On This Day in Trans Am History: June 16, 1973
June 16, 2020
June 16, 1973
There was no need for a checkered flag at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Circuit on Saturday, June 16, 1973. Mother Nature took matters into her own hands shortly after 6 p.m., blanketing the circuit with a wall of heavy fog that ended the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli race 20 laps shy of the scheduled 92-lap (500 kilometer) distance.
Maurice “Mo” Carter was declared the winner. He was forced to abandon his Chevrolet Camaro on the race course, and was taken to the Kendall Service Center to receive his trophy. Weather dominated the event, changing from wet to dry several times, leading to numerous pit stops to switch to the appropriate tires.
Carter became the first Canadian driver to win in the Trans Am. It was also his lone triumph in 38 starts from 1969-81.
The lead in the competitive event changed hands seven times. Paul Nichter captured the pole with a lap of 2:02.103-seconds on the 3.377-mile circuit and led the opening 10 laps in the rain. Milt Minter then led through lap 24 in the Bob Harmon Porsche Carrera RS. John Greenwood then powered his Corvette into the lead for 13 circuits, before giving way to the Corvette of Marshall Robbins for 11 laps. Greenwood regained the lead when Robbins pitted, but Al Holbert went out front for five laps in the Porsche Carrera RS started by Mark Donohue. Greenwood again took the lead on lap 61, and led until lap 69 when Carter took over.
Four laps later, fog blanketed the circuit. With virtually zero visibility, officials used flares to warn the drivers stranded throughout the circuit.
Peter Gregg finished second, 45 seconds back in the Gerrard Porsche RS, followed by the Greenwood/Bob Johnson Corvette, the Corvette of Robbins and Jerry Thompson, and Ludwig Heimrath in a Porsche 911.
The race was part of a popular Five Star format, also including an SCCA L&M Championship Series Formula 5000 race won by championship-bound Jody Scheckter, and a Volkswagen Gold Cup event won by Bertil Roos.