1972 Rex Mays Classic (partially found footage of USAC Championship Car Season race; 1972)

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Program for the race.

Status: Partially Found

The 1972 Rex Mays Classic (also known as the 1972 Milwaukee 150) was the fourth race of the 1972 USAC Championship Car Season. Occurring on 4th June at the Milwaukee Mile, the race would ultimately be won by polesitter Bobby Unser in an Eagle-Offenhauser, who dominated proceedings after having led 135 of the 150 laps.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1972 Rex Mays Classic was the 23rd running of the race, the annual event being held in honour of Rex Mays, a two-time AAA champion who saved fellow racer Duke Dinsmore's life during the 1948 Milwaukee 100.[1] It was one of two 1972 USAC Championship Car Season races to be held at Milwaukee Mile,[2] the other being the 1972 Tony Bettenhausen 200, which occurred on 13th August and was won by Joe Leonard in an Parnelli-Offenhauser.[3] Lasting 150 miles,[4] the Rex May Classic would commence on an annual basis until it was renamed from 1988 onwards.[5]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Bobby Unser winning the pole position with a record speed of 126.064 mph.[6][7][4] Such was the performance of the competition that Unser was among ten drivers who broke his previous track record of 122.291 mph.[6] Directly behind him were fellow Eagle-Offenhauser drivers Jerry Grant and Billy Vukovich Jr., in second and third respectively.[6][4]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1972 Rex Mays Classic commenced on 4th June.[4] Unser maintained his lead from the start, leading the first 45 laps.[4] On lap 40, Gerhardt-Offenhauser's Johnny Rutherford crashed out, the impact causing the vehicle to catch fire.[7][4] Rutherford's overalls caught fire, and he suffered first degree burns to his hands and feet, but was otherwise fortune to escape further injuries.[7] Meanwhile the race was red-flagged for 47 minutes so that the inferno could be safely tackled, leaking fuel causing the fire to spread down the backing of the turn.[7]

During the caution period beforehand, Grant assumed the lead briefly after Unser pitted, before making a pitstop himself that allowed Parnelli-Offenhauser driver Mario Andretti to lead on the restart on lap 48.[4] He maintained it until lap 61, before Unser retook the first position.[4] From there, Unser dominated the remaining 90 laps, lapping the field bar three competitors.[7][4] With pre-race favourite Grant having retired after 86 laps because of a broken turbocharger, it enabled Unser to cross the line with a 4.1 second margin to claim victory and $15,830 in prize money.[7][4] The McLaren-Offenhausers of Mark Donohue and Gary Bettenhausen finished second and third respectively.[4][7]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to IndyCar on TV, the race received live flag-to-flag coverage by the TVS Television Network, the network syndicating sports programs to 185 television stations.[8][6] But of twelve IndyCar races to have been televised by TVS, none are currently publicly available. Nevertheless, some home movie footage of the race can be viewed online.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

Silent footage of the event.
nascarman History's Top 10 Lost IndyCar Broadcasts detailing TVS Television Network's IndyCar broadcasts (0:20-0:59).

Image[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]