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The Mickey Thompson 'Sears Allstate Special' cars of 1964


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#551 Cynic

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Posted 04 November 2007 - 20:34

Michael,

That is a superb post, a good summary, and excellent advice.

Thank you.

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#552 Doug Nye

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Posted 04 November 2007 - 22:29

Michael - much of your last post is typically good common sense, and I sympathise with almost everything you say. Excepting your derision of Jack Brabham's impression of what occurred.

I first heard that story from Jack soon after the events of that tragic day in 1964. With admittedly increasingly ragged fine detail his core story has remained unchanged to this day, over 40 years later.

Those events are almost literally scorched into his memory and if you think a three-time World Champion such as he lacks the visual acuity to track a car ONLY 100 yards or so ahead which he was already convinced was going to create a problem you haven't spent any time around top-level racing drivers.

In the various ways Jack's story has been expressed over the years I have no doubt that any painstaking student of fine detail can find cause to take issue with it - but when Jack recounts the story even today the mains electricity shock that he experienced during the supersonic few seconds after he first saw Macdonald lose control are actually palpable.

He was deeply shaken and deeply affected by the experience - and the experience rather than the finest of fine detail is the core of his memory. If you've ever fallen off a cliff - as I have - you experience the rush of sensations, the branch whistling by which you tried to grab but missed, the shape and colour of the uprushing boulders below, but you might end up pretty confused about what time it all took, or even whether it was raining or sunny. I ended up unsure whether I was punched, bored or countersunk - but the essential memory is seared into me.

I'm absolutely certain Jack had a large part of his awareness focused upon the Macdonald car, and I'm darned sure he virtually had a telephoto lock on it while also retaining awareness of all those other cars jostling in closer proximity to him. That's what these top blokes can do - and what we mere mortals cannot. That's their unfair advantage.

Much of the other evidence you deride certainly deserves to be dismissed. But some of it does not. Hear Blackie's recollection first hand and the burned-in sincerity of an honest witness statement is unmistakable. Even though, like most honest witness statements, some of it will be imagined, or coloured by other factors, to ignore it today would be quite, quite wrong.

DCN

#553 fines

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Posted 04 November 2007 - 22:57

Doug, I understand you've been Jack's ghostwriter, and perhaps that clouds your judgement, but you're really missing my point: I simply fail to believe that "he was already convinced [the car] was going to create a problem" for the reasons I have pointed out. And even if he would have been convinced of something like that, shouldn't he have had an eye on the white Thompson that was running just ahead of him???

Besides, how many cars running at 140 mph do you pack into 100 yds? Face the facts, Brabham was something like 500 yds behind, he physically can't have seen MacDonald crash, that's a fact and it will be instantly obvious to you if you look at the pictures somebody shot from behind the cars going down the main stretch. He may have seen the second explosion, i.e. when Sachs hit MacDonald, but not even that is sure, though very likely. Everything else he remembers is clearly dreamed up, and I don't even think he should feel sorry for that, since it's almost certainly a traumatic reaction.

For all that I'm criticizing here, I certainly don't want to create the impression that things are done on purpose or malevolently! People react that way because they are human (yes, even three-time world champions are!), and humans have psychological schemata to deal with traumatic experiences. It's neither good, nor bad, it's just true. Nothing to be ashamed of.

#554 ensign14

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Posted 04 November 2007 - 23:05

Trouble is you're not going to get pre-race sources now? AJ Foyt in his autobiog relates how he needled Sachs because MacDonald was worried about his handling and Foyt pointed out Eddie was following him. Easy enough to write 20 years or so after the event.

#555 fines

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Posted 04 November 2007 - 23:07

... or even 20 minutes, for that matter!

#556 David M. Kane

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 00:34

Fines I see no "sports car" correction in the spin,Dave never turned the wheel, his hands are straight ahead as are the wheels I believe; or did I misunderstand your point?

#557 fines

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 15:45

Originally posted and discussed over and over again
Looks like he was trying to correct the slide, as showed in the drawing below:

Posted Image

You haven't paid attention, have you?

#558 David M. Kane

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 15:58

Fines I made that point along with others months ago, check out the video just before he hit the wall please. You're spliting hairs here. Ah...have a nice day.

BTW most drivers have uncanny memories. I know I do.

#559 fines

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 18:40

Well, apparently then you misunderstood my point, and apologies for my rather harsh reply!

My point is: at various times during this thread posters have blamed MacDonald for either correcting or not correcting the slide/spin, and I believe they're both wrong and right. Initially, Dave let his reflexes do the talking and corrected, which is the wrong thing to do if you lose the car at Indy, and the reason why it's extremely dangerous to drive a car "loose" there. OTOH of course, it's also usually faster than when you have "push".

At some point, Dave realized his mistake and stopped correcting, but then it was already too late: the car would not spin out, but continued in its initial direction. So he did the wrong thing at the right moment, and the right thing at the wrong moment - that was my point!

What I really don't understand is how you can say "Dave never turned the wheel" when very clearly he did! :confused:

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#560 David M. Kane

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 18:57

I agree yes he did turn the wheel, what I meant was that his hands were at 3 and 9 when he hit the wall.

I saw the accident on close circuit TV that day and it is still one of the worst moments of my life. I actually blame him for nothing. The only people I'm mad at are the politicans who made them change the tire size.
It was a radical car that was never given the chance to show it's radical potential, for that I am frustrated
and I am disappointed.

Dave was my hero, always was, always will be.

I agree with you about the wrong thing at the right moment, and the right thing at wrong moment. He was in no man's land as was Swede Savage 8 or so years later.

