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#901 jm70

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 23:40

NO!

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#902 antonvrs

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 00:44

Originally posted by Flat Black
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?


Exciting? No.
Viewer friendly? That's a whole 'nother question. In "the day" I enjoyed being able, as a spectator, to walk around the perimeter of the various tracks that I frequented and observe the drivers at work. Most of those tracks are gone now and my age(approaching 70) and deteriorating physical condition mean that I wouldn't be able to do it now anyway. The modern tracks combined with the in-car cameras make it look just like a video game to me. However, Monaco and the race last weekend in Canada were interesting. The rest of the big-business circus that motor racing has become bores the shit out of me as much as baseball, basketball, football and all of that crap.

Anton, the carmudgeon.

#903 Flat Black

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 02:09

anton's got the right idea. By viewer-friendly I meant fan access to the race and to the action in the pits. Safety precautions, it seems to me, have pushed fans ever farther from the track, and access to the pits and drivers is strictly verboten . Likewise, the tracks, particularly in F1, have been emasculated and the current crop of drivers whine incessantly about safety (I believe it was Alonso who expressed trepidation about a new street course in Singapore?, and then all the hand-wringing about track conditions in Montreal). Before Jackie Stewart "enlightened" us, I cannot imagine drivers acting like such Nancies.

#904 ensign14

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 06:25

We have races where someone's lead can be taken away because someone else parks on track off the racing line, titles decided because a win is not as good as a third and fourth , a stock car series where the only difference between the cars is a set of stickers, a world championship where the best drivers are deliberately handicapped to help the worse drivers get wins, rallying on identikit stages and racing on identikit tracks...

#905 ianselva

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 08:06

Originally posted by Flat Black
anton's got the right idea. By viewer-friendly I meant fan access to the race and to the action in the pits. Safety precautions, it seems to me, have pushed fans ever farther from the track, and access to the pits and drivers is strictly verboten . Likewise, the tracks, particularly in F1, have been emasculated and the current crop of drivers whine incessantly about safety (I believe it was Alonso who expressed trepidation about a new street course in Singapore?, and then all the hand-wringing about track conditions in Montreal). Before Jackie Stewart "enlightened" us, I cannot imagine drivers acting like such Nancies.

I dont think you can blame it on Stewart.
There has to be some halfway point between the two views on safety . Surely you wouldn't want to go back to the days when the average life expectancy of a top line driver was 5 years and you had the chance of seeing one burnt to death in front of your eyes !

#906 McGuire

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 11:22

Originally posted by Flat Black
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?


No.

However, the old days are gone forever. Social standards have changed. The current generation of fans would never accept the level of mayhem we accepted as part of the sport.

But as I see it, improved safety is not really what changed/ruined the sport. Not a primary factor anyway. We are back to the two great enemies of racing as we knew it: Technology and money.

#907 MPea3

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 12:38

Originally posted by McGuire


No.

However, the old days are gone forever. Social standards have changed. The current generation of fans would never accept the level of mayhem we accepted as part of the sport.

But as I see it, improved safety is not really what changed/ruined the sport. Not a primary factor anyway. We are back to the two great enemies of racing as we knew it: Technology and money.


I agree regarding social standards, money and technology. I really miss the days when one man could design and even build a race car and haver it be something special or trend setting. I loved it when one driver could have that special day when he overcame odds to be a special part of history. It seems these days are all about assembling the team, constantly looking for another .1% and putting together the complete weekend.

However there's one thing a lot of us are guilty of. Hopefully this will make sense.

I fell in love with racing in 1967 and by the early 70's was helping a friends with his FF based out of a garage next to Pete Hamilton's race shop. By this time he was no longer with Petty and was trying to make his own deal work. His mechanic was older than many of us who hung around and constant;ly spoke about how much better the racing was 20 years before. In the late 70's hanging around Williams Grove I often heard the same thing, the old timers speaking with disdain about roll cages and 6 point harnesses. In both instances I thought them wrong, as I loved the sport.

In a similar way those who have fallen for the sport today love it because of what it is rather than what it was. I have friends who love the technology of todays cars. They speak of loving the "technical" tracks, something I could care less about.

There's also simply the matter of age. When I was 20 years old and first sat in a race car, the thought of danger never even entered my mind. My desire to just drive on of the damn things so overshadowed any other emotion I felt as to make the danger completely invisible. By the time I was in my 30's, rolling a rally car into a ball at 2am on a Forest Service road, having the gas tank rupture and shower me with gasoline had a very different effect on me. Finding my way out of the car in the dark in a concussed state brought on fear which so bothered me that I could never get back in the car during it's disassembly. I rallied again but was never the same.

