The 1972 SCCA Runoffs
1972 - the last corner before the finishing straight. The gap: just 0.2 seconds.
For 1972, Bob had enjoyed a better season in the divisions than 1971, winning the Southeast title, ahead of Jim Reeves in his Yenko Stinger, and Rick Cline in his Triumph GT-6 Mk111. His passage to the Runoffs to defend the D Production title was therefore assured.
The 1972 D Production runoffs were hailed as the best of the ARRC weekend that year. Bob McQueen, desperate to retain his title, was expected to be an easy target for the semi-works Group 44 Triumphs of Brian Fuerstenau and Don Devendorf. Smarting from their defeat the previous season, Triumph pulled out all the stops for this Championship.
1972 ENTRY LIST
Bob Qualified fastest, in a lap of 1:37.491 seconds at 93.15mph.
In the initial stages of the Runoffs, both Fuerstenau and Devendorf were involved in chasing down McQueen. All three cars were locked in battle, occasionally racing three abreast down the straight and, on the fouth lap, Fuerstenau pulled out a new lap record (1:38.254). Devendorf then tried too hard under 3 Lane Bridge on lap 6, parted the track at speed and came to rest in a mudbath, caused by that weekends heavy rain. He made it back on the track in third, but soon retired. Fuerstenau piled on the pressure, attacked the veteran Datsun 2000 down the pit straight, and nosed in front for a couple of turns, only to be taken by McQueen again between turns 5 and 6. To quote Bob McQueen:-
"Brian got by me only once, on turn 1, but seemed to be on my doorhandles all day"
Unknown to everybody but McQueen, he had suffered a broken shock absorber in the first lap. "After that, I had trouble steering!" McQueen commented. As the race progressed, McQueen amazingly made better use of the traffic and increased his lead to around 3 seconds until, in the final stages, steam started pouring from his radiator. By the beginning of the last lap he was less than 2 seconds behind. The final lap was probably the most exciting lap of the ARRC weekend. Fuerstenau went for broke and caught McQueen by turn 6. He stuck with McQueen through turns 8 and 9 and, by turn 10 and the bridge, the Triumph was locked on the Datsun's tail. Both drivers attacked the last corner faster than any lap before, resulting in a synchronised four wheel drift for both cars (see above image). Into the finishing straight the Datsun hung on to the track, while Fuerstenau just lost his back end, throwing up mud and gravel over the line, just 0.2 seconds behind a triumphant McQueen.
The 1972 SCCA Results
McQueen won at an average 91.28mph, a new record. This was the third year in succession that a Datsun 2000 triumphed over a GT6+ by less than a second at the Runoffs.
Other Datsun racers who faired well in the 1972 Runoffs were Dan Parkinson who placed third and Kirk Allegro, who came in fourth after slowing, believing Dan to have a tyre problem.