1971 Bobby Ball 150 (lost footage of USAC Championship Car Season race; 1971)

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Billboard promoting the race.

Status: Lost

The 1971 Bobby Ball 150 was the final race of the 1971 USAC Championship Car Season. Occurring on 23rd October at the Phoenix International Raceway, the race would ultimately be won by A.J. Foyt in a Coyote-Ford, his first victory in two years.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1971 Bobby Ball 150 was the 22nd running of the event, with the annual race lasting 150 miles.[1] It was one of two 1971 USAC Championship Car Season races to occur at Phoenix International Raceway, the other being the Jimmy Bryan 150,[2] which occurred on 27th March and was won by Al Unser in a Colt-Ford.[3] Named in memory of AAA driver Bobby Ball,[4] the race has ties with Phoenix events like the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix, before Phoenix races were dropped from the IndyCar schedule after 2018 following low attendance.[5]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Bobby Unser winning the pole position with a speed of 134.932 mph.[1] Directly behind him was McLaren-Offenhauser's Mark Donohue, with A.J. Foyt lining up third out of 24 competitors.[1] Foyt was seeking is first USAC win in two years, as well as to climb to second in the Championship standings, with Colt-Ford's Joe Leonard having claimed the title a month prior.[6][7]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1971 Bobby Ball 150 commenced on 23rd October.[1] Unser maintained his lead from the start, defending it for the first 26 laps.[6][1] Nevertheless, Foyt, having passed Donohue on the opening lap, nearly made it through on lap 26 before ultimately seizing the first position a lap later.[6][1] From there, he generally controlled proceedings.[6] After having led 64 laps, he made a pitstop, enabling Kuzma-Offenhauser's Roger McCluskey to take the lead.[6][1] McCluskey would lose the lead six laps later to Brabham-Offenhauser's Billy Vukovich, Jr., the latter then dropping it to Mario Andretti in a McNamara-Ford on lap 100.[1][6]

Ultimately, none could withstand the pressure from Foyt, with him passing Andretti for the lead on 108 laps, in what turned out to be the final lead change of the event.[6][1] He therefore led the remaining 43 laps to claim victory and $9,748 in prize money.[6][1] It was Foyt's first USAC Championship win since 1969, and his first on a paved track since 1968.[6] It also confirmed he would finish runners-up for that year's Championship.[6][7] McCluskey took second, with Vukovich, Jr finishing third, a lap down from Foyt.[1]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to IndyCar on TV, the race received live flag-to-flag coverage from ABC as part of its Wide World of Sports.[8] The broadcast has yet to resurface however, and no footage of the race is currently publicly available.

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]