1971 Jimmy Bryan 150 (partially found footage of USAC Championship Car Season race; 1971)

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Program for the race.

Status: Partially Found

The 1971 Jimmy Bryan 150 was the inaugural race of the 1971 USAC Championship Car Season. Occurring on 27th March at the Phoenix International Raceway, the race would ultimately be won by Al Unser in a Colt-Ford, following a duel with his brother and Eagle-Offenhauser driver Bobby Unser.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1971 Jimmy Bryan 150 was the eighth running of the event, with the annual race lasting 150 miles.[1] It was one of two 1971 USAC Championship Car Season races to commence at Phoenix International Raceway, the other being the 1971 Bobby Ball 150,[2] which occurred on 21st November and was won by A.J. Foyt in a Coyote-Ford.[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 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 record speed for Phoenix.[6] Racing-Reference claims that Unser's pole speed was 132.304 mph, while The New York Times states it was 132.218 mph.[1][6] Directly behind him was fellow Eagle-Offenhauser driver Johnny Rutherford, with previous year's winner Al Unser lining up third out of 24 competitors.[1]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1971 Jimmy Bryan 150 commenced on 27th March.[1] Bobby Unser maintained his lead at the start, holding it for the first 47 lap before being overtaken by Foyt on lap 48.[1] A lap later, Gary Bettenhausen made a pitstop when suddenly his Gerhardt-Offenhauser caught fire while it was being refuelled.[6][1] While Bettenhausen escaped injury, his chief mechanic Phil Casey suffered burns.[6] He was taken to the Good Samaritan Hospital, where he was deemed to be in satisfactory condition.[6] Foyt meanwhile led 26 laps before Al Unser moved into the first position on lap 74.[1] He only maintained the lead for 10 laps when his brother retook first on lap 84.[6][1]

During Bobby Unser's latest run in the first position, Foyt was forced to retire after 93 laps as his car overheated.[1] While Bobby led for the longest consecutive duration of 56 laps, he was ultimately unable to defend the first position from Al, the latter achieving an overtake on lap 140.[6][1] From there, Al controlled proceedings, claiming victory and $11,242 in prize money.[6][1] Bobby held on to finish second, the second consecutive time the Unsers achieved a 1-2 at the Jimmy Bryan 150.[1] It was also Al's third win in four Phoenix events.[6] Swede Savage, who won the 1970 Bobby Ball 150, came home third in an Eagle-Offenhauser.[6][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.[7] The broadcast has yet to resurface, but race highlights from Car and Track remain publicly viewable.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Video[edit | edit source]

Race highlights from Car and Track.

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]