1963 Trenton 200 (lost footage of USAC Championship Car Season race; 1963)

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1963trenton2001.jpg

Program for the race.

Status: Lost

The 1963 Trenton 200 was the tenth race of the 1963 USAC Championship Car Season. Occurring on 22nd September at the Trenton Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by A.J. Foyt in a Meskowski-Offenhauser, capitalising when the Lotus-Fords of Jim Clark and Dan Gurney suffered reliability issues. The race also helped Foyt secure his third USAC Championship.

Background[edit | edit source]

As part of the 76th New Jersey State Fair, the 1963 Trenton 200 lasted 200 miles.[1] It was one of three 1963 USAC Championship Car Season races to commence at Trenton Speedway;[2] the Trenton 100 commenced on 21st April, while the Trenton 150 occurred on 28th July, both of which were won by A.J. Foyt.[3][4] Foyt therefore was seeking a clean sweep by winning the Trenton 200.[5] Trenton would continue hosting IndyCar races until 1979 before it was dropped from the schedule and demolished in 1980.[6]

Heading into the race, Foyt had the opportunity to earn his third USAC Championship.[5] However, most eyes were centred on Team Lotus' appearance at the event, with the British Formula One team entering Lotus-Fords for Dan Gurney and 1963 Formula One World Champion Jim Clark.[7][5] The performance from the Lotus throughout the Season led to Clark and Gurney being deemed the favourites to win the event.[8][7] Nevertheless, the cars had to be modified so that their exhausts were angled upwards, directing fumes away so as not to impact the traditional front-engine machines.[7] Despite the hastily-done modification, it actually enhanced the Lotus' performance further.[7]

For qualifying, Clark won the pole position with a record speed of 109.356 mph.[7][5][1] Gurney qualified second, while Roger McCluskey lined up third in a Kuzma-Offenhauser.[7][1] Foyt qualified seventh out of 26 competitors.[7][1]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1963 Trenton 200 commenced on 22nd September.[1] Clark maintained his lead from the start, and he and Gurney began to pull away from the other competitors.[7] Indeed, it appeared that nobody could contend with the Lotuses, with Clark successfully lapping everyone bar Gurney and Foyt by lap 49, while also maintaining a 12-second lead.[7][5][1] Elsewhere, Watson-Offenhauser's Roger Ward saw his title hopes end when he retired after six laps following a fuel leak.[5][7][1] Meanwhile, on lap 50, Clark made an unexpected pitstop.[7][5] He was forced to retire because of a ruptured four-inch oil hose.[7][5][1]

Gurney inherited the lead, and despite some pressure from Foyt, also seemed set to become victorious.[7][5][1] However, his race ended prematurely after 147 laps when again an oil line ruptured.[7][5][1] Thus, Foyt assumed the first position on lap 147, and controlled proceedings for the remaining 54 laps.[7][1] He therefore claimed victory and prize money around the $12,000 mark.[5][7][1] As a result of his victory and Ward's retirement, Foyt successfully gained his third USAC title.[5] His win also meant he became the first to win three major races in one year at one major speedway.[5] In second was fellow Trevis-Offenhauser driver Bud Tingelstad, who finished a lap down, while Watson-Offenhauser's Troy Ruttman took third.[5][1]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to IndyCar on TV, 45 minutes of highlights were televised by ABC on 5th October 1963 as part of its Wide World of Sports, alongside the World High-Diving Championships.[9] This broadcast has yet to publicly resurface however, and no footage of the race is currently publicly available. Nevertheless, Photos of the event, including a batch provided by Ford, can be viewed online.[7]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]