's win broke a nearly 3 year drought, his last Champ car win having come on the Continental Divide Raceway road course in July 1970 and also was his 4th Trenton win.
Paul Dana... Born ... An American race car driver in the Indy Racing League. After competing in 3 Indycar series events, Dana suffered a spinal fracture while practicing for the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and missed the rest of the season, replaced by Jimmy Kite. He returned to the series to race for Rahal Letterman Racing after he recovered from his injuries. In the practice session for the first race of the 2006 IRL season, at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Dana collided with Ed Carpenter's disabled car after Carpenter's tire went flat, thrusting the car into retaining wall, before sliding to the bottom of the track. Paul Dana, in the Rahal-Letterman car, was told to "go low" by his spotter. Slow-motion footage showed that Paul had hit debris from Ed's car just before impact, which caused damage to the right-front suspension. ABC/ESPN's telemetry indicated Dana's car hit Carpenter's car at about 176 mph, while Scott Sharp, who was running alongside Dana, reported that he had slowed to approximately 50 mph by the time of Dana's impact. Dana was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries on March 26, 2006.
Louise Smith... Died ... She was tied for the second woman to race in NASCAR at the top level. She was known as "the first lady of racing." She went as a spectator to the her first NASCAR race at the Daytona Beach Road Course in 1949. She couldn't stand watching the races, so she entered her family's shiny new Ford coupe in the race and rolled it. Her hometown Greenville, South Carolina paper featured photos of the wreck, and the town knew about it before she got home. The race was the first race to feature three female drivers (Ethel Mobley and Sara Christian). The trio also competed later that season at the Langley Speedway. She raced from 1949 to 1956. She won 38 races in her career in numerous formats: late models, modifieds (28 victories), midgets, and sportsman. She returned in 1971 as a car owner for numerous drivers. She sponsored Ronnie Thomas' Rookie of the Year attempt in 1978. She became the first woman inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999.
Tony Stewart won the FloRacing All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 at the Virginia Motor Speedway, Jamaica, VA. Kerry Madsen finished second followed by Justin Peck, Chase Dietz, Paul McMahan, Kyle Reinhardt, Cap Henry, Zeb Wise, Tyler Courtney and Brent Marks. Click to watch the feature highlights video.