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The Mickey Thompson 'Sears Allstate Special' cars of 1964


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#851 MPea3

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 14:56

Originally posted by Cynic2
I guess I'm lost again. I don't mean this as an attack on anyone, or what anyone has written, but exactly what are we trying to prove now, and why?


(1) That Dave MacDonald and Jimmy Clark were "very close" friends? I'm sure they knew other, but what does this prove?

(2) That Jimmy Clark told Dave MacDonald that the Allstate Special was a piece o' crap (however that translates into Scots -- Graham?) and to run away from it. We've pretty much agreed that this doesn't appear anywhere in print. We've been told that Jimmy's fiancee' does NOT (sic) remember Jim saying this. (But thinks he would have told Dave had he felt that way, and if so, Dave would have driven anyway (as he did).


If both are true, so what? If Jimmy told Dave the car was a "flying coffin" (didn't someone use that charming term here?), that didn't stop Dave from driving the car, and very aggressively (both by other drivers accounts and by cars passed). The Eddie Johnson car only made a few more laps, but it apparently suffered a mechanical failure; didn't spin, crash, etc.

This whole thread seemingly started to support the MacDonald family's view that Dave was the victim of catastrophic failure on the car, perhaps broken suspension, which caused the accident. I think that has essentially been disproved, or rather, has not been proved and no real evidence found. There are suggestions, dim images in photos, etc., but no evidence we can identify. We've learned just how poorly researched and written so much of the published material about the car, the accident, and the race was. We've had one or two people claim they've done hundreds or thousands of hours of research; we've seen neither the reseach nor the (supported) results, so we don't know if they differ in any way or produce any other conclusion.

Peter Bryant, who was far closer to the situation than any of us, has his own (published) conclusion on page 172 of his book: "There was less than 44 gallons of gas in the car, and it was handling well enough for Dave to pass seven cars on the first lap. Dave died because he wanted to lead and win the Indy 500 and couldn't wait to do it, and no other reason."

As much as some of us might wish otherwise, that seems to be the only conclusion which can be reached.


Cynic


As much as I'd like it not to be the case, I agree.

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#852 Flat Black

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 15:08

The significance of the alleged Clark quote is that it is just another piece of evidence indicting Thompson's car. As such, the opponents of this viewpoint have fought the quote's veracity, hammer and tongs. Now that it appears as though the quote, or some variation of it, is legitimate, those same opponents are now saying "So what?"

It seems to me that all the adduced evidence suggests the following:

1. Despite the fact that Thompson's car carried only 44 gallons of fuel, it was still an ill-handling, frightening machine.

2. MacDonald, for whatever reason, drove imprudently, particularlly given his inexperience and the nature of the car he was driving.

3. There was no mechanical failure.

4. Add numbers 1 and 2 and you have two dead men.

#853 McGuire

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 15:17

Originally posted by Cynic2
I guess I'm lost again. I don't mean this as an attack on anyone, or what anyone has written, but exactly what are we trying to prove now, and why?


(1) That Dave MacDonald and Jimmy Clark were "very close" friends? I'm sure they knew other, but what does this prove?

(2) That Jimmy Clark told Dave MacDonald that the Allstate Special was a piece o' crap (however that translates into Scots -- Graham?) and to run away from it. We've pretty much agreed that this doesn't appear anywhere in print. We've been told that Jimmy's fiancee' does NOT (sic) remember Jim saying this. (But thinks he would have told Dave had he felt that way, and if so, Dave would have driven anyway (as he did).


If both are true, so what? If Jimmy told Dave the car was a "flying coffin" (didn't someone use that charming term here?), that didn't stop Dave from driving the car, and very aggressively (both by other drivers accounts and by cars passed). The Eddie Johnson car only made a few more laps, but it apparently suffered a mechanical failure; didn't spin, crash, etc.

This whole thread seemingly started to support the MacDonald family's view that Dave was the victim of catastrophic failure on the car, perhaps broken suspension, which caused the accident. I think that has essentially been disproved, or rather, has not been proved and no real evidence found. There are suggestions, dim images in photos, etc., but no evidence we can identify. We've learned just how poorly researched and written so much of the published material about the car, the accident, and the race was. We've had one or two people claim they've done hundreds or thousands of hours of research; we've seen neither the reseach nor the (supported) results, so we don't know if they differ in any way or produce any other conclusion.

Peter Bryant, who was far closer to the situation than any of us, has his own (published) conclusion on page 172 of his book: "There was less than 44 gallons of gas in the car, and it was handling well enough for Dave to pass seven cars on the first lap. Dave died because he wanted to lead and win the Indy 500 and couldn't wait to do it, and no other reason."

As much as some of us might wish otherwise, that seems to be the only conclusion which can be reached.


Cynic


I would say that is a very sound summation. Bulletproof, actually.

David, we haven't had a steak in a while. We must remedy that.

#854 David M. Kane

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 15:35

Cynic:

You entirely missed my point. And by the way, I agree with your summation. I just take exception to someone's pontification that Jimmy Clark didn't, couldn't, wouldn't say what he supposedly said to Dave MacDonald. I am well aware of what Peter Bryant said in his book. Jerry Entin even pointed that out in detail to me on the phone. "I" simply want to know what Dan Gurney knows since he was friends with both of them; no ONE including Peter Byrant to my knowledge has ever asked him! It is my experience that Californian racers are a pretty tight lot.

What's wrong with that? :mad: ): ;)

BTW McGuire I hardly think anything on this planet is bulletproof. Give me a break. :rolleyes:

#855 MPea3

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 16:07

Originally posted by Flat Black
The significance of the alleged Clark quote is that it is just another piece of evidence indicting Thompson's car. As such, the opponents of this viewpoint have fought the quote's veracity, hammer and tongs. Now that it appears as though the quote, or some variation of it, is legitimate, those same opponents are now saying "So what?"

It seems to me that all the adduced evidence suggests the following:

1. Despite the fact that Thompson's car carried only 44 gallons of fuel, it was still an ill-handling, frightening machine.

2. MacDonald, for whatever reason, drove imprudently, particularlly given his inexperience and the nature of the car he was driving.

