1966 Jimmy Bryan Memorial (lost footage of USAC Championship Car Season race; 1966)

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Program for the race.

Status: Lost

The 1966 Jimmy Bryan Memorial was the inaugural race of the 1966 USAC Championship Car Season. Occurring on 20th March at the Phoenix International Raceway, the race would ultimately be won by Jim McElreath in a Brabham-Ford, controlling the race after Brawner-Ford's Mario Andretti spun out.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1966 Jimmy Bryan Memorial was the third running of the event, with the annual race lasting 150 miles.[1] It was one of two 1966 USAC Championship Car Season races to commence at Phoenix International Raceway, the other being the 1966 Bobby Ball Memorial,[2] which occurred on 20th November and was won by Mario Andretti.[3] The race, named in honour of 1958 Indianapolis 500 winner Jimmy Bryan,[4] would have ties with Phoenix events like the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix, before Phoenix events were dropped from the IndyCar schedule after 2018 following low attendance.[5]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Andretti winning the pole position with a speed of 122.075 mph.[1] Directly behind him was previous year's winner Don Branson in a Gerhardt-Ford, with Gerhardt-Offenhauser driver Gordon Johncock lining up third.[1] Jim McElreath qualified fifth out of 23 competitors.[1]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1966 Jimmy Bryan Memorial commenced on 20th March.[1] Andretti held his lead from the start, holding it for the first 46 laps.[1] During this time period, Branson retired after 37 laps following an ignition failure.[1] On lap 47, McElreath passed Andretti, in what turned out to be the sole lead change.[1] A lap later, Andretti spun out of the race.[1] This enabled McElreath to generally control proceedings, thus claiming victory and $3,602 in prize money.[1] Roger Ward finished second in a Lola-Offenhauser, being the only other driver on the lead lap.[1] Chuck Hulse took third in a Blum-Offenhauser.[1]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to IndyCar on TV, 30 minutes of highlights were televised by CBS on 27th March 1966 as part of its CBS Sports Spectacular, alongside international water-skiing championships.[6] This broadcast has yet to resurface however, and no footage of the race is currently publicly available. Nevertheless, photos of the race are viewable online.

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]