At some point it dawned on me that we love what we fell in love with. Hamilton's mechanic fell in love with the stock cars in the dusty southern bullrings of the late 40's and early 50's. His answer to Flat Black's question would have been a resounding no in 1973. Ask the Willaims Grove old timers in 1978 the question and they'd have said no also.

I fell in love with Rob Walker's race reports in Road & Track, CanAm racing at Road Atlanta, and sprints and midgets at Williams Grove. Age and perspective have given me a love for the cars which pre-date my own interest and a huge respect for those who were part of the early history of the sport. My answer to the question is no. However, ask my sons age 23 and 15, and they'd say yes. Watch people get killed? Who would possibly want to do that.

#908 David M. Kane

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 15:00

Flat Black and Ianselva:

In 1954 Eddie Sachs was crowned the Midwest Divison Sprint Car Champion driving thre H.O.W Special owned by Mari Hulman and Indianapolis Sportsman Roger Wolcott. His crew chief was Frankie "Stoggie" Glidden. Pat O'Connor was the National Champion.

"On the evening of October 6th, Eddie Sach's racing career almost came to an end as the result of a speech he made at the Midwest American Auto Association Awards Banquet in Dayton, Ohio. Duane Carter and Bob Sweikert gave Eddie a list of demands. They said when you stand up, tell them, this what we want. As Eddie stood up and starting talking, it became very obvious that Bob Martindale and all the other AAA officials were saying, 'Ain't no way.' Suddenly Carter and Sweikert don't even know what Eddie was saying. They sort of eased out of it. All three of them went out on a limb and when they saw it was going to get sawed off, they started backing off and Eddie was out there by himself."

All they were asking for was higher purses and safer race tracks. Purses were so low Eddie drove a cab one year in LA, slept in his car, etc.

As a result of that speech Eddie was banned from automobile racing for the start of 1955. Some felt he went overboard and embellished on what the 3 had decided upon that afternoon. Eddie was a very excitable guy.

If the AAA hadn't dropped out of racing sanctioning in the USA after the LeMans tragedy, Eddie would have been royally screwed for speaking out on livable purses and safety. So Jackie Stewart wasn't the only "nancy" out there. Sprint car drivers got killed at a rate perhaps even higher than GP guys, particularly on the high banks.

Source: "Eddie Sachs The Clown Prince" by Denny Miller ISBN-1-4208-4891-1, Publisher Author House

#909 Flat Black

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 16:04

That's a fascinating story, David. It would be interesting to know how much of the impetus for improved safety came from the drivers, how much came from car owners, how much came from track proprietors, and how much came from the media. Perhaps there's a book out there that deals with the subject of the history of auto racing safety in America?

#910 fines

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 17:53

Yes, a fascinating story, unfortunately (as so much in this book, it seems) it is also complete bollocks, almost nothing of it is true and the author even got the date of the meeting wrong. Suffice it to say that Eddie's address was a message of the owners and drivers to the promoters, and apart from demands for more money the only safety issues being discussed were non-fulfillment of AAA standards on part of the promoters and track owners! Difficult to see why AAA should ban Sachs for supporting their cause, and indeed Eddie continued to race throughout the rest of 1954 and all of 1955. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

#911 Jim Thurman

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 18:44

Originally posted by Flat Black
anton's got the right idea. By viewer-friendly I meant fan access to the race and to the action in the pits. Safety precautions, it seems to me, have pushed fans ever farther from the track, and access to the pits and drivers is strictly verboten .

Oh, "Spectator friendly". I go back to my comments above and give you a great example. Riverside International Raceway. A great viewing spot and a fantastic spot for taking photos was turn 7. I remember standing there watching the cars come over the brow of the hill, brake and turn. Outstanding. But it had to come to an end...

Changed for safety, right?...nope, corporate hosptiality tents replaced the bleachers there and it became accessible only by those folks. Safety has had a lot less to do with racing being less "spectator friendly" than these other factors. Same for the technology and TV interests altering and affecting racing more than safety concerns.

#912 David M. Kane

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 19:21

Fines the reason he wasn't ban in 1955 is because USAC took over from AAA. What is a better source for correct information? Is the transition from AAA to USAC an acceptable answer which is what I stated?

#913 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 22:13

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Fines the reason he wasn't ban in 1955 is because USAC took over from AAA. What is a better source for correct information? Is the transition from AAA to USAC an acceptable answer which is what I stated?


USAC was (hastily) formed in August 1955 and did not begin its racing activities until 1956.

