Sam Armour, G Production Roadster Racer
B Y R O B B E D D I N G T O N
Sam Armour, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, ran in the Southeast Division in G Production. He first qualified his Datsun 1600 for the Runoffs in 1980. Qualifying 26th on the grid of 26, his car lasted the distance and Sam eventually placed a respectable 17th.
Sam's car, in a distinctive blue livery with red and white stripes, regularly appeared in the Nissan Motorsports catalogs of the time, and was to become a feature of the coming Runoff weekends. In the early years Sam's own company, Armour Precision Engineering, was listed as the main sponsor, but as time went on Sam's success attracted more outside funding.
1981 was not a good year at the Runoffs. Having finished 4th in the Divisional Championships, Sam qualified in an improved 18th spot, only to retire in the second lap. His fortunes changed for the better however in 1982, when he won the Southeast Divisional Championship. The GP Runoffs proved to be very successful for Datsun/Nissan that year, Joe Hauser winning the title, with a further three cars finishing in the top eight. Sam, qualifying 19th, scored an excellent 6th place, his best to date.
Not qualifying in 1983 and 1984, Sam was back at the Runoffs in 1985, now sponsored by CD Norberg. After finishing 6th in the Southeast Divisional Championship Sam was again to retire in the early laps.
1986, and Sam's hard work paid off again. Finishing second in the Divisionals this year, Sam qualified 17th at the Runoffs. First lap mayhem helped Sam's efforts and he was soon to move up the pack. Battling with Joe Hauser for 7th place at the end of the race, Sam hung on, and was boosted to 6th position by a spin from Jack Brock on the last lap.
|Sam Armour Roadster Gallery|
|1982 Valvoline Runoffs, Road Atlanta|
|1986 Valvoline Runoffs, Road Atlanta|
|1987 Valvoline Runoffs, Road Atlanta|
|Track shot of Sam, Road Atlanta, 1987|
1987 saw Sam's best qualification to date, in 9th place. Duels with Kent Prather (MGA) and Joe Hauser (Datsun) saw Sam move up the pack finishing 6th yet again, ahead of Joe in 7th.
1988 was the low point of Sam's Runoff career. Boosted by recent results and his ability to keep out of trouble, he attacked the first corner in an effort to get inside Jack Brock's Sprite Ernie de Jacomo's Datsuns - all three fell off the track and Brock's Sprite barrel-rolled to a stop. The two Datsuns hit the tyre wall with force, with Armour's car finishing on top of Ernie's. Sam was disqualified and was received a 2 month ban from competition.
The GP Runoffs
The aftermath of the 1988 incident, which also appears on the Ernie de Jacomo pages, can be seen in a series of images by clicking here - photographs courtesy of Alan Poindexter.
1988 was Sam's last Runoffs. His record is detailed below.
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