1962 NICHELS PONTIAC
24-HOUR ENDURANCE RUNS
At Indianapolis and Darlington
"The 24-Hour Challenge"
Many racing fans who even remember back to the 1992 NASCAR "tire tests" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (held in anticipation of the first Brickyard 400 in 1994), probably don't realize that stock cars actually ran at Indianapolis over 30 years before! In the fall of 1961, one of the legendary mechanics and car builders in racing history set out to set a series of new world records for stock cars at both Indianapolis and Darlington, two of the most famous and respected racing facilities in America. Hall Of Famer Ray Nichels of Nichels Engineering in Highland, Indiana, assembled a virtual "who's who" of mechanics and drivers for the record attempt. Gathered together to try to set new records (including Nichels) are legendary mechanics Cotton Owens, Smokey Yunick and Bud Moore, along with the cream of the crop of drivers from USAC and NASCAR: Paul Goldsmith, Len Sutton, Rodger Ward, Marvin Panch, Fireball Roberts and Joe Weatherly. This 28-minute full color video, now available for the first time ever, is the story of their record attempt!
The record runs begin at Indianapolis on November 20, 1961. The speedway has a new racing surface, as the old bricks down the main straightaway have been covered with asphalt for the first time. Two Ray Nichels prepared '62 Pontiacs, a black & white Enforcer police cruiser and a red Catalina are ready to go. Final preparations are shown being made and it's interesting to see the supply trucks arriving at the track in late fall for a change! Also interesting is the special pit stall set up by the Nichels crew for servicing the cars. You'll hear Nichels talk about the different brand-name parts and products being used on the cars. USAC officials are on hand with Director Of Competition Henry Banks as the drivers draw lots to determine the driver rotation in the cars during the run.
The green flag drops and the old record comes under assault. Goldsmith starts in the Enforcer with Marvin Panch in the Catalina. From a standing start, the cars are up to 118 MPH after one lap. The only incident that occurs during the runs happens with Goldsmith coming out of turn four on lap 21. You'll hear Goldsmith himself explain in his own words what happened. Pit repairs cost the Nichels team almost five minutes and make the run even more of a challenge. During the run, you'll see both cars at speed on different parts of the track and photographed from different locations around the course. As darkness looms, there's a new hazard - rain! In addition, the only illumination on the unlit track is provided by smudge pots in the turns, making driving even tougher! You'll see several pit stops and Ward, Roberts, Weatherly all talk about how the cars and parts are holding up during the event. Goldsmith, now in the Catalina, sets a new record for 500 miles at 113.292 MPH. By the end of the 24-hour run, Ward in the Police Enforcer sets a new record of 107.787 MPH, covering 2586.878 Miles! The Catalina finishes with a mark of 107.343 MPH, and covers a total of 2,576.241 miles!
Nichels and his crew are only half done, however. They want to set new records at Darlington, too! Interesting shots show the cars being hauled into Darlington Raceway on flat bed trucks. From a standing start, the cars hit 100 MPH in one lap, and by the second lap are traveling 118! You'll go along for a ride, as in-car cameras put you in the drivers seat. At the 500-mile mark, both cars are averaging 109 MPH, a new record! By the end of the record runs, Darlington president Bob Colvin and a beaming Ray Nichels are shown tearing up the old records, as the Nichels team does it again! In 24 hours, the Enforcer logs 2,612.5 miles at 108.818 MPH. The Catalina goes 2,575.373 miles at 107.288 MPH!
Now you can get your own color copy of this historic automotive event never before available on home video, for only $24.95 plus $5.00 shipping (Illinois residents must add $2.00 sales tax!)
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