TIME MACHINE: 1980 - FITZPATRICK TAKES RIVERSIDE WIN, SERIES TITLE FONTANA, Calif. (March 18, 2005) --- Following their sophomore year in racing and their win at Riverside International Raceway (1979) as well as a win at Le Mans, Don and Bill ...
TIME MACHINE: 1980 - FITZPATRICK TAKES RIVERSIDE WIN, SERIES TITLE
FONTANA, Calif. (March 18, 2005) --- Following their sophomore year in racing and their win at Riverside International Raceway (1979) as well as a win at Le Mans, Don and Bill Whittington were blazing up the IMSA circuit. The duo gave the racing world something else to talk about when they shattered the set qualification time by almost 1.5 seconds to create a new record of 119.642 mph for the April 27, 1980 Los Angeles Times/TOYOTA Grand Prix of Endurance.
Throughout the series' 10 races at Riverside International Raceway, this would be the only five-hour event while all but the final race were six-hours.
At the beginning of the race John Fitzpatrick and Dick Barbour out dragged the pole sitter to take the lead. While the day would be top of the cake for Fitzpatrick, the Whittington Porsche soon spit fire as loud noises manifested under the hood and several unscheduled pit stops took them out of contention.
Additionally, several of the Porsche entries would have engine trouble, allowing Fitzpatrick/Barbour to be left nearly alone at the top. By the end of the first hour, Bob Garretson and Bobby Rahal put themselves in contention for the second place position and held on. Bruce Leven/Hurley Haywood, Dale Whittington/Michael Chandler and Bob Akin/Roy Woods/Ralph Kent Cooke rounded out the top five finishers, respectively.
In victory lane Barbour showed a "V for Victory" with his left hand during the trophy presentation, dubbing Fitzpatrick as "the best Porsche driver in the world." Fitzpatrick drove all but 90 minutes of the race en-route to their win. He'd continue to dominate during the 1980 season, taking eight victories as he clinched the series title.
Stay tuned for more great racing moments as California Speedway looks back at Riverside International Raceway's rich history. Next up, John Fitzpatrick does it again in the 1981 Los Angeles Times/TOYOTA Grand Prix of Endurance for back-to-back wins at Riverside.
Great road racing continues to thrive in Southern California at the home of California Speedway. Join Grand American for the Rolex Sports Car Series 400 and Grand-Am Cup Series 200 on April 1-3, 2005. Tickets are available as both weekend packages and individual tickets. For ticket and event information, call 800-944-RACE  or visit www.californiaspeedway.com.