The Brickyard 400 NASCAR race is coming up at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a few days and there will be over 100 of the Aero Cars (Ford Talladega, Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II, Dodge Daytona and Plymouth Superbird) on display and taking laps on the track. None of these cars ever had the opportunity to race at Indy but some of them did something almost as good.
I recently discovered a terrific magazine article from 1971. It was published in the May issue of Motor Trend Magazine and was authored by Jim Brokaw. It is was of the most fun reads I have ever come across regarding a NASCAR race. I have provided a complete copy on our Resources Pages for you Team Members.
In 1971 the Ontario Motor Speedway opened in Ontario, CA. It was built as a clone of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Back in those days the Indy Track was only used for one race a year and the thought of racing stock cars on it was unthinkable. That made the Ontario Track potentially very special. Unfortunately, due to bad management and poor timing the track was soon abandoned and eventually became a large office and shopping center. Although I lived very near the track for over 20 years it was not until after it was closed and bull dozed into desert landscape. As a city planning consultant I did some development design work on the property with very mixed emotions. When it came time that I needed fill dirt for my new home’s backyard I actually purchased excess fill dirt from turn one!
Back to the article! Remember this is an article from 1971. It was the first time the stock cars were ever on a track like Indy and no one was sure what to expect. It was also just after the Aero Wars ended when the Talladega and Daytona/Superbirds were fighting it out on the Super speedways. So what did the Woods Brothers bring to the fight at the new Ontario Speedway? A 1969 Mercury Cyclone with AJ Foyt behind the wheel!
A total of 51 cars qualified for the 500 mile race and they all started three abreast just like the cars at the Indy 500. Foyt was not the only 1969 Merc in the race; there were many more. In fact there were four 1969 Mercury Cyclones in the top ten at the end of the race including AJ in the winning car!
For the most part the Dodge and Plymouth boys had abandoned the 1969 winged cars and the old 1970 bodies for the new 1971 MOPAR bodies. Although Foyt’s Cyclone was not a Spoiler II the Cyclone body was still more aerodynamic than the new 1971 Mercury and Ford bodies.
For an excellent entertaining story on NASCAR the way it used to be check out this entire story on our Resources Page.