Jump to content


Photo

Your earliest Indy 500 memories?


  • Please log in to reply
99 replies to this topic

#51 Ray Bell

Ray Bell
  • Member

  • 53,831 posts
  • Joined: December 99

Posted 01 June 2008 - 22:33

Originally posted by fines
Wait till you are...


Have you been comparing notes with Hans Etzrodt?

Advertisement

#52 Lotus23

Lotus23
  • Member

  • 1,006 posts
  • Joined: October 02

Posted 01 June 2008 - 23:35

ZOOOM, terrific post -- you've witnessed some real Indy history up close and personal. Like our friend Flat Black, I wish you another 52 years there!

Quick question: who/what was "Buffer Red"? I thought I was pretty well versed in Indy jargon, but that's a new one on me.

#53 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 02 June 2008 - 07:39

'Buffer Red' was a nick for red-haired Pat Flaherty, earned in his youth when he used to test the "buffers" of his cars...

#54 Henri Greuter

Henri Greuter
  • Member

  • 4,794 posts
  • Joined: June 02

Posted 02 June 2008 - 08:15

Keep in mind I am Dutch, OK?

Earliest memory. TV News report in late May 1973 about a car race that was stopped after heavy accidents and rain preventing it to be run properly.
Only with hindsight I could figure out that this was my first ever introduction with Indianapolis. The Netherlands ignored Indy so I didn't know what I had seen in the TV News either.

Very first time I knew what I was looking at: 1976. One of the Dutch sports programs had send a reporter to make an impression about the indy 500, became a tv program of half an hour. Was broadcasted at 22:30 in the late evening and I had to persuade my parent for allowing me to have a look so late.
For the Dutch who read this: The program in question was Avro's Sportpanorama, Ruud ter Wijden presenting it and he had actually been to the speedway too.

Henri

#55 Lotus23

Lotus23
  • Member

  • 1,006 posts
  • Joined: October 02

Posted 02 June 2008 - 14:41

Michael, thanks for the update on "Irish" Pat Flaherty. I'd never heard him called "Buffer" before.

istr that many years after he retired, Pat's half-grown children were surprised to learn details of his 500 win. He apparently rarely, if ever, mentioned it. A correspondent (Speed Age??) tried to interview Pat and found him much more interested in discussing his hobby of racing pigeons than his automotive exploits!

Interesting guy...

#56 TrackDog

TrackDog
  • Member

  • 335 posts
  • Joined: August 07

Posted 02 June 2008 - 14:55

Originally posted by Buford



There you go that's probably it. He flipped over Chuck Weyant who was a good friend of my dad and who had a quarter midget track in Springfield, Illinois. Magill had a very long recovery from head injuries. I don't think he ever raced again.


That was probably the incident I remember...I was only 4 1/2 years old at the time, so any fire would have looked like a real conflagration.


Dan

#57 TrackDog

TrackDog
  • Member

  • 335 posts
  • Joined: August 07

Posted 02 June 2008 - 15:15

Originally posted by TrackDog


That was probably the incident I remember...I was only 4 1/2 years old at the time, so any fire would have looked like a real conflagration.


Dan


Magill injured his back in the crash, according to the Speedway press release re his death.


Dan

#58 962C

962C
  • Member

  • 126 posts
  • Joined: October 07

Posted 02 June 2008 - 19:24

Like others on this thread I'm from Europe (France to be precise), where there wasn't much information available in the pre-cable/satellite TV and Internet days.

Still, two episodes stick in my mind:

Johnny Rutherford's striking bright yellow Chaparral on the cover of French magazine Sport Auto in 1980. To me this was (and still is) one of the best looking Indy cars.

Gordon Johncock's win in 1982. This is the first time I remember seeing some images on TV (just a few seconds of Johncock crossing the finish line) For some reason I didn't quite get the winner's name; I suspect the presenter, who probably didn't have a clue, mispronounced it. So I spent some time trying to figure out who this could be and, until I saw a written report a few days later, I was convinced John Paul had won the Indy 500 :stoned:

#59 Buford

Buford
  • Member

  • 11,173 posts
  • Joined: March 01

Posted 02 June 2008 - 19:28

Originally posted by TrackDog


Magill injured his back in the crash, according to the Speedway press release re his death.


Dan



I read a article about Salt Walther once where he described Magill recuperating at his house when he was a kid (it was his dad's car) for a long time and he described him as having a hole in his head that drained fluids and he was basically having to learn how do do everything all over from holding a spoon on, due to head injuries, along with whatever else. I think he did eventually recover and lead a normal life.

Advertisement

#60 Russ Snyder

Russ Snyder
  • Member

  • 360 posts
  • Joined: October 07

Posted 03 June 2008 - 12:37

Originally posted by fines
Being based in Germany, that's actually very difficult to tell. The earliest memory I can come up with is from 1979, Mears winning and all.....


Amazing...based in Germany, yet knows road racing results info from 1910 dirt tracks!

I guess not really, I could go on and on about Beckenbauer, Breitner, Gerd mueller, Vogts, Overwrath, Holzenbein, Meir and the great West German football teams that I enjoyed immensely in the 1970's & 80's. (our classic sports is running retro Euro champ matches. I saw Beckebauer and the W Germans circa 1976 and realized again that he is in a class by himself!)

Earliest Indy 500 memory for me? Sid Collins and crew on the radio (Freddie Agabashian was a joy to listen too back in the day! He had a homespun way of explaining the goings on)..... Dad used to sit and track the race on the radio with a graph chart. It worked great. I wish i could find them now...of course Dad and I watched the tape delay that night on ABC TV, already knowing whom won and what other things happened thanks to his chart ;)

1973's race probably sticks out more than any other race from that time, for many reasons, one of them being 10 years young at the time.

#61 HDonaldCapps

HDonaldCapps
  • Member

  • 2,482 posts
  • Joined: April 05

Posted 03 June 2008 - 14:05

Originally posted by red stick
How long have you been in the army?


This relates to when I was an Army Brat (the formal nomenclature being a "military dependent").

It took me 33 years to figure out I didn't particularly care for being in the Army, although it may not have been much of a career, it was certainly a grand adventure.

#62 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 03 June 2008 - 14:10

Does anybody know if any of those old radio broadcasts of the 500 are available for purchase? Would certainly be worth owning.

#63 TrackDog

TrackDog
  • Member

  • 335 posts
  • Joined: August 07

Posted 03 June 2008 - 14:34

Originally posted by Flat Black
Does anybody know if any of those old radio broadcasts of the 500 are available for purchase? Would certainly be worth owning.


I think the 1955 race is available on CD, but I don't remember the vendor. IIRC, it's a little pricy; but it would certainly be a valuable addition to any enthusiast's library.

I'll try to find a source.


Dan

#64 Mallory Dan

Mallory Dan
  • Member

  • 2,673 posts
  • Joined: September 03

Posted 03 June 2008 - 14:36

Originally posted by LB
I presume I would have seen it a week later on Grandstand (maybe World of Sport) here in the UK but I had no idea who had won and was absolutely hooked on the race after that. Its a similar story at a similar age with Bathurst down in Australia, again it was on tape delay highlights a week later on the BBC and watching that got me hooked.


It'd be mid-70s for me, fairly sure it was on ITV's World of Sport, the Saturday after the race. I recall Jackie Stewart did some expert analysis alongside the normal US TV commentator, Chris Economacki perhaps?

JYS had a lovely way of pronouncing the name of the well-known Crew Chief of one of the leaders, though I'm b-----ered if I can remember his name now, help me out chaps!! Very evocative name, for a 12-13 year old anyway. Never been to the race live, amd determined to get there one day...

