1969 Rex Mays 150

Art Pollard’s first victory on the Championship Trail makes it three in a row for Andy Granatelli

Magazine and articles courtesy of Mike Pollard

Cover of October 1969 Auto Racing Magazine in which following articles appeared.

Notice in lower right photo Art plants a smooch on car owner Andy Granatelli who, a week prior, planted a kiss on Mario Andretti for winning the Indy 500.

Text by Donald Davidson – Article published in the Oct. 1969 issue of Auto Racing Magazine of the World’s Greatest Sport.

Art Pollard of Medford, Oregon joined a select group of forty men when he won the Milwaukee 150-mile USAC National Championship race on the weekend following the Indianapolis “500”.

Art’s victory made it three in a row for the red STP sponsored cars headed by STP President Anthony Granatelli. But Pollard did not win in the car he qualified. Starting fifth in the 24-car starting field, the driveshaft in Art’s STP Oil Treatment Special broke as he was entering the backstretch from the second turn on the first lap. He went into a spin and started a chain reaction accident that was to eliminate 10 cars.

Gary Bettenhausen figured in one of the most spectacular accidents ever witnessed in a rear-engine machine. He ran over the wheel of another car and flipped over four times, landing upside down. Miraculously, he escaped without injury, which must certainly serve as a tribute to the safety features that are required on USAC Championship cars.

The accident brought out the red flag to halt the race until the track could be cleared of wrecked cars. During this time it was decided that Pollard should take over the STP car that had been qualified by Greg Weld.

Since the accident had occurred before a single lap had been run, a complete restart was called for. The front two rows, consisting of Indy winner Mario Andretti and Jim Malloy in row one and A.J. Foyt and Lloyd Ruby in row two, lined up as they had originally qualified and, as expected, Andretti led at the start.

On the seventh lap both Foyt and his teammate, Roger McCluskey, moved by Malloy who was driving the Vel’s Parnelli Jones Ford Special that Al Unser was to have driven at Indianapolis prior to his motorcycling accident in May.

On lap 12 McCluskey edged around Foyt and set after the front running Andretti. Ruby pulled into the pits with a fire in his engine compartment. It was extinguished with little damage but “Rube” was done for the day. McCluskey began to close in on Andretti and was running less than two seconds back at one point.

In the meantime Pollard, who had to start last since he had taken over the other car for the restart, was moving up. By the 43rd lap he had passed Mike Mosley and was running fifth. McCluskey made a quick stop for fuel, allowing Foyt to regain second spot. Pollard was right on his tail and at 65 laps had bounced Foyt back to third again.

Johnny Rutherford, driving an excellent race, moved by his fellow Texan 12 laps later, but Foyt made a battle out of it and got third spot back.

On the 87th lap Andretti’s engine began to sound sick and Pollard closed in fast. On the 89th lap Pollard passed his teammate and assumed the lead. Andretti kept on going but dropped behind first Foyt, then McCluskey. On the 101st lap Pollard lapped Andretti, but then Andretti began to pick up speed and seemed to have solved any problems he had had.

Both McCluskey and Foyt stopped for fuel but Roger stalled and could not be restarted. Andretti moved up as Foyt made his stop and ran third behind Pollard and Rutherford. Mario caught John, and on the 139th lap, just 11 laps from the finish, Mario moved back into second. Rutherford began to slow and it was determined that he was low on fuel. Andretti soon had the same problem and both of them coasted slowly into the pits. Andretti’s car stalled. They restarted it, but the engine died again and this time it was for good. Rutherford got restarted but Foyt, Malloy and Bud Tinglestad had slipped by. Malloy caught Foyt in the closing stages and took second place. With Andretti stalled in the pits, Pollard continued the final laps at a reduced pace for he too was low on fuel and the engine was sputtering in the turns.

Pollard made it to the finish line to win the 150-mile race at a record average speed of 112.157 mph.

Andretti finished seventh but still remained far ahead in the USAC Championship point standings with 1490 against the 895 earned by Bobby Unser, the defending Champion. Unser was one of the 10 people who were eliminated on the opening lap and therefore went pointless on this day.

Following Milwaukee, the top ten in the point standings were as follows:

1. Mario Andretti – 1490
2. Bobby Unser – 895
3. Dan Gurney – 800
4. Mel Kenyon – 615
5. Lloyd Ruby – 530
6. Jim Malloy – 500
7. A.J. Foyt – 460
8. Wally Dallenbach – 440
9. Joe Leonard – 400
10. Gordon Johncock – 400

The top seven finishers at Milwaukee on this day were:

1. #57 Art Pollard
2. #15 Jim Malloy
3. #6 A.J. Foyt
4. #31 Bud Tinglestad
5. #36 Johnny Rutherford
6. #90 Mike Mosley
7. #2 Mario Andretti

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Judy is an author, speaker and publishing consultant. She is the daughter of Art Pollard.

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The Life and Legacy of a Gentleman Racer.
Request an autographed copy.

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