#914 David M. Kane

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 00:10

Fines:

My point was three fold, unless you won the Indy 500 you couldn't survive unless you had another source of income. The same was true at this time for the NFL, NBA and MLB. Most everybody had off season jobs. Secondly IF you raced the high banks you probably do better at Indy than the flat trackers. Thirdly, if you raced Sprint Cars in those days you had the life expectancy of a 2nd Lt. Clearly I'm exaggerating and clearly I prefer to do things rather than watch them no matter how bad I am at it. It's the joy of the experience; look at the 100 strock hackers out there and the Tennis guys who aren't very good; but they have the guts and the HUMILITY to at least try.

#915 fines

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 09:03

David,

- Eddie Sachs wasn't "crowned the Midwest Divison Sprint Car Champion" in 1954, he was runner-up to Pat O'Connor. He would be runner-up for three consecutive years and, after missing out most of 1957 due to injury, come back to finally win the title in 1958, fully four years later!

- Pat O'Connor wasn't the "National Champion", he was 25th in 1954 and far behind Jimmy Bryan. He would be 7th the following year and 4th in 1957, but he would never win the championship!

- as Don has already pointed out, USAC wasn't even formed until the fall of 1955, and didn't begin sanctioning until January 1, 1956!

Those are very basic facts that can be found in any number of books if and when doing research. Clearly Mr. Miller has failed to do just that. I am not keeping count, but I believe this is about the fifth time the "Clown Prince" book has been mentioned in this thread, and each and every time its contents have been proved wrong or irrelevant. I don't believe it is worth the paper it is printed on.

My point was simply that I wished you would stop quoting that book, as quite frankly I am sick and tired of refuting bad evidence, especially in this thread!

Your point, as I understood it, was to show that certain drivers, even before Jackie Stewart's "crusade", tried to promote safety issues - which is certainly not at all untrue - and that they were rebuked by officialdom - which is palpable nonsense!

Not to enlarge on this too much, but to answer Flat Black's question: "It would be interesting to know how much of the impetus for improved safety came from the drivers, how much came from car owners, how much came from track proprietors, and how much came from the media" - probably not that much at all!

Foremost thing to keep in mind here is: Safety costs money! Drivers, owners and track proprietors alike were all trying to make a living or, at best, not to lose too much money on a hobby - they were mostly not interested in spending money on safety! The media? Come on, don't be ridiculous! Apart from sex, it is blood that sells best, so why should they kill the cow that gives the milk?

It is not a very popular view, but it is an inescapable fact when viewed in detail, that up until the time that vast amounts of money poured into the sport in the mid-to-late sixties, about the only party interested in safety were the sanctioning bodies! It is true that their "drive for safety" was not very noticeable, and in fact almost pathetic, but as they were the only ones in the game without any financial interests, nothing else came that way!

Drivers, in the most part, were more interested in better purses than safety - if a promoter had offered the choice of spending an additional $1,000 on track safety or add it to the purse, there would've been no argument! Same with a car owner, offering the choice of spending a couple hundred bucks on safety features or on speed equipment. The reason is clear: as you have pointed out, the average income of a racing driver was a pittance, so the choice seemed to lie between the remote possibilty of a fatal accident and certain starvation!

Only with that addressed by the influx of sponsorship money, could the drivers finally focus on safety issues. Cue Jackie Stewart...

#916 Catalina Park

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 09:26

Well said Michael.

#917 HistoricMustang

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 09:55

Originally posted by fines
David,

I am sick and tired of refuting bad evidence, especially in this thread!


:up:

This one does get the emotions flowing!

#918 Henri Greuter

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 09:57

The thoughts about safety of the car before the race has been mentioned.
The car did pass inspection so we must accept the fact that the car was deemed safe enough for the standards of the moment. Like in 1948 when the Novi was inspected again after the Hepburn fatality and the crusade by some agains the car therafter. It was deemed safe raced on and in later years killed Chet Miller as well in a near similar situation as Hepburn had been in.

But I think there is another case, fire related, in which a car was never questioned in public as being unsafe for a particular constrction detail, yet literally burned as being unsafe after an accident: The Gp. B Lancia Delta S4

Now there were already some worries about the Gp B cars being out of control and being hazardous in 1985. But the panic really stroke after the accident of Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto in the Tour de Corse 1986 when their Delta S4 crashed and went up in flames, killing both men.
The fuel tanks of the Delta S4 had always been under the seats of the driver & passenger (I believe also partly behind it?) and up until Corsica that had never been an issue. Only after Corsica....
Before that, the cars always got through inspections, and thereafter, for the remainer of the 1986 season as well by the way.