You and I have no problem. :up:

#561 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 20:15

Originally posted by fines
Doug, I understand you've been Jack's ghostwriter, and perhaps that clouds your judgement, but you're really missing my point: I simply fail to believe that "he was already convinced [the car] was going to create a problem" for the reasons I have pointed out. And even if he would have been convinced of something like that, shouldn't he have had an eye on the white Thompson that was running just ahead of him???


Well, I'm not Jack's ghostwriter and I've also heard Jack speak with total conviction about these events...

The conversation began with something about Masten Gregory, and Jack launched into his discussion with "he saved my life once..."

And at no time did it sound like he was making it up as he went. Also, Jack drove through the flames, right? If he'd been all that far behind, surely he'd have been stopped - or in a better position to determine his path - than that?

Thanks for your contribution, Michael... I'm sure that you're like me, however, and would be keen to see more detailed photo and movie before coming to any conclusions?

#562 Doug Nye

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 21:06

Originally posted by fines
I simply fail to believe that "he was already convinced [the car] was going to create a problem" for the reasons I have pointed out. And even if he would have been convinced of something like that, shouldn't he have had an eye on the white Thompson that was running just ahead of him???


So Eddie Johnson and Jack were still in the relative positions in which they had qualified were they? And Masten Gregory's cautionary words were NOT still resounding in Jack's mind? And the angular field of view from the short chute across the infield apron was obstructed from Jack's viewpoint even before the section of the pack including Macdonald had reached the 'big tree' was it?

DCN

PS - I have only just taken on board the textual balls-up in our book which telescoped Jack's alleged memory into the accident occurring on lap 1, rather than lap 2...original wording covering the intervening period having been axed by the (female) publishing person. I truly hadn't noticed this one before. This occurred during the publisher's text cutting which also extended to rewording our account of the 1959 US GP in such a way that Jack apparently ends up being critical of Tony Brooks. I can only apologise for these errors, even though they were committed truly beyond my control. :blush:

#563 HistoricMustang

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 21:12

Simply a matter of how you view the photograph in post #557.

Some might see drivers right as being straight and drivers left as having severe "toe in".

#564 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 23:44

Originally posted by Doug Nye
.....I have only just taken on board the textual balls-up in our book which telescoped Jack's alleged memory into the accident occurring on lap 1, rather than lap 2...original wording covering the intervening period having been axed by the (female) publishing person. I truly hadn't noticed this one before. This occurred during the publisher's text cutting which also extended to rewording our account of the 1959 US GP in such a way that Jack apparently ends up being critical of Tony Brooks. I can only apologise for these errors, even though they were committed truly beyond my control. :blush:


Would you mind posting the original text here, Doug?

#565 TrackDog

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 06:43

Could the red car next to the white roadster in the picture of the explosion in post # 499 be Jack? If so, he was off the 4th turn when Dave and Eddie collided, and probably well into the turn when Dave "lost it". If so, then the accident unfolding would be well within his peripheral vision.

As for Johnson being nearly 2 mph faster than Dave, I wonder if there mught be a couple of reasons for this...Johnson was much more experienced at Indy then MacDonald; he had a reputation for being able to drive almost anything with wheels and an engine very quickly without a lot of seat time; and maybe there was a little nitro in his fuel...IIRC, the Thompson cars qualified on alcohol...maybe he had a little "pop"; and there's always the subject of driving styles.

And, if the red car in the photo is Brabham, Eddie Johnson is behind him by lap 2...the fuel pump was acting up, hampering the car's performance.

Dan

#566 Michael Oliver

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 11:31

Originally posted by fines

You haven't paid attention, have you?


Michael

I think you are being a trifle harsh here. I see the white lines which have been added by someone (which incidentally don't make sense as they imply that the right front wheel was turning more than the left front, but that is another point entirely!) but I don't see any evidence that the wheels are actually turned as indicated.

Surely you can see the outer face of the right front wheel, which suggests that it is actually facing straight ahead? I also don't see any 'proof' that the left front wheel is anything other than pointing straight ahead.

As Ray Bell has been saying for too long, this will never be resolved until someone produces a clear, higher resolution photo, as the photo enlargement you have used is not sufficiently detailed to draw absolute conclusions.

Michael

#567 McGuire

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 11:52

Originally posted by HistoricMustang


I have been reminded, and now seem to remember, that cuts across the top of fenders were perhaps a means to get around the rules and meet Indy "open wheel" requirements.

This does make sense because of the cuts being more on top and front side of the wheel well. If meant solely for the release of traped air it would seem that the logical location would have been in the rear section of the wheel well.

Any other thoughts on this?

Henry


Since there was no such rule at the time, there would be no reason to attempt to circumvent it in that manner. (And if there were such a rule there is no logical reason Thompson would bring those bodies to Indy.) The top and front are logical and suitable locations for the vents.

#568 Doug Nye

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 13:09

Originally posted by Ray Bell
Would you mind posting the original text here, Doug?


Not at all - easy to find on the computer, impossible on the old typewriter in my days of Sellotape editing. This is the original with the wording judged 'superfluous' in red: "We came out of Turn Four, green flags and we were racing. And I remembered Masten’s words and my eyes were still glued on that odd-looking car a couple of rows ahead. Poor Dave Macdonald nearly lost it in Turn Two, but caught it. In Turn Three he was again all over the place, and Masten's warning seemed increasingly justified. I kept my eye on him right round that opening lap and into the next, and then - coming out of Turn Four - it happened. His car flicked broadside, and Macdonald lost it..." etc.

DCN

#569 ovfi

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 14:13

Originally posted by Michael Oliver
(which incidentally don't make sense as they imply that the right front wheel was turning more than the left front, but that is another point entirely!)


