TIME MACHINE: 1981 - FITZPATRICK REPEATS AT RIVERSIDE FONTANA, Calif. (March 21, 2005) --- John Fitzpatrick returned to Riverside International Raceway with Jim Busby as his co-driver for the six-hour Los Angeles Times/TOYOTA Grand Prix...
TIME MACHINE: 1981 - FITZPATRICK REPEATS AT RIVERSIDE
FONTANA, Calif. (March 21, 2005) --- John Fitzpatrick returned to Riverside International Raceway with Jim Busby as his co-driver for the six-hour Los Angeles Times/TOYOTA Grand Prix Endurance on April 26, 1981. He brought his own Porsche 935 and was turning heads as that machine did in those days.
The double act was in the lead at the green flag, but on lap two, allowed Bobby Rahal a chance at the clean air. Since money wasn't given to lap leaders, it didn't seem a problem to Fitzpatrick to fight for the top spot that early in the race.
Gianpiero Moretti got off the course in turn one, and set a lively pace, sometimes touching 200 mph on Riverside's long backstretch to take the lead by the three-hour mark. He'd lead from lap 64 to 134 when a broken rocker arm sent him to the pits. He would rebound to finish only 14th.
With 90 minutes to go, Fitzpatrick was four laps ahead of second-place John Paul and John Paul Jr. The father-son racing team reached for the boost control and set themselves on a high-speed chase to carve away at the lead. Paul/Paul Jr began averaging a lap time of 117.682 mph, a pace that had never been witnessed before in this event, to help redeem the lost laps.
A faulty turbocharger that was leaking oil sent Fitzpatrick/Busby into the pits. Despite the equipment issue the drivers of the No. 1 Porsche still managed to beat Paul/Paul Jr. by 33 seconds to the finish line. It would be back-to-back race wins for Fitzpatrick at Riverside International Raceway. Rahal and co-driver Brian Redman finished third (two laps behind) with Bob Garretson/Ralph Kent Cooke in fourth and Hurley Haywood/Bruck Leven in fifth. More than 30 of the original 58 starters were still going at the finish.
Stay tuned for more great racing moments as California Speedway looks back at Riverside International Raceway's rich history. Next up, Ted Field and Bill Whittington battle back from an early race incident to clinch the 1982 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.