In 1968, Toledo Speedway promoter and ARCA founder John Marcum came up with the idea of running a 200 lap Late Model invitational-the Glass City 200. Despite a 20-year hiatus of the race from 1978-1998 (when the Toledo track was sold), the race was revived in 1999 when Marcum's grandson, Ron Drager, purchased the track with business partner Roy Mott.
And the race still carries the prestige and notoriety that it once did back in the 1960's and 1970's.
Today, we look at 1971...a great field of cars and a big controversy highlighted the event, but did not keep Bob Senneker from making it 2 wins in a row at the 200.......as he posed with the trophy.
A field of 55 cars were at Toledo for the 1971 version of the Glass City 200. Danny Byrd (#08) set quick time at 17:84. How good was it? For you old-time fans, the consi winners names will tell you a lot about this field....Rodney Combs and Tommy Maier (#9), 2 drivers who would make their marks in Late Model racing as their careers blossomed.
The controversy story started at the lap 100 break. Before that, Byrd charged into the lead and led the first 41 laps. Fran Harden, who lost the engine in his car, jumped into the car that Joy Fair won the track title with, a Chevelle. Fair had debuted a new Camaro and was at the wheel of that car for the 200. Harden passed Byrd and was the leader at the half-way mark over Senneker, Byrd, Fair and Joe Ruttman.
Well, here's where it gets interesting....Harden was overcome by exhaust fumes at the break. Fair's car owner, William Gillelan, decided to switch drivers..Fair now in the Chevelle and Harden in the Camaro. After much discussion, it was decided that the drivers would keep their positions on the second leg start. The fans displayed their displeasure with the decision as the field came down for the green flag, leading Fair to comment in a post-race interview "When you win a lot, one day you are the hero, the next day you are the goat." When asked if the Toledo fans were the most hostile he had seen, Fair quipped "I wouldn't say the Toledo fans are the most hostile, but I think they drink more beer here than anywhere else."
Gillelan told Fair that if he won, the gate would be open and that he should just drive straight to his Pontiac, MI home. "The winner's circle might be a bit hostile."
Senneker took the lead on lap 103 and ended up 1 lap up on his closest rival, Fair, who exited the car also ill from the fumes. "It didn't make any difference to me who was in the Chevelle," said Senneker, who had a tire issue in the first 100 laps. Legendary car builder Ed Howe (#19) was third, Cleveland driver Bill Konczos fourth and Jerry Makara (#42) fifth in the 2nd segment. In the over-all standings, it was Senneker, Fair, Howe, Larry Moore and Harden.
To view photos from the 1971 classic, go to www.arcaracing.com and click on the Glass City 200 button.
The 25th Anniversary of the Great Lakes Helicopter Glass City 200 presented by Francis Engineering, Woodville Auto Finance, Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express is set for Saturday, September 28.
As we move closer to the 2013 edition and this special anniversary of one of top outlaw-bodied Late Model races in the area, please check the website each day for stories, updates, lap money sponsors, the entry list and historic notes and photos (courtesy of ARCA historians Brian Norton and Jim Hehl) of the Glass City 200. Monday, September 9, we will resume the stories and the 1972 Glass City 200 summary.
Lap money sponsorship and just $10 per lap and tickets are now on sale by calling 419-727-1100 today!