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The Mickey Thompson 'Sears Allstate Special' cars of 1964


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#51 McGuire

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 12:14

Originally posted by Buford
A bad dangerous car driven by a young hot shot who ignored Jim Clark's warning, "Get out of that car mate. just walk away" and paid the ultimate price.


That's the whole story here, you nailed it.

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#52 Seppi_0_917PA

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 13:43

Originally posted by HistoricMustang
I believe this is a sister car to the #83. Any comments on the front suspension or its design (or lack there of).

Again, this information supplied by our mystery individual that is unable to put up a post at TNF.

Henry

Posted Image

This photo is the same as:

http://albums.photo....9498&p=60746601

mentioned by Walter Zoomie in post #4. To me, it looks like a 1963 car, not a sister car to the #83.

Henry: have you tried contacting Peter Bryant? He was in the crew for MacDonald in 1964 and has a new book out:

http://www.bullpubli...m.asp?itemid=94

Here's a picture of him with the car:

http://www.bullpubli...oks/Can-Am3.jpg

(Perhaps Bryant will be at the Monterey Historics this weekend—maybe a book signing at the David Bull booth?—and someone who is attending could ask him your questions?)

#53 David M. Kane

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 13:54

Please indulge me for a moment as I try to relate to this accident from two personal experiences. First, the wheelbase of this car looks pretty short just like my wife's 1964 Elfin Mallala. The Mallala as a result is a bit "snappy" particularly in the rain. All you have to do is breathe wrong and it will spin in the wet. Secondly, she constantly complains that the rear end lifts at high speeds which she find very spooky. We're talking a 990lb. car with 190bhp. The Thompson car didn't weigh much more and surely had a lot more power. Trust me she drives fairly hard (7th out of 42 at the Kohler Challenge). It also does not like windy days. She just jump in and said the front end didn't like the banking at Phoenix International at all. She remembers turning the wheel and nothing happening! She made a big adjustment as a result.

Secondly, when Tom Pumpelly and raced Elden FF (another SWB car) with Bridgestone Tire sponsorship, in our youthful ignorance, we tried to use Bridgestone street tires, as a result I had a very scary accident at Mosport where I spun in front of another competitor on that tricky esses before the pit straight. He landed onto of my car, but not my head. The next week we rubbed of the Goodyear logos on some slicks and never looked back.

So my experience with SWB race cars has not been good, they are very unforgiving.

Therefore, I humbly submit my 3 causes...SWB, tires that were way in over their abilities and an areo design
that caused front end lift that reduced front end grip.

Lastly, MT butt was on the line because he had talked Ford into a lot AND he felt he had to deliver. As for Dave look how his future would have unfolded if he got a good "Ford" finish!

#54 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 16:36

At times there seems to be more of the 21st Century abhorrance of anything remotely smacking of risk talking and thereby tuning out the Zeitgeist of 1964 when there was a very, very long line of eager and willing racers ready to drive anything just to make The Show at Indy....

Dave brings up some very good points, all of which feed into why I am convinced that it was a combination of reason that led to the crash.

I am in agreement with McGuire and Buford on this as far as what is, perhaps, at the core of those reasons.

The picture is of a car in the 1962 configuration, just look at the tires....

#55 HistoricMustang

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 19:57

Does anyone have contact with the Indy "house" mechanics from this time period? Perhaps someone who was around the after accident activities that may now be willing to comment on the crashed race car. Perhaps contact with another less known driver that has not staked his reputation on printed quotes over four decades old? It is my understanding that Eddie Johnson may have had a similar take on the mechanical aspects of the accident but he perished in 1970 (?) in an airplane crash. Is anyone close to that family?

We are still digging up new information from the Kennedy assassination, surely we can do some additional research and discover something a little newer than 40 year old news.

Henry

#56 FLB

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 20:02

There are some quotes from a Thompson mechanic in Dave Friedman's Indianapolis Racing Memories: 1960-1969.

#57 HistoricMustang

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 20:06

Don, give them time to cycle and then please check your PM's.

Henry

#58 McGuire

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 20:25

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps
The picture is of a car in the 1962 configuration, just look at the tires....


Quite right. Another obvious tell: the engine is a Buick. In '63 M/T ran Chevrolet engines.

