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Auto Racing – 1978 – Indy 500 Time Trials – The Last Hour – Al Loquasto + Larry Rice And Paul Hawkey

In the final hour of the 1978 Indy 500 Time Trials….there was one spot left in the field when Bob Harkey was preparing to make his attempt….as Jim Hurtubise….who had once again entered his now-infamous Mallard/Offy front-engined car….had been denied the permission to qualify, due to lack of speed….when USAC had decided to set a 180 mph minimum speed in order to pass “final” inspection, receive the appropriate sticker and be allowed to make a qualifying attempt….as they deemed Hurtubise ineligible by claiming he had not broken 175 mph despite some claiming he had lapped over 184 mph…..as Hurtubise considered the ruling a personal harassment, lies, and an effort by USAC, Goodyear and the Speedway to single him out and keep him from qualifying.  After being a popular fixture amongst the fans for many years….there were several episodes of antics that had caused some to begin to view Hurtubise unfavorably…..then when Hurtubise got into a heated exchange with chief steward Tom Binford….and proceeded to climb into Harkey’s car while shouting “If I can’t qualify, no one can!”.   After a few minutes, Hurtubise was coaxed out of the car….and Harkey climbed in to crank it up….and with some encouragement from the crowd, Hurtubise then jumped in front of Harkey, preventing him from pulling out of the pits….when he had to be restrained by safety patrol members, and Harkey managed to pull away….and while Harkey was on the backstretch of his warm-up lap….that is when Hurtubise jumped over the pit wall and ran out on the race track in order to disrupt and halt the qualifying attempt….and while running down the main stretch, several guards chased after him…..as Hurtubise was tackled by John Martin and was then detained by police.  By this time, the crowd’s opinion had changed, and they began booing and jeering Hurtubise for going too far by disrupting qualifying. Hurtubise was banned from the track for the remainder of the month…..as Harkey managed to finish his qualifying attempt without incident….but his speed was not fast enough to stand….and within twenty minutes, Harkey was bumped by Joe Saldana…..and the day closed with Cliff Hucul bumping Graham McRae with two minutes left in the qualifying day.

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