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Remembering Robson and Barringer


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#1 Reed32

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 07:07

Wednesday, September 2 will mark the 63rd anniversary of one of the most significant events in Georgia Racing History.

On that date back in 1946, defending Indy 500 winner George Robson and cagey Indy car veteran George Barringer were tragically lost in a four car accident during a AAA Indy car event at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta.

In honor of Robson and Barringer, we have two important items now up at Georgia Racing History.com

First is Mike Bell's phenomenal 2005 story profiling Texas racer George Barringer, and the accident that took his life. Mike's story includes photos from the Barringer family, and excerpts from a radio interview Barringer did in 1941.

Second is a story I've done updating the information we have on the accident, and how it occurred, including information from a recently discovered eyewitness to the crash and from a recently unearthed newsreel of the race. For the first time that we've been able to find, we now have a first hand account of the accident from the scene.

As I said before, this is one of the most significant events in the history of racing in Georgia. You can read both stories by going to http://www.georgiaracinghistory.com.

Brandon Reed
Georgia Racing History.com

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#2 ensign14

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 08:25

Thanks, Brandon. Very interesting.

Could Robson have been taking a lower line because he had just lapped Barringer and did not want to move straight back in front of him? If the two cars did collide when Robson moved up to pass DeVore, it suggests he might only just have got past Barringer.

And, just to add to the confusion about the ruling that put Horn behind the other runners, Bud Bardowski was classified fourth, despite very obviously being involved in the accident. Credited with 96 laps to Horn's 91.

#3 HistoricMustang

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 13:08

Brandon,
More great research by Mike Bell and yourself.

Thanks for sharing this portion of Georgia racing history that had national impact.

Hope to see you and Mike in Augusta during our annual event at the former road circuit.

The effort being put into www.georgiaracinghistory.com is amazing.

You and Mike need the "honor" of a TNF Badge!

Henry :wave:

Edited by HistoricMustang, 28 August 2009 - 13:12.


#4 Reed32

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 15:10

Ensign- That's very much a possibility, one that hadn't occured as we were going over everything. I'll tell you why I don't think so,though. From the way it's been described to me, Robson moved as if he had no idea that Barringer was there. If he had just passed him, he certainly would have been aware that he had someone near him, and might have decided to take to the berm instead. Now,that would have certainly meant he would crash - hitting the inside berm at Lakewood would have sent him airborne. I just can't imagine a driver of Robson's calibre steering up into another car that he knew was there and putting not just a fellow driver but a friend into danger. I just have a hard time believing that.

But, again, that's all pure conjecture. In my heart, I don't think Robson had any clue Barringer was there. I also don't think he, Robson, was where he thought he was on the race track. As thick as that dust was, it was probably like flying an airplane at night.

I think DeVore's car was obscured by the dust, and when Robson suddenly realized DeVore was there, he moved up, not knowing Barringer was there.

Just like so many other auto racing accidents, there are so many "what ifs" that could have changed the outcome. What if the race officials had stopped the race at halfway to water the track? What if Robson had taken a normal line off the corner? What if the heat hadn't been so bad? What if DeVore's car had stayed healthy? What if DeVore's car problems had been terminal? What if Robson had spotted DeVore a split-second sooner? What if Barringer had spotted DeVore's car? (a tip of the hat to Rex Dean's website for the 'what if' idea - it might make for a good column down the road).

As I said in the piece, I don't think there's any one factor that you can blame. After going through all this, I honestly at this point feel that it was a case of seven drivers (counting the two unknowns that struck Robson and also counting Ted Horn) all being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As to the scoring, it's truly a nightmare. I think the officials had as hard a time keeping up as anybody else.

Thanks for reading the articles and responding!

Henry,

As always, thanks for your kind words. I'd love to come down to Augusta, I've just got to see how things sort themsevles out over the next week or so.

Brandon reed
Georgia Racing History.com