Midsummer weather and the lively prospect of a duel between Rodger Ward, last year's Indianapolis winner, and the current world driving champion, Jack Brabham of Australia lured 60,000 racing enthusiasts Sunday to the Grand Prix for sports cars at Riverside Raceway, 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
It was not the advertised stars, however, but race-wise Carroll Shelby of Dallas who mastered the tricky, 3.275-mile road course in the shadow of the San Bernardino mountains. Shelby, won at Le Mans last year, and it is becoming increasingly obvious that he has a knack for winning big races, particularly when the purse is worthwhile. Driving a "birdcage" Maserati, the same model that failed for Stirling Moss at Sebring a week earlier, he coddled his engine through the hot early going and had the race all to himself at the end, when he was actually easing up. His average winning speed, 87.5 mph for the 62-lap, 200-mile-plus course, was no record but earned him $7,200.
A minute and 12 seconds behind Shelby came Ken Miles of North Hollywood, last year's winner, driving a Porsche. Brabham, in a 2-liter Cooper Monaco, finished a disappointing sixth, and Ward dropped out early. The race was marred by the death of Argentine sportsman Pedro von Dory who ran straight off the course on the 59th lap. It was exacting on cars, too. Of 40 starters, only 16 were able to finish.