When sportswriter Robin Miller found Method Ford
Though his previous buddy Paul Web page would be the keynote speaker, RACER Journal’s Robin Miller gained’t be at Street America for the Method Ford 50th Anniversary occasion Sept. 11-15, maybe as a result of the prospect of 240 FFs tearing up considered one of his favourite highway programs would put an excessive amount of stress on his coronary heart. And he’s saving that muscle for the IndyCar finale at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca the next weekend.
Nevertheless, Method Ford performed an element within the much-loved broadcaster and sportswriter’s midwest upbringing, as Robin remembers … -Ed.
In June 1972, I introduced to my pal Artwork Pollard that, after all of the years of watching races, I had determined I needed to be a driver. He laughed and stated: “OK, child. Promote your sports activities automotive (a Lotus Europa), purchase a van, and I’ll allow you to get a automotive.”
Pollard, nonetheless on crutches after breaking his leg at Indy throughout observe when a hub snapped going into Flip Three in Andy Granatelli’s Lola, knew there have been a few little “mini Indy” automobiles up in Andy’s store in Chicago.
They have been Method Fords given to Granatelli by Francis McNamara, who’d designed the turd Mario Andretti had pushed for Mr. STP within the 1970 Indianapolis 500.
Pollard instructed me to give you $5,000 (not a simple job since I used to be making $158 every week as a sportswriter at The Indianapolis Star) and we’d meet at Granatelli’s store. So I borrowed cash from a banker buddy, telling him it was for a brand new Ford (kinda was) and we headed for Illinois.
Upon coming into the large storage, it was love at first sight. There have been a few Novis beneath plastic tarps and proper subsequent to them was a DayGlo orange Method Ford, painted identical to my hero Jim Hurtubise’s Novi in 1963.
Pollard gave Vince Granatelli $3,000 (stuffing two grand again in my pocket), and that little magnificence was all mine. I’d rented a U-Haul trailer to take my automotive dwelling, however, sadly, it was three toes huge and 9 toes lengthy so we needed to take the wheels off my FF and cargo it with a fork carry. (An early indication, maybe, that I had no enterprise proudly owning a race automotive?)
For the McNamara’s maiden voyage, I borrowed a trailer from Paul Web page (kneeling at left in photograph above), a FF racer earlier than he was the voice of the Indy 500, and headed out to Indianapolis Raceway Park with Pollard in tow. Simply earlier than we fired the engine, he leaned in and requested if I’d remembered to test the oil and water? Naturally I replied no, assuming that my model new race automobiles got here with these facilities.
Artwork needed to drive over Gasoline Alley and get some Valvoline.
My first drivers college was at Nelson Ledges, Ohio, and it was pretty uneventful; however my second cease was Watkins Glen. I’d watched the film Grand Prix 4 nights in a row when it got here out, and I do know precisely what to do once I rolled into upstate New York simply because the solar got here up: I needed to stroll the observe.
Undecided what everyone else’s SCCA drivers college was like, however our teacher confirmed us the road and we ran behind him on Saturday. Then we had some type of all-skate qualifying session — besides no person knew their occasions.
As my lone mechanic, Mad Canine Mike Roth, and I pushed our automotive towards the grid on Sunday morning, we requested, “The place will we line up?”
My automotive was No. 40 CD (for CenDiv), and the SCCA employee replied, “You’re on the pole.”
“Of the race?” (I attempted to behave like that’s what I anticipated, but it surely was a shock to say the least.)
Then once more, perhaps it shouldn’t have been: They’d put all of the Method Fords in with the Method A-B-C automobiles, and so they have been all behind me! Let’s simply say that though everyone was new, the expertise degree left one thing to be desired.
As per protocol, we have been instructed there could be a observe begin through which we’d take the inexperienced and race up the esses till we noticed a yellow flag; then we’d sluggish, pack up, and are available round to do the actual race.
On our observe begin, I bought it proper and, by the point we bought to that flagman, I used to be a pair hundred yards forward of second place. My first thought was that I needed to be a pure and I’d possible be in Method 1 inside two years.
Then got here actuality. I had been in second gear for my first flying begin, however, for some unknown motive, I slipped it into third for the actual factor. Clearly, my 1600cc Cortina engine bogged badly and I used to be fourth or fifth by the point I bought to Flip 1 whereupon a Method A automotive drilled me, spun me into the Armco, and tore my automotive in half.
Because the fluids ran down the observe, I clambered out and sat down subsequent to the stays of my automotive in shock. I’d gone from F1 to out of enterprise in lower than two minutes.
Later, the chief steward known as me as much as the tower and stated the accident wasn’t my fault and I’d nonetheless be granted my regional license. As we talked, I regarded down and noticed a bunch of individuals working towards the neighborhood of my wrecked automotive. Mad Canine Roth had taken a wheel hammer and was beating a gap within the nostril of the Method A automotive that had speared me.
Bless his coronary heart.
In 1973, my automotive rebuilt by Jack Brandt, I began out in regionals and ran decently, but it surely was my first Nationwide at Mid-Ohio that opened my eyes. Gordon Smiley pulled in with a double-deck trailer and a spare automotive, and, in qualifying and the race, he, B.J. Swanson and former Method Vee Nationwide Champion Dave Weitzenhof have been in a category by themselves.
Method Ford was simply beginning to hit its stride in 1974, however I bought my McNamara and acquired a midget from Gary Bettenhausen. Consuming lunch on daily basis with Johnny Parsons, Invoice Vukovich, Jimmy Caruthers and Bettenhausen, I used to be lectured continuously that if I actually needed to discover ways to race, I’d go run USAC in a midget or a sprinter.
They have been proper, and I’d by no means commerce my eight years expertise in USAC.
However to at the present time I can nonetheless keep in mind the evening I introduced that bitchin’-bright-orange FF dwelling and unloaded in my dad and mom’ storage at midnight.
And I’ll always remember my mother saying to my dad: “Oh my god, Bob. He’s purchased an Indy automotive! He’ll kill himself.”
(This function first appeared within the 40th Anniversary of Method Ford occasion program.)