1972 Trenton Times 300 (lost footage of USAC Championship Car Season race; 1972)

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1972trentontimes3001.jpg

Program for the race.

Status: Lost

The 1972 Trenton Times 300 (also known as the 1972 Trenton 300) was the ninth race of the 1972 USAC Championship Car Season. Occurring on 24th September at the Trenton Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by polesitter Bobby Unser in an Eagle-Offenhauser, making a comeback when he lost a tyre on the 24th lap. Parnelli-Offenhauser's Joe Leonard also secured his second consecutive Championship by finishing third.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1972 Trenton Times 300 was the fourth running of the event, with the annual race lasting 300 miles.[1] It was one of two 1972 USAC Championship Car Season races to occur at Trenton Speedway, the other being the 1972 Trentonian 200,[2] which occurred on 23rd April and was won by Gary Bettenhausen in a McLaren-Offenhauser.[3] Trenton would continue hosting IndyCar races until 1979 before it was dropped from the schedule, with the circuit being demolished in 1980.[4]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Bobby Unser winning the pole position with a record speed of 171.521 mph.[5][1] Directly behind him were the Parnelli-Offenhausers of Mario Andretti and Al Unser, in second and third respectively.[1] Joe Leonard qualified fourth out of 28 competitors. He had the opportunity to secure his second USAC Championship providing he finished within the top five.[6][7]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1972 Trenton Times 300 commenced on 24th September.[1] Unser maintained his lead from the start, holding it for the first 23 laps.[5][1] Andretti meanwhile retired before the race began due to a broken half shaft.[5][1] As Unser was leading, he suddenly lost his right front tyre, which ended up alongside the wire fence around Victory Lane.[5] Bobby pitted, but this enabled his brother Al to take the lead.[5][1] From there, the battle for the lead became a more open competition, with Leonard passing Unser on lap 28, only to quickly lose it to McLaren-Offenhauser's Gordon Johncock.[1] Nevertheless, Leonard remained in contention for the first position, thus maximising his chances of earning a second crown.[5]

Bobby Unser meanwhile climbed the order, eventually passing Leonard for the first position on lap 89.[5][1] Ultimately, while Leonard and McLaren-Offenhauser's Mark Donohue provided competition for the lead initially, Unser eventually controlled proceedings once he passed the latter on lap 132.[5][1] That turned out to be the final lead change of the race, with Unser holding out for the remaining 69 laps to claim victory and $17,024 in prize money.[5][1] His average speed of around 143.236-143.88 mph also set a record for the event.[5][1] Donohue finished 15.3 seconds behind in second, while Leonard's third place was enough to secure the title.[5][7][1]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to IndyCar on TV, 45 minutes of highlights were televised by ABC on 30th September 1972 as part of its Wide World of Sports, alongside the World Parachuting Championships.[8] The broadcast has yet to resurface however, and no footage of the race is currently publicly available. Nevertheless, some photos of the event can be viewed online.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]