1972 Phoenix 150 (partially found footage of USAC Championship Car Season race; 1972)

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1972phoenix1501.jpg

Program for the race.

Status: Partially Found

The 1972 Phoenix 150 (also known as the 1972 Jimmy Bryan 150) was the inaugural race of the 1972 USAC Championship Car Season. Occurring on 18th March at the Phoenix International Raceway, the race would ultimately be won by polesitter Bobby Unser in an Eagle-Offenhauser, after having led more than half of the 150-lap event.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1972 Phoenix 150 was the ninth running of the event, with the annual race lasting 150 miles.[1] It was one of two 1972 USAC Championship Car Season races to commence at Phoenix International Raceway, the other being the 1972 Best Western 150,[2] which occurred on 4th November and was won by Bobby Unser.[3] While renamed from the Jimmy Bryan 150 to the Phoenix 150, the race still paid tribute to the 1958 Indianapolis 500 winner Jimmy Bryan.[4] The race would have ties with Phoenix events like the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix, before Phoenix races were dropped from the IndyCar schedule after 2018 following low attendance.[5]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Unser winning the pole position with a record speed of 141.996 mph.[6][1] He was therefore deemed the pre-race favourite heading into the event.[6] Directly behind him was his brother and Colt-Offenhauser driver Al Unser, with Eagle-Offenhauser's Johnny Rutherford lining up third out of 24 competitors.[1]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1972 Phoenix 150 commenced on 18th March.[1] Unser maintained his lead from the start, holding it for the first 50 laps before making a pit stop that meant he dropped it to Rutherford.[7][1] Rutherford lost the lead a lap later to McLaren-Offenhauser's Mark Donohue, who controlled the next 24 laps.[1] However, he retired 76 laps in when he lost a wheel after a pitstop, causing by a cotter key for the right front tyre giving way.[6][1] Roger McCluskey assumed the first position in a Kuzma-Offenhauser, leading 12 laps before Eagle-Offenhauser's Mike Mosley took over for the next 29 laps.[1] Mario Andretti then went past Mosley on lap 117 in a Parnelli-Offenhauser, but was only able to defend it for three laps before Unser regained the lead.[1]

From there, a long caution period between laps 125-147 meant there was only three more laps of actual racing remaining.[6] Unser defended the lead for the remaining laps to claim victory and $8,996 in prize money.[7][1] Post-race, Unser felt he would have won regardless if the race finished under green or yellow, stating "I don't care whether we finished under a yellow or a green, just so we won. I knew I had the fastest car on the track and the only thing the green would have done at the end would have been to have the opportunity to break down. But no one can run with us."[6] Andretti finished four seconds behind in second, accepting that he would have been unable to challenge Unser even with 20 green laps.[6][1] Mosley finished a lap down in third.[7][1]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to IndyCar on TV, the race received live flag-to-flag coverage from ABC as part of its Wide World of Sports.[8] The broadcast has yet to resurface, although a British Pathé newsreel of the event is publicly available. Photos and newspaper clippings can also be found online.[6]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Image[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

External Link[edit | edit source]

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