In 1968, Toledo Speedway promoter and ARCA founder John Marcum came up with the idea of running a 200 lap Late Model invitational—the Glass City 200.  Despite a 20-year hiatus of the race from 1978-1998 (when the Toledo track was sold), the race was revived in 1999 when Marcum’s grandson, Ron Drager, purchased the track with business partner Roy Mott.

And the race still carries the prestige and notoriety that it once did back in the 1960’s and 1970’s

The 1973 edition of the 200 saw a formidable duo team up for this race.  With Joy Fair on the sidelines due to a serious crash at Toledo in July, Joe Ruttman was tabbed by car owner William Gillelan and Fair to drive the now-famous #1 Ford Maverick.

Ruttman wheeled the Maverick for the final 2 months of the season, and get this—the combo won 13 of 14 races, taking wins throughout the Midwest not only at weekly shows, but also several big races, including Toledo’s Glass City 200….

It would have been pretty hard to bet against the Ruttman-Fair team for this race.  55 cars showed, with legendary car builder Ed Howe setting fast time at 17:81.  With Howe and John Anderson, in Stan Yee’s #33, on the front row, Anderson sailed into the lead on the green flag and would stay there for the first 47 laps.  Ruttman took the point when Anderson spun in some oil, and Joe won the first 100 lap leg over Artie Sommers, Jim Bickerstaff, Jerry Makara and Dick Crup.  Bickerstaff arrived late at the track, won one of the consi races in his # 24 (#240 for this race), and started 24th on the field, putting on a sensational drive to take third at the break.  Harold Cook (#8 Ford Torino) took the other consi win.

1973_joe_ruttman_glass_city_200.jpgHowe, who crashed out early in the first 100, took over for Bickerstaff in the second 100 lap portion of the 200.  Sommers snared the lead from Ruttman for laps 101 and 102, but Joe wheeled the school bus yellow #1 back to the front and sailed to the victory, giving him 2 Glass City 200 victories.  Howe was second, Canton, OH driver Tony Diano (#36) was third, Centerline, MI Mike Shaw (#13) was fourth and Steve Asztalos (#81) was fifth.  Ruttman is shown with the trophy in victory lane with (left to right) announcer Howard Williams, the Marathon Oil rep (sponsor of the race), Ruttman and Fair.

Ruttman, Bickerstaff, Diano, Shaw and Asztalos were the overall top 5 for the 200 laps.

“I was questioned about how good of a driver I was,” said Ruttman.  “This opportunity to team with Joy and win these races should show that I can run with anyone.”  Ruttman knew that Fair was ready to get back in the car after the Glass City and this was probably his last race in the Maverick.  Would you like to stay in the car?  “Oh, Lord, yes,” Joe answered.  “Any driver that has the chance to drive Joy’s car would take that and run with it.”

The 13 of 14 win streak is perhaps one of the most noted feats in Late Model racing of that time, and, for that fact, even today, it’s still impressive.  Ruttman would go on to the big time of NASCAR and would later race in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series (as it was known) later in his career.

The 25th Anniversary of the Great Lakes Helicopter Glass City 200 presented by Francis Engineering, Woodville Auto Finance, Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express is set for Saturday, September 28.

As we move closer to the 2013 edition and this special anniversary of one of top outlaw-bodied Late Model races in the area, please check the website each day for stories, updates, lap money sponsors, the entry list and historic notes and photos (courtesy of ARCA historians Brian Norton and Jim Hehl) of the Glass City 200.

Lap money sponsorship and just $10 per lap and tickets are now on sale by calling 419-727-1100 today!