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Carroll Shelby and ... ?


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#1 Vitesse2

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 21:35

Posted on behalf of Richard Jenkins :)

Three pictures associated with Carroll Shelby. Perhaps circa 1956. Any suggestions as to who the other two gents might be? Or the identity of the car?

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#2 JoBo

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 01:25

Posted on behalf of Richard Jenkins :)

Three pictures associated with Carroll Shelby. Perhaps circa 1956. Any suggestions as to who the other two gents might be? Or the identity of the car?

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Its millionaire Jim Kimberly in the dark t-shirt. He owned and raced some very important cars in the 50s.

JoBo


#3 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 07:41

From "Kurtis-Kraft: Masterworks of Speed & Style" by Gordon Eliot White:

"...In 1956 he (Ed Walsh) and SCCA President Jim Kimberly devised the idea of sending sports racer Carroll Shelby to Indianapolis. They ordered a Kurtis model KK500G2 Indy roadster, bought a brand-new 255 Offenhauser engine, hired Harry Stephens as chief mechanic, and were ready to see their sports car legend tackle the Speedway, but then those plans fell apart. Shelby was busy racing Europe. The new Kurtis sat, untested, in its Indianapolis garage. Eventually they sold the car to John Wills, who ran it later as the Hoover Motor Express Special. It later went to Roy McKay and then to Ray Brady, but it never qualified for the 500..."

So perhaps the gent in the jacket and tie might be Ed Walsh? And the car might be the Kurtis?

Vince H.

#4 Michael Ferner

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 13:39

Vince has nailed it. The car definitely is a Kurtis 500G, and most probably chassis #5 which was built for Carroll Shelby, and owned by Jim Kimberly and Ed Walsh, the other two gentlemen in the pictures.

#5 Doug Nye

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 16:59

Only Kurtis could build Shelby such a diabolically horrid looking chassis.

They worked well enough, however, which really tells us much about the opposition they faced.

DCN

#6 Michael Ferner

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 17:43

Yes, compared to that even a Cooper looks sophisticated!

Personally, I never cared much about the roadster era cars - primitive, overweight and ugly is the best one can say about them. But, to the American fan even today, they represent the epitome of the Indianapolis racing car. Chacun à son goût, I guess...

#7 Tim Murray

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 18:27

Their chassis weren't that bad, according to structures expert Anders Bonde. Here's part of one of his erudite posts in the The first spaceframe chassis? thread:

Many early 1950s (and later) front-engined US Champ Cars, such as Kurtis Krafts, had tall (deep) and (almost) properly triangulated trusses as side members of what were essentially 'ladder' frames. They weren't very resistant to pure torsion, but worked by being resistant against differential bending of the side members, which is the typical loading mode of most open-cockpit single seater chassis, even on current F1 chassis. Big, (virtually) tubular side members, like on a Lotus 25, will resist torsional loads, but still need to be joined by substantial members to do so - even the large diameter tubular 'rails' of some 'ladder frames' such as the Auto Union and some immediate post-WWI designs (ERA G-type comes to mind) will accept torsion individually, but when joined by the necessary cross members will essentially be loaded in differential bending. It all pretty much depends on the geometry of the structure.



#8 Doug Nye

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 18:45

Yeah but...no triangulation whatsoever is apparent in the photos heading this thread. None.

DCN

#9 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 20:18

Richard, thank you again, for being my saviour with these photos. I will master it one day... maybe before 2019.

To all, thanks once again for not only helping with someone's query, but aiding me in learning just that little bit extra I didn't know before.

#10 Michael Ferner

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 21:03

Yeah but...no triangulation whatsoever is apparent in the photos heading this thread. None.

DCN


Yes, I noticed that, too, and it kind of surprised me. By this time (1957) I'd have expected triangulation of at least the side members, so I went on a little photo hunt. It's not easy to find pictures of "naked" Indy Cars, but some (especially dirt cars) ran with open engine compartments at times, allowing a peek under the clothes...

A quick check reveals that Kurtis was, apparently, falling behind in chassis construction, which may explain the downward trend that his designs experienced. Other builders, such as Eddie Kuzma, A. J. Watson and Quinn Epperly used quite a bit of triangulation in their designs at that time, and, as far as I can determine, it was Wally Meskowski who introduced this in the dirt cars (1958), with Watson and Kuzma following subito.