3. There was no mechanical failure.

4. Add numbers 1 and 2 and you have two dead men.


Well I think you're ALMOST right. The problems I have with your post are these. First, many of the cars from back then were ill-handling frightening machines, it's one of the reasons so many people died. Second, whether he felt pressured to stay and drive or not, MacDonald DID stay and drive and at least felt good enough about the car to press forward really hard in the early stages of the race. Was the accident a result of adding numbers one and two as you state above? Certainly, but so were many of the accidents at the Speedway over time. As McGuire has stated, the accident in and of itself wasn't anything extraordinary, it's the results that were.

As far as whether the Clark quote is true or should be accepted, to me it has little bearing on the facts of the case other than to shift the blame more toward Thompson. In the end, MacDonald drove the car and paid the ultimate price for that decision. There are different standards people will use to accept the quote as truth or not, but be careful about painting with a broad brush. While some may wish to ignore the possibility of it's being true, there is no shortage of those who will accept it as gospel if it helps shift the blame.

#856 Flat Black

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 16:09

Originally posted by McGuire


we haven't had a steak in a while. We must remedy that.


Planning on burning somebody at one?

;)

#857 Flat Black

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 16:14

MPea3,

By modern standards there is no doubt whatsoever that the cars of the 60s were dangerous and balky. The question, it seems to me, is whether or not the Thompson entries were dangerous and balky by the standards of the 60s. Obviously, I think the answer is yes. One way to answer the question, however, would be to determine if any other Indy 500 entry from 1964 received the number of animadversions that the MacDonald/Thompson machine did.

#858 Cynic2

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 16:14

Mark,

I'd only add that to the historian there's an important difference between accepting that someone probably/likely said something, and absolute proof, written or otherwise, that he did so.

dgs

#859 TrackDog

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 19:38

IMO, the real revelation regarding the alledged quote by Clark to MacDonald is that in doing a little sleuthing, it has been discovered that the two may have been close friends. This could very easily account for Clark's admonition; or, at the very least his concern for his friend's well-being. Such an exchange would certainly be as attempt to ward off a potential disaster that Clark would have had a serious stake in whatever outcome there might be.

But I wonder if it might have had the opposite effect, however well-intentioned the warning might have been...MacDonald was in a nearly hopeless situation; contractually bound to drive a very poorly handling car that nobody could get a handle on, a narrow racetrack with absolutely zero runoff areas in the corners, a very prestigious race in which most of the other participants weren't taking him seriously, a recalcitrant car owner who couldn't admit he was really in over his head and the added danger of a "changing of the guard" regarding new and unfamiliar equipment on the part of a lot of other drivers...some of whom were using a very volatile fuel mixture against their better judgement. Any one of these factors would be a challenge to overcome in it's own right; but when mixed together, they became a recipe for disaster.

On Raceday, MacDonald had to do the impossible...finish well in a race where the odds are stacked heavily against him. This wasn't just a long shot, it was like shooting for the moon.

I remember a psychological study done shortly after the accident by a Dr. Keith Johnsgard, among others. The psychological profiles of a great number of race drivers were assessed, and some of the findings were that drivers were very self-confident, had little concern for how their actions might affect others[at least on the track], did NOT have a death wish; and, most interestingly...tended to perform at their peak under times of extreme stress.

What I see when I look at the first two laps of the 1964 Indianapolis 500 is a driver reaching deep inside himself, trying to utilize all of his skills in an attempt to diffuse a nearly hopeless situation. The race HAD to be run, the car HAD to be driven. He HAD to meet the challenge...like Cole Trickle said in Days Of Thunder when asked why he was driving a race car," I'm more afraid of being nothing than I am of getting hurt." Given the circumstances, I wonder just how many other drivers would have reacted in the same manner as Dave did...how many other drivers have been in a similar situation that they were able to diffuse?

I'm sure that Clark's warning weighed on Dave's mind, and I'm also sure a lot of us here would have loved to have been a "fly-on-the-wall" to hear just what was said by both parties.

However well-intentioned it might have been, Clark's concern probably only added fuel to the fire...



Dan
PS- After reading that last line, I realize that some may consider it a rather tasetless play on words, but it isn't meant to be.

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#860 Jim Thurman

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 19:54

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Jim Thurman:

Fair enough, especially in reference to the very tall (6'5" or 6"6") Chris Kneifel. Chris was a very good driver, particular on road courses in a variety of open-wheelers.

David, that is not my assessment of Kneifel's driving abilities, I was simply the messenger, passing along what Mike Mosley was reported in print as having said. I agree that Kneifel acquitted himself well, particularly in Trans-Am and Sports Cars.

#861 David M. Kane

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 20:08

Track Dog very well said. Jim Thurman my reaction wasn't pointed at you in any way. I only saw Mike Moseley race once and that was in F5000 at Watkins Glen. This is NOT directed at his driving ability. I THINK he was in an Eagle, I just remember him standing next to it in the old garages (Kendall Center) not looking very happy. It was not a competitive chassis. So I don't have enough information to judge him fairly as a road racer. Sounds like Pat Bedard and Chris has scared 3 shades out of somebody. If you never driven at the Speedway, even on the Road Course you can't imagine how daunting it is on the oval part. There is no shame in walking away from that place. Chris Amon did and WE know he was better than 99% of the guys who ever turned a wheel there! He's also something else, ALIVE!

#862 Doug Nye

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 20:25

I believe it is an overstatement - and within the context of this thread a potentially very misleading one - to declare that Jimmy and Dave MacDonald were "very close friends".

"Friendly" is almost certainly a more accurate description of their relationship, in so far as one really existed.

Which, of course, contributes nothing other than perhaps a little cooler perspective to this discussion...

DCN

#863 Cynic2

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 20:50

Originally posted by David M. Kane
... Chris Amon did and WE know he was better than 99% of the guys who ever turned a wheel there! He's also something else, ALIVE!


I have the greatest respect for Chris Amon, but I think that is one of the more arrogant statements I've read lately; it reminds me of all the old "sporty car set" stuff.

That 99% of YOURS includes some awfully good drivers....

Cynic

#864 HistoricMustang

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 21:05

Originally posted by Cynic2
I guess I'm lost again. I don't mean this as an attack on anyone, or what anyone has written, but exactly what are we trying to prove now, and why?



Forums by their nature are discussions. TNF produces some of the best.


Dave died because he wanted to lead and win the Indy 500 and couldn't wait to do it, and no other reason."

As much as some of us might wish otherwise, that seems to be the only conclusion which can be reached.