#65 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 03 June 2008 - 15:15

IIRC, Keith Jackson and Stewart were the TV commentators in the mid-70s, and Economaki was the pit reporter.

#66 ZOOOM

ZOOOM
  • Member

  • 517 posts
  • Joined: April 08

Posted 03 June 2008 - 15:27

Thanks for your kind comments. My involvment with the 500 must go back to my mother. She told the story about being kicked out of the Speedway one latenight for driving her model T arround the track...

She knew the founding pastor of St. Christopher's Catholic Church (in Speedway). He (the story goes) kicked her out of the church he was an associate at for playing "Tiger Rag" on the Church organ....

I think I have VERY good genes...

ZOOOM

#67 red stick

red stick
  • Member

  • 2,288 posts
  • Joined: October 05

Posted 03 June 2008 - 17:59

Originally posted by Mallory Dan
JYS had a lovely way of pronouncing the name of the well-known Crew Chief of one of the leaders, though I'm b-----ered if I can remember his name now, help me out chaps!! Very evocative name, for a 12-13 year old anyway. Never been to the race live, amd determined to get there one day...


Bignotti?

#68 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 03 June 2008 - 18:46

Clint Brawner?

#69 Mallory Dan

Mallory Dan
  • Member

  • 2,673 posts
  • Joined: September 03

Posted 05 June 2008 - 11:15

Originally posted by red stick


Bignotti?


Thats then one, it came to me this morning!

#70 red stick

red stick
  • Member

  • 2,288 posts
  • Joined: October 05

Posted 05 June 2008 - 13:05

Originally posted by Mallory Dan
Thats then one, it came to me this morning!


Happy to assist. The evocative for a 12-13 year old clue was helpful. :D

#71 Dave Ware

Dave Ware
  • Member

  • 746 posts
  • Joined: March 00

Posted 05 June 2008 - 14:46

One thing I've learned on this forum is that my memory of long-ago events is not as accurate as I often think!

I believe my earliest memory is of Andy Granatelli giving Mario a big smooch on the cheek (in the winner's circle.) Whether I saw this on TV first, or in print, I don't remember. Very likely a clip on the evening news.

The '72 race is the first one I remember seeing on TV. I was glad to see Donahue win it.

Whether it was in '72 or some other year, I remember them referring to Peter Revson as "up from the sports car ranks." :-)

Dave

#72 fester82

fester82
  • Member

  • 93 posts
  • Joined: March 04

Posted 06 June 2008 - 00:48

I was an Air Force brat living in England from '65-'68 and was weened on F1, Sport Prototypes and WRC. My Dad had a Parnelli Jones slot car with a scratch built chassis and wicked Mura motor in it that sounded like a turbine. I was really rooting for Lotus turbines in '68. When we got back stateside we were always camping and we listened to the race on the radio. In '71, I was a wideeyed 13 year old and Dad took me to the 500. We spent the night before sleeping in the van across the street in a parking lot and listening to everyone hootin' and hollerin' all night.

During the race, we had seats half way down the pits and I was rooting for the Unsers and Andretti. I got to meet Mario and Bobby at the '69 Pikes Peak Hill climb and still have there autographs in an old sketch pad. There was an accident over in turn 3 and, naturally, everyone stands up. You couldn't see a thing that far away, but like lemmings, you stood up anyway. However, the slightly intoxicated gentleman a couple rows ahead managed to lose his balance and landed in this lady's lap. At least he was a happy drunk and we all had a good laugh and Al Unser won it consecutively in the Johnny Lightning Special.

#73 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 06 June 2008 - 02:28

Cool story, Fester.

I was hoping I could go to Indy with my dad someday, but he passed away back in '06 before I could put together a plan and scrape up enough cash.

#74 Rob Miller

Rob Miller
  • Member

  • 197 posts
  • Joined: October 04

Posted 06 June 2008 - 18:06

After the Firestone adds, the Monogram Indianapolis Racer mixed in with my Merits.

#75 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 08 June 2008 - 12:55

Originally posted by 962C
Gordon Johncock's win in 1982. This is the first time I remember seeing some images on TV (just a few seconds of Johncock crossing the finish line) For some reason I didn't quite get the winner's name; I suspect the presenter, who probably didn't have a clue, mispronounced it.

:lol: Luvverly, I'm just trying to imagine 'is pronunciation: Cordon Bleu Jean Coq :lol:

Russ, no kidding, but you definitely have one over me - those names you cite sound vaguely familiar, but I'd be challenged to name a single current German football player! And woe is me, there's yet another football tourney beginning today, and it'll be another couple of weeks of honking car torsos through the streets here, and everybody will be asking me what I think of this game or that, and no matter how often I say I neither know nor care, they'll still bother me with that nonsense! :yawn: Can't wait till it's over... :rolleyes:

#76 Russ Snyder

Russ Snyder
  • Member

  • 360 posts
  • Joined: October 07

Posted 09 June 2008 - 12:28

Originally posted by fines


Russ, no kidding, but you definitely have one over me - those names you cite sound vaguely familiar, but I'd be challenged to name a single current German football player! And woe is me, there's yet another football tourney beginning today, and it'll be another couple of weeks of honking car torsos through the streets here, and everybody will be asking me what I think of this game or that, and no matter how often I say I neither know nor care, they'll still bother me with that nonsense! :yawn: Can't wait till it's over... :rolleyes:


Ha ha ha....Michael, no problem with no talk about Ballack & the boys from Germany(probable champs of Euro 2008!).

I find it cool that you know so much about American oval racing, espc early American oval racing. My Dad was lucky enough to see those racers we talk about on this forum from time to time, the likes of Rex Mays, Ted Horn, Wilbur Shaw & Louie Meyer.

#77 john glenn printz

john glenn printz
  • Member

  • 661 posts
  • Joined: June 05

Posted 13 January 2009 - 21:04

MY FIRST 500 OR A TWELVE YEAR OLD PUNK KID VISITS INDY FOR THE FIRST TIME (1953) AND WHAT HE SAW THERE by J.G. Printz.

I saw my first 500 quite by accident. My father, born in Ohio in 1905, had been to some Indianapolis races in the 1920's. I'm positive he was there in 1923, 1925, and 1926, but any other years I'm not sure of. The whole situation seems rather odd for my father could hardly be called an automobile racing fan. For instance, he never heard of the AAA National Driving Title and except for Milton in 1923, couldn't remember the names of the drivers who won the years he was there. Further he thought the Duesenberg cars were built in Germany. From his 1925 diary I know he attended the 1925 race, and he told me also that he was there one year when the event was shortened by rain. That would have to be Lockhart's win in 1926.

All of my father's recollections were very vague. Only in one area did he exhibit any knowledge or insight at all. That was in the mechanical view of things. He knew that racing cars and all their mechanical parts were overstressed, i.e. built too light and prone to failure. That at any time the engine might fail or an axle break, etc., that he knew.

Now enters the year 1953. My dad happens to be in a bar in late March of that year and the bartender asks if he might be interested in purchasing two grandstand seats for the upcoming 1953 Indianapolis 500 mile race. "One of the bar's steady customers had ordered the tickets but can't go, you interested?" My father said he might be, that he had an twelve year old boy at home and would find out if the kid might want to go.

My dad's reasoning was this. An awful lot of men get killed at Indianapolis and in motor racing generally; and sooner or later the legal authorities and/or the general public's clamour will close the whole thing down. No telling how much longer they will be able to hold races at Indianapolis; maybe only a few more years. Automobile racing might itself be banned on a national level like pistol dueling or bull fighting. By the time the kid grows up there may be no more motor racing. Maybe I should take the kid there before's it's all over, so he can see what this whole thing was before it becomes extinct. After all it is quite a rather unique thing and a great spectacle.