#11 Bloggsworth

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 21:09

Or perhaps it was the bare essential needed to do the panel work and check the fit....

#12 Jerry Entin

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 00:35

The man in suit and tie is indeed Ed Walsh [1909-1991]. Walsh was a descendent of the founders of St. Louis and he owned a glass factory there. After an early midget and sprint car career, he founded Kurtis-Kraft with Frank Kurtis in 1947.

In subsequent years Walsh was the entrant of various Indianapolis 500 cars, winning the race in 1950. In 1958 he became President of the SCCA, taking the reigns from his friend Jim Kimberly. In the late fifties he successfully raced his Walsh Special, a Cooper chassis with an OSCA engine.

all research Willem Oosthoek

#13 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 08:13

Jim Kimberly also always dressed immaculate when he raced.

#14 Jerry Entin

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 13:25

Just a thought as for the Kurtis chassis being badmouthed on this threat, it was an unfinished one. Nothing wrong with cars using a Kurtis chassis at Monza in 1957, where those sophisticated European chassis approaches went AWOL.

all research: Willem Oosthoek

#15 Doug Nye

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 13:32

True(ish) though HORSEPOWER and oval track experience had much to do with that. In any case, I seem to recall a Watson and a couple of Kuzmas doing rather well against the KK cars there?

Significantly, Jim Kimberley didn't need much persuading when Rodger Ward sold him on the idea of backing a Cooper chassis at Indy '61.

DCN

Edited by Doug Nye, 12 November 2012 - 13:36.


#16 Michael Ferner

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 16:20

Or perhaps it was the bare essential needed to do the panel work and check the fit....



Just a thought as for the Kurtis chassis being badmouthed on this threat, it was an unfinished one.


That crossed my mind, too, but it isn't plausible, is it? You don't fix up a frame by welding the longerons, then add triangulation later. I'm not a fabricator, but that doesn't really make sense, does it?

#17 Michael Ferner

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 16:34

Nothing wrong with cars using a Kurtis chassis at Monza in 1957, where those sophisticated European chassis approaches went AWOL.

all research: Willem Oosthoek


With all due respect, Willem, but that's hardly the truth. Of the 15 cars for the first race, ten were American and five European (which were hardly "sophisticated" - four of them were simple sports cars). Only three European cars started, and all of them finished, albeit many laps in arrears. Only three American cars finished, and they were built by Kuzma or Watson WITH triangulation. Six Kurtis competed, and all of them retired, most of them with structural chassis damage - leaking fuel tanks, broken suspension, and yes, even a broken frame!

The second year, the Americans had learned and brought only four Kurtis over. One lunched its engine early on, another lost a wheel. The two surviving cars finished in the last two positions, two laps behind the only surviving European, a Ferrari - again, hardly "sophisticated". The winners were again some of the better US designs, built by Watson and George Salih, both WITH triangulation.

Yes, the Europeans hardly covered themselves with glory, but if all Americans had used Kurtis chassis, then a European would probably have won both years!

#18 ZOOOM

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 17:13

Now, wait a minuit guys...

Nobody, in europe or the US, had run Monza at those speeds.
The F1 drivers union pulled out at the last second because the track was thought to be too dangerous.
Only the Scots team of Ecure Ecosse competed. (Give 'em credit).
The Indy cars were built for INDY! and not for a track as poorly constructed as Monza was.
The Kuzma's and Watsons and Kurtis Indy cars managed to last pretty well on the track they were built for.
Big Tony (that's Bettenhausen to you guys across the pond) managed to set the worlds closed track record of 177
miles per hour in a "poorly built" Kurtis.
The Jaguars had to install large cooling ducts for the rear tires just so they could complete the distance.
It was called a "RACE" for a reason. Everybody went as fast as possible to win. The banking took its toll.
NOBODY from over here figured that the cars would take such a pounding except for one savy crew chief,
Jummy Bryan's. Clint Brawner had installed double shocks on the Dean Van Lines car along with some extra stifining to the chassis. It payed off!
Where did the Jags finish? How many laps behind?

ZOOOM


#19 Doug Nye

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 18:05

Now, wait a minuit guys...

Nobody, in europe or the US, had run Monza at those speeds.

Where did the Jags finish? How many laps behind?

ZOOOM


Interesting points. The only cars previously raced on the Monza oval, surely, had been maximum 2.5-litre Formula 1 cars in the Italian GP and maximum 2-litre sports cars in the Supercortemaggiore classic, so nobody should have been surprised that the 4.2-litre fuel-injected USAC visitors should prove so quick on an inherently faster course than Indy?