Cynic


With information presented here I have come to believe that two seperate accidents occured. Therefore, total responsibility does not solely fall on Dave's shoulders.

Henry

#865 Ray Bell

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 21:21

Originally posted by Doug Nye
I believe it is an overstatement - and within the context of this thread a potentially very misleading overstatement - to state that that Jimmy and Dave MacDonald were "very close friends".

"Friendly" is almost certainly a more accurate description of their relationship, in so far as one really existed.


It's more than Ken Purdy would allow, I should think...

While I don't totally agree, his views expressed in All But My Life about gladiators and racing drivers must have some reasonable application. How do you go back out onto a track that's just claimed the life of someone really close to you?

Not impossible, to be sure, but it would have to be somewhat difficult.

I feel that Jack Brabham's statement about the cars is being ignored to some extent, too. Surely Jack's experience and knowledge count for something? I really don't remember how the subject of Masten Gregory came up that day, but he simply said, on the mention of Masten Gregory's name, "He saved my life once."

The ill-handling nature of the Thompson car must have been evident to Jack. And I disagree that all cars were ill-handling and frightening. There would have been cars (usually at the front, dare I suggest?) which weren't.

#866 MPea3

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 21:39

Originally posted by HistoricMustang
With information presented here I have come to believe that two seperate accidents occured. Therefore, total responsibility does not solely fall on Dave's shoulders.


I must say I'm not really sure what you mean, as it seems that calling it one accident or two is a distinction without difference. I would appreciate your explaining how they were two accidents, and that being the case, how that absolves MacDonald of "responsibility".

Another semantic perhaps, but I see a difference between responsibility and blame. I feel that Dave MacDonald was responsible for his accident but don't blame him for Eddie Sach's death. I'm reminded of 14 years ago when Robbie Stanley died at Winchester with his parents Ron and Rita atop their motor home in the infield right in front of him. It was about a month later that I was talking with Rita when she said "We don't blame racing for what happened to Robbie". While I didn't respond, the comment seemed almost absurd, and I've never mentioned it to her since. Certainly racing was responsible, but somehow as time has gone on I understand how she didn't "blame" it. Theirs was a racing family pure and simple and the entire family raced knowing the consequences of something going wrong. As a matter of fact, the previous Fall I had stood in the Stanley shop as Ron spoke about how happy he was for Robbie to be giving up sprint cars and going NASCAR, describing the sprint cars as "death traps". I gave little thought to it when the Busch series drive fell through and he again began running sprint cars for the Hoffmans, but I can still remember Reed Sorenson's dad walking up to me and telling me Robbie had died, only for it all to come back.

Much in the same way, I feel that Dave MacDonald's spin to the inside exiting turn 4 at Indy began the events which resulted in a horrible accident played out in front of a large crowd. Maybe I'm not making sense, but perhaps to some I am. I'm not the most literate guy in the world and I SO wish I could put into words what I feel. In the simplest form, I feel the accident was Dave's responsibility, and other than some sort of real evidence to the contrary, I'll continue to feel that way. It doesn't mean however, that I don't hold Dave's talent and ability in the highest regard. He simply spun coming off of turn 4. Unlike others who did the same and got lucky, it all went wrong.

#867 Cynic2

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 22:02

Mark,

I think your last sentence really does express the situation well. When I read it Danny Sullivan's "Spin and Win" came to mind -- another talented driver, whose harmless spin cost him nothing, not even the race win. Danny's spin could have been Dave's, and vice-versa.

Cynic

#868 Flat Black

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 22:07

Responsibility is blame divested of moral sanction. It is simply an acknowledgment of one's agency in a causal chain. Blame, on the other hand, implies condemnation and a judgment of guilt.

In racing, it seems to me, it is difficult to actually blame a driver or builder or car owner unless you can prove criminal negligence, flagrant recklesness, or actual intent to cause harm. And although Mickey Thompson was a driven man and more than a little callous, I cannot "blame" him for the death of MacDonald and Sachs. Nor, despite his overzealous driving, can I "blame" MacDonald for what transpired. Thompson and MacDonald were significantly "responsible" for what happened, but I do not believe they are "guilty" and thus deserving of historical punishment.

In other words, I agree with MPea3's phrasing, if not completely with where he places the onus.

#869 Doug Nye

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 22:28

I wholeheartedly agree with much of the sentiment in these last few posts. S--- happens. All it takes is a confluence of time and space for two cars - one of them beyond control - either to miss one another by a whisker, or to collide catastrophically. Everyone on track that day knew the risks they were running. The circuit operators knew the angle at which they'd had that infield-protective wall built, the car entrants and constructors knew why they had built their cars this way, and why they ran them that way...and each one justified his own decisions and options in his own way. The simple laws of physics took over once human control was lost.

Two drivers didn't survive to express an opinion, or to illuminate the issues. That's all - ghastly for their families and friends, but blame, counter-blame, defence and attack...it's interesting to correct so many errors of information and interpretation perpetrated over so many years since, but nothing brings those chaps back - nor heals their relatives' wrecked lives. Indeed - s--- happens.

DCN

#870 HistoricMustang

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 22:58

Originally posted by MPea3


I must say I'm not really sure what you mean, as it seems that calling it one accident or two is a distinction without difference. I would appreciate your explaining how they were two accidents, and that being the case, how that absolves MacDonald of "responsibility".


Not saying Dave should be absolved.

Just making the point that the group of cars led by Eddie could have acted more responsibly after exiting turn four. Then perhaps, there would not have been the impact that ended two lives. No doubt there was going to be a red flag so why full speed (or near full speed)?

My opinion only, gentlemen.

Henry

#871 David M. Kane

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 23:25

"Very close", Doug were Sally Stokes Swart's words not mine. If I hear from Dan Gurney I'll be back with a comment.

Ciao...

#872 Buford

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 23:28

That argument reminds me of one my brother made one time when he was lying on his side in a showroom stock Rabbit in a corner at Nelson Ledges and somebody came around the corner and ran into him. Afterwards he was blaming the guy who ran into him for causing the damage to the car. My contention was if you weren't lying on your side in the middle of the corner he wouldn't have run into you.

To blame the cars who were exiting the corner for an accident where somebody else spun out and crashed his car in front of them and slid into their path is ridiculous.

