1974 Trentonian 200 (partially found footage of USAC Championship Car Season race; 1974)

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Program for the race.

Status: Partially Found

The 1974 Trentonian 200 (also known as the 1974 Trenton 200) was the fifth race of the 1974 USAC Championship Car Season. Occurring on 7th April at the Trenton Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by Bobby Unser in an Eagle-Offenhauser. The race is known for its record high attrition rate, with only four of the 19 competitors finishing the event.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1974 Trentonian 200 was the 13th running of the event, with the annual race lasting just over 200 miles.[1] It was one of three 1974 USAC Championship Car Season races to occur at Trenton Speedway;[2] the others were Heats 1 and 2 of the Trenton 300, which both occurred on 22nd September and were won by Coyote-Foyt's A.J. Foyt and Bobby Unser respectively. which occurred on 24th September and was won by Bobby Unser.[3][4] Trenton would host IndyCar races until 1979 before being dropped from the schedule, with the circuit being demolished in 1980.[5]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Mario Andretti winning the pole position in a new Parnelli-Offenhauser with a speed of 168.067 mph.[6][1] Directly behind him was King-Offenhauser's Tom Sneva, with Eagle-Offenhauser driver Al Unser lining up third.[1] Bobby Unser qualified fifth out of 19 competitors.[1] The event's attrition rate began even before the race commenced, as Foyt and Gary Bettenhausen were forced to withdraw after wrecking their cars during practice.[6][1]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1974 Trentonian 200 commenced on 7th April.[1] Andretti maintained his lead from the start, defending the first position for the first 33 laps before being passed by Eagle-Offenhauser's Gordon Johncock after he made his first pit stop.[6][1] Johncock led until he was passed by Unser.[1] During this time period, David "Salt" Walther made a pitstop in a McLaren-Offenhauser.[6] Suddenly, the fuel system collapsed, which ignited the car.[6][1] Walther was unable to escape by the time firefighters arrived.[6] While the usage of foam extinguishers put out the fire, foam ended up within Walther's helmet, leaving him unable to breathe.[6] Ultimately, he recovered from the incident.[6]

After 73 laps, Andretti retired following a piston failure, leaving just eight vehicles on track.[6][1] Three laps later, Johncock repassed Unser for first.[1] But after 104 laps, Johncock made his final pitstop, enabling Unser to retake the first position.[6][1] This turned out to be the final lead change of the race, as a crash from Johnny Rutherford's McLaren-Offenhauser brought out a caution on lap 112, leaving Unser's position secure as Johncock among others were forced to conform to pace car speed.[6][1] From there, Unser controlled proceedings, leading the final 31 laps to claim victory and $11,666 in prize money.[6][1] Johncock finished second, while fellow Eagle-Offenhauser driver Billy Vukovich, Jr. was a lap down in third.[1][6] Jimmy Caruthers, also driving an Eagle-Offenhauser, finished fourth, becoming the only other driver to finish the event.[1][6]

Post-race, Unser stated "It just happened to be one of those days, I didn't know where they all were. When I came out of the pits, I was upfront behind the pace car and when I looked behind me, there was no one there."[6] The New York Times noted that the race broke the highest attrition record for USAC events, with the previous record holder, the 1970 California 500, having eight finishers.[7][6]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to IndyCar on TV, the race received live flag-to-flag coverage from ABC as part of its ABC Championship Auto Racing.[8] The broadcast has yet to resurface, although silent fan-recorded footage of the event can be found online.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Video[edit | edit source]

Silent footage of the event.

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]