Michael,
Sorry, but you made an wrong statement, inner wheels always have to turn more than outer because they have to travel in a smaller circle radius... this is called the "Ackerman Effect" by automotive engineers.

See Phil Hill's Cooper at Monaco in the picture below, as an example:

Posted Image

#570 fines

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 16:29

Sigh...

So what? Even if Black Jack caught a glimpse of the accident (which I seriously doubt), that is absolutely immaterial because it doesn't add anything to the issue in discussion! What he did and apparently still does is merely amplifying a minor issue (Gregory's handling problems) post trauma - this is such a classic case, it would serve well as an example in teaching! A perfectly natural reaction for someone who is supposed to be in control of a situation, but is instead subjected to a chain of utterly uncontrollable events.

"Chance" and "luck" are not part of a racing driver's psychological make-up, indeed it is a rather inescapable impression one gets when listening to the drivers quotes here that the word "luck" is eerily avoided by all and sundry, except for Troy Ruttman who at this stage of his life and career was anyway a racing driver apart, and perhaps not entirely coincidentally retired very soon after. And of course are images like these "scorched into (...) memory", they become very real for the traumatized person, to the point that it becomes impossible to untangle them from "real memories" (if indeed there is such a thing, but that's a matter for another discussion on another Board perhaps...)

If indeed Brabham had such awareness of the "dangerous" car, why was everybody else able to pull up just as quickly, and that with heavier cars and worse brakes (roadsters!!!)? Where they all "keeping a close eye" on MacDonald?? Did nobody take care of his own driving??? Gosh, a wonder any of them survived... :rolleyes: To fall for BS at face value is one thing, but to reflect upon it and still buy it is beyond me!

I am wasting my time here, I give up. I had hopes of doing real research in this thread, but I am certainly not going to participate in the nonsense part of it. :wave:


P.S. Michael Oliver, you obviously haven't read the full thread (I can't blame you), but there is absolutely no doubt that the wheels were turned at the time the picture was taken; this fact was established by many photographs and a lot of posts have dealt with the issue. I posted the (rather naively decorated) picture merely as a pointer to the earlier discussion, and I must admit that it was a poor choice, but it was the first picture of its kind I was able to locate

#571 David M. Kane

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 17:38

Oh! Boy!

#572 slucas

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 18:42

Fines; you have an odd researching technique , better luck else where. You might try being....
Never mind. This is the internet.

#573 Buford

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 21:56

As I stated earlier this crash which I witnessed from the front row of the paddock penthouse (near the starting line) and shot an 8mm movie of had a dramatic effect on my life. Despite having grown up in a racing family, I had never seen a fatality in my first decade and a half of of life and I had never seen a major fire. One of the dead was a family friend who used to look after me when I was an infant and my parents would leave me in his midget seat after races while they circulated the pits meeting friends. Whenever Eddie saw me he would tell anybody in the vicinity he was my "babysitter" much to my discomfort.

I was traumatized by this greatly. A half hour after the crash when drivers were walking back, and being interviewed, and people around us were checking off names we knew were alive, we had no idea how many dead there were, we thought it could be 5, even more. I was nearly in shock as were many. When my mother suddenly said loudly so many people around us could hear, "It's Eddie. He would have been on the microphone by now calming the crowd" a murmur around us spread, people repeating the words and everybody broke out in tears, men and women alike, and me too. Big boys don't cry I had been taught. Racers don't cry. But we did. Even my dad. Only time I ever saw him cry in my whole life. He was a tough racer construction guy. He cried.

And later when the announcement came, burned into my memory with the visual image I can still close my eyes and see today over 40 years later, "Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with deepest regret and greatest sympathy we must announce that race driver Eddie Sachs lost his life in the accident in the fourth turn." Two hundred fifty thousand people sat in silence, and cried. Then many got up and stumbled for the exits. It had a major effect on my life. Turned me against religion. Eddie was deeply religious, had his car blessed by a priest. Wasn't obnoxious or crusader about it but his faith was deep and he let people know. Any God who would take his messenger that horrible painful way, piss on him I thought, and still do. It also was an end of innocence for me. I had cried in public and did not feel ashamed. But I for the first time in my pampered upper middle class existance realized the world was not put here to pleasure me. It sucked, racing sucked, there was no hope for happiness ever again. OK I got over it mostly, but not completely. This crash changed my life forevermore. It was the beginning of my adult awareness. Life sucks and then you die. Might as well enjoy it while you can because it is gonna end horribly. And I have always tried.

That said (sorry) I just wanted to emphasize this discussion was about something that is important to me, and actually a development transition in my life. I have read the quotes and opinions intently. I did learn something, apparently the car did not have two tanks I had always read and heard. But nothing presented here, of the engineering aspects and drivers and eye witness accounts and photos has convinced me this was anything more than I always believed. A talented but raw rookie lost control of a ill handling on full tanks race car and it was at the wrong place, wrong time, and caused a disaster so gruesome we still talk about, and argue about it 43 years later.

#574 Doug Nye

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 22:16

Well said Buford. Beautifully written. It does add up...sadly.

DCN

#575 ovfi

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 01:23

A gift to Buford, and a small homage to Eddie Sachs
Posted Image

#576 David M. Kane

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 02:32

Eddie Sachs was a promoter, he was an entertainer, mainly he thought he was taking part in the greatest show on earth and he was determined to do his part. As a result he made a lot of people feel he was special.
He made the big stage even bigger.

#577 Buford

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 08:51

Originally posted by ovfi
A gift to Buford, and a small homage to Eddie Sachs
Posted Image


Thanks. Kind of a lame story though. Should have used the one where he was washing dishes in the speedway cafeteria to get the money to go home.