#873 Simpson RX1

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 00:10

I took part in some 2CV races a few years ago, a couple of rounds of the National 2CV Championship, acting as support races for the Truck Superprix at Brands, 1991 I think it was; the car handled like it was possessed by satan in the wet (which were the track conditions for qualifying and the first race on the Saturday) and I could just about get to 100mph flat out.

I wasn't under contract and I wasn't relying on any start money to pay off any debts, but I did have my wife watching me from the pits, 8 months pregnant with my daughter; doesn't sound like much of a risk, but, a few weeks before, a 2CV driver lost his life when he rolled his car and the seat collapsed, and I was driving a car unknown to me, that had been stood in a shed for some months beforehand.

I did those races because all I wanted to do was drive a race car at any risk, is there any chance that that was the motivation for Dave MacDonald?

#874 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 01:28

Originally posted by HistoricMustang
.....No doubt there was going to be a red flag so why full speed (or near full speed)?


A good point... there would definitely be a red... the car slicing across in front of them was on fire and would undoubtedly block the track...

But that doesn't remove the 'responsibility' from MacDonald.

#875 TrackDog

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 01:30

Originally posted by Simpson RX1
I took part in some 2CV races a few years ago, a couple of rounds of the National 2CV Championship, acting as support races for the Truck Superprix at Brands, 1991 I think it was; the car handled like it was possessed by satan in the wet (which were the track conditions for qualifying and the first race on the Saturday) and I could just about get to 100mph flat out.

I wasn't under contract and I wasn't relying on any start money to pay off any debts, but I did have my wife watching me from the pits, 8 months pregnant with my daughter; doesn't sound like much of a risk, but, a few weeks before, a 2CV driver lost his life when he rolled his car and the seat collapsed, and I was driving a car unknown to me, that had been stood in a shed for some months beforehand.

I did those races because all I wanted to do was drive a race car at any risk, is there any chance that that was the motivation for Dave MacDonald?


I think he knew he was taking a huge risk, but that's what he was paid to do; and the opportunity to drive at Indy at a later date might not have materialized over the course of his career. And if Dave WOULD have backed out of the deal, what would Jaques Passino and Hank The Deuce have had to say or do about Dave's career?

From everything I've read, I would rather have had to deal with Mickey Thompson than an angry Henry Ford ll any day...Lee Iacocca once said that one of his associates told him to be very careful around Ford; that, "His blood is blue, yours is only red...", and this was in the early days of Total Performance, when Ferrari's rejection of Ford's buyout offer still chapped Hank's **s.


Dan

#876 McGuire

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 01:54

Originally posted by HistoricMustang


Not saying Dave should be absolved.


Okay then, I'll say it. He didn't do anything wrong. I hereby absolve Dave MacDonald of all moral and ethical responsibility for the tragic events of that day. He made a mistake. He spun the car on corner exit. There was nothing the least bit unusual about the spin. It happens every day. We only remember it for what happened next, which was not in his power, nor was it the result of anyone's malice or negligence. This is racing.

#877 TrackDog

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 02:07

Originally posted by Ray Bell


A good point... there would definitely be a red... the car slicing across in front of them was on fire and would undoubtedly block the track...

But that doesn't remove the 'responsibility' from MacDonald.


Sachs and the other cars behind him were exactly where they should have been; they were in the groove and accelerating off the turn. Their cars were operating in the manner for which they'd been designed, built and tested...flat out...which was the safest and most prudent way to do it.

Both Sachs and Rutherford were heavily on their brakes as soon as they could react; Rutherford has said so in numerous interviews. The problem was the fire and smoke that blocked the track. Nobody could see through it enough to know where to go. And, to make matters worse, they'd just come off the 4th corner, the most crucial corner on any oval track; because if you mess that one up, you kill both the lap you're completing and the one you're starting. Topping it all off, there was a lot of traffic that hadn't sorted itself out yet...it was long before the days of any kind of spotters; and they probably couldn't have seen much through all that dense black smoke, either.

Rutherford has said that he and Sachs were midway through the 4th corner when they saw the dust fly up in the infield from MacDonald's spin. Then came the fireball, and there were maybe 2 seconds to decide what to do...2 seconds at 160 mph, or about 250 feet per second. Just how fast is a racecar laden with fuel, oil and driver supposed to be able to stop? And, would it be better to hit something on fire at full bore to hopefully push it out of the way?

Race drivers have tremendous reflexes and phenomonal visual acuity; and no doubt they are also able to multi-task expertly. But there was just too much happening at once in this case. And, even the most hardened driver would surely have had an "Omigawd moment" when he saw MacDonald's car explode like that right in front of him.

I think you're being too hard on Sachs, Rutherford, Unser and Duman...


Dan

#878 Henri Greuter

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 07:20

Originally posted by Ray Bell


A good point... there would definitely be a red... the car slicing across in front of them was on fire and would undoubtedly block the track...

But that doesn't remove the 'responsibility' from MacDonald.


Ray and others,

I agree pretty much with all that Trackdog wrote in the previous post. Could add a few details.


I am not 100% sure if the race would be red flagged had it only been McDonald who had crashed. Remember the 1958 first lap disaster? That was, to the best of my knowledge not red flagged either and the race still continuing under yellow! And the Red flag certainly would not come in time enough for Eddie and the others, it could only be thrown once the field had passed the wreck of MacDonald and the full scale of the accident was more clear.

To say that Sachs and the others carry some kind of blame for plunging into Dave's wreck, given the speeds they came up upon the MacDonald wreck, I think that there simply wasn't enough time for them to stop in time and avoiding running into the wreck. The braking capacities of the then current indycars was rarely allowing for emergency stops.
Besides that, about half of the field was still following Sachs and the others. As far as I can see, it was a matter of passing Dave one way or another and hope to stay clear off the mess.
I don't think Eddie was wrong in what he did, he was terribly inlucky that the theory he believed in didn't work for him.

