1972 Trentonian 200 (lost footage of USAC Championship Car Season race; 1972)

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1972trentonian2001.jpg

Program for the race.

Status: Lost

The 1972 Trentonian 200 (also known as the 1972 Trenton 200) was the second race of the 1972 USAC Championship Car Season. Occurring on 23rd April at the Trenton Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by Gary Bettenhausen in a McLaren-Offenhauser, controlling the race following the retirements of Eagle-Offenhauser drivers Bobby Unser and Mike Mosley.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1972 Trentonian 200 was the 11th running of the event, with the annual race lasting just over 200 miles.[1] It was one of two 1972 USAC Championship Car Season races to occur at Trenton Speedway, the other being the 1972 Trenton 300,[2] which occurred on 24th September and was won by Bobby Unser.[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 Unser winning the pole position with a speed of 165.289 mph.[1] Directly behind him was Mike Mosley, with Eagle-Offenhauser's Billy Vukovich, Jr. lining up third.[1] Gary Bettenhausen qualified fifth out of 23 competitors.[1] According to Trenton's management, the event set a record attendance of 23,500.[5]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1972 Trentonian 200 commenced on 23rd April.[1] Unser maintained his lead from the start, holding it for the first 12.[5][1] However, reliability problems began to affect many of the 1972 vehicles, which according to The New York Times, lacked adequate shakedown.[5] Among those affected included the Parnelli-Offenhausers of Mario Andretti and Al Unser, who dropped out on lap 3 and 8 respectively due to mechanical issues.[5][1] Bobby Unser meanwhile would retire from the lead when the fuel injection system failed, triggering a fire that necessitated a caution period between laps 13-21.[5][1]

Mosley then took over as the leader, and was able to hang on to the first position for the next 37 laps.[5][1] But like Unser, Mosley's Eagle failed while leading, this time due to a piston failure.[5][1] This enabled Bettenhausen to claim the first position from lap 49 onwards, dominating the remainder of the event to eventually be four laps in front of any other competitor.[5][1] He therefore claimed his third USAC victory and $11,642 in prize money.[5][1] His average speed of 146.211 mph also set a record for the event.[5][1] In second was Kuzma-Offenhauser's Roger McCluskey, with McLaren-Offenhauser driver Gordon Johncock taking third.[1][5] A report from The New York Times criticised the race as being an "inept affair", noting the reliability failures and how most teams were concentrating on the upcoming Indianapolis 500.[5]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to IndyCar on TV, the race was televised live by ABC.[6] It was almost shown flag-to-flag, but ABC elected to interrupt proceedings for seven minutes to show coverage of the Apollo 16 Moon landing.[6] The broadcast has yet to resurface however, and no footage of the race is currently publicly available. Nevertheless, photos of the event can be found online.

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]