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There Was No Stopping This Press in Miller 150

June 05, 1985|DAVID KECK

Memorial Day wasn't a day for Dan Press to remember.

Press was driving at the Orange Show in San Bernardino when his modified Camaro caught the brunt of a late-race smash.

"Another car did a swan dive on top of mine," Press said.

The Newhall resident was not hurt. His car was mangled.

The mishap not only cut Press' race short, but it had the distinct possibility of keeping him out of last Saturday's Miller High Life 150 at Saugus Speedway.

For Press, missing a big open-competition race was unthinkable. So, he and his crew rebuilt the car in four days and took it to the track.

Then Press pulled one mean trick: He broke the season speed record while qualifying.

But, the real topper came later. Press outmuscled 20 starters to take the $4,000 first-place check.

Press beat some of Southern California's best stock car drivers as well as a guy from Hueytown, Ala., named Bobby Allison.

Yes, the Bobby Allison of NASCAR Grand National fame.

Allison, in town for the race at Saugus and for the Budweiser 400 at Riverside International Raceway on Sunday, showed the crowd he still knew how to handle a short track.

Although he had never seen Saugus Speedway, the former NASCAR champion posted the fourth-best qualifying mark (15.88 seconds over the one-third-mile track) of the evening in John Covan's Firebird. Last year's track champion and current point leader, Ken Sapper, qualified third.

"I've run enough tracks to where I can relate," Allison said. "One asset I have is that I can adapt quickly."

A driver of Allison's caliber might have been intimidating to some drivers, considering such a qualifying run.

But, it was Jim Thirkettle, Saugus Speedway champion in 1975, who broke Press' short-lived record with the night's fastest qualifying time (15.59) to take the pole position.

Press passed Thirkettle for first in turn one of the fifth lap. Allison got by Ken Bosse for fourth during lap 16. Sapper held at third.

And that's the way it stayed.

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