Actually the idea that Indianapolis and automobile racing might be universally banned was not so farfetched in the early 1950's. Racing was far more dangerous in those days, i.e. 4 to 5 deaths a year among the men who drove the AAA Championship type cars, was not uncommon. The press and perhaps the general public too, regarded automobile racing as a bloodly spectacle that served no useful purpose. The racing crowd or fraternity itself and its paying spectators were conceived of as savage barbarians and wild trouble makers. Perhaps it was all too true, I don't know, but certain it is that motor racing in the early 1950's was in much ill repute in the United States. Maybe that just made it more exciting. As an actual matter of fact, motor racing in mid and late 1955, came very close to being shut down world wide.

(Switzerland was actually the only country to totally ban motor racing in 1955 and this Swiss law is still on the books. 1955 was the year of the LeMans disaster when 83 spectators were killed and 400 more injured when a Mercedes-Benz sports car flew into a main grandstand. In 1955, after the deaths of Alberto Ascari (May 26) and Bill Vukovich (May 30) and the LeMans catastrophe (June 12), U.S. vice president Richard Nixon, came out against all automobile racing. The AAA quit all racing in late 1955 and a newly and quickly formed "United States Auto Club" (USAC) took over in 1956. And when Alfonso De Portago (1928-1957) ran into a crowd during the running of the Mille Miglia in Italy (May 12, 1957) killing 10 spectators including 5 children, himself and his co-pilot, the Papacy itself condemned all motor racing.)

But whether we went to Indianapolis or not solely depended on my response to whether I was interested in going to the race. When my father suggested the idea about perhaps attending it, I was enthusiastic. So far as I can remember I had never seen an auto race but I had heard of the Indianapolis 500, and I wanted to go. I vaguely knew that motor racing was dangerous and that fully grown men died in it. Just how dangerous it was, I was soon to find out.

The only thing I remember about automobile racing, before attending the 1953 Indianapolis race, was that my father was a member of the American Automobile Association (AAA). Few people today, except auto historians, even suspect yet alone remember when all National Championship racing was controlled and run by the AAA. "AAA big car racing" it was called back then. Anyway my point is that the AAA magazine MOTOR NEWS or something, sent to all subscribing AAA members, sometimes featured articles on motor racing as this was one of the areas in which the AAA was then involved. I can remember seeing some of these articles and wanting to go to a race. It was just the natural curiosity of a young healthy inquisitive kid. The upshot was that we decided to go to the 1953 Indianapolis 500.

Our intention of attending the 1953 Indianapolis race soon became further complicated. Across and down the street from us lived a man who had been in the car repair business for over fifteen years. Actually he fleeced all his customers. His whole family, were in fact, ignorant southerners from Virginia or Tennessee. However, after hearing of our intention to see the upcoming "500", he also expressed an interest in seeing the race. "God helps those who help themselves", he used to say, which justified all his shady deals. He too decided that being in the car repair business all those years that he too ought to witness one of these Indianapolis racing classics. He also had a twelve year old son, with whom I was buddy. His curiosity, so he said, was aroused. So the simple upshot was that the two fathers would take the two sons.

My father didn't think it was fair that we should have good grandstand tickets and our neighbours not, so the two tickets at the bar were never purchased by him. "The best seats anyway", he said, "are on the backstretch where there are unreserved bleachers which don't go on sale until 9 A. M. race day." I didn't know whether this was true or not, about these being the best seats (it isn't), but that's life.

After it was decided that we would not purchase the two grandstand seats, that all four of us would go in my father's big 1949 Buick Roadmaster with Dynaflow, and that my dad would do most of the driving, our dear neighbours decided, at the last possible moment, i.e. a half hour before we were to leave, that they couldn't make it and cancelled out. "Something very important has come up." Now I'm not going to tell you all the times I've heard and been told by somebody that they are going, only to have them cancel out, at the last minute.

To this day I believe that our neighbours thought that we would not go unless they came along. I was now fearful however that their last minute cancellation would stop our travel plans as well. But my father saw how badly I wanted to go, so he said, "I'll tell you what. We'll go anyway and fool the both of 'em!" And that's exactly what we did.

Edited by john glenn printz, 11 January 2011 - 16:39.


#78 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 14 January 2009 - 15:35

May I applaud your father's decision to make that journey? :clap:

I believe we all here owe him tremendous gratitude for that!;)

#79 john glenn printz

john glenn printz
  • Member

  • 661 posts
  • Joined: June 05

Posted 14 January 2009 - 20:29

A 12 YEAR OLD PUNK AT INDY IN 1953 (cont.-1) Going to Indianapolis from Detroit in 1953 was a much greater and laborious task than it is today. Back then it took all of ten to eleven hours. There were no expressways, freeways, or highways, such as exist today. The best existing paved roads were of both the famous and infamous type, the three lane highway. You had right and left lanes for both directions and in the middle the "passing" or "suicide" lane. The so-called main highways of 1953 also had the bad habit of going through every hick town in a given geographical area, with their speed zones or rather "speed traps". It slowed your average speed to all hell, if you were trying to make time.

We left Detroit at 5 A.M., the day before the race. I was still somewhat upset about the fact that we had been "jipped" out of those two grandstand seats by some misplaced idealism. So on our trip down to Indy I questioned the old man about those "unreserved bleachers" that he had mentioned and that we were now apparently stuck with. "Now there is nothing wrong with those seats", he replied, "they are the best. It's down the backstretch that the cars go the fastest. Now if there is going to be an accident, it will occur there because that's where the engines and the other parts on the cars are being stressed the most. So if anything is going to break on a car it will happen right there!" At the time I noted how coldblooded this was and yet it reconciled me to these seats considerably! It all sounded like pretty good logic to me.

Actually most of the accidents at Indianapolis occur in the four turns because these are harder to drive through, at speed, than running in a straight line. But my father was right about the backstretch being the fastest part of the track. In 1953 there were two reasons for this. One was that the front straight was still rough bricks but the back straight was paved with smooth asphalt. The second factor was the wind, if there was any, tended to blow against the backs of the cars on the backstretch and conversely, on the front straight the cars were being driven into the wind. Speeds on the backstretch were two to five mph faster that on the homestretch.

On our way to Indianapolis we had one slight adventure. The accelerator peddle linkage on the Buick broke but luckily an auto repair garage in a quonsit hut was nearby. My father got the needed tools from the shop somehow and made all the needed repairs himself. I was impressed. We didn't have any more trouble with it and we had lost only about 30 minutes.

We pulled into downtown Indianapolis at about 3:30 P.M. in the afternoon, not far from Monument Circle. It was a very hot day. We went to a used bookstore but didn't buy anything. But next to it was a parking lot and in it was the 1953 Ford Indianapolis official pace car! I couldn't believe it but there it was. (It was only some years later that I came to know that they paint up many of these "pace cars" and loan them out to Speedway officials during the month of May. Later, after the race, they are sold off as collector vehicles.) There was not much to do downtown and I was naturally anxious to see what the track looked like so about 5:30 P.M. we decided to drive out to the Speedway and see what was going on there. "The track is located on 16th street", my father said.

The Speedway itself is about seven miles from downtown Indianapolis. It was out in the country originally, when originally built in 1909. Our ride through town was wild. All the bars were overflowing with swarms of men coming out and streaming into them, simultaneous. They were like ants in their activity. Men everywhere were clearly visible, but I didn't see any women at all. It was still extremely hot but it was just starting to cool off a bit. The whole city seemed to be on fire emotionally. I saw one man hit another smack on the jaw with a good clean solid bunch. It knocked the glasses off the man that got hit and they fell to the sidewalk concrete pavement and spattered. It was a very hot day and the beer had flowed.

