1978 Norton Twin 200 (lost footage of USAC Championship Car Season race; 1978)

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Program for the race.

Status: Lost

The 1978 Norton Twin 200 was the ninth race of the 1978 USAC Championship Car Season. Occurring on 16th July at the Michigan International Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by Johnny Rutherford in a McLaren-Cosworth, after having led over half of the 100-lap event.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1978 Norton Twin 200 was the tenth running of the event, with the annual race lasting 200 miles.[1] It was one of two 1978 USAC Championship Car Season races to commence at Michigan International Speedway, the other being the Gould Grand Prix,[2] which occurred on 16th September and was won by Danny Ongais in a Parnelli-Cosworth.[3] The track would continue hosting IndyCar races until being dropped from the schedule from 2007 onwards after failing to reach a deal with IndyCar's organisers.[4]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Tom Sneva winning the pole position in a Penske-Cosworth with a speed of 211.392 mph.[1] Directly behind him was Rutherford, with Penske-Cosworth's Rick Mears lining up third out of 22 competitors.[1]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1978 Norton Twin 200 commenced on 16th July.[1] Sneva maintained his lead from the start, holding it for the first 28 laps before being passed by Ongais on lap 29.[1] Following a caution period between laps 31-34, Rutherford was in the lead when the race resumed on lap 35 but was passed by Ongais a lap later.[1] Ongais maintained the first position for a further four laps, but conceded it to Rutherford on lap 40.[1] Nevertheless, he again moved back into the lead four laps later, this time holding it for eleven laps.[1] But on lap 55, Rutherford made what was ultimately the final lead change on lap 55.[1]

Despite a caution period between laps 69-74 wiping out any lead he built, Rutherford continued to control proceedings once the race resumed, leading the final 46 laps to claim victory and $21,335 in prize money.[1] Sneva finished a lap down in second, with McLaren-Cosworth's Wally Dallenbach two laps behind in third.[1]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to IndyCar on TV, 30 minutes of highlights were televised by NBC on 30th July 1978 as part of its NBC Sportsworld, alongside coverage of the Special Olympics and a professional boxing report.[5] The broadcast has yet to resurface however, and no footage of the race is currently publicly available. Nevertheless, the 1978 Gould Grand Prix can be found on YouTube.

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]