#578 Michael Oliver

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 09:50

Originally posted by ovfi

Michael,
Sorry, but you made an wrong statement, inner wheels always have to turn more than outer because they have to travel in a smaller circle radius... this is called the "Ackerman Effect" by automotive engineers...


Ovfi, thanks, I understand the point you are making but the lines you originally drew on your post early in the thread are, I think, somewhat over-exaggerated and do not fit the photo, which was my main point.

Added to which, I have yet to see conclusive photographic evidence of him turning into the slide anyway. If you look at posts 39,40,42,116,213,281(bottom photo) and 346 they are still not, in my humble opinion, clear enough to say with certainty that he steered into the slide.

Is there no decent photo of the moment Dave lost the car which could be blown up/digitally enhanced to show this more clearly?

Michael

#579 Michael Oliver

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 10:41

Originally posted by fines
Sigh...

So what? Even if Black Jack caught a glimpse of the accident (which I seriously doubt), that is absolutely immaterial because it doesn't add anything to the issue in discussion! What he did and apparently still does is merely amplifying a minor issue (Gregory's handling problems) post trauma - this is such a classic case, it would serve well as an example in teaching! A perfectly natural reaction for someone who is supposed to be in control of a situation, but is instead subjected to a chain of utterly uncontrollable events.

"Chance" and "luck" are not part of a racing driver's psychological make-up, indeed it is a rather inescapable impression one gets when listening to the drivers quotes here that the word "luck" is eerily avoided by all and sundry, except for Troy Ruttman who at this stage of his life and career was anyway a racing driver apart, and perhaps not entirely coincidentally retired very soon after. And of course are images like these "scorched into (...) memory", they become very real for the traumatized person, to the point that it becomes impossible to untangle them from "real memories" (if indeed there is such a thing, but that's a matter for another discussion on another Board perhaps...)

If indeed Brabham had such awareness of the "dangerous" car, why was everybody else able to pull up just as quickly, and that with heavier cars and worse brakes (roadsters!!!)? Where they all "keeping a close eye" on MacDonald?? Did nobody take care of his own driving??? Gosh, a wonder any of them survived... :rolleyes: To fall for BS at face value is one thing, but to reflect upon it and still buy it is beyond me!

I am wasting my time here, I give up. I had hopes of doing real research in this thread, but I am certainly not going to participate in the nonsense part of it. :wave:


P.S. Michael Oliver, you obviously haven't read the full thread (I can't blame you), but there is absolutely no doubt that the wheels were turned at the time the picture was taken; this fact was established by many photographs and a lot of posts have dealt with the issue. I posted the (rather naively decorated) picture merely as a pointer to the earlier discussion, and I must admit that it was a poor choice, but it was the first picture of its kind I was able to locate


Fines

Surely one of the points of a forum like this is that it permits everybody to put forward their point of view? Some of your posts since your recent return smack of arrogance and there only being one possible explanation of the events which took place - your own.

I have been following this thread since its instigation (unlike you) and I reckon I have read most, if not all, of the posts. Some of it is pure speculation, some based on first-hand recollections as a witness and some based on film and photographic evidence.

I find first-hand recollections to be very interesting and, depending on the memory of the individual, quite significant. As Doug will, I am sure, agree, when you are researching (whether for a book or a thread such as this) you can speak to five different people who were all present on a particular occasion and you will get five different versions but there is often one person who has a fantastic and impressively accurate recollection of events. Similarly, at the other end of the scale there is always someone who will swear on their mother's life that 'the car was painted black for that race, definitely' and castigate you for having the temerity as someone who wasn't even there, to question it, when all available photographic evidence points to it having been white. For this reason, I find photographic evidence to be the most reliable witness but first-hand testimony can be equally as reliable, depending on the individual concerned. The two together are extremely powerful and should not be lightly dismissed.

Reverting back to the subject of whether or not the wheels were turned at the time the picture was taken, please point me to the "many photos" on this thread which show there is "absolutely no doubt that the wheels were turned" and that it is a "fact". Take a look at posts 39,40,42,116,213,281(bottom photo) and 346. As I have said in my post above, I don't see any such *conclusive* proof, just a series of extremely grainy and indistinct photos. I will admit that on post 346, it *could* seem to show the wheels turned, although not to anything like the angles suggested on the photo with lines on that you posted, but I am still not 100% sure.

So, what I am saying it that I am prepared to believe that he may at the beginning of the accident have turned into the slide (he quite clearly has the wheels straight by the mid-point of the accident, when he leaves the track and when he hit the wall) but I don't see conclusive evidence of it from what I have seen on this thread. I don't have access to film of the accident (the YouTube clip is much too grainy to see the start of it properly) so this is all I have to go on. If you have other evidence, by all means produce it.

On the subject of Jack Brabham's story, to try and dismiss the version of events that Jack has told with unshaking conviction for the past 43 years is just plain daft. You were not there sat in the car, Jack was, so how can you know what he was thinking at the time? There could be other reasons why he was keeping an eye on Dave and not the other Thompson car - you just do not know and are not in a position to speculate about this, any more than I am. On the other hand, if you can produce photographic evidence that shows that Jack could not have seen the car starting to slide from his position on the track or at any other point during the race, perhaps you may have a point. Until then, some humility would not go amiss.

I was not there on that fateful day 43 years ago and I understand that it must have had a traumatic effect on anybody that witnessed them. However, I do think we need to retain our objectivity.

The sad fact is that we will probably never know for sure what happened and often it is this way with accident investigations. In the same way, no-one is able to say with 100% certainty what caused Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt or Ayrton Senna to crash and no-one will ever be able to do so as by its nature this kind of accident investigation consists of trying to piece together fragments of evidence after the event, in this case some 40 years on.

