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USAC Road Racing Part 1

Finding a home in Harry Heuer’s Meister Brauser Scarab, Augie Pabst emerged as USAC’s road racing champion for 1959. Photo: Bob Tronolone.

Although it has nearly been forgotten now, in the late 1950s and early 1960s there was a professional road racing series that produced memorable races, fine drivers, and worthy champions. This was back in the days when road racing was ruled by the Sports Car Club of America, and at that time the SCCA was lily pure. No money, no professionalism of any sort. USAC, the United States Auto Club, which had taken over oval track racing when the AAA withdrew after the 1955 season, saw an opportunity to expand into the road racing realm. The opportunity they saw was one of money. The offering of prize money would separate their series from those of the amateur SCCA, and, they hoped, let them seize control of all road racing.

While prize money was not permitted in the strictly amateur SCCA events, there were loopholes. The 12 Hours of Sebring (sanctioned by the free standing Automobile Racing Club of Florida) was exempted from this ban, as were Nassau and the rest of the world. Thus, drivers could win prize money, but not in the USA, save Sebring. This, of course, was circumvented in a number of ways, such as Chuck Daigh famously running USAC stock car races under the nom de corse of “Charlie George.”

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