So it has happened on other occasions as well that a certain detail on a car was deemed safe enough and the potential danger behind it not realized after an accident had happened. Both before the Sachs MacDonald disaster as well as in later years. It is something of all time I guess.


Henri

#919 David M. Kane

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 13:09

Fines I said Pat O'Connor was the National Champion and that Eddie was the Midwest Champion. That was a direct quote from the author Denny Miller. Should I stop reading this book? Lighten up! :mad: You're starting to be a real jerk! :down:

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#920 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 13:38

Dave, Michael (Fines) is a digital entity in an analog world. Just think about that for a moment and I believe you will see what I mean. HDC

#921 Flat Black

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 15:03

fines,

Your explanation of safety initiatives in the context of purses and sponsorship money smacks of truth, and is based on sound reasoning. The bit about the media, OTOH, well...

The truth about the media, at least in this country, is that it has always gone on safety and health crusades. A good example is the publication of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle in 1906, which exposed highly unsanitary conditions in the meatpacking industry. The media went into high dudgeon and increased regulation of the industry ensued. I think if you did an intellectual history of the media's treatment of mortality in American auto racing you'd descry a similar crusade, albeit more inchoate.

#922 ensign14

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 15:21

The last thing the media wants in motor racing is more safety. The specialist press, yes; the tabloids want death and flames for their front pages. Sarti's gf got it right.

#923 Flat Black

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 16:23

The media gets more of a windfall from a daily safety crusade than from a fiery fatality every four months.

But this assumes that profits are the only thing that drive the media. Far from it. Ideology and workplace culture also play massive roles.

#924 Jim Thurman

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 17:44

Originally posted by Flat Black

The truth about the media, at least in this country, is that it has always gone on safety and health crusades. A good example is the publication of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle in 1906, which exposed highly unsanitary conditions in the meatpacking industry. The media went into high dudgeon and increased regulation of the industry ensued. I think if you did an intellectual history of the media's treatment of mortality in American auto racing you'd descry a similar crusade, albeit more inchoate.

Or, even earlier, Richard Dana's "Two Years Before The Mast". I've always found it odd that a town and geographic area named to honor Dana should feature a beach named after the oil baron that was the inspiration for Sinclair's "Oil!", but I digress...

There was a signifigant change in how auto racing was covered in wake of the Hearst papers "legalized suicide" outbursts. Peer pressure and downright laziness might have been the reasons so many others followed Hearst's lead, but prior to that auto racers were portrayed as "daredevils" and racing itself was not portrayed that negatively. For the first couple of decades, racing and racers were generally portrayed quite positively - they were treated as the astronauts of their time.

Since I've been old enough to be aware, rarely have I seen any media crusade for increased safety in auto racing...but I have seen and read many a call for an outright ban. And how successful have those been? Hearst had his newspapers call for it in the 1930's.

#925 fines

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 18:12

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps
Dave, Michael (Fines) is a digital entity in an analog world. Just think about that for a moment and I believe you will see what I mean. HDC

Am I? Hardly. But then again, who cares...

#926 fines

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 18:37

Originally posted by Flat Black
The truth about the media, at least in this country, is that it has always gone on safety and health crusades. A good example is the publication of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle in 1906, which exposed highly unsanitary conditions in the meatpacking industry. The media went into high dudgeon and increased regulation of the industry ensued.

Bad example! Just a few weeks a go, by sheer coincidence, I read an article about Chicago's meat industry/Beef Trust. Firstly, Sinclair was hardly a journalist by trade, he was an author with a second income from the Fourth Estate - The Jungle was a novel, not an article, and as such can hardly vouch for journalistic integrity. Unless, of course, you include artists within "the media"...

Secondly, long before Sinclair many politicians had already targeted the meat industry, including president Roosevelt. According to the article, which appeared in a very respectable German source (Geo Epoche), the "Pure Food and Drug Act" and the "Meat Inspection Act" were already passed in 1906, long before any commotion in the press.

That said, I don't doubt that "the media" also campaign for safety and health on occasion, since scandals also sell. But sex and blood sell better.

#927 Flat Black

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 18:58

JT,

Your words jibe well with what I've read about early racing in the US. Board trackers like Jimmy Murphy in particular were national celebs of the first water and even starred in Hollywood films. They also became quite wealthy, I suspect. All of which is causing me to revisit the notion, bruited on this thread, that pre-sponsorship open-wheel racers were living on the cusp of poverty. Maybe they were, but I'd like to see tax returns for AAA/USAC racers and situate them in the economic conditions of the time.

And as to media crusades for racing safety, I daresay that calls to ban the sport were the ultimate in crusader rhetoric!

