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Fast, wet—and almost dead
Hays Gorey
October 26, 1964
In one momentous day, a cool Californian pushed his jet racer to a land-speed record of 526 mph and survived a stupendous crackup
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October 26, 1964

Fast, Wet—and Almost Dead

In one momentous day, a cool Californian pushed his jet racer to a land-speed record of 526 mph and survived a stupendous crackup

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Two laps after the Grand Prix start, Parnelli had barged into the lead, but for a time Foyt was a threatening second as the road-racing elite embarrassingly trailed behind. Ultimately, however, a mechanical failure forced him in. Parnelli had said, "I plan to drive with my head, not my foot." His foot won, however. Never out of the lead, he gobbled up the opposition like a hammerhead devouring mullet. A few diehards were unimpressed even when Parnelli boosted the Riverside lap record from 94.5 mph to 98.6. "It can't last," said one. "Those corners will get him yet." At the end, though, only the second-place Chaparral of Roger Penske was on the same lap with Jones. Clark, third in a Lotus-Ford, had been lapped by the flying leader. "I was really abusing my car," Parnelli said later. Not to mention the road-racing men.

At week's end the same field moved on to Laguna Seca, Calif., but this time Parnelli overdid things a bit. Cornering hard, he crashed; his car caught fire. He leaped to safety. The winner: Roger Penske's Chaparral.

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