Traffic began to get heavy near the Speedway itself and we were soon in a huge and confused mass of cars. It was already becoming dusk. On 16th street across from the track were huge open fields, where large tents had been put up. Circus acts, burlesque, freak shows, food ventors, sword swallowers, and revival meetings had now taken over the previously open, mute and nearby fields. There were so many people milling around that there was no place to walk. We, however, stayed in our car at all times. This pre-race "500" carnival atmosphere was then known as the "Madness on 16th Steet" and had apparently long been traditional. And Indianapolis itself, in the 1950's and early 1960's, was still very much a part of what Henry Louis "H. L." Mencken (1880-1956) called the "Bible Belt".

One could not really see anything of the Speedway from 16th street except the grandstands. My father said that the frontstretch of the Speedway was located along Georgtown Road. "That's where all the big grandstands are." Georgetown Road proved to be a rough gravel street and didn't seem very impressive. But here to my right side, were the backs of the largest grandstands of the greatest automobile race in the world, and they seemed to go on forever. But what a disappointment! All these stands seemed to be constructed of wood and the whole place looked like an old amusement park built during the heyday 1920's, which had suffered greatly during the depression 1930's, and which somebody had tried to revive after World War II with a quick paint job, back perhaps in 1946! The stands looked like they could use a new paint job and with a strong wind, would topple over. An ancient whitewashed board fence lined Georgetown Road between the stands and road itself. It too clearly needed a new paint job.

It was very dark now and the Speedway looked ominous and forbidding. Drunks and wild motorcycle gangs were everywhere and hindered our travel down Georgetown Road. Was this the greatest automobile race in the world? It all looked as seedy as hell. The actual track where the racing cars actually ran could not be seen at all from Georgetown Road. It was hidden behind the whitewashed fence and the rickety wooden stands. No movement, life, or light of any sort could be seen from inside the Speedway itself. It was as dead and as quiet as a cemetery at night. I frankly didn't know what to think or what I had gotten myself into! However I was still curious and excited about what I might see the next day.

Edited by john glenn printz, 11 January 2011 - 16:46.


Advertisement

#80 john glenn printz

john glenn printz
  • Member

  • 661 posts
  • Joined: June 05

Posted 15 January 2009 - 18:00

A 12 YEAR OLD PUNK AT INDY IN 1953 (cont-2) We stayed in a rooming house outside of town, in Nobleville, IN. My father, I gathered, was seemingly repeating his old steps of the 1920's. I had managed to pick up a "special souvenir racing issue" of a local Indianapolis newspaper. It was quite late, maybe 12 P.M., at our sleeping place, but still I looked over this paper with great care, hoping to get some "info" or pointers on tomorrow's race. On one entire page was a picture of the "1952 National Champion", Chuck Stevenson. I had never heard of him or of the AAA National Championship Title. Apparently, I figured, he was a better than average pilot or he would not have gotten a full page spread. I wondered how he would fare tomorrow.

Another article in the paper was about Chet Miller. Chet had been killed in practice on May 15, when he hit the outside wall head on at full throttle, in the powerful V8 front drive Novi. I had never heard of him either. (Miller had been in 16 previous "500"'s. Chet had been at the Speedway as a driver since 1928. His best finish was 3rd in 1938. Miller had begun racing in 1924.) Another report was on some women arrested for prostitution. Sexual mores were quite different in 1953. A twelve year old was not supposed to know about such things so I didn't say anything. Back then just about every prositute in the mid-west headed for Indianapolis for the month of May.

It was 1 A.M. when I hit the sack. I was deathly afraid of oversleeping and missing the race. It had been a very long day but I couldn't get to sleep. When I finally did I had all kinds of crazy dreams. I woke up at 5 A.M., when the race was still six hours off. We went to get breakfast but I was so excited I could hardly eat. I tried to gulp down my corn flakes as best I could. Later I was to find that I could not eat whenever at the Speedway or at a USAC National Championship race. I would simply vomit or throw up, so I gave up all meals whenever at the race tracks. The phenomenia lasted until about 1965 when I finally started to calm down. (Of Frank Lockhart it is said, one of the greatest drivers of the 1920's and the 1926 Indy winner, that he use to vomit before every race.)

It was already starting to get hot outside when we left our rather quick breakfast, to drive to the Speedway. We came into the track from the back entrance on 38th street and pulled into the infield about 8 A. M. Unlike the previous night everything about the track now looked miraculously clean and neat. The infield grass was a healthy green and all the traces of the former seediness had somehow mysteriously disappeared! Traffic, people, and cars were pouring into the Speedway on all sides. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway now looked somewhat as I had thought it would and should. It was as wholesome, clean and as trim as the American flag. The big race was now only about three hours away.

My dad got our tickets to the unreserved and uncovered open bleachers on the backstretch and we took our seats. We were right in the middle of the back straight on the inside. We could not see anything of turns 2 and 3, but only a clear stretch of roadway spread out before us. We waited two hours, I getting more and more impatient, and restless all the time. The temperature was in the high eighties at first, but was getting hotter with every minute. It was going to be the hottest temperature "500" in Speedway history, and that distinction still stands today. The temperature eventually reached an official high of 93 degrees.

By this time I had picked up, probably from my father, that the U.S. automobile manufacturers themselves did not have any entries, cars, or racing teams at Indianapolis. That seemed very strange to me and I began to wonder just where did the racing cars present come from, and who designed and constructed them. And why wouldn't General Motors, Ford, or Chrysler have any racing teams here? The only connection with the Indianapolis 500 that the auto industry seemingly had in 1953, was supplying the pace car, and then giving it to the winner. And finally we knew too, that the pervious year's winner, i.e. Troy Ruttman in 1952, was not in the event because he had a broken arm, sustained somewhere in a 1952 race.

The proceedings finally got under way when the Ford pace car brought the colorful racing machines by for two or three preliminary laps. The pace car itself looked like it was really moving, but the race cars gave one the impression of going slowly and being held in leash. Then they gave them the green flag. You could hear the pack as they, the drivers, put their foot into it and wound the engines up and into the high rpm's.

When they came by at speed the first time, Bill Vukovich, the pole car- a gray No. 14 Offenhauser/Kurtis, was leading by a car length over a tightly composed pack of 32 other cars. Vukovich undoubtedly had his car's engine "wound up" as much as possible, straining it for all it was worth. Right behind him, just one whole car length back, was the pack of all the other cars, nose to tail, bearing down on him in mad pursuit. None of them were kidding either, they all had obviously thrown all caution to the winds. (Back then they didn't stagger the starting eleven rows of three, like they do now. The drivers were allowed to bunch up as close as they desired or dared on the opening green flag lap.)

My initial and immediate response was that it was completely insane but totally sublime. I had never seen anything like this before. It was instantly obvious why this business is so dangerous. The slightest bobble or miscalulation on a driver's part; the sightest mechanical trouble, as say an axle snap or tire blowout; and the man or car in trouble would be literally run down by the pursuing cars behind him. And his mistake or a mechanical failure would instantly trigger a multi car pile up. All at 175 mph. And it was for real; nothing phony, deceitful, or mythical about this! Wow! My complete conversion to automobile racing took less than five seconds. It was all a wild and overwhelming cacophony of color, noise, danger, and beauty.

Edited by john glenn printz, 04 October 2010 - 16:59.


#81 Russ Snyder

Russ Snyder
  • Member

  • 360 posts
  • Joined: October 07

Posted 15 January 2009 - 19:05

Originally posted by john glenn printz
The so-called main highways of 1953 also had the bad habit of going through every hick town in a given geographical area, with their speed zones or rather "speed traps". It slowed your average speed to all hell, if you were trying to make time.


