In 1969 Fred Gerhardt built several copies of the STP Lotus-Turbines that ran during the 1968 season on the USAC Championship Trail. The Lotus chassis had a wedge shape that reminded many people of a door stop. Gerhardt’s cars were nearly identical except they were built to carry an internal combustion engine since USAC had effectively outlawed Turbine engines. Gerhardt sold one of these new cars to the STP team owned by Andy Granatelli.
Granatelli had a Turbocharged Offenhauser engine installed and named Art Pollard as the driver. Painted in the STP color day-glo red and number 20, Pollard dropped out of the first two races of the season at Phoenix, AZ an Hanford, CA. During the course of the Hanford race tragedy struck the team when the car caught fire during a pit stop. Grant King and Larry Stainton were changing right side tires and both jumped back when the car started burning. Stainton was struck by the car of Mario Andretti as it was entering its pit. Stainton’s head injuries proved fatal.
The car was repaired and renumbered 57, and taken to Indianapolis for the 500 mile race on Memorial Day. Greg Weld practiced in the car but had trouble getting it up to speed so veteran Carl Williams was put in the car and qualified at 163.265 mph. He dropped out of the race early on with clutch trouble.
Weld was back in the car for the next race at Milwuakee and qualified the car solidly in the field. At the start, team leader Art Pollard had the gearbox lock up on his car, with the ensuing mess taking out 10 cars including his own and causing a red flag situation. While the track was being cleaned up, Pollard replaced Weld in the number 57 and restarted at the tail of the field. Pollard charged through the pack and took the lead when Mario Andretti suffered engine problems on the 90th of 200 laps. Pollard led the rest of the distance to record his first Indy car win.
On August 24, 1969 the car showed up at the new Dover Downs for the first Indy Car race at the 1-mile paved oval. Something was very different however, as the Turbo-Offy power plant had been replace with a naturally aspirated 318 cubic inch Plymouth. The high banked track proved very tough on cars but the #57, in the capable hands of Art Pollard was more than a match for the first superspeedway to be built in the state of Delaware. After 200 grueling laps Art Pollard passed under the checkered flag as the first and to date, the only man to win an Indy car race in a car powered by a Plymouth engine.
Granatelli sold the car to Art Pollard before the start of the 1970 season. Pollard owned several car washes in the Portland, OR area thus the name of the car became the Pollard Car Wash Special. Pollard drove it in the opening race at Phoenix but retired the car with turbocharger problems. Greg Weld drove it at Trenton.
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