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1967 USAC Indy Car Races in Canada

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The groundwork for the first-ever USAC Indy Car race in Canada was laid in 1966 during the Kawartha 250 USAC Stock Car race at Mosport. Canadian Billy Foster was competing in that race and also brought his Indy Car for a 10-lap demonstration. The demonstration also served as a test to see how the Indy Cars would handle Mosport. With the test a success, work began on getting USAC officials to schedule a race for the following year.


Mosport

The Indy Car visit was scheduled for June 16-17, 1967 in a 200-lap event called the Telegram Trophy Race. This was only the second time in history that the USAC Indy Cars had raced on a road course. The previous autumn they had competed at the Mount Fuji circuit in Japan.

Mario Andretti's crash in qualifying

Unfortunately for everyone involved, the weekend was filled with rain. Since the series normally only raced on ovals, there was no provision for a rain event. The rain cut into the scheduled practice time so that when the cars rolled out for qualifying the drivers still had little experience with the Mosport course. Mario Andretti crashed into the turn 10 guardrail during qualifying when he hit oil that had been dropped by Jim Hurtibise. At the end of the qualifying session only 17 cars had taken a qualifying run. The remaining 5 spots would be filled by any drivers in the top-10 USAC points. Any remaining positions would be filled by a draw. Car owner Gordon Van Liew pulled his two drivers Ronnie Bucknam and Larry Dickson from the event in protest. Bobby Unser took the pole position with a time of 1:26.22.

Race day on Satuday, June 17, 1967 was overcast and threatening rain. The day began with two races for the local racers. The first race was a 12-lap Production Sports Car event won by Al Pease. The second was also 12 laps and was for sedans. This race was won by Craig Fisher.

Lloyd Ruby's car is rolled onto the grid

After lunch, the 22 starting cars were rolled onto the grid in front of 39,500 fans. Tony Hulman, president of the Indianapolis Motors Speedway, gave the command to start engines. The rain started falling immediately after and the start of the race was put on hold. As the afternoon wore on and there was no sign of the rain letting up, a quick race was put together consisting of the production sports cars and sedans that raced earlier in the day. That race was won by Ray Gray.

Finally at 5:15 pm the race was officially postponed and rescheduled for July 1.

The event was to be split into two 40-lap, 100 mile heats. The crowd was even larger this time - over 52,000 fans in attendance. Bobby Unser started on the pole for the first heat with Lloyd Ruby along side. Some of the top drivers had not completed their qualifying two weeks before. Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Bob Harkey, Joe Leonard and Art Pollard obtained their starting positions based on their USAC points and would start at the back of the field.

Llolyd Ruby got the jump on Unser at the drop of the green flag and took the lead and held it for the first 15 laps. Ruby had to pit due to a cut tire which gave the lead to Unser. Mario Andretti snapped a half-shaft on lap 5 and spent most of the first heat in the pits getting it replaced. Foyt had rad problems and despite moving up to ninth place, was never in a position to challenge for the lead.

Mario Andretti rejoined the race on lap 38 and put in the fastest speed of the weekend at over 178 MPH. Roger McCluskey made a charge in the final six laps and made up 6 seconds on leader Bobby Unser. He didn't have enough time and ended only a car-length behind Unser for second spot. Gordon Johncock took third, Lloyd Ruby came back from his pit stop to finish fourth and Arnie Knepper was fifth.

The skies were darkening and were looking very threatening so the time between heats was reduced. The cars were quickly refueled, new tires put on and lined up again for the second heat. The starting order of the second heat was the finishing order of the first heat. That meant that Bobby Unser and Roger McCluskey would start on the front row.

Bobby Unser leads the way in turn 10 during the second heat.

The second heat was quickly under way and Bobby Unser took the lead. The rain started falling on lap two and the yellow flag came out. The cars held position for the next four laps and on lap six the race was red-flagged and the checkered was shown.

Unser was the overall winner of the event and picked up $17,750 for his win. Roger McCluskey was second and Gordon Johncock, third.

After the race Bobby Unser defended USAC's decision to call the event, "We try to give the people good, hard racing. We feel we can't do that in the rain. Sure, we could run in the rain, but it wouldn't be a race."


