Art Pollard Racing in 1968
Some Stats are from Motorsport.com
March 17, 1968 – In qualifying for the California 200 at Hanford, Bobby Unser broke Art Pollard’s track record and started on the Pole. Art started his #11 Thermo-King Gerhardt in the front row next to Bobby Unser. Art led a total of 10 laps prior to crashing on lap 120 of the 134 lap race. Art was credited with the 16th finishing position and was awarded $569.00. Gordon Johncock won the event.
March 31, 1968 – Road racing at Las Vegas in the Stardust 150. Art started 12th and finished a respectable 8th in the Thermo-King Gerhardt with Ford power. He was awarded 75 Championship points and $983.00. Bobby Unser won the race.
April 7, 1968 – On a hot and sunny day in Phoenix, Art moved up from the 16th starting spot to finish 5th in the Jimmy Bryan Memorial race. Art recieved 150 Championship points and $1,061.00. Bobby Unser was again the victor.
April 21, 1968 – In a televised race from Trenton, Art started the Thermo-King Offy 12th and finished 13th when he spun out after completing 56 laps. He was awarded $594.00 and missed any Championship points by one position. Bobby Unser won this event also.
Photo courtesy of Mike Pollard
May 1968 – Art is shown above sitting in the 1967 STP Turbine, known as “Silent Sam”, which was reconfigured to meet 1968 USAC rules concerning turbine powered cars. Neither Art nor Joe Leonard could get the Turbine up to adequate speed and shortly after this photo was taken, Joe Leonard crashed the car heavily in turn one and it never raced again. Notice Art is still wearing his Thermo-King helmet in the photo.
© 2002 IMS – Photo courtesy of Artemis Images.
May 30, 1968 – The Indianapolis 500. After being unable to get the Thermo-King Special into the 500, Art was given a chance in the wedge shaped 4WD STP Lotus Type 56 Turbine #20 (shown above) after assigned driver Jackie Stewart stepped down with a fractured wrist he suffered in a formula 2 practice crash in Spain. Art was offered a $50,000.00 signing bonus from Andy Granatelli and Andy bought out Art’s contract with Gerhardt.
Art teamed up with 1966 Indy 500 winner Graham Hill #70, and motorcycle ace and 1968 Indy pole sitter Joe Leonard in the STP Turbines. Art Pollard set fast practice time of the day on May 20th with a speed of 168.099 mph. Hill crashed after 110 laps. Art Pollard’s fuel shaft broke 3 laps prior to Joe Leonard’s fuel shaft failure. Art placed 13th again, behind Leonard after starting 11th.
Again, Art missed Championship points by one position. Art was awarded $12,833.00. As usual, Bobby Unser won this race also. A side note to this is that Gary Bettenhausen took over the Thermo-King #11. Gary qualified the car 22nd and finished 24th after hitting debris due to Al Unser’s crash. Formula One driver Mike Spence was killed earlier in the month when a wheel folded up on impact with the wall and hit him in the helmet. Spence was driving an identical STP Lotus Turbine.
June 9, 1968 – The Rex Mays 150 at the Milwaukee mile. Art again drove the #20 STP Lotus Turbine. He started the wedge in 3rd spot, led lap 25, and finished 16th after completing 81 laps due to a fuel leak. Art was awarded $739.00. Hardluck driver Lloyd Ruby was the race winner and sadly, driver Ronnie Duman lost his life on lap 2 of the event. Ronnie was the driver that bumped Art from 33rd starting spot in Art’s first attempt at the Indy 500.
June 15, 1968 – Art crashed the Bryant Heating & Cooling Vollstedt Ford in practice and then qualified the #3 Jack Adams Aircraft – Wynn’s Lola Ford in the 13th starting spot. In the Telegraph Trophy 200, at Mosport, Art finished 14th after an oil leak and was awarded $655.00. Dan Gurney was the race winner.
June 23, 1968 – Langhorne, PA. Art started 3rd and finished 18th after the magneto went bad on the #21 Bryant Heating & Cooling Vollstedt Ford. Art was awarded $331.00 in prize money. Gordon Johncock was the race winner.
Photo courtesy of Mike Pollard
July 7, 1968 – Back in the #20 STP Lotus Turbine (shown above) for the Inaugural Rocky Mountain 150 an Castle Rock Raceway in Colorado. Art qualified 12th and finished 5th a lap down from winner A.J. Foyt. Art was awarded 150 Championship points and $1,124.00.
July 21, 1968 – On the road course at IRP, Art qualified the Bryant Heating & Cooling Vollstedt Ford 13th and finished 7th in the first heat race. In heat #2, Art finished in 9th. His combined Championship points were 100 and his prize money was $666.00. Al Unser was the race winner.
July 28, 1968 – One week later, at Langhorne again, Art qualified the Bryant Heating & Cooling Vollstedt Ford 9th but was eliminated from the race on the first lap after crashing with Johnny Rutherford. Art was awarded $47.00 in prize money.
August 18, 1968 – A pole position with a new track record of 119.245 mph at the Milwaukee Mile in the #20 STP Lotus Turbine. Art led a total of 83 laps, more than double of any other laps leaders, but was forced out of the race after completing 179 laps with brake failure. Art won $1,039.00 and Lloyd Ruby grabbed his 2nd victory of the season.
