Pontiac - Pontiac MI

City: Pontiac
State: MI
County: Oakland
Number of visits to this page: 15270

Please note that location entries may feature older photos or post card views that may not represent the current appearance, features, addresses, phone numbers, or contact names of the attraction. This site is intended to be a historical as well as current record of various attractions but it is not always possible to have up-to-date information due to the vast number of locations featured here. We ask you consult the propietor for current information.

General Information:

Paved Road Course on city streets - Operating Dates: 1974

Info Updates:
5/31/2012 - Fred Austin
My Uncle had a Beer tent, he owned Tom's Bar/Uiversity Inn over on University drive, in Pontiac. I'm sure my parents took some pictures, I have one the tickets, I remember that it was a big deal. I don't think Michigan had any other races in the streets excpet for Drag races on Woodward. It wasn't until 82' F-1 in Detroit that I was at another street track.
1/17/2011 - Lynne Best
One of the best hot dogs I ever ate came from Pontiac's Chili Bowl. Right across from the place my father worked. Mich. Unemployment Center. Don't know if it's still there? My family had Pontiac Tent and Awning many, many years ago. before my dad went to work at the unemployment office. My mother taught in Pontiac for many years and schools. I go way back too, remember Pontiac's Secquasential, and dressing up like pioneers. I worked at Pontiac Airport ( now something new too. ) My family members have a lot of memories, even though we did not live in town.
1/11/2011 - BOB OWENS JR.
6/13/2010 - Doug
I was present in 1975 and saw Tope's crash. He was easily the fastest car out there, but had a problem with the car and had to pit. When he came back out from the pits, he was just flying, trying to make up time. Each lap was faster than the one before. There was a nasty bump in the track, an uneven seam in the pavement, shortly before the curve where he crashed, in the braking area. It appeared to me, watching from behind, that he lost traction at the bump and could not regain control and went hard into the barrier. It did not appear to be a failure of the car, but if there was a broken half shaft that caused the crash, it broke at that bump.
11/29/2009 - Mike Retheford (Tope)
Warren Tope was killed while driving a McLaren. I was there. fact
3/16/2009 - Omar Sinclair
I remember seeing a film of DeLorenzo's crash. The car was upside down, a total ball of fire. One of the amateur, volunteer corner workers ran to the scene, without protective clothing and completely without hesitation, slid into the wreck on his knees, and pulled Tony out. Absolutely one on the bravest and most selfless acts I have ever seen. I have no idea who this hero was.
4/24/2008 - Jeff Nelson
The Pontiac road race was held two years. Warren Tope won the inaugural race driving his IMSA / Trans Am Pantera. Warren was killed driving a McLaren Can Am car the second year. I worked with Warren Tope Racing and was standing in the corner and witnessed Warren's crash.

Warren died when his car ran under the Armco guard rail on the outside of a tight corner. The cause of the accident was a rear halfshaft that broke just prior to the corner. The whipping shaft severed the rear brake line causing a loss of rear brakes. The broken halfshaft to the outside rear wheel would have resulted in driving the car straight and directly into the rail when Tope tried to induce a power oversteer condition to negotiate the corner he could not slow down for.

The open cockpit of the McLaren offered Warren no protection from the guard rail that rode over the top of the car. Warren was crushed between the Armco and the roll bar behind him. In retrospect one horizontal bar of Armco between sand filled 55 gallon drums was not sufficient to keep a low slung car like the McLaren from running under it.

Another interesting event that happened during the first race was when Tony Delorenzo crashed his Corvette. The car flipped and became airborne directly towards a group of spectators. His car hit a light pole about six feet in the air which stopped the car and bounced it back into the road. Had it not been for the light pole there surely would have been a dozen or so spectators killed by the car.

In the following year when we arrived at the track all attention seemed to be directed as to whether there were sufficient barriers to keep a potential accident from hitting spectators. Attention to that may have made people overlook the potential of a low car getting under the Armco barrier the way Warren's McLaren did.
2/11/2008 - Sean Fitzgerald
Yes I know, he won the PREVIOUS year in a pantera. At least according to the Waterford hills 25th anniversary edition book.
2/11/2008 - Mark Colonese
I was at the race in Pontiac, watching from the East side of the track, if memory serves me, the cars were running North to the end of Woodward, where they had to turn right on a sweeper to swing around onto Wide Track. I was there because I had met Warren Tope whose shop was nearby, and we'd talked during some other SCCA events, as I was moving from NHRA to getting involved in building some SCCA road racing engines and campaigning cars, and it was very exciting to get a "real race" that was only 5 miles from my house in Bloomfield Hills. Warren's car (NOT a Panterra, that's a coupe) an open Can Am car went straight instead of turning right for some reason and went right under the Hauserman rail, the only thing that stopped the car was the roll bar loop, which, unfortunately, was behind Warren's head.

