Sunday 25th April 1971
Frank Matich ran 2nd in both heats to take the win in the SCCA Continental Championship Formula 5000 race at Riverside International Raceway, California, US. With 2 heat format F5000 races decided on combined time, Matich came out with the best overall finish in a crash filled event that opened the ’71 F5000 season. A sudden rain and hail storm hit while cars were on the grid for Heat 1, then David Hobbs spun and stalled avoiding the pace car on the pace lap. The race started in a light rain and Monte Shelton took the lead going into turn 9, having come from 12th starting. Shelton, one of only two drivers that switched to rain tires, used his tires and wet weather experience to pull to a 10 second lead by the end of lap 2 and a 21.4 second lead by lap 5. Even with the track drying, Shelton continued to stretch his lead in his Eagle-Chevy. 30 seconds ahead on the lap 16, Shelton went wide in turn 6 in a lapping attempt and hit the wall to end his great run. With Shelton out, a great 5 car duel went on up front with Lou Sell, Skip Barber, Posey, Ron Grable and Jim Dittemore closely bunched. Starting lap 21, Posey made a move to pass Barber on the start/finish straight. At the same moment, Barber made a feint on Sell and clipped the nose of Posey’s Surtees. Posey pitted the next lap to repair the nose as Sell and Barber continued their battle. A half-lap later, while trying to lap Sell’s car owner Ozzie Pohl, Pohl hit Sell, bounced off and into Barber, sending all three out of the race with Barber’s F1 March 701-Ford resting upside down in a ditch. No one was injured. Grable pulled away from Dittemore, taking the flag first by 9 seconds. Matich recovered from an early spin and passed Dittemore in the final turn for 2nd. Matich took the lead on the start of the 2nd 36 lap heat with Grable 2nd. Posey soon was 3rd from 11th starting, getting by Grable for 2nd on lap 4 and Matich for 1st, 2 laps later. Hobbs, still without a clutch, charged from 25th to 5th in 5 laps before parking with a sticking throttle. Knowing Matich could not take the overall win without winning heat 2, Grable was content in 3rd. But with 3 laps to go, Grable hit the rear of a car he was trying to lap and came to a rest minus his left side wheels in turn 4. Posey stretched his lead to 18 seconds as Matich cruised home 2nd to take the overall win in a race flagged 2 laps late. Utah Super Modified ace Mel Andrus died in a practice crash the day before.