Admission Prices for this Event
General Admission: $5.00
Paddock Access: $5.00
Grandstand Seat: $2.00

Lloyd Ruby
The drivers wait for the start.
Bobby Unser
Program Cover



Telegram Trophy Race - Heat 1
July 1, 1967

Fin
Start
Num
Driver Chassis-Engine
Laps
Status
1
1
6
Bobby Unser Eagle-Ford
40
Running
2
10
12
Roger  McCluskey Eagle-Ford
40
Running
3
3
3
Gordon Johncock Gerhardt-Ford
40
Running
4
2
25
Lloyd Ruby Mongoose-Ford
40
Running
5
5
20
Arnie Knepper Mongoose-Ford
40
Running
6
6
5
Al Unser Lola-Ford
40
Running
7
17
14
A.J. Foyt Eagle-Ford
40
Running
8
9
90
Jim Hurtabise Watson-Ford
39
Running
9
16
16
Art Pollard Gerhardt-OffySc
39
Running
10
18
4
Joe Leonard Eagle-Ford
39
Running
11
12
33
Rick Muther Lola-OffySc
38
Running
12
13
54
Wally Dallenbach Huffaker-OffySc
38
Running
13
22
10
Bud Tinglestad Gerhardt-Ford
38
Running
14
11
45
Johnny Rutherford Eagle-Ford
38
Running
15
7
41
Carl Williams BRP-Ford
37
Running
16
21
35
Ralph Liguori Watson-Ford
29
Running
17
8
78
Jerry Grant Eagle-Ford
25
Spun out
18
19
57
Bob Harkey Gerhardt-Offy
17
Oil leak
19
20
22
Larry Dickson Lotus-Ford
10
Fuel problems
20
14
96
Gary Congdon Eisert-Chevrolet
6
Spun out
21
15
1
Mario Andretti Hawk-Ford
3
Broken half shaft
22
4
29
Bob Hurt Gerhardt-OffySc
2
Broken rod
-
NS
2
Jim McElreath Moore
-
-
NS
23
Ronnie Bucknam Gerhardt-Ford
-
-
NS
98
Ronnie Duman Shrike
-

Telegram Trophy Race - Heat 2
July 1, 1967

Fin
Start
Num
Driver Chassis-Engine
Laps
Status
1
1
6
Bobby Unser Eagle-Ford
6
Running
2
2
12
Roger  McCluskey Eagle-Ford
6
Running
3
3
3
Gordon Johncock Gerhardt-Ford
6
Running
4
4
25
Lloyd Ruby Mongoose-Ford
6
Running
5
5
5
Al Unser Lola-Ford
6
Running
6
6
20
Arnie Knepper Mongoose-Ford
6
Running
7
7
14
A.J. Foyt Eagle-Ford
6
Running
8
10
33
Joe Leonard Eagle-Ford
6
Running
9
9
4
Jim Hurtabise Watson-Ford
6
Running
10
11
33
Rick Muther Lola-OffySc
6
Running
11
20
1
Mario Andretti Hawk-Ford
6
Running
12
12
54
Wally Dallenbach Huffaker-OffySc
6
Running
13
13
10
Bud Tinglestad Gerhardt-Ford
6
Running
14
14
45
Johnny Rutherford Eagle-Ford
6
Running
15
15
41
Carl Williams Eagle-Ford
6
Running
16
10
22
Larry Dickson BRP-Ford
6
Running
17
18
57
Bob Harkey Gerhardr-Ford
6
Running
18
21
23
Ronnie Bucknam Gerhardt-Ford
6
Running
19
16
35
Ralph Liguori Watson-Ford
6
Running
20
17
78
Jerry Grant Eagle-Ford
4
Throttle
21
8
16
Art Pollard Gerhardt-OffySc
3
Hit by rock


Le Circuit Mont-Tremlant

Pace lap at Tremblant

The USAC Indy Cars returned to Canada a little over a month later for the Labatt Indy at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant on August 6.

Bobby Unser took the pole with a time of 1:39.38. Like Mosport, the Tremblant race would be run in two heats. The heats were 36 laps each this time. There were about 41,000 fans in attendance.

One of the supporting races that morning was for production sports cars. Bill Brack started at the back of the 22 car field and charged to a second place finish behind winner Francis Favreau.

The start of the first Indy Car heat was delayed by an hour to clean the track of oil left over from the supporting races. In the first heat, Mario Andretti started third but took the lead on the first corner. He held the lead for the rest of the race. Bobby Unser was running in second until his engine blew on lap 10. Bill Vukovich, Jr dropped out due to a broken fuel line. Bruce Jacobi broke a front axle at the entrance to Namerow Corner and one his wheels bounced into the crowd, slightly injuring two spectators.