September 2, 1968 – On the dirt in DuQuoin, Illinois Art qualified the #31 McClure Plastics Vollstedt Offy 14th and finished 14th after he brought out the second and final yellow flag for a crash on lap 71. He as awarded $456.00 for his efforts. Mario Andretti was the race winner.
September 7, 1968 – Back in the dirt and back in the points at the Hoosier 100 in Indianapolis. Art qualified the #31 McClure Plastics Vollstedt Offy 17th and finished 10th a lap down to A.J. Foyt. Art received 30 Championship points and $1,405.00.
September 22, 1968 – A top ten turbine at Trenton. Art qualified the #20 STP Lotus Turbine 6th and finished 10th after a left rear suspension broke after 164 laps. He won 60 Championship points and $1,142.00. Mario Andretti was the race winner.
September 29, 1968 – In the Sacramento dirt Art scored 30 more Championship points with another 10th place finish driving the qualified the #31 McClure Plastics Vollstedt Offy again. Art won $608.00 and A.J. Foyt was king of the dirt again that day.
(Back row, left to right) Larry Dickson, Gene Hartley, Art Pollard, Al Unser, Coach Cleon Reynolds, Bob Harkey, Roger McCluskey & Johnny Rutherford.
(Front row, left to right) Sam Sessions, Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser, Rodger Ward, A.J. Foyt & Billy Vukovich.
October 3, 1968 – Bob Hurt Benefit, Indianapolis, Indiana – It was a sight that will remain in the memories of all who were present, for many years to come.
The USAC 500 All-Stars basketball team challenged the PERT team (Press, Entertainment, Radio and TV) to an exhibition game at the Indianapolis Coliseum on Thursday night October 3, with the proceeds going to the USAC Benevolent Fund, to be used torward the rehabilitation of injured driver Bob Hurt, who watched from the sidelines. Almost 8,000 people were on hand for the game, which raised over $13,000.00 from ticket sales and other contributions.
The game consisted of four 5 minute quarters which were highlighted by some of the most unconventional basketball ever witnessed.
Mario Andretti climbed on Roger McCluskey’s shoulders for a better chance at reaching the basket; Referees Dave Overpeck and Pat Vidan gave the All-Stars a ten yard penalty for kicking a field goal and there was some confusion when a ball with no air in it was introduced into the game.
There were a number of wrestling matches during the evening. At one point A.J. Foyt was attacked by three members of the press team and almost disappeared from view. There was a short struggle before A.J. emerged with the ball still tucked under his arm. Announcer Sid Collins pointed out to the crowd that choking of opponents would not be allowed beyond two minutes.
The game was about to end with the All-Stars leading 7-4, when every player on the sidelines came onto the floor bringing a few “spare” balls with them to help boost the score, and the proceedings ended with a custard pie fight involving the entire company.
Indy winner Bobby Unser suffered some of his recent racing luck and was out in “warm ups” with a sprained ankle.
USAC would like to thank everyone who participated or helped toward the success of the evening. Special thanks should go to Sports Headliners, members of the news media for their coverage, the Pacers management, Lew Hinchman, for the uniforms and Bill Marvel, who was the driving force behind the whole program.
October 13, 1968 – Art teamed up with Al Unser driving the #24 Retzloff Chemical Lola Ford for the running of the inaugural race at Brooklyn, Michigan. Art started 14th and finshed 6th. He received 101 Championship points and $3,206.00. Ronnie Bucknam was the inaugural race winner.
November 3, 1968 – Art was unable to qualify the #20 STP Lotus Turbine for the Hanford 250 due to a broken differential.
November 17, 1968 – Phoenix, AZ. saw Art start on the outside pole next to Mario Andretti. Art led the first 13 laps, which enabled him to miss the crash which involved pole sitter Mario and third place driver A.J. Foyt. Art went on to lead a total of 40 laps this day. Unfortunately the #20 would finish in position 20 after only 47 laps, due to a broken universal joint. Art claimed $671.00 of the prize money and Gary Bettenhausen went on to win the race.
December 1, 1968 – Tangling Turbines in the Rex Mays 300 at Riverside. In the final race of the 1968 season and of the turbine era, Art qualified the STP Lotus Turbine 10th but crashed after he was hit by teammate Mario Andretti in Joe Leonard’s #60 STP Turbine on the 63rd lap, eliminating both cars. Art finished 16th and Mario finished 17th. Dan Gurney went on to win and Art won $800.00.
1968 – Art Pollard also raced in 7 USAC Stock Car events this year driving the #96 1968 Ford of Jim and Jerry’s Service out of Milwaukee (shown above). He had one 5th place, an 8th, and a 10th and ended up 18th in the standings with 325 points and $3,391.00 in total prize money.
Andy Granatelli talking things over with his drivers, Joe Leonard and Art.
Pollard Family Collection
1968 Video Gallery
1. Robin Miller’s 2016 Christmas Gifts Suggestions including Art Pollard: The Life and Legacy of a Gentleman Racer by Bob Kehoe
2. 1968 Indy 500, The Classics
3. 1968 STP Lotus 56 Turbine Indy 500 Car