Henry, you call it a separate accident and I think there is something to say for that arguement. But if any guilt in this event can be given to anybody, I don't think that Eddie Sachs can be blamed for anything at all.
I think we have proven beyond doubts that there are/were a lot of misleading info detail printed about the accident that redeem Dave to some extend. The actual fuel tank capacity for example.
I honestly want it to be different but if we can/must talk about guilt, I am affraid that for me most of the "guilt" must remain with Dave. But only so far as to the point that, despite having expressed his worries about his car, and despite several wornings allegedly given by others, for whatever reasons he refused to take it easy and did not allow himself to settle for the race properly and taking too much risks too early in the race. (Excitement of the moment?) That contributed to him loosing control of the car and spinning off, (maybe because of a mechanical failure, induced by his manner of driving? Who knows)
But that's where the "guilt/blame" stops. The nightmare that happened therafter is not Dave MacDonald's fault at all but a sad aftermath. Something that I wil never ever accuse him to be responsible for.

Henri

#879 HistoricMustang

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 09:21

To a certain extent I feel like "Daniel in the Lion's Den".

One more brief point and I will drop this particular subject.

Dave survived initial contact with the inside retaining wall and all indications are that he was in pretty good shape while sitting mid track as the flames had been moving away from him because of the car's backward spin.

Time from initial fire at wall until impact by other cars at speed is 6 seconds (time from initial spin is 8 seconds). That is ample time to decelerate to a somewhat acceptable speed while threading through burning wreckage.

Henry

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#880 Catalina Park

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 09:22

What else could Eddie do?

Imagine you are driving Eddie's car in a very fast corner. This car has a full load of fuel and you are running in traffic. Just lifting the foot suddenly in a corner will probably cause the car to spin. Hitting the brakes in the corner would probably put it straight into the wall. There is a cloud of smoke and flame across the track.
Where do you try and point the car?
Is it possible to turn the car left with the load and the corner speed?
Is it possible to turn right without hitting the wall?

What else could Eddie do?

#881 Buford

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 10:13

First time in the over 40 years since this accident I ever heard anybody trying to blame Sachs, Duman, Rutherford, Unser, etc for running into a car sliding into their path at racing speed blocking the entire track with smoke and fire. .

all indications are that he was in pretty good shape while sitting mid track as the flames had been moving away from him because of the car's backward spin.



Exactly where do you see that? The instant before being hit by Sachs

Posted Image
Posted Image

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At some point you are either gonna have to see reality or put down the bong dude.

#882 Henri Greuter

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 10:26

Originally posted by HistoricMustang
To a certain extent I feel like "Daniel in the Lion's Den".

One more brief point and I will drop this particular subject.

Dave survived initial contact with the inside retaining wall and all indications are that he was in pretty good shape while sitting mid track as the flames had been moving away from him because of the car's backward spin.

Time from initial fire at wall until impact by other cars at speed is 6 seconds (time from initial spin is 8 seconds). That is ample time to decelerate to a somewhat acceptable speed while threading through burning wreckage.

Henry



Henry,

Don't drop this particular subject. If you think things are relevant enough, bring it up for discussion. But then, please also accept the visions of others.
I don't have the scenes of the accident well enough within my head (and no YouTube to look it up again) but you talk about 6 seconds time difference between Dave making his impact and Eddie colliding with him.

But I don't recall anymore how many cars were between Dave on fire already and Eddie. The scrimage right in front of him also may have influenced Eddie. As well as the knowledge that if he hit the brakes then there was a big chance that he would be rearended himself and then he would be entirely out of control and left at the mercy of whatever direction he was pused into. As long as he kept free from other cars he had a least some freedom in choosing his directions.

Your last conclusion makes some sense. But then, we know how hyped up drivers were/are in the first laps of the accident. Dave himself being the perfect example in throwing all advises and warnings overboard during those first 1.5 laps of the race.
And Bobby Unser kind of indicated in all his interviews I've read from him that he didn't want to slow down in front of the fire or run through a trail of fire in order to avoid being set to fire himself and thus wanted to get through it as fast as he could. I think more drivers had/have similar feelings: get the fire behind you as soon and as far away from you as possible.
Don't underestimate the length of that wall of fire that Dave dragged along, it was much longer (within the driving direction instead of under a 90 degree angle!!) than you think. You dídn't want to run through that cloud of flames over that lenth of the front straight at a reduced speed.

Finally: No offence as ever Henry. We know another good enough on that front I think.
But the way you exporessed your thoughts here almost make it read for me as if you want to suggest that Eddie Sachs and the others that rammed Dave had been driving carelessly. And that to some extend it is Eddie's own fault that he had a fatal accident and that he, combined with Rutherford, Unser, Duman and the others that hit Dave are responsible for having wrecked Dave's car much more serious and making the scene of the accident more severe which in return narrowed Dave's chances for survival.
I am sure that this wasn't your intention and I think that I know you better than that. But for newcomers within the thread who haven't read everything it may not be that obvious.

Sincerely as always,

henri

#883 Russ Snyder

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 12:33

Originally posted by fines

Well, that could've been a yellow roadster nose poking under it...

Otherwise close, but no cigar: the driver of the second Shrike was none other than... the ubiquitous Duane Carter!


I was watching the 1963 Indy 500 last night and saw during time trials that Duane Carter was running the Mickey Thompson cars. One caught on fire and the other spun out. I know its mentioned earlier in this thread...but, that is one of those strange bits of history.

I will add that after looking at Walter Zoomie's Dads pics of Eddie in the Shrike circa 1964 timetrials...my goodness he was exposed as compared to old roadster design!

#884 Jim Thurman

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 17:28

Originally posted by MPea3

Another semantic perhaps, but I see a difference between responsibility and blame. I feel that Dave MacDonald was responsible for his accident but don't blame him for Eddie Sach's death. I'm reminded of 14 years ago when Robbie Stanley died at Winchester with his parents Ron and Rita atop their motor home in the infield right in front of him. It was about a month later that I was talking with Rita when she said "We don't blame racing for what happened to Robbie".

I agree very much with MPea3's sentiments here. It's all the more interesting because there were some people who angrily blamed the driver that struck Robbie Stanley's car, which to me is as ridiculous as blaming Eddie Sachs for hitting Dave MacDonald's car. It was much the same after Rich Vogler died and another driver was blamed by those not willing to believe that Vogler made a mistake. The part that bothers me the most is that both of these "blamed" drivers were "outsiders", not from the area. It makes one see how easily the Ed Elisian coverage could develop and angers one that 30+ years later, it apparently had not changed :mad:

#885 Jim Thurman

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 17:35

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Track Dog very well said. Jim Thurman my reaction wasn't pointed at you in any way. I only saw Mike Moseley race once and that was in F5000 at Watkins Glen. This is NOT directed at his driving ability. I THINK he was in an Eagle, I just remember him standing next to it in the old garages (Kendall Center) not looking very happy. It was not a competitive chassis. So I don't have enough information to judge him fairly as a road racer. Sounds like Pat Bedard and Chris has scared 3 shades out of somebody. If you never driven at the Speedway, even on the Road Course you can't imagine how daunting it is on the oval part.