Mr. Printz

My Father always complained about that problem and loved the Interstate system because of that very fact.....I recall as a 7-8 year old going with my Parents to Florida from NJ and driving through 2 Georgia towns on rt 301 (Ludowici & Jessup)...the speed limit was 7 miles an hour! This would have been in 1970-71 timeframe..... My Father was cursing up a storm because it took forever to get through those 2 towns and the local police were pulling people over for speeding....hard to believe in 2009, but very true. I could certainly imagine the 10-11 hour trip from Detroit to Indy on those type of roads!

#82 TrackDog

TrackDog
  • Member

  • 335 posts
  • Joined: August 07

Posted 15 January 2009 - 20:36

Originally posted by Russ Snyder


Mr. Printz

My Father always complained about that problem and loved the Interstate system because of that very fact.....I recall as a 7-8 year old going with my Parents to Florida from NJ and driving through 2 Georgia towns on rt 301 (Ludowici & Jessup)...the speed limit was 7 miles an hour! This would have been in 1970-71 timeframe..... My Father was cursing up a storm because it took forever to get through those 2 towns and the local police were pulling people over for speeding....hard to believe in 2009, but very true. I could certainly imagine the 10-11 hour trip from Detroit to Indy on those type of roads!


Not only did a lot of small towns in rural Georgia have ridiculously low in-town speed limits, many had speed zones that would stretch for several miles out of town...it wasn't at all unusual to have to drive 25-30 mph for a long way out on the open road. It made for a very long ande hot road trip in an un-air conditioned dark green Dodge Polara. My father was a Triple A and Chicago Motor Club member for those reasons.

Speed traps still exist, sadly...Ohio is still famous for them.


Dan

#83 john glenn printz

john glenn printz
  • Member

  • 661 posts
  • Joined: June 05

Posted 16 January 2009 - 16:32

A 12 YEAR OLD PUNK AT INDY IN 1953 (cont.-3) On each lap Vukovich would widen and increase his lead slightly and the rest of the cars, beginning to spread out, still pursued him relentlessly but to no avail. Vukovich was simply going faster than they and there wasn't a thing they could do about it. Every time Bill went by a big spectator sitting on my left side would get up and yell, "C'mon Bill!!!" Although Vukovich was undeniably increasing his advantage with each ensuing circuit, he did not appear to be traveling any faster than his competitors down the backstretch. When I pointed this out to my father he replied, "He must be going faster in the turns."

Soon the race leaders were lapping the slower cars and we could not tell who was running where or even if Vukovich retained the front position. A strong odor of "castor oil" was now in the air. It was a concomitant of all motor racing for many, many years. It always made some of the spectators sick but if you became a real race fan, it took on all the attributes of danger and excitement; a smell you came to love and respect. The smell here at Indy seemed to concentrate itself mostly over the track surface itself, hovering in a thick blue-white smokey haze through which the speeding vehicles passed. The temperature in the shade now was in the low nineties. Out on the race track it was 130. The exhaust gases from the cars stayed over the track and didn't move because there wasn't a trace of a wind.

Vendors in our stand were selling so-called "Snow-Cones", i.e. chopped ice with a little soda pop poured on top. They were expensive for 1953, twenty-five cents a piece. My dad had at least, $2.50 worth. I was amazed that he would spend that sum on mere water. But I like I said, it was a hot day with no breeze and the full heat of the sun was beating down on us, in a totally uncovered stand. I had only two Snow-Cones myself and was rather proud of myself for having wasted so little money on them. But just what the drivers on the speedway must having been going through, only increased my respect for them.

The race itself now only became a constant whir of heat and speeding cars. I couldn't follow any of it. I did not know what was happening or who was running where. I knew nothing about the cars or the drivers. The only two really distinctive vehicles seemed to be Bill Vukovich's "Fuel Injection Special" No. 14 owned by Howard Keck (1913-1996) and Duke Nalon's front wheel drive Novi No. 9 owned by Lew Welch (1907-1984). The Novi with its 3-litre supercharged V8 engine made a quite different sound than the bigger 4 cylinder normally aspirated "270" Offenhauser powered cars. Even in my complete ignorance I was perfectly content to just sit there and watch the cars go by. I was indeed mesmerized by the whole thing. It might be a long time before I could return, but I was certain I would be back as soon as it was possible for me again.

I wanted to know what was going on. Where did these men come who were piloting these vehicles? Who designed and built the cars? Who was in the lead? What was the past history of this sport? I felt rather ashamed of my total ignorance. Here was a magificent event and I didn't have the slightest idea of what was really going on. Anyway I decided to see what I could find out when we returned home.

Suddenly my enchantment with the proceedings was broken. About 45 minutes before the race would end, my father leans over and says, "Well it's time to go. The race will be over soon. We better go to the car now." This suggestion was the worst possible thing he could have said. I didn't want to leave. I didn't care what the reason was I wanted to see this race to the end. I protested but it was of no use. "Look, in about half an hour there is going to be a half million cars all wanting to get out of the Speedway. We could be stuck here for hours. We have a long trip home in front of us and I'm tired. Let's get going!" There was nothing I could do. I tell people I was at Indy in 1953 but because we left early I feel that I should not claim I was there. I feel like I only saw HALF of the 1953 race. Talk about your spoiled child, hey!

Here were 33 brave men risking their lives, men knowing quite well what they were doing, and I felt that leaving early to avoid a traffic jam and/or to avoid being delayed a few hours was sacrilege and disrepect. However we had witnessed no accidents during the race. But certainly my father had a valid point also, he was now facing a 9 hour drive again, and now mostly at night.

And my father was quite correct about the impending traffic jam. Already it was hard to get out of the track. We got into a slow single file line of infield cars trying to make their way out and moved almost imperceptively towards a tunnel which ran under the track, near turn two. It put one out on 16th steet. While we were momentarily stopped in line for a minute or two, I saw a sight I will never forget. A woman, about 25 years old and a good looker, was huddled under a shady tree bawling like a hungry baby. She had come to the Speedway that morning wearing a low cut dress which allowed both her shoulders to be fully exposed to the scorching sun. She had been burnt to a crisp and was now writhing with pain. I don't know what she could have been thinking that morning, when she put that dress on, but she now needed help badly. I hope she made out all right, but I would guess it was her last "500".

Edited by john glenn printz, 08 October 2009 - 17:05.


#84 john glenn printz

john glenn printz
  • Member

  • 661 posts
  • Joined: June 05

Posted 16 January 2009 - 21:04

A 12 YEAR OLD PUNK AT INDY IN 1953 (cont.-4) While we were waiting in this line of cars I already started scheming on how to get back to the "500" in 1954. We were now almost at the tunnel entrance and for the briefest of moments I could see part of turn two. I saw Vukovich in No. 14 go through it, riding it down low, and then our car ducked down into the underpass. A few seconds later we were up and out of it on 16th street, headed for home. I think we knew that Vukovich was leading when we left, but the race was not over when we got onto 16th. It still had about five more minutes to go.

We soon learned by the car's radio that Bill Vukovich had won the race by averaging 128.740 mph, which was not a record. Bill had led 195 of the 200 laps and had driven the entire race without any relief. His winning margin was 3 minutes and 32 seconds. The second place finisher, Art Cross (1918-2005), was more than 8 miles behind. The 1952 AAA National Champion Chuck Stevenson, who I had read about the night before, had not been a factor in the race. Chuck had never run in the top ten.

