By Vincent Delforge, special to KickinTheTires.net
The 300th race in the history of the current ARCA Menards West Series corresponds to the 19th race of the 1971 season which included 26. Note that this is the fifth season with the most races. The record dating from 1956 with 32 races.
The 0.333 mile paved oval in Saugus, CA hosted this 150-lap race. 21 drivers are entered but 19 will start. Among the unqualified, we find Oren Prosser, who we had not seen behind the wheel since 1966, and for whom this will be the very last attempt in the series. Ditto for the other unqualified Clay Priola, whom we will not see again later.
The double reigning champion (1969-1970) Ray Elder will largely dominate this race. After taking pole, his sixth of the season and 22nd in his career, he easily won the race after his fiercest opponent, Jack McCoy had to retire. McCoy, qualified in second position had nevertheless managed to take command of the race on the 35th lap before seeing his engine give up the ghost five laps later.
Once McCoy was out of the race, Elder would control the race and claim his fifth win of the season, his 20th career. One of his nine victories of the season which would propel him to his third consecutive championship title.
Rookie Jerry Barnett was the only other driver to finish on the leader’s lap. Obtaining his best result of the season and his short career in the West Series. Jimmy Insolo was third with two laps behind. Johnny Anderson and Jack Roberts complete the top five. For Roberts it will even be the only career top-five.
Note that Jack McCoy was going to benefit from the help of Ray Elder to be able to do the next race. Indeed, McCoy had just broken his last engine and the next race was held the next day on the short track of Barkersfield Speedway in Oildale, CA.
This superb gesture from the Elder family, The Farmers, giving McCoy the chance to stay in the championship hunt. He who will finally fail in second position. Despite the past friction between the two drivers, sportsmanship had prevailed. A mutual aid that we still find today within the big family of the West Series.
Race results : www.racing-reference.info/race-results/1971_Saugus_150/P/
Featured Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of the Smith Collection via Vincent Delforge’s Archives.