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USAC Road Racing – Part TWO

Ken Miles emerged as USAC’s 1961 road racing champion driving this Estes-Zipper Porsche 718 RS 61 despite claiming only one victory. Photo: Bob Tronolone

USAC Road Racing Fades as the SCCA Overcomes Its Aversion to Racing for Money

When we left the USAC road racing championship last month it was coming off its most successful season yet, with 11 races producing nine different winners, but the schedule for 1960 would feature only five races, down considerably from the previous year. Two were at Riverside, both newspaper-sponsored, as was the new date at Laguna Seca. The other two races were new events at Continental Divide and Road America, which would be the farthest east the series would venture this year. All the other events from 1959 dropped off the calendar, mostly victims of promoters having flat wallets.

The Los Angeles Examiner and Los Angeles Herald-Express newspapers co-sponsored April’s season opener, moved to Riverside from the previous year’s location at Pomona. A good field was attracted, headed by Carroll Shelby in a new Maserati T61 from Camoradi USA. Meister Brauser had purchased the second Scarab from Leader Card and now had two, driven by Augie Pabst and Lance Reventlow. The promoters tried to gather as many names as they could, billing the event as a “Race of Champions.” Indeed, World Champion Jack Brabham was present, in a somewhat tired Cooper Monaco. USAC’s Indycar champion, Rodger Ward, was also present, but without a decent ride. He tried in vain to gain speed in four different clapped-out specials, finally winding up in an old Kurtis-Chevy. Fortunately, a good number of fine West Coast drivers were present in some fast equipment, but Reventlow did not make the start after the oil pressure in the Scarab’s Chevy mill disappeared in qualifying.

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