Marshall scores last victory for slingshots
Reprinted from the August 18, 1972 issue of National DRAGSTER
NHRA GRANDNATIONAL -- In a race that would have left even the most hardened Las Vegas oddsmaker speechless, Springfield, New Jersey's Art Marshall literally came out of nowhere to win Top Fuel Eliminator at the second Annual NHRA Grandnational.
The 23-year-old speed shop salesman got past three of the best in the business, Clayton Harris, Carl Olson, and finally Jeb Allen, to annex top honors, and although lady luck saw to it that he wasn't pressed during the meet, Marshall nevertheless belted out steady 6.5s as needed, culminating with a 6.57, 220.58 mph final conquest of Allen.
For young Jeb, recent NHRA Summernationals winner, the final was a bitter disappointment. After topping the quicker cars of Herm Petersen and Ken McLean with uncanny starting-line tenacity, Allen had the misfortune of going up in smoke in the last round -- caused when his own engine dumped a puddle of water right in front of the rear tires on the Allen family's "Praying Mantis" fueler.
In qualifying action, defending champion Pat Dakin stunned the fuel troops with an off-the-trailer 6.36 effort -- the first ever pass on Gary Rupp's new Donovan 417 engine. One can only wonder what might have happened had not Dakin shut off early, coasting to a 197-mph top-end clocking! The run stood as Low E.T. of the Meet, and also as the only pass Dakin made at Sanair.
The semifinals began with Marshall benefiting from a red-light, with Carl Olson cutting the Tree too close. Marshall advanced with 6.72, while Olson shut off to a 6.65, 164.53. The next encounter, between McLean and Allen, was easily the most exciting of the entire event. Jeb jumped to a slight lead off the line, but the Canadian machine caught and passed the "Praying Mantis" by mid-course. In the lights though, the complexion of the race changed again, as McLean's mount fell sour, slowing to a 6.39, 200 mph clocking, while Jeb crossed the finish line first with a 6.44, 226.70 Top Speed of the Meet effort, losing a handful of pistons in the process.
After some frantic pit work by both remaining crews, the stage was set for the final. And, as previously mentioned, a puddle of water caused the demise of Jeb Allen, while lady luck smiled on Art Marshall and Don Young's Van Iderstine-sponsored digger. The only front-motored car in the field, Marshall & Young's ex-Prudhomme (not McEwen, as previously stated) machine surprised some of the best in the business, and accordingly enough, the win vaulted driver Marshall into the Division 1 WCS points lead. Not a bad way to spend a delightful weekend in Canada.