Not to digress from the thread's topic here, but FlatBlack's post on comments made about Pat Bedard reminded of Sneva and Mosley "holding court" with the press at IMS before the '83 '500' and the comments. Mosley was an outstanding oval racer and seemed to do ok in road races. What is unusual is that going before the press and making those type of comments was so out of character for Mosley, who was extremely quiet and portrayed as introverted to a fault.

I now return you to the regularly scheduled discussion...

#886 HistoricMustang

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 20:06

Thanks Henri!

I knew this might hit a nerve with some people so I made the statement and then indicated there would be no more comments about this portion of the accident.

I will stick to that, even after being referred to as a "ridiculous" "dude".

Henry

#887 McGuire

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 01:12

To me, along with all the obvious factual inaccuracies, there is a tremendous amount of journalistic and observers' artifice in the contemporary accounts of the crash. Invariably, either Thompson is painted as an engineering crackpot or MacDonald is portrayed as a reckless maniac. Or both. But there is always the broad-brush treatment. These reports are not only wrong in their facts, they are very obviously sensationalized.

But once you edit all the adjectives from these reports, what are the facts? For example: How dangerously engineered were the Thompson cars, exactly? We know this: they passed technical inspection with no trouble. And the cars received very positive reviews from the usual observers, at least until all the practice crashes in May '64. And beyond their odd bodywork, they weren't terribly unconventional for a "funny car" circa 1964.

And while MacDonald may have been pressing too hard at the start, he was hardly driving manically or like a man possessed, as many of the stories relate in Purdy-esque purple prose. That is not what the video shows. From what I can see the spin was simply the result of taking a poor line through the corner, and he didn't lose the car by much.

As I have said here a hundred times, the spin itself was a perfectly mundane incident for Indy. It happens all the time to car builders who are not crackpots and drivers who are not lunatics. The fire that followed is what made the incident such a horrible spectacle. And note: Even the fire has been described in ridiculously hyperbolic terms. One observer quoted further up the thread states that ordinary gasoline could not produce such a fire -- the blend must have been hopped up somehow. That is simply untrue. Gasoline is one of the most flammable liquids in the hands of the general public, and there are few combustion additives (and no likely ones) that will make it significantly moreso. Napalm is just gasoline suspended in a gel, and a rather low grade at that. The fact is that this crash happened to produce a very efficient and effective means of burning gasoline: sheets of liquid fuel thrown into the air, exposed to the maximum air mass. Spectacular? Yes. Extraordinary? No. That is what plain old gasoline does under those conditions.

I believe that what we have here is an event that was too horribly noteworthy to allow explanation in ordinary terms. Big events require extravagant explanations and inspire creative license.

#888 MPea3

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 01:45

Originally posted by McGuire
To me, along with all the obvious factual inaccuracies, there is a tremendous amount of journalistic and observers' artifice in the contemporary accounts of the crash. Invariably, either Thompson is painted as an engineering crackpot or MacDonald is portrayed as a reckless maniac. Or both. But there is always the broad-brush treatment. These reports are not only wrong in their facts, they are very obviously sensationalized.

But once you edit all the adjectives from these reports, what are the facts? For example: How dangerously engineered were the Thompson cars, exactly? We know this: they passed technical inspection with no trouble. And the cars received very positive reviews from the usual observers, at least until all the practice crashes in May '64. And beyond their odd bodywork, they weren't terribly unconventional for a "funny car" circa 1964.

And while MacDonald may have been pressing too hard at the start, he was hardly driving manically or like a man possessed, as many of the stories relate in Purdy-esque purple prose. That is not what the video shows. From what I can see the spin was simply the result of taking a poor line through the corner, and he didn't lose the car by much.

As I have said here a hundred times, the spin itself was a perfectly mundane incident for Indy. It happens all the time to car builders who are not crackpots and drivers who are not lunatics. The fire that followed is what made the incident such a horrible spectacle. And note: Even the fire has been described in ridiculously hyperbolic terms. One observer quoted further up the thread states that ordinary gasoline could not produce such a fire -- the blend must have been hopped up somehow. That is simply untrue. Gasoline is one of the most flammable liquids in the hands of the general public, and there are few combustion additives (and no likely ones) that will make it significantly moreso. Napalm is just gasoline suspended in a gel, and a rather low grade at that. The fact is that this crash happened to produce a very efficient and effective means of burning gasoline: sheets of liquid fuel thrown into the air, exposed to the maximum air mass. Spectacular? Yes. Extraordinary? No. That is what plain old gasoline does under those conditions.

I believe that what we have here is an event that was too horribly noteworthy to allow explanation in ordinary terms. Big events require extravagant explanations and inspire creative license.


Said much better than I ever could.

#889 Gerr

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 04:23

Originally posted by HistoricMustang
Have uncovered this quote concerning the MacDonald/Sachs accident.


My dad had a phone call about two months(?) after the RACE, from a person that said he either worked with Mickey, or, was a machanic @ Indy, (I don't know which), and saw the car and said they found a part that was broken in the "suspension" that was broken in the same place as another car of Mickey's that caused the car to crash during practice earler that month! ( I think it was the #84 car). That person would not leave his name and told daddy talk to and see if Mickey would say something to him, but, when dad called Mickey, dad said he got really upset and told him that nothing failed on the car that "they"? could find, and wanted to know WHO said it? We felt from his actions Mickey was hiding something But, daddy couldn't tell him because the person wouldn't say who he was, so, daddy tried all he could to find this person "or" someone else to back it up, but couldn't so, he said all we could is let it go, and maybe it would come out later!!! After Mickey's death, I was in hopes that this person would come out somehow- if he was still alive?, or, someone else that would have known about it would come forward and bring this out!


Does anyone have additional information on the accident that occured earlier in May involving the sister car (#84) to MacDonald's #83. Perhaps there was a parts failure on the MacDonald car as I have long believed.