PS--I did not claim that Sinclair was a journalist, nor did I say that The Jungle was an article. I stated that Sinclair's novel was a fillip to the media crusade to clean up the meatpacking industry, which it was. The acts you mention, fines, were in place before the book's publication, but that hardly disproves that the movement to clean up the industry did not proceed apace after publication, which it most certainly did.

#928 fines

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 19:13

Originally posted by Flat Black
PS--I did not claim that Sinclair was a journalist, nor did I say that The Jungle was an article. I stated that Sinclair's novel was a fillip to the media crusade to clean up the meatpacking industry, which it was. The acts you mention, fines, were in place before the book's publication, but that hardly disproves that the movement to clean up the industry did not proceed apace after publication, which it most certainly did.

I know that you didn't claim that, I just included it to make the point clear, and to show that the media "crusade" was just skimming off a public arousal that was not of their own making. But enough of that, we can argue this to death w/o reaching agreement, can't we?;)

As for Jimmy Murphy being wealthy, yes he certainly was. And A. J. Foyt. And Mario Andretti. Perhaps even a few others. But have you read the Ralph de Palma biography by fellow TNFer Gary Doyle? Perhaps the greatest of all US drivers, certainly of those active before WW1, and still struggling throughout the last three decades of his life. The point is: unless you invested your winnings very wisely, chances were you didn't fare well in old age. And most racers invested in speed.

The other option to escape poverty was to die young...

#929 Flat Black

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 19:40

Haven't read the book, fines, but would like to. DePalma and DePaolo always struck me as interesting guys.

I note the caveat "unless you invested wisely" in your last post. Isn't it safe to say that anybody who is irresponsible with their money, no matter how much they make, can go bankrupt? The number of NFL football players, NBA stars and pop musicians (think MC Hammer) who made tons of money yet wound up living in a cardboard box under an overpass ( a slight exaggeration) is considerable. What I'm saying is I'd still like to see the tax returns for, oh let's say, Cecil Green, Walt Faulkner and George Connor, just for grins. Hell, maybe they were poor as church mice, but I would like to see the cold, hard evidence.

#930 MPea3

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 19:54

I think the point is though that given the choice of saving money or spending it on speed, the speed usually won. For that matter it still does. The guys I know who race will spend every dime they have on racing, to the point hat their credit cards are maxed out and their bank accounts empty, and regardless of what you spend, there's always something else to buy. When I lived in central PA there were plenty of guys who raced sprint cars for a while enjoying success and STILL went broke. Racing is a financial disease plain and simple.

Was it Frank Lockhart who wrote to his mother shortly before his death telling her that once he set the record she'd never have to work - or wash clothes or whatever - again? Was the manner in which he'd extended himself based upon the desire, wish and need to have that spent money return a success?

#931 fines

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 20:03

Flat, I think you're missing the point: it's not about being irresponsible with money, it's about investing money to further your career! Everybody in racing did that, in fact had to do that since "speed costs money". And only very few were realistic enough to say at one point: "Stop! I'm not going to get any better results even if I invest more money, I have to get out!" Most thought: "If only I had the same horsepower/chassis as X, I'd blow off the wheels of his chariot!"

Net result: everybody invests his last penny (:eek: cent! :D), until the realisation dawns that you are not another Jimmy Murphy or Frank Lockhart, and then you're in your forties and competing with teenagers for low-qualification/low-income jobs. Very few, even of the top drivers like Tommy Milton or Mauri Rose were lucky enough to get picked up by the industry or the IMS, Tommy Hinnershitz did maintenance at the Reading Fairgrounds for a living!

You want cold, hard evidence? Go, read the Johnnie Tolan thread here on TNF - he was a National Midget Champion, "in the money" at Indy, yet he is burried in an unmarked grave. Very few rest in mausoleums...

#932 Flat Black

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 20:49

Ah. Okay. I see what you're talking about. So the motivation for racing was an addiction to speed, as it were? Glory at all cost? Are we to assume that the proliferation of lucrative sponsorships and television contracts has introduce the money motive, front and center?

PS--MPea3, Missus Black is from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is a bit on the delicate side, and is NOT a fan of racing. Nevertheless, I prevailed upon her to attend the WoO at Williams Grove some time ago and man did she get a wake up call! :lol: The noise, the fumes, and the cast of unsavory characters in the stands--let's just say it was quite a night. :lol: And to top it all off, Darren Pittman almost ran us smooth over in the pits! :lol:

#933 HistoricMustang

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 21:17

Originally posted by fines

You want cold, hard evidence? Go, read the Johnnie Tolan thread here on TNF - he was a National Midget Champion, "in the money" at Indy, yet he is burried in an unmarked grave. Very few rest in mausoleums...