Mario Andretti

Only seven cars finished the first heat on the lead lap. Following winner Andretti were A.J. Foyt, Ronnie Buckham, Lloyd Ruby, Al Unser, Joe Leonard and Gordon Johncock.

The second heat was lined up according to the finishing order of the first heat. Bobby Unser was able to enter the second heat when he borrowed Johnny Rutherford's car. Rutherford loaned the car so Unser would have a chance at maintaining his USAC points lead.

Andretti dominated the second heat as well, eventually taking a 30 second victory over A.J. Foyt. Lloyd Ruby was third. Andretti picked up $13,000 for his win.




Tremblant - Heat 1
August 6, 1967

Fin
Start
Num
Driver Chassis-Engine
Laps
Status
1
3
1
Mario Andretti Hawk-Ford
36
Running
2
7
14
A.J. Foyt Coyote-Ford
36
Running
3
2
23
Ronnie Bucknam Gerhardt-Ford
36
Running
4
4
25
Lloyd Ruby Mongoose-Ford
36
Running
5
12
5
Al Unser Lola-For
36
Running
6
6
20
Joe Leonard Mongoose-Ford
36
Running
7
8
3
Gordon Johncock Gerhardt-Ford
36
Running
8
11
54
Wally Dallenbach Huffaker-Offy
35
Running
9
10
22
Larry Dickson Lotus-Ford
35
Running
10
16
29
Bob Hurt Gerhardt-Offy
35
Running
11
19
33
Rick Muther Lola-OffySc
35
Running
12
13
2
Jim McElreath Moore-Ford
35
Running
13
17
85
Al Miller Gerhardt-OffySc
35
Running
14
14
41
Carl Williams BRP-Ford
35
Running
15
21
47
Johnny Rutherford Eagle-Ford
34
Running
16
22
96
Gary Congdon Eisert-Ford
32
Running
17
23
90
Jim Hurtibise Watson-Ford
29
Running
18
5
78
Jerry Grant Eagle-Ford
27
Running
19
18
67
Jim Malloy Vollstedt-Ford
20
Blown engine
20
20
73
Bruce Jacobi Gerhardt-OffySc
16
Slid off track
21
15
10
Bud Tinglestad Gerhardt-Ford
13
Rear end
22
1
6
Bobby Unser Eagle-Ford
10
Blown engine
23
24
98
Billy Vukovich Shrike-OffySc
8
Running
24
9
12
Roger McClusky Eagle-Ford
4
Accident

Tremblant - Heat 2
August 6, 1967

Fin Start Num Driver Chassis-Engine Laps Status
1
1
1
Mario Andretti Hawk-Ford
36
Running
2
2
14
A.J. Foyt Coyote-Ford
36
Running
3
4
25
Lloyd Ruby Mongoose-Ford
36
Running
4
7
3
Gordon Johncock Gerhardt-Ford
36
Running
5
5
5
Al Unser Lola-Ford
36
Running
6
6
20
Joe Leonard Mongoose-Ford
36
Running
7
16
90
Jim Hurtibise Watson-Ford
35
Running
8
17
78
Jerry Grant Eagle-Ford
35
Running
9
10
29
Bob Hurt Gerhardt-Offy
34
Running
10
11
33
Rick Muther Lola-OffySc
34
Running
11
18
98
Billy Vukovich Shrike-OffySc
31
Running
12
3
23
Ronnie Bucknam Gerhardt-Ford
31
Ignition
13
19
47
Bobby Unser Eagle-Ford
30
Fuel pickup
14
13
85
Al Miller Gerhardt-OffySc
26
Water leak
15
8
54
Wally Dallenbach Huffaker-Offy
23
Crankshaft
16
12
2
Jim McElreath Moore-Ford
17
Spun off track
17
14
41
Carl Williams BRP-Ford
15
Broken valve
18
9
22
Larry Dickson Lotus-Ford
10
Spun off track
19
15
96
Gary Congdon Eisert-Ford
2
Spun off track
-
DNS
67
Jim Malloy Vollstedt-Ford
-
-
DNS
73
Bruce Jacobi Gerhardt-OffySc
-
-
DNS
10
Bud Tinglestad Gerhardt-Ford
-
-
DNS
47
Johnny Rutherford Eagle-Ford
-
-
DNS
12
Roger McClusky Eagle-Ford
-


The grid
Jerry Grant leads Lloyd Ruby
Mario Andretti
Rick Muther (33), Joe Leonard (20)