The Jaguars, ah yes, the Jaguars, were closed-wheel SPORTS cars which had been hurried across from France to earn a few bob directly after finishing first and second in the Le Mans 24-Hours race. Not only were their tyres fared away beneath enveloping bodywork but the cars were incredibly heavy relative to the Indy single-seaters, so permitting them a cool air
scoop was surely not unreasonable?

Brits and Europeans who attended that race were blown away by the exquisite mag castings, fine quality machining and excellently neat welding very apparent on most of the visiting roadsters. The USAC team crews' colourful - and clean - uniforms and showmanship were widely envied and admired, mostly in private, while a few kermudgeons derided it in public...

However, from those capable engineers I knew who were present at that race, the general standard of chassis design -especially of the Kurtis cars - was regarded as inadequate. One could argue that a lithe and limber untriangulated frame confronted by left turns only could be tuned to produce a stable and controllable platform. But as a structural design per se it was horrid.

DCN

Edited by Doug Nye, 12 November 2012 - 18:32.


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#20 Jerry Entin

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 20:32

To offer some perspective to post 16, that was five years after the above Kurtis chassis photos were taken in 1956. The same time it took European manufacturers with "sophisticated chassis approaches" such as BRM, Lotus, Vanwall and Ferrari to see the light as well.

Yes, the bumpy Monza track played havoc with the Kurtis entries in 1957, but they were in a league of their own while they lasted, not exactly indicative of a spaghetti-framed design.
The three fastest qualifiers:

1. Bettenhausen [Kurtis chassis]
2. O'Connor [Kurtis chassis]
3. Linden [Kurtis chassis]

At the smoother Brickyard that year five Kurtis roadsters finished in the top ten, all on the same lap.


all research: Willem Oosthoek

Edited by Jerry Entin, 12 November 2012 - 20:33.


#21 ZOOOM

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 20:55

Doug... As I recall, Bettenhausen was to have said that the Jaguars "Were pretty fast dump trucks" :wave: :lol:
I think somebody else may have said about the same thing earlier...
ZOOOM

#22 ZOOOM

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 20:59

I'll give Ecure Ecosse props for at least comming to play.

The europeans had at least SEEN the course and had an ideas of what to expect. With that in mind...
Nobody but the Scots came...

ZOOOM

#23 ZOOOM

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 21:02

In his book about the Bettenhausens, Tony said that after he set the closed course record, some local Itialian barged into the pits to exclaim that Bettenhausen "must be insane" to have gone that fast...
ZOOOM

#24 Doug Nye

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 23:17

Tony said that after he set the closed course record, some local Itialian barged into the pits to exclaim that Bettenhausen "must be insane" to have gone that fast...
ZOOOM


I quite believe it - the local Italian would just have got an eyeful of that horrid Kurtis frame. :cat:

It wracked so much during Heat One that it had snapped the sturdy 'sway bar' fitted to make it work, Bettenhausen becoming the only retirement, if memory serves?

DCN

#25 D-Type

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 23:24

I do wonder. If the 1957 race had been run as a single 500 mile race rather than three heats, with no breaks to make running repairs and let the wheels and tyres cool, which would have broken first - the three remaining US cars or the three Jaguars?

Does anyone know how long Firestone spent testing to develop their Monza tyre?

#26 ZOOOM

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 13:53

If we are opining here, ....
What would have happened if the Indy guys would have slowed and followed the Jaguars at their pace in each heat, and then blasted past on the last two laps?
Betcha they ALL would have finished...
But we would have called it a PARADE instead of a race!

Kudos to Ecurie Ecosse for being the only guys to show up, Ferrari, Masarati, BRM and the likes , didn't.

By the way, didn't Mossie loose the stearing on his Masser the following year? Musta been poor design...

ZOOOM :rotfl:

#27 B Squared

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 15:23

Didn't Ascari's Ferrari break a wheel on lap 40 of the 1952 Indianapolis 500? I believe that eight Kurtis-built cars finished in the top ten of that particular race.

I don't recall another car falling out for that reason - of course, most of the backwards Yanks were by then smart enough to use solid magnesium wheels.


#28 Doug Nye

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 18:49

Sorry, pardon - sitting here, stuck upon the current project, I feel a ramble coming on...