Been trying to catch up with a former driver that had 400 NASCAR starts at the Grand National, Winston Cup, Nextel Cup, Sprint whatever.

Anyway, we spent several hours together Saturday. He accumulated over $600,000 in the series mentioned above, before 1980, which was a lot of money. Untold amounts in lesser sanctioned events and had over 1000 total purse paying events.

The reason I have had such a tough time catching up with him.......................he delivers papers at night to keep the lights turned on. He will certainly tell you it was different back in the day when most winnings were piled back into the car..............not cars................car.

I love it when a thread here at TNF takes on a life of its own. :smoking: If all the heavy hitters were not taking part I am sure someone would have received a ruler across the knuckles. :rotfl:

Henry

#934 David M. Kane

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 22:55

Fines I have to agree with you, believe it or not as much as you have trashed Denny Miller's book, he pretty much says the same things. :up:

#935 OfficeLinebacker

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 19:01

Any way to see these Time-Life pictures online?

#936 TrackDog

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 04:02

Originally posted by OfficeLinebacker
Any way to see these Time-Life pictures online?


I found them once after googling Dave MacDonald; but that was about a year ago, and I haven't been able to find them again. I had to sift through several pages of search results to find them, and the downloaded images weren't very large. IIRC, there were only 3 images; one of Rutherford emerging from the fireball, another of several backmarkers coming upon the wreck, and a third of the first group of rescuers approaching MacDonald's car in a very gingerly manner.


Dan

#937 Buford

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 04:43

I would scan them but I sent my scrapbook to the Watkins Glen IMRRC.

#938 Buford

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 05:07

I am watching a CBS 48 Hour Mystery on the murders of Mickey Thompson and his wife right now.

#939 Flat Black

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 14:53

I, too, would scan the photos but I don't know how!

:mad:

PS--Didn't get to see the 48 Hour Mystery, buford. What were their conclusions on the murders and the motives?

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#940 MPea3

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 15:24

Originally posted by Flat Black
I, too, would scan the photos but I don't know how!

:mad:

PS--Didn't get to see the 48 Hour Mystery, buford. What were their conclusions on the murders and the motives?


FB, if you don't own a scanner find a Kinkos. They'll even help you.

if you DO own one then as they say, RTFM.

#941 fines

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 19:13

Originally posted by fines
As for Jimmy Murphy being wealthy, yes he certainly was. And A. J. Foyt. And Mario Andretti. Perhaps even a few others. But have you read the Ralph de Palma biography by fellow TNFer Gary Doyle? Perhaps the greatest of all US drivers, certainly of those active before WW1, and still struggling throughout the last three decades of his life. The point is: unless you invested your winnings very wisely, chances were you didn't fare well in old age. And most racers invested in speed.

The other option to escape poverty was to die young...

Not wanting to drag this on, but I just found a perfect quote to illustrate the point - The Fresno Bee (CA), Dec 17 in 1930, under the heading "De Palma Must Pay Alimony Of $200 A Month" illuminates Ralph's financial situation with regards to his impending divorce:

DePalma denied he had an income of $25,000 a year, although he admitted he once earned that much. He said at present he was drawing $1,000 a month as advisor of an automobile manufacturer, and was lucky "If I win much of anything on the tracks. During my last three starts at Ascot Speedway I have won less than $2,000."
Mrs. DePalma testified that of the wealth she and her husband had enjoyed during the twenty-one years of married life, she had but $70 remaining.

And that was only the beginning of the depression...

As a note, the "less than $2,000" earned at Ascot (with a 5th, a 10th and a 4th) was about the last substantial money he ever made from racing. His last "fat" payday had been in September of 1925, $5,000 for a win at the New York State Fair.

#942 Buford

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 19:31

Originally posted by Flat Black
I, too, would scan the photos but I don't know how!

:mad:

PS--Didn't get to see the 48 Hour Mystery, buford. What were their conclusions on the murders and the motives?


I didn't realize it but the business partner was convicted of both murders and sentenced to two life terms.

http://www.cbsnews.c...ain509563.shtml

http://jalopnik.com/.....e-240931.php"

#943 Lemans

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 12:57

Buford, I enjoyed the end where the business partner is still proclaiming his innocece. This guy sure seemed guilty to me from what the program showed.

#944 Russ Snyder

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 15:28

Henry

I recently purchased a copy of the 1964 Dynamic films and I can state:

Dave did not appear to be driving "on the edge" as has been eyewitnessed by JR and a few others.