And one driver had died that day, totally unknown to us, until we heard it on the car radio. Carl Scarborough (1914-1953) from Clarkston, MI came in after 70 laps, overcome from the heat. Carl collapsed in the pits and was taken to the infield hospital, where he died of heat prostration within the hour. Carl had given it everything he had for 70 laps (175 miles). When he could give no more, he pitted. Scarborough was running in 23rd position when he stopped and he was then already over seven minutes behind the race leader, Vukovich. Scarborough had been in one previous "500", in 1951. Because of the intense heat of that day, there were many instances of relief driving in 1953. Four of the cars were piloted by three different drivers. In contrast, the 1952 "500", had seen no relief driving at all.

That's about it. These are my earliest Indianapolis 500 memories and I believe also that it was the first automobile race I ever attented. I started at the top obviously, but it was the only AAA National Championship contest I ever saw. My next Indianapolis 500, live and at the site, was in 1957 which was USAC sanctioned. I listened to the radio broadcasts of the "500" for 1954, 1955, and 1956. Full length, nation wide, radio coverage of the entire "500" had begun only in 1952. It first chief announcer in 1952 was Sid Collins (1922-1977).

The Year 1953 in Context: Most of the race cars in the 1953 "500" were "dirt track cars". They were of a "dual" nature as they could run in all the AAA's Championship dirt events and at Indianapolis as well. They were designed primarily to be raced on the flat dirt one mile ovals and these cars were inevitably powered by the 270 Offenhauser motor, then being manufactured in Los Angeles CA by Dale Drake (d. 1972 at 70) and Louis Meyer (1904-1995). Outside of the Indianapolis 500 itself, after World War II (1939-1945), almost all the AAA Championship contests were held on the one mile dirt ovals, and usually at a 100 mile distance. Dirt track type vehicles had won at Indy in 1951 (Offenhauser/Kurtis) and 1952 (Offenhauser/Kuzma). The 1950's Championship dirt machines were undoubtedly the ugliest vehicles that ever raced at Indianapolis or on the AAA and USAC National Championship circuits.

The Lou Moore (1904-1956) owned front drive "Blue Crown" cars (Offenhauser/Diedt), of which there were two, had won the "500" in 1947, 1948, and 1949. The winning vehicles of 1946 (Sparks/Adams) and 1950 (Offenhauser/Kurtis) had certainly been designed with the "500" utmost in mind. But cars specifically designed for the Indianapolis track or the "500", like the Lou Moore and Lewis W. Welch (1907-1980) owned front drives, had the decided disadvantage of being able to run in only one big race per year.

1952 and 1953 were the beginning of the "roadster era" at Indianapolis. Frank Kurtis built the first examples in 1952, i.e. the Cummins Diesel and Howard Keck's (1913-1996) Fuel Injection Special type 500A. In the roadster, the car's drive shaft ran alongside the driver instead of through his legs. The design made for a lower center of gravity and much higher turn speeds. At first it may have been thought that the roadster type could run on dirt, but they proved uncompetitive in this context. On the other hand the roadster was clearly superior on the paved surface speedways. Also roadsters were much better looking than the dirt cars. However there were few paved surfaced tracks that the AAA Champ cars then ran on in the early 1950's. After the war there was only Darlington SC and Raleigh VA, besides Indianapolis, up to 1953. However the "Milwaukee Mile" was paved between the 1953 and 1954 seasons making for at least one more AAA Championship division, paved oval.

Bill Vukovich (1918-1955) was assigned Keck's new Kurtis roadster at Indy in 1952 and he led 150 laps that year. But Bill was forced out by a steering pin break, which froze up solid his car's steering on lap 192, while running in the front position. Troy Ruttman (1930-1997) inherited the lead and went on to win at a new record speed of 128.922 mph. While witnessing the 1953 "500" I knew absolutely nothing about all this. Bill's 1953 Indy car was the same he had the year before and he would use it again in 1954, for his second consecutive win, this time recording a new record speed average of 130.84 mph for the full 500 miles. For 1954 Vukovich had started in the 19th position, because of various mechanical car ills during the qualifications, but Bill took over the lead by lap 61 in the race itself. He then led laps 92-129 and 150-200, for a grand total of 90.

Vukovich was killed while leading the 1955 "500" on lap 57, trying for three straight Indianapolis wins. Bill was then driving a car (Offenhauser/Kurtis type 500C) for owner Lindsey Hopkins (1908-1986). Vukovich got caught in an accident not of his own making, but fickle fate put him exactly in the wrong place at the wrong time. O...how I remember that unfortunate day! I was waiting for and expecting the first three Indianapolis "500" wins in a row, by a single driver. The "Iron Man" was my hero and now I was devastated and wiped out. How could the worst possible thing take place? But it had happened.

Lindsey Hopkins had become an AAA Championship car owner in early 1950 when he purchased a rear drive dirt track car from Lou Moore. Lindsey put diminutive Henry Banks (1913-1994) in the cockpit. Banks had been hovering around the AAA Championship circuit since 1935, but had never done anything. Now, although Henry won only one race in 1950 (at Detroit on Sept. 10), he emerged the rather unlikely and improbable winner of the 1950 AAA Championship driving title in Hopkins' car (Offenhauser/Moore). Banks proved his mettle again however by placing 2nd in the final 1951 AAA Championship standings. Here Henry trailed Tony Bettenhausen who won eight Championship division dirt races that season. The 1950 Detroit 100 remained Henry's only Championship victory.

On the eve of the 1955 "500", Hopkins looked like a "shoe-in" for the next Indianapolis winning car owner. After the 1955 race Hopkins continued to enter cars at Indianapolis, but never had a winner. Hey, if you can't win with Vukovich, how can you win?

The roadster design took over at Indianapolis in 1953 with Vukovich's victory that year and the dirt track machines gradually, but still rather quickly, were phased out at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The last one of this type qualified there in 1956. Most of the successful cars on the AAA National Championship circuit in the 1950's were designed and constructed by Frank Kurtis (1908-1987), A. J. Watson (b. 1924), and Eddie Kuzma (1911-1996) . Kurtis made his first Champ car in 1941 for Ed Walsh (1907-1980); Watson's first was in 1950 for himself, i.e. nicknamed the "Pots and Pans" Special; and Eddie Kuzma's first Championship car was for J.C. Agajanian (1913-1984) in 1951.

Frank Kurtis was the king of the roadster designer/builders for the period 1952-1955 and A. J. Watson was the same during 1956-1964. Watson largely put Kurtis out of the Championship racing chassis business, while Watson himself suffered the same fate a decade later. A. J. Watson was ruined by the "rear engined car revolution" of 1963-1965, spearheaded by the Ford Motor Company and British engineering genius, Colin Chapman (1928-1982).

The two top AAA Championship drivers in the early 1950's were Vukovich at Indianapolis, and Tony Bettenhausen, Sr. (1916-1961) on the mile dirt ovals. Jimmy Bryan (1926-1960) was the number one USAC ace in the late 1950's. Next in line was Roger Ward (1921-2004) with 26 wins, who was eventually eclipsed and upstaged by A.J. Foyt. Foyt (b. 1935) was successfully challenged in the late 1960's, but not toppled, by a young Mario Andretti (b. 1940). During those years, A.J. and Mario ran mostly neck and neck. Ward had moved up to the U.S. Championship division ranks in 1950, Foyt in 1957, and Andretti in 1964.

John James "Jack" McGrath (1919-1955) seemed to be Vukovich's main rival at the Indianapolis Speedway during 1952-1955, at least before these four races were actually staged. McGrath had posted the fastest qualification runs in both 1954 and 1955, but his best Indy finishes weres 3rds in 1951 (with relief help from Manuel Ayulo laps 101-200) and 1954. Jack's new lap records, set in 1954 and 1955, were 141.287 mph and 143.793 mph respectively and he was the first man to circle the Speedway officially at 140 mph. The lap record in 1953 remained at 139.60 mph, set by Chet Miller in the Novi, and was posted the year before on May 24, 1952.