There's been rather a lot of trans-Atlantic points-scoring going on in this thread which wasn't the intention at all from my side, at least. This thread's initial photos show a piece of cruddy Kurtis design - see later -, which I commented upon, and then added: "They worked well enough, however, which really tells us much about the opposition they faced". Later in the thread I highlighted how impressed the best of the European establishment were with much of the American constructors' detail design, workmanship and finish and with the USAC teams' showmanship. The fact that the Indycars were so fast around the Monza bowl was entirely predictable, so much so that the European road racing establishment largely concluded they wouldn't stand a chance of earning decent money in such a race unless they invested hugely in special cars for just that one event. What the promoters were offering was insufficient temptation.

The entire episode was clouded by the attitude of the new Union of Professional International Drivers, the UPPI, which had been formed at Monaco just that May. To qualify for membership a driver had to have competed professionally in a minimum three GPs or to have won one. The UPPI President was the retired Louis Chiron, VPs were Fangio and Taruffi. All members were, naturally, Formula 1 drivers. Coincidentally, Pat O'Connor had just concluded Firestone tyre testing at Monza, commenting that the parabolic bankings had "a guide action" on the car - which interestingly was a hefty Kurtis-Chrysler with 5.5-litre engine, heavier than a USAC single-seater - and that while Firestone's tyres performed reliably the lighter Indy roadster chassis would be "much stressed by the track surface". This justified the three-heat division of the total 500 miles to allow for careful inspection of the cars between heats.

On June 29 the UPPI issued a statement boycotting the Monza race, declaring the Pista de Alta Velocita was dangerous and that the race should be held on the road circuit instead - yeah, surprising that, isn't it? The group later explained that in their collective opinion to compete against specialised track cars in modified road racing GP or sports cars would be "futile, unnecessarily dangerous and harmful to prestige". It later emerged that Peter Collins had been first to express his opposition to the event, but the way the new union expressed its opposition was incompetent, a red rag to a media bull, ill-conceived and - as it turned out - a spectacularly damaging own goal.

Jenks for one was disgusted and condemned the entire membership of the UPPI as a lily-livered rabble. Yet in retrospect, the UPPI had a considered and defensible case had their original objections only been expressed more clearly.

Typically, Jenks - and many of the other specialist racing writers - just overlooked the wider political atmosphere at that time, because this was within mere weeks of the de Portago Mille Miglia catastrophe which had killed so many spectators, including children. Furthermore, of the 22 starters in the previous year's Italian GP, run over the combined Monza road and speed-bowl circuit, ten F1 cars had suffered structural failures and there had been many tyre failures caused by overload and overheating around the bumpy bankings. Each Two Worlds Trophy race heat would see the cars lapping the speedbowl continuously for around 50 minutes, without the respite of time on the road loop.

Such a scenario made the event appear to be a speedway race too far, but perhaps more significantly...it was one which came about at quite the wrong time. The political bias against motor racing in Italy in the summer of 1957 was immensely threatening. None of the European-based drivers wanted to risk a) becoming involved in a high-speed accident that could severely impinge upon their life expectancy nor b) facing the possible legal consequences should they survive an incident in which others might be harmed or die. David Murray of Ecurie Ecosse, with the (eventual) agreement of his team drivers, took advantage of the resultant dearth of European factory entries by driving a hard bargain with the organising body to field at least some opposition to USAC's finest. In brief testing I believe the Ecosse D-Type Jaguars also took a battering from the bumpy banking.

But once the event had been run in 1957, attitudes mellowed somewhat for the re-run in 1958. Eldorado ice cream made Maserati an attractive offer to fund a contender for Moss - who I think in part was keen to recoup some of his own lost prestige (or at least macho image) amongst the Italian tifosi after having helped front the UPPI objections of '57. And Ferrari of course fielded a couple of works cars variably adapted for the speedbowl. The crucial factors by then were that although the Mille Miglia crash litigation was grinding on, publicly it had become mere half-forgotten background noise, low-profile, political attention had become concentrated elsewhere - the UPPI members were rather embarrassed by press vilification due to their ill-expressed boycott of '57 - and more MONEY was offered to induce the European establishment to oppose the American onslaught. The RACI also confirmed that participation in the event would be required for any constructor seeking their cash bonus for becoming the most successful Italian constructor of the sporting year... The Italian factory efforts remained half-hearted, and Jim Rathmann's Watson-Offy won. The race wasn't repeated thereafter.