Henry


.......Was there a "parts failure" .....or not?

#890 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 10:52

Originally posted by MPea3
Said much better than I ever could.


That is, pretty much in a nutshell, an excellent summation of the incident that McGuire gives us. It is the same conclusion I came to after looking into this. McGuire's remarks reminds us that we should always keep Occam's razor in mind when examining such incidents.

#891 Henri Greuter

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 12:30

Originally posted by HistoricMustang
Thanks Henri!

I knew this might hit a nerve with some people so I made the statement and then indicated there would be no more comments about this portion of the accident.

I will stick to that, even after being referred to as a "ridiculous" "dude".

Henry


No problem Henry. It ain't personal you know and I won't make personal attacks on someone personal, even if I don't agree with him.

But sticking to that, is that referring to not discussing (or wanting to discuss) your thoughts any further or sticking to the opinion that Sachs and the others had more than enough opportunities to avoid colliding with Dave?

Because, after having seen the accident another time, the fact alone that you suggest that drivers should have come to a standstill in time to avoid a collision appears next to impossible for me. You actually want a bunch of cars to stop on a part of the track where a massive trail of fire is "occupying the parking space".
No way that drivers wanted to park close to a fire with how many cars being hidden in and which could explode any moment.
I mentioned Bobby Unser before. In one of his interviews he stated that once he realized he couldn't stop in time anymore that he actually floored it in an attempt to gain as much speed and momentum as possible in order to get through and should he run into something, that the momentum he had would clear him from the fire. Which pretty much happened to him.

I know that poor Dave got way too much bad press and opinions loaded upon him and some of that will hopefully be taken away from him, for example about him being guilty of Eddie's death.
But: your opinion on the drivers who ran into Dave is too hard I think. And I am pretty sure I am not alone in that opinion. I don't rate Dave guilty of anything related with Sachs. But if comes to who has more responsibility for the death of Eddie Sachs, Eddie himself or Dave. Then I think Dave has contributed more to that than Eddie did himself. I feel that Dave didn't do anything wrong that makes it a direct responsibility, but the death of Eddie can be traced back to circumstances related with Dave's accident. And there seems to be more than enough evidence that Dave kind of got himself into the accident because of his own doings, defendeable, understandable or not.

McGuire's conclusion is probably the closest to the truth that anybody can write it down. We have only mere details left to add to it. Unless new sources of info appear. But the chances of this to happen are decreasing rapidly I'm affraid. This debate is going on for such a long time by now (Still enjoy it!) that one would assume that it must be known lang enough within the world of historians and knowledgeable people who do know more must have stepped forward by now.

regards,

henri

#892 HistoricMustang

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 20:56

Originally posted by Henri Greuter


No problem Henry. It ain't personal you know and I won't make personal attacks on someone personal, even if I don't agree with him.

But sticking to that, is that referring to not discussing (or wanting to discuss) your thoughts any further or sticking to the opinion that Sachs and the others had more than enough opportunities to avoid colliding with Dave?

Because, after having seen the accident another time, the fact alone that you suggest that drivers should have come to a standstill in time to avoid a collision appears next to impossible for me. You actually want a bunch of cars to stop on a part of the track where a massive trail of fire is "occupying the parking space".
No way that drivers wanted to park close to a fire with how many cars being hidden in and which could explode any moment.
I mentioned Bobby Unser before. In one of his interviews he stated that once he realized he couldn't stop in time anymore that he actually floored it in an attempt to gain as much speed and momentum as possible in order to get through and should he run into something, that the momentum he had would clear him from the fire. Which pretty much happened to him.

I know that poor Dave got way too much bad press and opinions loaded upon him and some of that will hopefully be taken away from him, for example about him being guilty of Eddie's death.
But: your opinion on the drivers who ran into Dave is too hard I think. And I am pretty sure I am not alone in that opinion. I don't rate Dave guilty of anything related with Sachs. But if comes to who has more responsibility for the death of Eddie Sachs, Eddie himself or Dave. Then I think Dave has contributed more to that than Eddie did himself. I feel that Dave didn't do anything wrong that makes it a direct responsibility, but the death of Eddie can be traced back to circumstances related with Dave's accident. And there seems to be more than enough evidence that Dave kind of got himself into the accident because of his own doings, defendeable, understandable or not.

McGuire's conclusion is probably the closest to the truth that anybody can write it down. We have only mere details left to add to it. Unless new sources of info appear. But the chances of this to happen are decreasing rapidly I'm affraid. This debate is going on for such a long time by now (Still enjoy it!) that one would assume that it must be known lang enough within the world of historians and knowledgeable people who do know more must have stepped forward by now.

regards,

henri


Henri, my delivery is not always proper and usually is direct. Sorry, but that is simply me.

As a group we have explored many aspects of this accident(s) but for some reason it has become taboo to admit possible mis-judgement by cars involved in the second impact. This possible mis-judgement had very serious results and I simply felt we needed to dive into that portion of this very horrible day.

We have discussed suspensions, fuel cells, driving styles, racings lines, car construction, air flow, owners, drivers not involved in the accident, etc. but the subject involving veteran drivers possibly making mistakes seems to push the envelop just a bit too much. And, of course, I never suggested that on coming traffic had time to stop, just possibly, maybe, they had time after the initial wall impact to gather up past experiences and proceed realizing full well that a major wreck was in process involving fire, an infield wall known to send cars back on track, and realize this was only the second lap in a five hundred mile event. I just can not seem to accept the fact that Dave was possibly the only driver making bad decisions. Maybe no driver was making bad decisions. Perhaps it is just racing.

I do very deeply regret statements that indicate the MacDonald's have been directing this thread. Nothing is further from the truth. And, I do deeply regret the thead has resulted in name calling simply because I decided to ask questions and make comments about the accident(s). I know of no other place that a motorsports fan can go to get such a detailed account of this accident. Some good stuff, some bad stuff, some maybe stuff and some "no way that could happen" stuff. For that we should all take some amount of pride. I still have questions but current direction of this discussion will prohibit those answers being realized.

Henri, I think the beginning sentence in your paragraph four sums things up. Four decades is an extremely long time for questions (even direct questions) to go unanswered or at least attempt to be answered. Some individuals have completely removed themselves from this subject (in some cases for 44 years), yet we keep digging and in some cases keep digging very deep to search for answers that possibily, just possibily, might give individuals some sense of peace.