Michael

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#580 David M. Kane

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 13:54

Well said Michael.

#581 McGuire

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 14:03

Here is another of the photos posted earlier...

Posted Image


From this photo we can draw three conclusions with satisfying confidence:

1. At this point MacDonald clearly is not countersteering into or out of the slide. If he had attempted to turn into the slide at some earlier point, he has since stopped and has turned the front wheels back to approximately straight-ahead.

2. If he did steer into the slide at some point, it has not affected the vehicle's heading in any meaningful way, as the car is clearly headed for the inside wall, not the outside wall.

3. Since this photo clearly shows both front wheels headed in the same nominal direction, we see nothing to suggest that MacDonald's loss of control was due to a steering or front-end suspension failure.

#582 Ray Bell

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 20:01

Originally posted by Buford
Thanks. Kind of a lame story though. Should have used the one where he was washing dishes in the speedway cafeteria to get the money to go home.


After making several attempts to open it, I thought it was a good story...

But I'm sure that if the dish-washing story was better you'll tell it anyway.

#583 ovfi

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 21:34

Michael you are correct, I over-exaggerated the drawing... but McGuire (post
#581) set the correct understanding for this case, whenever he countersteered
or not it has not affected the vehicle's heading in any meaningful way. The
others conclusions McGuire made in post #581 are perfect too, in my point of
view.
I've been following this thread since its beginning, contributing when
possible but, since I read post #181 of R.W.Mackenzie (he suspected of the
underside contour of the side "pods" could cause severe lift forces), I'm
mostly reading, posting eventually, appreciating the Kafkian style of the
thread (T54 copyright), waiting for something new... but there's nothing new,
and I think it is the moment to open to the forum what I've researched and
found during this time.
Because of the point raised by Mackenzie in post #181, I contacted a friend
who is Phd on aerodynamics (difficult mission, because he's retired and
prefers to talk about fishing), and after I exposed the case to him he made
the following comments, which I have written to avoid memory failure:

1-Aero is a tricky matter and there's no substitute for wind tunnel tests.
Although we can raise points and made conclusions from our experience on the
theme, all these conclusions must be tested in a wind tunnel at least with
scale models, but using the correct Reynolds number. For example, using a
scale model of 1/4 we must multiply by 4 the wind speed to maintain the
correct Reynolds number.

2-Probably the '64 car had its aerodynamic lift forces increased relatively
to the '63 car mostly due to riding height increase than to the underside
contours of the side pods.

3-The most probable flow pattern under these side pods is that they act as
exhaust, the air flowing outwards on high speed riding.

4-When a racing car enters a low air-pressure region behind another car, its
drag and lift forces are reduced; for a cigar-shaped car the lift force has
little reduction compared to the great reduction in drag, but for the wide
flat bottom car usually the reduction in lift is as big as on drag. Possibly
this can be the reason why MacDonald was doing so good in traffic, with more
grip when behind others cars.

5-These side pods can become dangerous air "lockers" if the car makes a fast
move from a low air-pressure to a high air-pressure region, because when this
occurs the outflow from the underside of the side pods can be suddenly
blocked, inducing a strong rear lift pulse because of the shape and position
of the side pods behind front wheels. This strong rear lift pulse may have
sufficient magnitude to cause rear wheel spin at high speed. If this indeed
occurred to MacDonald, his engine over revved at the same time he lost rear
wheel grip, making him confuse on what was happening because the car had a
lot of grip until a tenth of a second before.

6-It is strongly recommended wind tunnel tests, at least with 1/4 scale
models and 600 mph wind, of the Thompson and Huffaker cars (this one to
measure the low-pressure area) to confirm that. Some Universities have the
facility and it would be a beautiful thesis for an American student...

Well guys, I'm having insomnia with this story for two weeks... now I feel
some relief...I'm ready to be crucified.

#584 R.W. Mackenzie

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 23:27

:up:
Oscar,

Thanks for the comments from your friend. They do make sense but I agree that we really need a wind tunnel test of a model to sort it out. Maybe some day. I'm still following this thread but I haven't had anything to add lately.

Regards,

Bob Mackenzie

#585 Lotus23

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 00:16

Buford, thank you for post #573. I can only imagine what a traumatic day that was for you and your family.

I've followed this thread since Henry began it, and I believe that you and I are the only two posting here who witnessed the carnage firsthand. I was sitting somewhat below and L of you -- about 25 rows up, directly across from what was then the pit entrance.

I'd been present at a few fatalities at our local bullring in the 18 years prior to '64, and had listened to Indy on the radio every year since '51 or '52, but none of that approached the horror and shock associated with that day. Your description of the announcement of Eddie's death, and the crowd's reaction to it, is the way I remember it. As I recall, Dave's passing was announced after the race had restarted.

Some of life's experiences are impossible to forget, and that was one of them.

fwiw, I was not a terribly religious person in '64, but RVN '67 changed that for me.

#586 Buford

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 02:48

[LONG BABBLING - IGNORE]

Lotus23 - It is surprising having attended races since 11 days old I had never seen a fatality by the time I was 16 in 1964. But that was mostly because we owned short track stock cars which didn't blow up in fireballs and crashed a lot but going under 100 with full bodies. Our driver was badly hurt one time at Rockford Speedway when he was crowded into the end of the pit wall but I was not there and pretty young at the time and next time I saw him he was OK again so it didn't really sink in.

I had never seen a Sprint Car race to that point. My parents wouldn't take us. Simply a bloodbath they said. But so were midgets and that was my parents main love. We went to lots of midget races over the years, though mostly it was stock cars. And there never was a fatality when I was there, though midgets killed people all the time then. My parents really wanted to race midgets but they were factory backed in the stock cars and kinda stuck there and eventually they got the quarter midgets so that was their open wheel team.