McGrath and Vukovich had a famous duel in the opening laps of the 1955 "500", before Jack went out at 54 laps with magneto trouble. The early 1955 lap leaders were McGrath 1-3; Vukovich 4-14; McGrath 15; Vukovich 16-24; McGrath 25-26; and Vukovich 27-56! Jack was killed at Phoenix AZ on Nov. 6, 1955 in a 100 mile Championship dirt event when the front axle snapped on its right side. Indianapolis, in 1956, seemed a very strange place without the presence of either McGrath or Vukovich. For who could replace them?

Foyt is probably the best pilot ever to run in U.S. National Championship racing. Certainly he was the most successful, with 67 Championship wins, 4 Indianapolis victories, and seven National Titles.

Ted Horn (1910-1948), Rex Mays (1913-1949), and Mauri Rose (1906-1981) were the top three AAA drivers immediately after the war. Horn and Mays were both killed in AAA Championship dirt 100 milers, Horn at DuQuoin IL in 1948 and Mays at Del Mar CA in 1949. Rose retired from competition in 1951. Bill Holland (1907-1984) and Johnny or "Johnnie" Parsons (1918-1984) also made some big splashes between the World War II and 1953.

All the above was the Indianapolis "500" and U.S. National Championship automobile racing context, that I walked into quite unknowingly and unconsciously, on May 30, 1953.

Even More Trivia: A Ford car was selected as the Indy pace maker in 1953 because it the 50th anniversary of the Ford Motor Company. The driver of the 1953 pace car is still alive, believe it or not! He is a grandson of Henry Ford (1863-1947), i.e. William Clay Ford. Henry Ford had only one legitimate child, i.e, Edsel Ford (1893-1943) and Edsel in turn, had three sons; 1. Henry Ford II (1917-1987); 2. Benson Ford (1919-1987); and 3. William Clay Ford (b. 1925). Edsel and his three sons all drove the pace car at Indianapolis. Edsel Ford in 1932 (Lincoln); Henry Ford II in 1946 (Lincoln); Benson Ford in 1950 (Mercury) and William Clay Ford in 1953 (Ford). Benson also piloted the pace car here in 1964 and 1966, while Willliam Clay returned for 1968. Henry Ford himself was the honorary referee here in 1924, but never drove the pace car.

William Clay Ford took over the ownership of the Detroit Lions football team in late 1963. He has since become the NFL's most unsuccessful owner ever. Under his guidance the Lions have only one playoff victory. For 2008 the Lions became the first franchise to lose EVERY game in a 16 game season. The two major Detroit newspapers now openly declare that William Clay Ford is incompetent and inept.

"The serious sport's fan is advised to never attend a heavyweight title fight late, or leave an automobile race early." SPORTS ADAGE

"I have a photographic memory, but I haven't developed it yet."

Edited by john glenn printz, 11 January 2011 - 17:46.


#85 Neil Smith

Neil Smith
  • New Member

  • 29 posts
  • Joined: July 03

Posted 17 January 2009 - 15:18

My earliest Indy 500 memory is reading the May 1959 issue of Hot Rod Magazine which my father had bought for us to look at. I was 12 and just starting to really get interested in motor racing - I seem to remember that Mike Hawthorn winning the title in '58 really started me off, but I was interested in anything!

I had never heard of the Indy 500 and I thought the race, the track and most of all the cars were out of this world (I should say that I was growing up in the English Midlands at the time... ). For some reason my father found a small newsagent that stocked Hot Rod Magazine and other titles such as Custom Car, Sports Car Graphic, Road and Track etc. - don't ask me how, it just did!

From then on, all May and August (race report) editions of Hot Rod were bought and kept (I still have them all...) and of course with the British Invasion a little later on, even more info appeared about the great race... I briefly met Donald Davidson at the Indy Museum about 10 years ago and he was delighted to find another Brit who knew of the 500 before Clark and Lotus - and even before Brabham...

Neil

#86 weisler

weisler
  • Member

  • 36 posts
  • Joined: January 06

Posted 18 January 2009 - 02:47

My earliest Indy 500 memory was the 1992 race. At that point I was 8 years old. I was already bitten by the racing bug well before then, so I'm sure that I had watched the 500 many times already, but this is the oldest race I remember probably because it was such a wild race! How can you forget Guerrero spinning on the pace lap! A cold day, with lots of cautions. Michael Andretti missing out on probably his best chance to win, and then the finish between Little Al and Scott Goodyear... Amazing!

#87 TrackDog

TrackDog
  • Member

  • 335 posts
  • Joined: August 07

Posted 18 January 2009 - 03:25

Originally posted by weisler
My earliest Indy 500 memory was the 1992 race. At that point I was 8 years old. I was already bitten by the racing bug well before then, so I'm sure that I had watched the 500 many times already, but this is the oldest race I remember probably because it was such a wild race! How can you forget Guerrero spinning on the pace lap! A cold day, with lots of cautions. Michael Andretti missing out on probably his best chance to win, and then the finish between Little Al and Scott Goodyear... Amazing!



Quite an example of a first Indy memory! I lived about 40 miles north of the Speedway in 1992, and remember that day quite well, too...it was very cold that day, with a wind chill in the mid-to-upper 30 degrees F. It was so cold that under several of the many cautions[cold ambient air temps made it very hard for the tires to warm up properly; that was the reason for Guerrero's crash] that Lyn St. James was complaining that she had to go to the bathroom; and the cold air was making it worse...under the green, it wasn''t a problem. Sam Posey found out about this, and advised her to go ahead and soil herself; nobody would know the difference after the race, anyway. It was never revealed if she took his advice or not...



Dan

#88 weisler

weisler
  • Member

  • 36 posts
  • Joined: January 06

Posted 18 January 2009 - 03:56

Originally posted by TrackDog



Quite an example of a first Indy memory! I lived about 40 miles north of the Speedway in 1992, and remember that day quite well, too...it was very cold that day, with a wind chill in the mid-to-upper 30 degrees F. It was so cold that under several of the many cautions[cold ambient air temps made it very hard for the tires to warm up properly; that was the reason for Guerrero's crash] that Lyn St. James was complaining that she had to go to the bathroom; and the cold air was making it worse...under the green, it wasn''t a problem. Sam Posey found out about this, and advised her to go ahead and soil herself; nobody would know the difference after the race, anyway. It was never revealed if she took his advice or not...



Dan


Yes, hard to forget a race so action packed! After that race, it was always a big deal for my Dad and me to watch the 500. We looked forward to it it every year! I used to race home from school to catch 'happy hour' every week day on ESPN. At the time, my family lived in Chicago, but Indy felt like it was on the other side of the world. It was hard to believe that something so special could right next door. It's funny to look back on that now, since we've lived in Indianapolis since 1998! I've been lucky enough to attend every race since '99, but I still look back fondly on those races in the early to mid '90's.

Your Lyn St. James story reminds me of a similar one told by the ever entertaining Derek Daly... He was doing a radio interview when they asked him what a racing driver is to do when nature calls... Mr. Daly duly replied along the lines of "you just go!" He then proceeded to tell a story of one of the 500's that he ran, and nature called. He did his business while in the car, but within the next couple laps, his engine expired! He had to exit the car with a freshly soiled pair of racing overalls! You can't make this stuff up!

#89 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 18 January 2009 - 15:24

I'm guessing Danny Sullivan had to change his drawers after the '85 Indy. Likewise Len Sutton after the '64.

