The USAC Stock Car Series
The United States Auto Club (USAC) began to sanction auto racing in the United States in 1956, after the withdrawal of AAA following the death of Bill Vukovich at the 1955 Indianapolis 500 and a tragic crash that claimed the lives of several spectators at the 24 Hours of LeMans just weeks later. Much like NASCAR's Grand National (now Nextel Cup) circuit at the time, the schedule was comprised mainly of short-track races, both paved and dirt. Several races were also held each year at the Milwaukee Mile.
USAC had an on-again, off-again affair with road racing, with events at Riverside International Raceway in California, Donnybrooke Speedway in Minnesota, Continental Divide Raceway in Colorado, Mid-America Raceway in Missouri, Shelby County International Raceway in Tennessee, Sears Point International Raceway in California, one go-around on the road course at Phoenix International Raceway before switching to the oval track, several races at Indianapolis Raceway Park on the 2.5 mile road course, and, on the international front, at Mosport in Canada.
Eventually, USAC found its way to the big tracks, holding numerous events at Ontario Motor Speedway in California (a clone of the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway), Texas World Speedway, and Michigan International Speedway. Events at these tracks were often held along with Indy car races, with several drivers competing in both races on the same track on the same day, usually in 200 mile efforts each. USAC also sanctioned the first four 500-mile stock car races at Pocono, before NASCAR began to compete there. 500-mile stand-alone races were also held at Texas World Speedway.
Several drivers from the USAC ranks eventually found their way into NASCAR. Paul Goldsmith, for example, started out in NASCAR, switched to USAC for a few years, won two championships, and then returned to NASCAR. Fred Lorenzen made the jump after winning his two championships. Drivers in recent memory with origins in USAC include Joe Ruttman (who actually ran two NASCAR races at Riverside in the 60s while still in his teens, then stuck to local tracks for several years before making his national return in the late 70s), Rusty Wallace, and Ken Schrader. There was a fair amount of crossover from the Indy car side as well; A.J. Foyt won 41 races and three championships in his years in the series, while Roger McCluskey picked up two stock car titles before winning the Indy car championship in 1973. Parnelli Jones also grabbed a title in 1964, while Joe Leonard (1971 and 1972 Indy car champion) and Al Unser (1970 Indy car champion in USAC, as well as 1983 and 1985 CART champion) won Rookie of the Year honors in 1964 and 1967, respectively.
Once CART took over the sanctioning of Indy car races in 1980, the stock car series began to lose its lustre. Most of the superspeedway races dropped from the schedule, and USAC began to cosanction many of their races along with ARCA. In 1984, the final season, only two races were held, on the dirt tracks in Springfield and DuQuoin, both open to ARCA competitors as well. A third race, scheduled as part of the annual 4-Crown Nationals at Eldora, was rained out and never held. Many of the former USAC competitors migrated to other midwest-based organizations, including ARCA, ASA, and ARTGO. USAC did replace the stock cars with a short track late model series (mostly dirt tracks, but a few paved ovals thrown in as well) that ran from 1985 through 1988. After the demise of that series, USAC continued to hold one late model event each fall at the 4-Crown Nationals through 1995; In 1996, the fourth crown became the UMP modifieds and USAC late model racing was no more.
From 1956 through 1984, USAC held a total of 451 stock car races. I have obtained complete results of all races from 1971 through 1984, and have full results of a few others prior to 1971. I also have several partial results of earlier races. (In some cases, those results rather depressingly contain only the name of the winning driver.) I now have a complete listing of all races in series history. Click here for a list of USAC Stock Car race results in the database.
USAC Stock Car Championship History
|YEAR||Champion||2nd Place||3rd Place||Rookie of the Year|
|1956 National||Johnny Mantz||Marshall Teague||Les Snow||none until 1963|
|1956 Pacific Coast||Sam Hanks||Marshall Teague||Les Snow||none until 1963|
|1956 Short Track||Troy Ruttman||George Seeger||Eddie Gray||none until 1963|
|1957||Jerry Unser||Ralph Moody||Sam Hanks||none until 1963|
|1958||Fred Lorenzen||Mike Klapak||Norm Nelson||none until 1963|
|1959||Fred Lorenzen||Mike Klapak||Nelson Stacy||none until 1963|
|1960||Norm Nelson||Paul Goldsmith||Tony Bettenhausen||none until 1963|
|1961||Paul Goldsmith||Norm Nelson||Elmer Musgrave||none until 1963|
|1962||Paul Goldsmith||Don White||Norm Nelson||none until 1963|
|1963||Don White||A.J. Foyt||Norm Nelson||Sal Tovella|
|1964||Parnelli Jones||Norm Nelson||Don White||Joe Leonard|
|1965||Norm Nelson||Paul Goldsmith||Don White||Billy Foster|
|1966||Norm Nelson||Don White||Billy Foster||Butch Hartman|
|1967||Don White||Parnelli Jones||Jack Bowsher||Al Unser|
|1968||A.J. Foyt||Roger McCluskey||Don White||Dick Trickle|
|1969||Roger McCluskey||A.J. Foyt||Don White||Verlin Eaker|
|1970||Roger McCluskey||Norm Nelson||A.J. Foyt||Billy Reis|
|1971||Butch Hartman||Jack Bowsher||Roger McCluskey||
|1972||Butch Hartman||Roger McCluskey||Paul Feldner||Chuck McWilliams|
|1973||Butch Hartman||Ramo Stott||Bay Darnell||Irv Janey|
|1974||Butch Hartman||Norm Nelson||Ramo Stott||Ken Rowley|
|1975||Ramo Stott||Butch Hartman||Sal Tovella||Len Gittemeier|
|1976||Butch Hartman||Ramo Stott||Sal Tovella||Wayne Watercutter|
|1977||Paul Feldner||Ramo Stott||Sal Tovella||Dave Watson|
|1978||A.J. Foyt||Terry Ryan||Bay Darnell||
|1979||A.J. Foyt||Bay Darnell||Rusty Wallace||Rusty Wallace|
|1980||Joe Ruttman||Rusty Wallace||Bay Darnell||Ken Schrader|
|1981||Dean Roper||Sal Tovella||Ken Schrader||Rick Hanley|
|1982||Dean Roper||Bay Darnell||Rick O'Brien||
|1983||Dean Roper||Butch Garner||Rick O'Brien||Roger Drake|
|1984||David Goldsberry||Ken Rowley||Jim Hall||David Goldsberry|