1957: A Spe­cial Sweep

Hot Rod - - Contents - Dave Wal­lace

Peter DePaolo Engineering and pi­lot Jerry Unser were in the chase to win a USAC cham­pi­onship when 1957’s in­dus­try­wide rac­ing ban of­fi­cially shut down Big Three “skunkworks” op­er­a­tions in June.

Both of DePaolo’s fac­tory-su­per­charged, 312ci Fords went up for sale. HOT ROD owner Robert E. Petersen stepped up to help the Unser broth­ers be­come overnight team own­ers, with enough left­over let­tuce to last un­til Oc­to­ber’s se­ries fi­nale at the new River­side Race­way.

Jerry’s Ford (92)—the same car that won Pikes Peak back in July—brought a 300-point lead over Ralph Moody into a show­down pay­ing 500 First Place points. The first stock-car race on River­side’s 3.3-mile sporty-car course saw the two ti­tle con­tenders trade the lead for the first 44 of 76 laps, af­ter which Moody dropped out, clinch­ing Unser’s ti­tle. Ten laps from the end, Jerry was trail­ing Jimmy Bryan un­til the Mercury (4) lost ig­ni­tion, handing him the final win of a cham­pi­onship year. Com­plet­ing the fa­mous fam­ily’s clean sweep, Bobby qual­i­fied the sec­ond Hot Rod Spe­cial on the pole and brother Louie was named top me­chanic.

Both pho­tos are out­takes to the two sim­i­lar shots pub­lished in HRM’s Feb. 1958 race cov­er­age. We found all four frames on the same 12-ex­po­sure roll. Here, Bobby looks less than thrilled by the cheap clock tro­phy awarded to a pole­sit­ter. Mak­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion is none other than builder (and 1925 Indy 500 win­ner) Peter DePaolo.

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