Everything seemed to be normal on the first lap, his line was like all the others he was following and whom was behind him.

....the 2nd lap seemed to be like the first. Jim Clark bolts out ahead followed by Marshman and P Jones. You can see Dave trailing the line of cars and I must admit I expected to see him taking the low line on the backstretch. He did not.

Sorry everyone to bring this back up...its relevant because it does change on how I thought Dave Macdonald attacked the track. Everything seemed to be normal up till turn 4 at the end of lap 1...

RIP Dave & Eddie. It was a horrible day at Indy and I wish you both were not involved.

#945 HistoricMustang

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 20:49

Thanks Russ, that is what open minded research is all about.

Re-documenting this day 45 years after the fact is extremely difficult.

This is going to strike a nerve with some of the TNF members, but, does the 1964 Dynamic Film show any movement by Walt Hagnsen as Dave approached?

Thanks for the added comments.

Henry

#946 Russ Snyder

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 12:27

Originally posted by HistoricMustang
Thanks Russ, that is what open minded research is all about.

Re-documenting this day 45 years after the fact is extremely difficult.

This is going to strike a nerve with some of the TNF members, but, does the 1964 Dynamic Film show any movement by Walt Hagnsen as Dave approached?

Thanks for the added comments.

Henry


Henry

Not what I could tell.

The lines looked good for all.

As lap 3 starts, The camera follows Clark/Marshman/Jones into turn 1 with spectators pointing back to turn 4 with horror in their eyes....another camera shows the impact and creep...then yet another angel shows Eddie and company as Sid Collins says: "This camera shows Eddie Sachs hitting Dave Macdonald and they explode"

Earlier, the film goes on about tire wear and how this Indy 500 was to be the first with no tire changes, limiting the number of pit stops.

Oh lest I forget, the race starts up again after an 1hour 45 min delay and Eddie Johnson in the other Mickey Thompson car does not get up too speed. He is seen riding the apron to Sid Collins saying : " Eddie Johnson can't get re-started"....I suspect that answers earlier questions in this thread about Eddie getting back into the other Thompson car and doing a few more laps.

#947 Russ Snyder

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 15:48

Originally posted by Flat Black


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


Flat back - I enjoy the bits'n'pieces that you bring to the table within this forum and discussions like this one, so please do no take this wrong. ...but.... After viewing the 1964 Indy 500 Dynamic film, I can say that Dave Macdonald appeared to be driving normal, not imprudently. I always thought, like yourself, that Macdonald was "all over the track, into the grass edge, weaving in and out"...and I saw none of that in the Dynamic film. His line was pretty clear and he was following others just as he was being followed.

that said

I have come full circle at this point in the discussion. When I joined this forum, I thought that Macdonald had the obligatory 80-90 gallons of gas on board and that is clearly not the case. Heck, my Dad always thought that too, with Mac's car having the ability to make ZERO pit stops for fuel or tires. Dad had heard scuttlebutt alluding to that fact ...and I think some teams believed that to be the case! Was that MickeyThompson putting out info to throw off other teams before the running of the 500? Who knows now.

#948 HistoricMustang

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 09:54

Russ, thanks so very much! :up:

Henry

#949 TrackDog

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 16:01

Originally posted by Russ Snyder
Henry

I recently purchased a copy of the 1964 Dynamic films and I can state:

Dave did not appear to be driving "on the edge" as has been eyewitnessed by JR and a few others.

Everything seemed to be normal on the first lap, his line was like all the others he was following and whom was behind him.

....the 2nd lap seemed to be like the first. Jim Clark bolts out ahead followed by Marshman and P Jones. You can see Dave trailing the line of cars and I must admit I expected to see him taking the low line on the backstretch. He did not.

Sorry everyone to bring this back up...its relevant because it does change on how I thought Dave Macdonald attacked the track. Everything seemed to be normal up till turn 4 at the end of lap 1...

RIP Dave & Eddie. It was a horrible day at Indy and I wish you both were not involved.



After reading this post, I'm reminded of something I read several years ago in a magazine regarding watching a race live versus viewing it on television. It holds true in my experience, as well. I haven't seen the film in question, but I feel I have to offer a couple of caveats.


Television, or any film media, film, videoptape, etc..; has a tendency to flatten perspective. From the perch of a camera stationed above or away from the action, nobody really sees the half-shafts bouncing up and down, they don't see the exhaust smoke or the dripping oil...unless there's an in-car camera; and sometimes even they don't capture all the action. What we see, due to the limits of our technology, is always a somewhat sterile image.