I went on to many other SCCA events when I was building Engines for George DeLorean (John's Brother) out of his shop Leader Automotive Racing on Wheaton Street in Troy, where we were building engines for the Klein Racing (Pete) SCCA B-Production Corvette with Ron Weaver driving, narrowly missing out on the 1977 World Championship beating Bob Tulius at the final race in Road Atlanta when the corner guy was so busy watching the crash he didn't put out a yellow flag, so we drove in full speed into the oil, spun in the final corner, tearing the front wheel off. Tulius had already DNF'd so all we had to do was cross the finish line, which we tried, but were black flagged 100 feet from finish due to dragging tire/wheel/control arm (no politics involved, I'm sure:). We even set up a deal when the city of Detroit was considering running a "Road Course" in 1977, when we had the State Police close I-75 for 30 minutes so we could drive 4 SCCA B-Production cars, Tony DeLorenzo's, ours (Kelin Racing, Ron Weaver driving) and 2 others, from the shop at Rochester road & I-75 to downtown and back several times. The terminal speed was the 8 mile curve, which had the cars slowed to around 110~120. While it was a cool idea, no one could figure how to do crowd control over 15 miles of expressway, so it was scrapped and eventually was re-worked into the FIA F1 races Downtown Detroit that started in 1982, which was eventually de-certified by the FIA due to Coleman's refusal to re-pave the track every 4 years as mandated by the governing bodies regulations, even after 4 additional years of variances. The Warren Tope accident gave everyone (municipalities) cold feet due to laibility and bad press, from an event promotional standpoint. Warren was a hellova nice guy, disturbing memory watching the crash, seeing the car behind the shop. Let's hope that Roger Penske's involvement in re-viving the sport in Detroit continues, watched Johnny & the boys run the Yellow GT1 'Vett's in the LeMans Series Saturday from the Pits & stands, it was very cool last year parking my boat off of Belle Isle & watching the IRL race Sunday.


Mark Colonese
6/28/2007 - David Emmer
Back in those years I raced with WHHRI and was at both races. 1974 saw the factory Corvette of Tony DeLorenzo (?) burn to the ground during the race. 75 was indeed the year Warren died. I was a co-driver and saw that he hit the #53 VW before his crash. I think he severed a brake line from the resivour causing his inability to slow.
6/21/2007 - Sean Fitzgerald
More info. He won the previous year in a Pantera. Warren Tope crashed during a race held in a street circuit in Pontiac, Michigan, called the Wide Track II. He was driving a Can-Am McLaren owned by Gordy Oftedahl of Minneapolis, Minnesota in a Sports Car Club of America event. Tope, the son of a vice-president of Ford Motor Company was dead on arrival at Pontiac General Hospital. Tope won this same race, Wide Track I, the year before in a Pantera. He began racing in 1969 and was named the 1970 SCCA Rookie of the Year. In 1971 he won SCCA's A Sedan national championship. Earlier in 1975 he had competed in two NASCAR races, the Daytona 500 and the Atlanta 500.
6/20/2007 - Sean Fitzgerald
According to the pictures in and information in the Waterford Hills 25th Aniversery publication warren Tope was driving a Pantera. I will scan the photos and submit them.
6/20/2007 - Tony Buglione
Warren Tope was killed while driving a McLaren Can Am car,not a Pantera.I was standing in the vacant lot that was just before the accident site.I noticed just prior to the crash that the car had front end damage from contact with another racer.A fellow member of the car club I'm in has told me that there's a filmed account of the accident.
6/11/2007 - Sean Fitzgerald
The driver who was killed in 1975 was warren Tope, driving a Pantera. He won the race in 1974. Those are the two years the race was run and both years were closely associated with the group of Waterford Hills course and drivers.
6/9/2007 - Chuck Dewey
If I'm not mistaken and I could be. This is the one and only time the city of Pontiac attempted to have road racing as a downtown attraction. It used Wide Track drive mostly. Unfortunately the event turned tragic in that a driver, whom I do not remember, was decapitated after losing control and going under a guard rail. I was there and witnessed it. Something I have not forgotten.
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