#59 HistoricMustang

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 20:30

Originally posted by FLB
There are some quotes from a Thompson mechanic in Dave Friedman's Indianapolis Racing Memories: 1960-1969.


Can someone paraphrase these as I do not have this copy.

Henry

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#60 David M. Kane

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 22:24

Henry:

I doubt there is anything else to know IMO. Call Donald Davidson, the Track Historian, he is very accessible
and very easy to talk to. Eliminate the middle man and go for a direct answer from someone who probably knows the answer AND will surely know who is around for you to talk to. When we called him about the 1964 Autograph Official Program the Speedway we have, they put him straight on the phone. All you've got to do is plan the call and prepare your questions. You can do that can't ya?

#61 Tom Glowacki

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 00:35

Originally posted by HistoricMustang
Don, give them time to cycle and then please check your PM's.

Henry


P.68: "In 1964, those cars should have been withdrawn after the first few days of practice. Because of the new 15 - inch tire rule, we were forced to run the larger wheels and tires and this situation made our bad handling even worse. We had a revolving door of drivers all month and as soon as one driver would get in the car, another would get out. Mickey knew the problems but his ego got in the way."

#62 ovfi

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 02:34

Henry,

I think I've found a part that can be pointed as the primary cause of the car instability: the titanium chassis.

Let me explain: when I read David Kane's post about his and his wife's car instability I remembered a similar case occurred with me, but I solved it increasing the torsional rigidity of the chassis, not the wheelbase (for instance, the wheelbase of Thompson's car was 96 inches, the same as the other cars, including the roadsters and the Lotus).

So I made a search for the specifications of the Thompson chassis, found a photo of the 1963 chassis which is supposed to be structurally the same as the 1964, only suspension had been modified for the 15 inches wheels, and confirmed that its material was tiny titanium tubes.

The torsional rigidity of a chassis depends on the inertia momentum obtained by its design and the elasticity modulus of the material (Young modulus). Since titanium has an Young modulus much lower than steel (I don't remember exactly, but it's about 40% lower, although its tensile strength is bigger than steel, but it only means that titanium supports a bigger tension without breaking) this titanium chassis had much less torsional rigidity than a similar one made out of steel. The torsional rigidity reflects the capability of the chassis to act as a torsion spring as the car enters a corner. When the chassis is "stiff", its suspension works in a highly predictable way because the chassis didn't twist, but when it is "flexible" good suspension adjustments are extremely difficult to find, because the vibration frequencies of the twisting chassis adds or removes unpredictable forces on the wheels.

On this case, using the '63 chassis with bigger wheels and a much more powerful engine, things worsened a lot: bigger wheels and power adds torsional momentum on the corners.
To maintain the same cornering behavior as they had in 1963 (said to be not so good) they needed a stiffer chassis, but probably this was never suspected. If this was the case, the titanium chassis was the primary cause of the bad handling, and the search for aerodynamic solutions could only minimize, but not solve the handling problems.

There are many examples of cars which were supposed to be top performers, but the lack of torsional stiffness in their chassis spoiled their reputation: I remember the Bill Thomas Cheetah and Colin Chapman's Lotus 30 and 40 (said to be the 30 with 10 more mistakes) in this case.

#63 Buford

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 02:42

The car Masten crashed early in the month in the photo posted above was the titanium car. Not sure what that meant as far as components vs the rest of the cars but that one was the most expensive car and the one Thompson had high hopes for. Mac Donald's car was not the number one team car but it was the new model, not one of the 63's, or 62 also in the fleet. But I don't know if it had titanium or not.

#64 ovfi

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 05:00

Buford

I think the possibility remains even in the case of a steel chassis: the main clues for me were David Kane's stories, added to the new 15 inch tire modification with more horsepower on it, making "our bad handling even worse" as said by the Thompson mechanic. This can be caused by lack of chassis stiffness. Obviously, the titanium make the things even worse, but the symptoms were the main reason I began to think of that.

Mac Donald was one of my idols at the time, his death was a huge loss for me, but I can't blame Mickey Thompson for it. I think is perfect your conclusion :

A bad dangerous car driven by a young hot shot who ignored Jim Clark's warning, "Get out of that car mate. just walk away" and paid the ultimate price.



