In 1969, with Bob Judkins taking the 2x coupe to a Fonda dirt race every Saturday, Ed began to drive other cars and in particular the Mills-Welch #79. It was a nice car, but whereas in the 2x Ed had been almost always among the fastest, if not the fastest, on the track, in the 79 he seemed always to have to struggle to be competitive.
Late that year in the Thompson 500, again it was clear that there were several cars that were quicker than the 79. Nonetheless, with smart pit strategy and Ed’s smooth but relentless driving, by about the 300th lap Ed was in the lead. He was just quick enough that it appeared that, barring a problem, he would be able to maintain 1st position for the rest of the race.
Unfortunately, on approximately the 400th lap, as he got on the power exiting the 4th turn, the car began to accelerate as normal but then hesitated. I could see him then bang his hand on the wheel in frustration, the car began to coast, and he brought it into the pits.
A valve had broken, ending his race. The record shows that Bugs Stevens won the race. Ed’s part in the race is essentially forgotten. Nonetheless, if it were not for that defective valve, he would have driven a far-from-fastest car to victory in the longest-ever (312 miles) Modified race.
The video is by George Meade.