My original point wasn't a trans-Atlantic jibe at US racing cars per se - it was a comment upon the depicted Kurtis frame in particular. Lord knows, there was an awful lot of innovation in American design which put European and road-racing practise to shame. There were, equally, not very clever chassis produced in the UK and Europe - but the results of the Two Worlds Trophy races didn't confirm that Indy-style racing was 'better', it just confirmed the fundamentally bleedin' obvious - that it was 'different'. And we hadn't needed a speedway race in Europe to tell us that. I am glad it happened, however, because in retrospect it remains one of the most colourful and charismatic events of the entire 1950s. Perhaps we could at least agree on that?

DCN

#29 ZOOOM

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 20:33

Doug, That pretty much nails it...

ZOOOM

#30 Jerry Entin

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 20:56

Whatever the political bias was against motor racing in Italy in the summer of 1957, there was one homegrown works team and one Formula One driver willing to challenge the USAC roadsters at Monza: Maserati and Jean Behra.

It wasn't a hap hazard effort either, considering the fact that Maserati ordered 16 Halibrand wheels in Culver City, California, just for this race: eight for 760x16 front tires, eight for 800x16 rear tires.

Maserati entered two Halibrand-mounted cars: the much-customized 450S [chassis 4503] that won the Sebring 12 Hours earlier in the year. Its headlights removed and covered and the openings underneath covered as well, the car came without the full-width windshield but with a metal tonneau over the passenger seat. Its 4.5-liter V8 engine was replaced by a 4.2-liter V8 version, the maximum allowed. In an effort to save additional weight, its generator and starter motor were removed as well.

The second entry was a 250F, chassis 2523, last seen at Monaco with a 2.5-liter V12 engine. At Monza it carried an experimental 3.5-liter V12 engine, good for 300 BHP.

The team arrived at Monza two days before the race. Behra took the 250F, now a 350F, out first. Although he did a lap of 1'03"2 [240.988 kph], good enough to qualify, it soon became clear that the car did not take kindly to the new magnesium wheels. In a previous test session Behra had covered the track in 59 seconds, aboard a less powerful 2.5-liter, 6-cylinder standard 250F. For comparison's reasons: Bettenhausen did his fastest lap in 53.7 seconds, O'Connor his in 55.7 seconds. Perhaps Maserati should have brought a standard 250F.

Hopping in the 450S, now a 420S, it took Behra not long to realize that the Halibrands did not work well for the sportsracer either. After a few laps in the 60-second range, chassis 4503 blew its rear end. With both entries being withdrawn, that was the end of Maserati's Monza adventure, at least for 1957.

all research: Willem Oosthoek

#31 Doug Nye

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 22:33

Great post! Photos?

DCN

#32 D-Type

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 22:47

A couple of fleeting glimpses on this U-tube offering

#33 davegess

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 19:24

Doug as usual has nailed it pretty well but i have to add the bit I know. The Jags really had no chance to even try to compete because their tires simply would have exploded at the speeds they could have obtained if geared for that track. They acually had a self imposed top speed limit. The American wheels and tires simply could not be made to fit on the cars.

The early roadsters where a bit crude but a step up from cars based on dirt track machines. Indy was the only paved track run over here, Milwaukee and, I think, Charlotte were the first of the other tracks these cars raced on to be paved and that was not unitl 1954 or 55. A very stiff chassis was not really the best thing for a bumpy dirt track given the lousy suspensions and tires. Getting the right amount of flex at the right time was the way to get "hooked up" in the dirt and it was trail and error back in those days. The second generation of roadsters featured much better chassis design BUT you must remember that indy at that time was perhaps the smoothest race track in the world and had a very small performamce window needed to win. The most important things were absolute toughness and enough HP. The cars took a beating but one was not trying to negotiate a bumpy 100 mph turn one second and a smooth 150 mph curve the next.

The biggest advantage those Indy cars had over the Europeans was of course that motor. Despite being derived from the "cheap" Miller 4 is was a pure racing engine built only for racing by a company that built only race engines. Nothing had to be transfered to a street car. Although they were not nessecarily the absolute pinnacle of desing at that time there HP, a touch over 400 in 1962, durability and performance sweet spot had been refined for falt out track racing and were tough to beat. The fuel injection was crude but wide open it worked better than a carb and since accelation out of slow corners was never an issue it has to be considered another advantage.