1974 Schaefer 500 (lost footage of USAC Championship Car Season race; 1974)

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Program for the race.

Status: Lost

The 1974 Schaefer 500 was the eighth race of the 1974 USAC Championship Car Season. Occurring on 30th June at the Pocono International Raceway, the race would ultimately be won by Johnny Rutherford in a McLaren-Offenhauser, following a duel which ended after Eagle-Offenhauser's Wally Dallenbach retired due to an engine failure. Rutherford was the first USAC driver to win two 500-mile events in one year, having also won the 1974 Indianapolis 500.


The 1974 Schaefer 500 was the fourth running of the event, with the annual race lasting 500 miles.[1] The only 1974 USAC Championship Car Season race to commence at Pocono,[2] it was considered part of USAC's Triple Crown of 500-mile races that lasted between 1971-1980, also consisting of the Indianapolis 500 and California 500.[3] Pocono IndyCar events would be run on an on-and-off basis, before the track was dropped from the IndyCar schedule from 2020 onwards.[4]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Bobby Unser winning the pole position in an Eagle-Offenhauser with a speed of 182.5 mph.[5][1] Directly behind him were fellow Eagle-Offenhauser drivers Steve Krisiloff and Dallenbach, in second and third respectively.[5][1] Indianapolis 500 winner Rutherford meanwhile qualified fifth.[1] Previous year's winner and Coyote-Foyt driver A.J. Foyt experienced issues qualifying for the event, as three days of rain previously had removed a significant amount of rubber from the course, while Foyt's engine blew as his started his second lap.[6][5] Ultimately, he earned a place in the field, albeit lining up 29th out of 33 competitors as the carryover session he competed in did not allow him to be bumped up the field.[6][1][5] Heading into the event, Foyt labelled many of the drivers ahead of him as "a bunch of idiots."[7]

The Race

With the starting order decided, the 1974 Schaefer 500 commenced on 30th June.[1] Dallenbach shot into the lead on the opening lap, maintaining it for three laps before Unser moved back into the first position on lap 4.[1] He was only able to defend it until lap 10, when Eagle-Offenhauser's Mario Andretti passed him.[1] Andretti led until Krisiloff took the first position on lap 24, only for Andretti to retake it a lap later.[1] Andretti then held first for 23 laps, with Krisiloff again passing him on lap 48.[1] But as the race reached lap 78, with Unser passing Eagle-Offenhauser's Gordon Johncock to take the first position, the race primarily turned into a three-way duel between Unser, Dallenbach, and the fast-closing Rutherford.[8][7][1] Unser led for 40 laps before Dallenbach achieved an overtake on lap 118, the pair overtaking each other a few times by lap 137.[1] On lap 133, Andretti attempted to pass fellow Eagle-Offenhauser driver Bill Simpson, but the latter's connecting rod failure leaked oil that Andretti spun on, causing him to crash out.[7][1]

On lap 163, Dallenbach again passed Unser for the first position.[1] Unser would ultimately drop out of lead contention, as he was forced to save fuel to complete the event.[9][7] Thus, the race became a duel between Dallenbach and Rutherford, with the latter briefly passing the former on lap 181.[1] Rutherford's race had proven eventful, as a pace car mistake meant he was ranked well below his actual position of third, forcing him to climb back through the order.[9][7] But during the final pitstops, it was Dallenbach who emerged in front, achieving a 15.8-second pitstop compared to Rutherford's 17.[7][1] Nevertheless, Rutherford remained only around six to eight car lengths behind, and it appeared the race would end with a close finish.[7] However, Dallenbach pulled into the pits after 188 laps due to engine issues caused by a broken piston.[9][8][7][1] This enabled Rutherford to control the final 12 laps, claiming victory and $92,625 in prize money.[7][9][8][1]

Rutherford's average speed of 154.701 mph set a track record, while he also became the first USAC driver to win two 500-mile races, and the first to win two of USAC's Triple Crown races in the in the same season.[10][9][7][1] Post-race, he stated "It's great, sort of like a dream come true. Winning two 500-mile championship events in a single season is even greater."[9] Eagle-Offenhauser's Jimmy Caruthers finished a lap down in second, with Johncock taking third.[7][9][1]


According to IndyCar on TV, 45 minutes of highlights were televised by ABC on 6th July 1974 as part of its Wide World of Sports, alongside the Expo '74 gymnastics exhibition.[11] The broadcast has yet to resurface however, and no footage of the race is currently publicly available. Nevertheless, some qualifying footage and a commercial for the event can be viewed online. Additionally, some photos and newspaper clippings of the race have also publicly resurfaced.[8]



Associated Press newsreel of the race.
Commercial promoting the race.


See Also