#90 rdrcr36

rdrcr36
  • New Member

  • 3 posts
  • Joined: December 08

Posted 19 January 2009 - 18:15

First concious memory was sitting in bleachers midway down the backstretch, circa 1958. I'm 5 years old, have no idea who my to be heros are, and only know the cars by color. Front engine Offenhausers and Novis bellowing up the backstretch at full song, a kaleidoscope of sight and sound and smell that, to this day, holds seductive sway over me like only one woman ever has. I still love IMS in May and always will, lucky to have been a resident pretty much all my life. You can't read it, watch it, or hear it - you have to experience it. One of my old girlfriends told me one race morning as the starting field was passing us in turn four on the the pace lap that "This is the only time I wish I had a pair of balls!" Touche, Jill, touche!

#91 Russ Snyder

Russ Snyder
  • Member

  • 360 posts
  • Joined: October 07

Posted 22 November 2011 - 17:02

Does anybody know if any of those old radio broadcasts of the 500 are available for purchase? Would certainly be worth owning.



hey Flat Back, long time no see

I purchased all 5+ hours of the 1966 Indy 500 on radio...5 CD's and it was worth every 25$

if ya wanna know where to get, send me a PM. I am back after 2 years of being in the wilderness

Sid Collins was in class by himself.

#92 jj2728

jj2728
  • Member

  • 2,777 posts
  • Joined: January 04

Posted 22 November 2011 - 21:06

I wasn't around back then, but my dad sure was. Indy 1948.

Posted Image

Copyright JAG

#93 fbarrett

fbarrett
  • Member

  • 1,000 posts
  • Joined: January 08

Posted 22 November 2011 - 23:15

Great to see the color of the bricks, car, etc. The tripod and photo cases must be his.

Sid Collins was really the key ingredient for many of us becoming hooked on listening to the Indy broadcasts. Before the start he would "check-in" with his sub-announcers around the track: "Now down to Howdy Wilcox in Turn Four!" I recall first hearing him in the mid-1950s, and by the mid-1960s, before the race went on tv, I used to tape-record the broadcasts. (still have the tapes). Videos/movies of most 500s are now available on DVD from a guy in Indiana, but I can't recall his name or contact info. Google might reveal it.

Frank

Edited by fbarrett, 22 November 2011 - 23:42.


#94 Russ Snyder

Russ Snyder
  • Member

  • 360 posts
  • Joined: October 07

Posted 23 November 2011 - 00:01

I wasn't around back then, but my dad sure was. Indy 1948.

Posted Image

Copyright JAG



nice photo.

Bill Holland - Lou Moore Blue Crown Special I am thinking.





#95 Russ Snyder

Russ Snyder
  • Member

  • 360 posts
  • Joined: October 07

Posted 23 November 2011 - 00:18

Great to see the color of the bricks, car, etc. The tripod and photo cases must be his.

Sid Collins was really the key ingredient for many of us becoming hooked on listening to the Indy broadcasts. Before the start he would "check-in" with his sub-announcers around the track: "Now down to Howdy Wilcox in Turn Four!" I recall first hearing him in the mid-1950s, and by the mid-1960s, before the race went on tv, I used to tape-record the broadcasts. (still have the tapes). Videos/movies of most 500s are now available on DVD from a guy in Indiana, but I can't recall his name or contact info. Google might reveal it.

Frank


Frank

Sid Collins made the race on the radio for this kid growing up.

After the 2011 race, my buddies and I tried to think of what Jim Shelton (turn 4) would have said to Sid....and what Sid might have said.

a sampling if you will:

Jim: "a rookie going to win the 2011 Indy 500, Hildebrand, you hear him now, just passed us...wait, Sid, Hildebrand has hit the outside retaining wall at the exit of turn 4 attempting to get around slower traffic and is sliding down the wall towards you Sid, you sould pick him up now!"

Sid: "Hildebrand is sliding toward the finish line while hugging the outside retaining wall.... sparks and car parts are flying everywhere and here comes Dan Wheldon on the inside...and the winner of the 2011 500 mile sweepstakes is ......Dan Wheldon"....

Shelton normally said "and here to call the winner of the race, the voice of the 500, Sid Collins"...

but I am thinking with the action happening, it would be simple and excited description, like they always did, keeping it simple for us to enjoy.

Edited by Russ Snyder, 28 November 2011 - 16:42.


#96 Calhoun

Calhoun
  • New Member

  • 19 posts
  • Joined: April 04

Posted 23 November 2011 - 02:09

The gentleman you're trying to remember is Doak Ewing (in Illinois). He sells DVDs of the races through his company Rare Sports Films:
http://www.raresport...s.com/auto.html

Nice guy, and the films are great, too.

I believe he also sells the radio broadcast of the 1966 race on CD.

You can get a lot of the Sid Collins' broadcasts directly from IMS via download at:
http://secure.bricky...90-c88d017a5bf2

These are great if you have a long drive.

Enjoy!

#97 B Squared

B Squared
  • Member

  • 3,155 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 23 November 2011 - 14:10

Listening on WOWO 1190 AM radio with my older brother in 1963 on the back porch of the old family home. He was a few days short of 8 years old, I was 5. Dad was at the race and from that day forward, that is where we wanted to be on Memorial Day. Back home again in Indiana.

#98 Joe Bosworth

Joe Bosworth
  • Member

  • 517 posts
  • Joined: May 05

Posted 28 November 2011 - 20:10

Starting in either 1946 or 1947 I used to sit out on our back patio in Hinsdale Illinois with radio on the table next to me while listening to Chicago radio station WGN bringing us the 500 for about a five hour broadcast.

They made following the race easy as they provided a top 20 or so listing every twenty laps so keeping a lap chart and pit stop record was the way to go. My year on year record keeping went out with the rubbish when in 1955 we moved to Pittsburgh Pa.

At least by the ´53-´57 era attendance was eased due to proximity of being at West Lafayette In for university.

By 1961 had to break in a new wife to the Indi radio network as I was bringing my new bride home. After a boat ride from New Zealand to San Francisco we bought a car and on the day of the race was driviing from Reno to Salt Lake City. My bride was relegated to keeping a lap chart while I drove in our fast back Chevvy sedan.

On going back to Australia a couple of years later I had to stay up most of the night for annual broadcasts via short wave radio on either Radio America or the Armed Forces Network, probably the latter.

Last poignant memory was from about 1970 when my brother in law and I came close to becoming a road statistic. We were driving in the early hours of the morning in eastern Ohio from Pittsburgh to Indi to attend the first day of qualifying. We were in my Triumph TR4 during a blinding rain storm when somebody came out of the dark in an instant driving at speed on the wrong side of the four lane road. The Man was looking after us that morning. Might have been payback for all of the good deeds.

Regards

#99 wenoopy

wenoopy
  • Member

  • 595 posts
  • Joined: January 09

Posted 30 November 2011 - 10:36


Bosworth, it all sounds so familiar. In New Zealand late 1950's my brother and I listened on shortwave radio to the AFRTS ("transmitting from the Voice of America transmitter at Delano, California"), usually baseball, when we got home from school. But I recall listening to the closing laps of Indy 500's at about 7 am as well. A rare treat in those days.

I suppose these days the Armed Forces watch anything they want on satellite TV, wherever they might be.

Advertisement

#100 ray b

ray b
  • Member

  • 2,563 posts
  • Joined: January 01

Posted 30 November 2011 - 23:45

I remember pitching a fit when dad went to indy in 1954
and he wouldn't take me at age 4 along with him
I did get a green race car [odd color] from the track on his return

and I smuggled a 6 transistor radio into school to listen in 1964
as fla was on the last monday not the 31st holiday and the race was on a school day