#65 Buford

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 05:06

Yeah I don't blame Thompson either. Nobody put a gun to your head to get in one of those things and if his cars were dangerous in 1964, what were all the other cars? Not dangerous? The Yunick sidecar was there in 1964 too. Now that was safe!

#66 ovfi

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 05:32

That's it. He took the risks. He started in 14th, fell to 15 or 16 on start and passed 5 or 6 cars on one lap (he was in 10th place when he crashed). Spectacular, but fatal . I would like to know what happened in detail, if possible. That's why I'm here.

#67 Henri Greuter

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 07:16

Yesterday I have watched over the First Turn Productions DVD "The Roadster's last victory" another time, it's about the 1964 race and it contains never seen footage of the accident. Granted: they are home movie fragments made by spectators thus the quality is not crisp as seen on other reports of the race. But the scenes are more than good enough to realize how horrible it was.
It is also frightening to see what happened to Duman when he was out of his car.
Any statement that the burns on either McDonald and/or Sachs were not that bad....
Sigh.

The footage did not show the moment when McDonald lost control and/or how.
But I must backtrack on my earlier comments about turbulence because of the field being so bunched up at the time. The first cars were so much ahead by that time (much more than I thought they were) and the field stretched out by now that the turbulence can't have been as bad as I thought it would be.
Ray Bell, you were right and I want to acknowledge that here.

Henri

#68 HistoricMustang

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 09:20

Ok here is the scene.

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

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

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

Thanks again to all!

Henry

#69 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 10:35

Originally posted by HistoricMustang
Ok here is the scene.

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

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

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

Thanks again to all!

Henry


Henry,

I am sorry, but I am at a loss here. You seem to be clearly implying that the cause of the crash being called "driver error" is due to all those factors that you listed? That any mechanical or design failure or other reasons that may have contributed to the crash were deliberately ignored/disregarded/whatever due to those involved? That to protect the interests of those listed, MacDonald was made a "patsy" with the cause being primarily due to "driver error," which would let those listed off the hook? I just want to make sure that I understand your contention since that is what seems to be what I am reading.

Or am I missing something?

Don

#70 McGuire

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 12:48

Originally posted by HistoricMustang
Ok here is the scene.

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

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

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

Thanks again to all!

Henry


Well, you can see the obvious logical problem there. The involvement of America's premier track, large oil company, big retailer, huge auto mfg'er, etc and so forth, don't preclude (or prevent) driver error on the first lap. Neither here nor there.

Here I use the term "driver error" somewhat broadly, as MacDonald's key mistake may well have been taking that ride in the first place. By all accounts it was an evil-handling pig, and that was on a low fuel load running by itself. God knows what it was like on full tanks awash in the turbulence of 32 other cars. We do know he lost it, spun, hit the inside wall and then Hell began. We don't know there was any parts breakage involved; there is no evidence for that. And we don't need any broken parts to understand or explain what happened.

We seem to be starting from the perspective that the standard explanation is not complicated enough, and that powerful interests must have something to hide. No offense, but that is exactly how conspiracy theories are born.

#71 David M. Kane

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 13:06

Henry one more time, are you listening? Call Donald Davidson, he more information than any of us. :eek:

!964 was the 1st year Donald worked at the track assisting the National Radio Broadcast with his historical data. He was in the Pagoda, the media and communication center for the whole facility. My friend and I found this out when he called him to see if he was interested in buying an Official Indy 500 Program signed by all 33 drivers. Brian and Donald talked for almost 30-minutes.

Johnny Rutherford was involved in the accident do you want to know how to reach him?

#72 Buford

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 18:28

I was around the sport then, yes only a teenager, but I knew all the people because my dad was a first class smooozer and hanger on and amateur photographer, who had contacts and credibility from having been a successful stock car owner. Everybody was shocked by this. Even among hardened grizzled insiders of the sport and veteran casket carriers, we were shocked. This was just beyond comprehension this crash. There was no cover up conspiracy. We could see what happened, it in hindsight was predestined. I will quote myself.

Everybody at the time felt the car simply got squirrelly on him and he lost it. Pure and simple.



#73 David M. Kane

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 18:37

HistoricMustang:

Check your PM, I sent you Johnny Rutherford's phone number in Fort Worth.

#74 HistoricMustang

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 19:40

Thanks Dave and you have a reply and an explanation.

To the other members. Something IRONIC is going on here.