The worst injury I had seen was in a roadster (not the Indy kind, the short track West Coast type) where a tie rod came loose, whipped up and hit the driver in the head. We looked at the car still in the infield after the race and his helmet was on the floor with a hole crushed into it and a lot of blood. Don't know if he died. Never heard.

But I was quite aware racing was dangerous and drivers died all the time. Every Monday during racing season the Chicago Tribune ran a front page splash of the death of the moment, with titles like flaming bier for driver. Had to look that up. Didn't know what bier was. Very clearly remember the Jimmy Bryan photos with him all hanging out of the car. I saw the photos at the races in National Speed Sport News and Illustrated Speedway News. They showed fatal accident photos in those days. And clearly remember listening to the Indy radio broadcasts of Vukovich and O'Conner. I bugged my parents for years to take us to Indy but they were always racing themselves. Finally we first went in 1961 and continued every year until Tony George and the SCAB IRL killed it. 37 straight years.

So I was quite aware racing was dangerous and Indy in particular. I knew drivers died every month during racing season. But seeing Indy 1964 was a shock. Not only the first fatality I ever saw, but two of them, a holocaust, and I knew one driver and the other was one of two autographed photos I got that year. One for me, Eddie Sachs, one for my friend, Dave MacDonald. So yes it was "a traumatic day... for you and your family." I was deeply affected. I was furious at God, and then rejected him completely. Who needs a vengeful lunatic invisible man in the sky anyway? And I was down on racing. Never was going again. But I already had tickets for the USAC Champ Cars in August at Springfield and that was to be the first time my parents were letting me take the car and go out on a road trip on my own without them. With the guy I got the Mac Donald photo for. So I went and it was great. Until Bill Horstmeier flipped as high as the top of the light poles all down the main straight and ended up right in front of us and burned up. Another flaming death. That was it, I was done with racing. But then it was Spring, and there I was again.

I was not a terribly religious person in '64, but RVN '67 changed that for me.



What was RVN 67? Are you saying you went the opposite way concerning religion?

#587 HistoricMustang

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 10:25

Joel, I believe you once told me the track fatalities witnessed is now in the teens which demonstrates a tremendous amount of time spent at the these events we call races.

At sixteen and having just witnessed in November 1963 the fabulous "Augusta 510" stock car race at a brand new 3 mile road circuit just two miles from my home in rule Georgia with the winner being "Fireball Roberts" followed by Dave MacDonald the world would become so violent so quick. Just 5 days after the "Augusta 510" Kennedy would be shot in Dallas. Dave would return to Augusta on March 1, 1964 for the USRRC events and cleaned house along with Ken Miles. A few weeks later on May 24th (Sunday) my radio would be tuned to the NASCAR race in Charlotte and that horrible day when "Fireball" had his accident. The next Saturday I was "forced" to attend basketball practice and was sitting in my normal place on the bench when news arrived about the accident at Indy. I simply walked out of the gym and the two miles home. On July 2nd while off at summer camp a buddy and I were cleaning the school bus which had transported us to this wonderful camp in rule Georgia when another friend walked in with a newpaper explaining the death of Fireball from burns received at Charlotte. What a horrible year for racing..........Weatherly, Roberts, MacDonald, Sachs, Wade, Pardue, Thomas and many more. What a horrible way to begin adulthood.

Something had to be done to help.

I have apologized in person to both the MacDonald and the Roberts families because it took so long (over 4 decades) for me, with help from a lot of people, to give something back in the way of a memorial to these childhood heroes. I still feel guilt from those events so many years ago and IMHO I still feel we need to provide these families any bits of information (fact, fiction, rumours, etc.) that can be produced about those horrible times. Some may still have not reached closure. And, for that, I want to thank all that have taken part in this thread.

The sometimes horror of adulthood remains.

Henry

#588 Ray Bell

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 10:49

1964 had also seen the death of Timmy Mayer...

It seems to me he was a US driver who was going to go a long way on the world stage. If only.

#589 McGuire

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 16:41

Originally posted by Michael Oliver


The sad fact is that we will probably never know for sure what happened and often it is this way with accident investigations. In the same way, no-one is able to say with 100% certainty what caused Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt or Ayrton Senna to crash and no-one will ever be able to do so as by its nature this kind of accident investigation consists of trying to piece together fragments of evidence after the event, in this case some 40 years on.

Michael


I don't see the crash as any huge mystery at all. To me, MacDonald was simply a little too hot and/or off-line on the exit of T4 and the rear of the car got away from him. If he had been traveling a few mph slower or on a better line he easily would have made it. It was a very ordinary racing incident up to that point, the kind that happens every day in racing. The spin and crash were in no way extraordinary, only their horrible aftermath.

So when people say things like Dave MacDonald was "too talented" a racer to make such a horrible mistake, I have to say baloney. He didn't make a horrible mistake. He made a very small mistake of the kind that all race drivers make on a regular basis. The only thing different here is that MacDonald did not get away with it, and he and Eddie Sachs paid the consequences.

While we cannot say with absolute 100% metaphysical certainty just how or why MacDonald lost the car, we can say with reasonable certainty that the car did not crash because it was grossly overloaded with fuel, or because a part failed, or because it had some mysterious aerodynamic ailment. And while the car had a well-earned reputation for handling problems, there is no getting around the fact that on race day the car made it through seven previous corners just fine. We have been given no reason to believe the car did anything different for MacDonald in this corner.

