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- 1 -  Notes roughly coordinated with Tam McPartland's Old Race Car site  - 1 -

Pomona: I understand it was a Morris Minor rack and pinion that broke, causing the crash at Pomona. Earlier that day I had been working flags at the right turn at the end of that back straight. The driver of a silver Lotus XI lost it and slid past the station. He was traveling pretty fast, and backward when he banged into one of the telephone poles lying at the edge of the asphalt, marking the edge of what was ordinarily a county fair parking lot. The impact knocked him unconscious, and launched the car into another obstacle in the neighboring olive grove. Once he revived it developed he was unhurt other than the concussion. I want to say it was Bob Challman, but I'm not sure. Possibly John Timanus.

When he spun out he was coming right at us. In the scramble to get out of his way, I stepped on something and sprained my ankle, seriously. It didn't hurt immediately, and I continued helping to resolve the Lotus problem. After about fifteen minutes, it started to throb, and I couldn't put my weight on it. There was an extra flagman at our station, so I could be relieved. I went to sit in my MG where I had parked it at the end of the olive grove away from the track. I took a couple of pictures of small production cars as I sat.

That's where I was when Drake's steering failed. I had seen the two cars racing for several laps. Each time they made the right turn across my view. Then the yellow car did not make the turn. It went straight off through the snow fence and into the crowd. I saw one man flipped up, spread-eagled and spinning in reverse, rotating over the top against the way he had come. On the downswing his head hit the fender of a Porsche. Other people were mangled, had snow fence laths splintered and driven into their legs. It was a mess. I hobbled over there, where my friend and flagging co-worker Mike Houston was holding the flipping man's brains off the ground. The man's surname was Ford, according to newspaper accounts. I passed out from the vision, and the pain in my ankle, and got some gravel embedded in my forehead. I wasn't much use.

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I worked as flagman for at least three Pomona weekends in 1960-62, and of all the tension and outright fear I ever felt—racing, or working in any capacity—this was the place generating the most.

To work the Corvette race in a back-to-the-traffic flagman position on the edge of the track near the braking area for Turn One was a true baptism of fire. The face-the-traffic position was terrifying: you could see the Corvettes' front wheels wagging back and forth as the drivers tried to modulate and steer these drum-braked behemoths. The flagman with his back to the oncoming cars had only the posture of his partner and the sound of straining engines and squealing tires to measure the likelihood of survival.

I can tell you as a matter of personal knowledge, a worker's senses can be honed to the extent that a downstream-looking flagman responds correctly to changes in engine and tire sound characteristics before the upstream flagman does. After the races you could always tell the last pair to work those positions by the cloud of aerosoled adrenalin settling about their shoulders as they sipped—more likely slugged back—a beer.

I worked a Pomona race in the rain. It was miserable, but fun. One of the MG racers said he was relieved to learn that the secret was as simple as starting your turn-in earlier. Simple, all right, and effective if that was actually his technique. He did well in his Twin-Cam "A." I think it was someone named Bud Smith, who worked flags when not racing, or Bob Williams, from Calexico, with whom I eventually worked in preparing the Holtville track for racing.

I have one program from a Pomona race, but I can't put my hands on it yet. A program, a bag lunch, and a dash plaque were the pay a worker received for a weekend's work. The dash plaques are around here, too, but I'm not sure where. They will make a nice graphic, if I can find them. Aha! There's one now. Not from Pomona. In 1983 I may still have been doing Steward duty. I must have come by this in some other way. I don't remember the race.

JPG: scan of a 1983 RIR Enduro race dash plaque  One size only

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