I am not yet there.

I agree that McGuire has put up the most productive statement in the entire thread.

Thanks to all and I will not stick my head in the ground.

Now, about that electrical fire in the Thompson car....................................... :

Henry

#893 Russ Snyder

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 16:01

Originally posted by HistoricMustang



As a group we have explored many aspects of this accident(s) but for some reason it has become taboo to admit possible mis-judgement by cars involved in the second impact. This possible mis-judgement had very serious results and I simply felt we needed to dive into that portion of this very horrible day.


Henry - no disrespect to you, but you do realize that we are talking INDY circa 1964. The amount of time (no longer than 5 seconds after Dave impacts the wall) is not enough to have the cars come to a stop where they are at on the track....espc if Eddie and company were doing 140mph+.

and

Spotters, radio control and the yellow/red light system at Indy were all very different in 1964, infancy if you will... please keep that in mind when looking at this accident. I think the real blame, if any, should go to the design of the track/wall that Dave hit and was literally pinballed back onto the track into oncoming traffic. With the speeds they were reaching by the early 1960's, it was only a matter of time till an accident like that happened in turn 4 imo. Its certainly a tough subject to deal with, I just hope you take into consideration that it was another time and era @ Indy when looking back at this tragedy.

I have learned from this thread that Dave had 44-45 gallons of fuel on board, not the 80-90 that has been broadcast for years. As discussed earlier between Fines and myself, 44 gallons was clearly enough for 1 pit stop to rival Team Lotus.

#894 TrackDog

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 17:27

I'm not really sure that there is really any one person to blame for what happenned at Indy in 1964...rather, the mindset. The fact was that, due to the nature of racing at the time, if you made a mistake...well, you were likely to pay the ultimate price for it. Everybody involved in the sport knew this. There was little margin for error on just about every level of involvement...driver's actions and attitudes had to be perfect, as did everybody else's; a loose bolt or nut could kill somebody, and often did. There was a level of pressure to perform on everybody's part that simply doesn't exist today...if the car isn't perfect, if a driver doesn't perform, a sponsor may be lost; but 50 years ago, if everything wasn't as good as possible, you could die.

There was an aura of fatalism that permeated the sport to the very core, and if a tragedy did occur, there was always the old dodge, "...He knew the risks..." and that was that. A driver didn't make close friends with his fellows, because it didn't pay to be attatched. Racing was a popular sport, but a guilty pleasure at the same time...if you were a fan, you feared for the lives of the competetors, but you didn't talk about it. You tried not to think about it. And, you didn't like to remember that if it weren't for you, the fan, it wouldn't have happenned, anyway.

Somehow, we were all comfortable with this. At least, we made a kind of uneasy peace with it.

The problem was, technology was outpacing the mindset...the cars were getting faster, new sponsors were getting involved, different drivers with varying amounts of exposure to the type of racing Indy offerred were coming to the fore...the sport was in a turmoil that nobody appreciated the depth of until it was too late.

There wasn't much margin for error, and it was a period that begged for trial-and-error. A bold young driver, an idealistic and innovative car builder, veteran drivers with more desire than experience and huge corporations eager to gain public exposure were naturally drawn to this arena with a magnetic intensity.

An accident was inevetable, it had to happen sometime...and when it did, it was going to be tragic. It did, it was. We all know that. Perhaps Dave MacDonald WAS driving a little over his head; maybe Eddie Sachs could have kept him from driving at all if he'd made that rookie test; maybe Sachs was trying too hard on Pole Day to make up for all the engine problems he's been having all month and the car just got away from him; maybe Ford was taking too big a risk by insisting that their teams use gasoline; maybe Mickey Thompson should have listened to some of the other engineers who offerred him advice on setting up his cars; maybe the inside wall in turn 4 was angled wrong...these are all contributing factors to the tragedy...but none is more significant over the other.

The real culprit was the inablilty of everyone involved to see just what could happen if things went wrong. Of course, this is being said in hindsight; but the sport was growing too fast for it's own good; and nobody was prepared for the potential outcome. The Sachs/MacDonald crash, as violent and graphic as it may have been, was a simple racing accident. The aftermath was not so simple to deal with.

The upside to all this is the manner in which the motorsports community responded to the tragedy. Driver safety became much more of a priority, and new technology was embraced. Racing began to police itself, to manage it's growth. It didn't exactly happen overnight, but it did happen. Racing was changed forever. And so were we.

Nobody involved in this tragady was really any different than any driver on the grid today...it's easy to magnify perceived faults in their characters because of the way said characters influenced our lives. But it really isn't fair.


Dan

#895 Flat Black

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 18:49

Nice post, TD. And it raises a question in my mind for those of you who actually witnessed the Golden Age of open-wheel racing. Namely, has the dramatically increased emphasis on safety made racing better? We all know it is far safer, but is the sport as exciting and viewer-friendly as it was ca. 1946-1975?

#896 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 19:10

No.

#897 Buford

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 19:36

No.

#898 Jim Thurman

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 21:49

The racing was far better in that era, but I don't put that down to emphasis on safety as there are other technological factors. The same applies to Stock Cars too...

Also, what do you mean by "viewer friendly"? I'm sure the TV folks feel they've made it more "viewer friendly" :) (which is another added reason for the decline instead of safety improvements).

#899 Ray Bell

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 21:50

i'll add another one...

No!

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#900 fines

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 22:11

"Viewer-friendly" is indeed a double-edged sword - it depends much on the viewer! I absolutely detest those strategic pit stops, but most of today's viewers will say it is what keeps them from falling asleep. Has nothing to do with safety, though.

To answer your question: I believe driving standards have sunk significantly since the days when sex was safe and racing dangerous. Is that more "exciting", "viewer-friendly"? Not if you ask me, but then again I'm your age and haven't really "witnessed the Golden Age".

Which brings me to the point I was going to make: the "Golden Age" for me is much more relevant in terms of car or engine design and manufacture - I tend to regard the on-track action as a bit of a playground, where experiments are conducted. Yes, good and visible car control, overtaking action and also race savviness are "exciting" to watch and "viewer-friendly", but so are intelligent designs and good-looking cars, clever and forward-looking solutions to engineering problems! Within reasonable parameters!!!

Above all, that is what is needed to bring this particular viewer back!