This was not an extraordinary event and does not require an extraordinary explanation. No, it is we who require an extraordinary explanation because the crash resulted in an extraordinary outcome. That's why we keep looking for the most unlikely and complicated explanations instead of the most likely and simple ones.

A number of aspects of the event raise some interesting historical points, and it is certainly legitimate and worthwhile to explore them. To me, that is the value of this thread. However, if you are searching for some greater or deeper answer as to how or why the crash occurred and why MacDonald and Sachs had to die, you are wasting your time. A car spun off the exit of Turn 4 and that is the long and the short of it.

#590 McGuire

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 17:25

Originally posted by Doug Nye
Regarding the MacDonald accident, Masten Gregory had tried the car early in May and told Jack Brabham he was terrified by it. Since Jack regarded Masten as being totally nerveless and incapable of being terrified by anything, he then kept a very close eye on the Thompson cars, and particularly MacDonald's ahead of him on the rolling start. He has vivid memories of the car looking utterly uncontrollable even during the pace lap. It was (Jack's recollection) carrying an incredibly huge fuel load (100 gallons was mentioned) - part of the Thompson strategy being to save pit stops compared to his rivals - and it was visibly weaving and lurching out of shape through the turns.


This is one part of Brabham's recollection (if that is his recollection) that is clearly mistaken. We know beyond any doubt that the car was not carrying 100 gallons of fuel, or anything close to that amount. Not to put too fine a point on it, but 100 gallons is absurd as that would permit a range of at least 660 miles. There is no logical reason the car would be carrying that much fuel.

I am not faulting Brabham for the bad information; after all, who knows where he got it or how he came to believe it. (Gurney has also offered the 100-gallon figure.) I am only wondering how this faulty info may have colored his perception on race day, and his subsequent recollections in later years as well -- in particular his description of the car "weaving and lurching' through the turns.

Again, I wish to make it clear that I am not faulting Brabham's faculties or honesty any more than I would those of any mortal human being, Jack Brabham being one. However, you are not going to tell me that Jack Brabham does not commit errors of fact or perception just like the rest of us. After all, here is one.

#591 fines

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 17:29

Originally posted by McGuire


I don't see the crash as any huge mystery at all. To me, MacDonald was simply a little too hot and/or off-line on the exit of T4 and the rear of the car got away from him. If he had been traveling a few mph slower or on a better line he easily would have made it. It was a very ordinary racing incident up to that point, the kind that happens every day in racing. The spin and crash were in no way extraordinary, only their horrible aftermath.

So when people say things like Dave MacDonald was "too talented" a racer to make such a horrible mistake, I have to say baloney. He didn't make a horrible mistake. He made a very small mistake of the kind that all race drivers make on a regular basis. The only thing different here is that MacDonald did not get away with it, and he and Eddie Sachs paid the consequences.

While we cannot say with absolute 100% metaphysical certainty just how or why MacDonald lost the car, we can say with reasonable certainty that the car did not crash because it was grossly overloaded with fuel, or because a part failed, or because it had some mysterious aerodynamic ailment. And while the car had a well-earned reputation for handling problems, there is no getting around the fact that on race day the car made it through seven previous corners just fine. We have been given no reason to believe the car did anything different for MacDonald in this corner.

This was not an extraordinary event and does not require an extraordinary explanation. No, it is we who require an extraordinary explanation because the crash resulted in an extraordinary outcome. That's why we keep looking for the most unlikely and complicated explanations instead of the most likely and simple ones.

A number of aspects of the event raise some interesting historical points, and it is certainly legitimate and worthwhile to explore them. To me, that is the value of this thread. However, if you are searching for some greater or deeper answer as to how or why the crash occurred and why MacDonald and Sachs had to die, you are wasting your time. A car spun off the exit of Turn 4 and that is the long and the short of it.

Superb!

If I could express myself half as well as McGuire, people probably wouldn't think I'm arrogant :drunk:

I have spent quite a bit of time now trying to prepare another post to again explain why I don't want to discuss if or why MacDonald corrected the slide or what Brabham recollects of the accident, and trying to not get into hot water this time... and here comes McGuire and says almost precisely what I wanted to say! Life can be so easy! :) Thanks!

#592 Bob Riebe

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 17:53

Gentlemen being discussed is an incident that happened over forty years ago, and without a in focus film shot with a streak camera, what we have is people saying what they think happened; what they wished to have happened; or what they think should have happened.

Some ARE more accurate than the others, an there is always the oddball chance that person, who was not there, analyzing all the information possible MIGHT make the MOST accurate guess, but do to TIME, no one, NO ONE will EVER really know because it is impossible to go back and prove it.

This is an emotional item and nothing destroys the true more thorougly than emotions.
Bob

#593 Michael Oliver

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 18:47

Originally posted by McGuire


I don't see the crash as any huge mystery at all. To me, MacDonald was simply a little too hot and/or off-line on the exit of T4 and the rear of the car got away from him. If he had been traveling a few mph slower or on a better line he easily would have made it. It was a very ordinary racing incident up to that point, the kind that happens every day in racing. The spin and crash were in no way extraordinary, only their horrible aftermath.

So when people say things like Dave MacDonald was "too talented" a racer to make such a horrible mistake, I have to say baloney. He didn't make a horrible mistake. He made a very small mistake of the kind that all race drivers make on a regular basis. The only thing different here is that MacDonald did not get away with it, and he and Eddie Sachs paid the consequences.

While we cannot say with absolute 100% metaphysical certainty just how or why MacDonald lost the car, we can say with reasonable certainty that the car did not crash because it was grossly overloaded with fuel, or because a part failed, or because it had some mysterious aerodynamic ailment. And while the car had a well-earned reputation for handling problems, there is no getting around the fact that on race day the car made it through seven previous corners just fine. We have been given no reason to believe the car did anything different for MacDonald in this corner.