I remember seeing Dave MacDonald's qualifying run on local TV, and it seemed to be as ordinary as any other run...if there were any handling problems, I couldn't detect them. Of course, I was only 9 years old, and I didn't know what to look for; but his run looked just like the others to me. There was no obvious handling difficulty visible to me in my living room.

The point I'm trying to make is that as viewers, we're not at eye level with the action we're seeing. We don't know what to look for to determine just how much difficulty a driver might be having with a car. There might be subtle clues that an experienced driver would pick up on that we'd just never see. Just how hard was Dave working to control that car? Were his arms flailing about in the cockpit? I v'e seen pictures of him in stock cars that show him moving around in the car quite a bit...that was evidently his style; but did it foreshadow a struggle to hold the car on the racing line, or was it just his way? Dave was an unknown at Indy, not many drivers knew what to make of his manner behind the wheel.

He was evidently drifting through the turns, and the camera might not have been able to pick this up, at least not to the degree of which it might have been happening. He was at least 10 mph faster coming off the fourth turn on that fateful lap as Walt Hansgen; to the camera, this speed difference might not look like much... it depends on angle and perspective.

Several drivers who were there, who were passed by MacDonald, have stated that he was driving too aggressively, and that the car was not handling properly. Dick Rathmann stated that Dave "cut him off"; Johnny Rutherford has stated many times that Dave's car was very skittish and that he was driving very aggressively; Len Sutton commented on how MacDonald cut in front of him in the short chute between turns three and four just before the crash, and how he dove underneath Walt Hansgen coming off the fourth turn, evidently in Hansgen's blind spot. Other reports have MacDonald banging wheels with another car on the first lap. Even Peter Bryant stated in his book that Dave was too impatient, too anxious to lead the race, and that led to his death. This was the prevailing opinion of the other drivers, as well.

These men were all professionals; their standards were very high, margin for error was nil...no place for emotions. Their reflexes and visual acuity are phenomenal. They drive with an eye on what's happening far ahead of them, and they have to be able to anticipate any potential trauma that might happen in front of them; so they were very observant...and they were probably picking up on things that we, or even the camera might not be able to ever notice.

Racing can be a game of fractions of a second and inches...Art Pollard was apparently about six inches off his apex in the first turn at Indy in 1973, and it killed him. At least, that's what I read another driver who was behind him say...the camera can't pick that up.

I'm sorry, but I remain unconvinced that Dave MacDonald wasn't driving over his head that day...there's just too much evidence to the contrary. He was probably driving his heart out; to the best of his ability[which was considerable...]. The car was a mess, the track unfamiliar and his career was on the line. He was trying to make the best of a nearly impossible situation.

Maybe he was just trying too hard.


Dan

#950 Russ Snyder

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 18:37

Originally posted by TrackDog



Several drivers who were there, who were passed by MacDonald, have stated that he was driving too aggressively, and that the car was not handling properly. Dick Rathmann stated that Dave "cut him off"; Johnny Rutherford has stated many times that Dave's car was very skittish and that he was driving very aggressively; Len Sutton commented on how MacDonald cut in front of him in the short chute between turns three and four just before the crash, and how he dove underneath Walt Hansgen coming off the fourth turn, evidently in Hansgen's blind spot. Other reports have MacDonald banging wheels with another car on the first lap. Even Peter Bryant stated in his book that Dave was too impatient, too anxious to lead the race, and that led to his death. This was the prevailing opinion of the other drivers, as well.



Maybe he was just trying too hard.


Dan


Hey Dan

Nice thoughts in all, however, this paragraph seems to contradict what i see on the film.

I am going to do the best I can to explain 2 things I saw that Dan is mentioning above.

1. Bumping wheels/side car - The view is overhead as the pace car leaves the front straight. I can clearly see Dave move up into, or bump into, a car directly infront of him. Anxious foot green flag syndrome? He backs off immediatly. I dunno if he touched or not. Would not be the the first Indy start to have that...and it would not be the last.

2. Cutting off - Start of Lap 2 into turn 1. As Clark, Marshman and co go round, Dave is seen trailing and squeezing into turn 1 down low and passing someone (Dick Rathman?) I attribute this to normal turn 1 racing at the end of the straight that we all love so much at the Indy 500. Absolutely nothing abnormal there. No back end sliding or swinging haphazzardly, as I expected to see when I slowed the film down.

I decided to buy the dynamic film too see for myself the entire sequence from the start.

I also bought: 1946 Indy crucible of speed, 1973 Indy, Roadster 1935-65 and 1906-46 motorsport memories. I went on a classic racing spending spree I suppose....all of them are awesome watches btw.