1976 Trenton Times Auto Classic (lost footage of USAC Championship Car Season race; 1976)

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Gordon Johncock (pictured at the 1973 Indianapolis 500) won the event.

Status: Lost

The 1976 Trenton Times Auto Classic (also known as the 1976 Trenton 200) was the eighth race of the 1976 USAC Championship Car Season. Occurring on 15th August at the Trenton Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by Gordon Johncock in a Wildcat-DGS, in an event shortened to 117 laps because of rain.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1976 Trenton Times Auto Classic was the eighth running of the event, with the annual race typically lasting just over 200 miles.[1] It was one of two 1976 USAC Championship Car Season races to commence at Trenton Speedway, the other being the Trentonian 200,[2] which occurred on 2nd May and was won by Johnny Rutherford in a McLaren-Offenhauser.[3] Trenton would host IndyCar races until 1979 before being dropped from the schedule, with the circuit being demolished in 1980.[4]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with A.J. Foyt winning the pole position in a Coyote-Foyt with a speed of 165.797 mph.[5][1] Directly behind him was Gordon Johncock, who was looking to redeem himself after having run out of fuel while leading at the Trenton 200,[6] with Parnelli-Cosworth's Al Unser lining up third out of 22 competitors.[5][1] Among those who did not qualify was Eagle-Offenhauser's Bobby Unser, who missed his second consecutive Trenton race, this time because of an engine failure.[5]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1976 Trenton Times Auto Classic commenced on 15th August.[1] Johncock shot into the lead on the opening lap, leading the next 13 laps before Foyt regained it on lap 14.[1] Foyt would then defend the first position for 29 laps, but during a caution period between laps 43-47, Johncock would be leading when the race resumed, holding it for the next 24 laps.[1] Foyt would again move back into first on lap 68, defending it for 22 laps.[1] On lap 90, Johncock achieved an overtake, but Foyt swiftly regained the lead a lap later.[1]

After 93 laps, Foyt attempted to pass Eagle-Offenhauser's Bill Simpson on the third curve, but his attempt ended in disaster when his car swerved into the wall.[6][1] An angry Foyt retired from the spot because of a broken suspension, and blamed Simpson, stating "Simpson got me into the wall. The suspension of the car is too badly damaged to continue the race."[6] A caution period emerged, with Unser leading five laps, before Johncock took over before the start of the next green flag on lap 99.[1] For the final 20 laps, a duel between Johncock and Unser emerged, the latter providing significant pressure.[6][1] However, Johncock remained in the lead by the time the race's final four laps were ran under caution because of rain.[6][1] The race did not restart, meaning it was shortened by 17 laps.[6][1] Johncock therefore claimed his third Trenton victory and around $14,000 in prize money.[6][1] Unser took second, with McLaren-Offenhauser's Tom Sneva taking third.[6][1]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to IndyCar on TV, the race would be the first since the 1966 Trenton 150 to be televised by CBS.[7][8] It received live flag-to-flag coverage, although the race's start was delayed by 30 minutes because CBS needed to finish its Republican National Convention coverage.[7] The broadcast has yet to resurface however, and no footage of the race is currently publicly available.

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]