This was not an extraordinary event and does not require an extraordinary explanation. No, it is we who require an extraordinary explanation because the crash resulted in an extraordinary outcome. That's why we keep looking for the most unlikely and complicated explanations instead of the most likely and simple ones.

A number of aspects of the event raise some interesting historical points, and it is certainly legitimate and worthwhile to explore them. To me, that is the value of this thread. However, if you are searching for some greater or deeper answer as to how or why the crash occurred and why MacDonald and Sachs had to die, you are wasting your time. A car spun off the exit of Turn 4 and that is the long and the short of it.


I am sorry but I cannot agree with your statement that you can "say with reasonable certainty that the car did not crash because...a part failed, or because it had some mysterious aerodynamic ailment."

However, FWIW I think that the most likely explanation is that he probably just went in to a corner too hot and lost it, having been squeezed a bit.

Michael

#594 Doug Nye

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 19:03

I believe that the allegedly enormous fuel capacity of the Thompson car was probably a common belief/gossip of the period, and that is what the warriors recall.

So far as commonly held opinion of the time amongst the road-racers-at-Indy '64 is concerned, I am pretty sure that 'cause of accident' was considered to be simply a hard charging driver keen to impress in a VERY dodgy car.

Simple as that - which I think is in line with Fines's exasperation over the mechanical failure theories.

Agreed?

DCN

#595 Doug Nye

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 19:04

I believe that the allegedly enormous fuel capacity of the Thompson car was probably a common belief/gossip of the period, and that is what the warriors recall.

So far as commonly held opinion of the time amongst the road-racers-at-Indy '64 is concerned, I am pretty sure that 'cause of accident' was considered to be simply a hard charging driver keen to impress in what was considered to be a VERY difficult car.

Simple as that - which I think is in line with Fines's exasperation over the mechanical failure theories.

Yes?

DCN

#596 fines

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 19:30

Actually, my exasperation had as much to do with the claims about the car being VERY dodgy/difficult, which I don't believe to have been the case in the context of the time, but let's not stoop to splitting hairs (again?) - let's shake hands and move on!

#597 Lotus23

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 22:44

O.T.:

Buford, I'm sorry if the RVN reference was obscure: old Army jargon for Republic of Vietnam. My home away from home 67-68 and 70-71; 1st Cavalry Division each time. I'm very thankful to have returned with body and mind intact. Other than 26 years of waking-up-screaming nightmares, which stopped after I went back there in 94.

Yes, I'm living proof there are no atheists in foxholes.

#598 Buford

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Posted 09 November 2007 - 02:07

Oh sorry I didn't get it. Glad you finally found peace.

#599 McGuire

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Posted 09 November 2007 - 09:12

Originally posted by Michael Oliver


I am sorry but I cannot agree with your statement that you can "say with reasonable certainty that the car did not crash because...a part failed, or because it had some mysterious aerodynamic ailment."


While they cannot be absolutely ruled out, I suppose, we have no reason to rule them in. We have a considerable volume of evidence here but none of it gives any indication that MacDonald's crash was due to a parts failure or aero problem. The car did not do anything the least bit remarkable -- he simply lost the rear coming off the corner. We are not exactly staring into the abyss here. The truth is not "out there;" it's right in front of us. If there were a part failure sufficient to cause loss of control, there would most likely be some indication of it on the film and photographs. Likewise with the onset of some aerodynamic instablity.

While it would be nice, for example, to perform a complete FAA-style post-crash analysis using modern resources to remove all possibilities of a mechanical failure, that is no longer possible. If that is our standard of proof we will never be satisfied. However, there is more than enough info at our disposal for a factual examination leading to an objective and reliable conclusion. In my opinion that is. And of course I reserve the right to change my mind at any point if and when any new evidence becomes available. But it would have to be pretty clear and convincing.

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#600 McGuire

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Posted 10 November 2007 - 12:18

Originally posted by HistoricMustang
Ok here is the scene.

On one side: The only individual that really knows what happened is lost.

On the other side: It is the 1960's, America's largest motorsport event, America's premier track, America's top sanctioning body, one of the world's largest car Manufacturers supplying the power plant, one of the world's largest retailers as a sponsor, a very large tire manufacturer, a very large oil company, a car owner whom has been reviewed numerous times on and off track. All of which have a very large amount to loose if this was not driver error.

Sorry, but in my opinion this simply does not balance.

Thanks again to all!

Henry


We have no basis for any claim that MacDonald was made a scapegoat in order to protect anyone, least of all the car owner. The crash made Thompson a virtual pariah at the Speedway, and though he tried he was never able to mount another major campaign there. By 1964 David E. Davis Jr. was already an influential voice in the automotive industry and the motoring community at large. In his story about the race in the August 1964 issue of Car and Driver, here is what he had to say about Mickey Thompson:

"Hopefully, we have seen the last of Mickey Thompson at Indianapolis. His cars were ill-conceived and ill-prepared and have permanently marred the escutcheon of America's hot rodders. Even with Ford taking full responsibility for maintenanace of the twin-cam engines, Mickey was utterly unable to field anything like a team of raceworthy machines. They were ugly, which is not important. What is important, is that they were totally un-aerodynamic, even with their 1937 space ship styling motif. It has become obvious that Thompson's skill as an entrepreneur exceeds his ability as a designer/constructor. This year he managed to seduce both Ford and the Sears Roebuck Company, but we doubt that either organization is going to leap at another chance to further finance Thompson's folly. In fact, we doubt if there are many prospective sponsors for hot rodding's enfant terrible left anywhere. But like P.T. Barnum said..."