52ND ANNUAL LITTLE 500 SPRINT CAR RACE, ANDERSON, IN ANDERSON, IN, May 29, 1999 - Things may have changed a lot down at the big track on 16th Street in Indianapolis but the...
52ND ANNUAL LITTLE 500 SPRINT CAR RACE, ANDERSON, IN ANDERSON, IN, May 29, 1999 - Things may have changed a lot down at the big track on 16th Street in Indianapolis but the Little 500 in Anderson has remained very much the same for 52 years. A tiny little 1/4 mile bull ring but blazing fast with its 18 degree banked turns Anderson is valhallah to non-wing sprint people from all over the world. Its principal competition now comes from the USAC regulars battling the TBARA gang from Tampa.
The infield pits are still the same, perhaps a little better protected with Jersey barrier but still jammed with mechanics, handlers, fuelers, and others probably more in the way than not. The first casualty of the night is Den England who gets knocked out by a push truck which ran over his wheel and damaged him beyond immediate repair. This allowed Larry Fritz to join the field on the tail. At the Little 500 cars are not scored while in the pits. The infield figure 8 course is blocked and the drivers have to pit in a bent line through the middle without crossing the center. At 8:13 all the push offs were done and the field shuffled into position, not an easy task for the 33 full sized sprint cars with no wings. The start was cobbed when Jeff Bloom tangled with ten other cars before the first turn was negotiated. After hasty discussion amongst the officials it was decided to perform a complete restart. The second start went off at 8:31 but it too was marred by a balky motor on Jim Childers machine and the field went single file. This made for a well distributed field and the fewest accidents seen in the Little 500 in recent memory. It became immediately clear that the front runners were going to be Tony Elliott, Kipp Beard, Larry Tyler, and Chet Fillip who commenced to lap the back markers well before 50 laps were in. Fillip was driving a fast pace but chose to keep the leaders, first Elliott and then Bentley Warren, in sight. He clearly appeared to be running with a clear mission in mind.
With less than a hundred laps to go Fillip, running now in the lead, was able to pit without losing the lead. His competition from the Niebel 20 of Warren faded around lap 433 when either the 59 year old Warren or his V-6 mount became tired and he fell back but still in the top ten. Fillip finished the 500th lap strongly with the car of Eric Gordon one lap behind. Kipp Beard came in third despite a one lap penalty for passing the leader on a yellow flag. Young Billy Puterbaugh, who ran loose all night, showed a lot of stamina if not finess and brought home fourth money. Determined senior driver Jim Childers was fifth, followed by Dude Teate, Warren, Wayne Reutimann, and Bill Rose. Seventy one year old Benny Rapp made a good case for changing the social security age by pacing himself to a 13th place position and running well at the finish when many half his age were parked. By 11:30 PM the fans had dispersed and Anderson returned to the bustling little industrial town which does its own thing in its own way the rest of the year.