Why at this point in time (dated August 17, 2007)

http://mvn.com:80/ir...r-indycar-2011/

Please keep digging and please keep sending me information via the forum or e-mail.

Henry

#75 HistoricMustang

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 19:46

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Henry one more time, are you listening? Call Donald Davidson, he more information than any of us. :eek:


Thanks Dave and we will just as soon as a minute is freed up. A lot going on about this that is not appearing here at TNF! :wave:

Henry

#76 Buford

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 19:51

Why at this point in time? Because Tony George is an IDIOT. To let them run a photo of probably the most infamous evil death car in Indy history as an example of good design to be emulated by today's young designers is still another example of the drug burnout management mentality at 16th and Georgetown that has destroyed American open wheel racing in the last decade.

#77 HistoricMustang

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 19:57

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps


Henry,

I am sorry, but I am at a loss here. You seem to be clearly implying that the cause of the crash being called "driver error" is due to all those factors that you listed? That any mechanical or design failure or other reasons that may have contributed to the crash were deliberately ignored/disregarded/whatever due to those involved? That to protect the interests of those listed, MacDonald was made a "patsy" with the cause being primarily due to "driver error," which would let those listed off the hook? I just want to make sure that I understand your contention since that is what seems to be what I am reading.

Or am I missing something?

Don


I am not implying anything. Just setting the scene in 1960's America. A lot could have been lost had the story been a little different.

Don, you are certainly welcomed to your opinions as are others. I do not believe the intent of this forum is for everyone to be singing out the same music which is exactly what has happened in this horrific situation for many, many years.

I am going to step away for a period of time.

Cheers.

Henry

#78 David M. Kane

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 20:16

I seem to recall that there are two chapters on this race in Michael Argetsinger's book on Walt Hansgen if anyone has their copy handy. Walt was the car in front of Eddie Sachs at the time of the crash.

#79 FLB

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 20:44

Originally posted by Buford
Why at this point in time? Because Tony George is an IDIOT. To let them run a photo of probably the most infamous evil death car in Indy history as an example of good design to be emulated by today's young designers is still another example of the drug burnout management mentality at 16th and Georgetown that has destroyed American open wheel racing in the last decade.

Buford, I do not get the impression that the link posted by Henry is officially from the IRL in any way, shape or form. However, I do get the impression that the blogger/'journalist'/web editor who put it there has no idea what that car represents.

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#80 Buford

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 21:23

Originally posted by HistoricMustang


Don, you are certainly welcomed to your opinions as are others. I do not believe the intent of this forum is for everyone to be singing out the same music which is exactly what has happened in this horrific situation for many, many years.

Cheers.

Henry


What are you talking about? Everyone singing the same music? Do you really think the racing world of 1964 was one big happy family that was inclined to a group hug mentality to cover up the truth due to influence from corporate America? What is it about Masten Gregory's warnings to other drivers in the preceding weeks do you not understand? What about Jim Clark's following MacDonald into the pits on carb day and getting out behind his car and walking up to the cockpit and saying "Get out of that car mate. Just walk away" do you not understand? Some of racings all time greats, Jim Clark, Masten Gregory, Jack Brabham all knew this was going to happen before it happened. A rookie driver in his first oval race driving an evil car and simply losing control, just as Gregory had 3 weeks before. This isn't some conspiracy to hide the truth. All the evidence is in. He lost control of a piece of crap.

As for the design competition, several weeks ago when I first saw this, the IRL website did have the Mac Donald car on a similar article when they announced this design affiliation. This article linked to is a mirror of that press release or very similar. However that no longer appears on the website. Apparently somebody came to their senses. Probably Donald Davidson noticed what some yahoo had put out and got it corrected. May not be Tony George's fault directly and I assume he got it corrected or Davidson did but after it went out to the press. Some youngster in the PR department was probably looking through photos and thought,. OK there is a cool design. Why can't they look cool like that anymore?

#81 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 22:49

Once again, I am at a bit of a loss on this. It was a terrible that happened that day and it happened in front thousands upon thousands of people in the stands -- as well as those watching it on the closed circuit broadcasts all over the USA. I was sitting in the Township Auditorum in Columbia, SC and you could literally hear a pin drop when we realized just what had happened. As a big Dave MacDonald fan and someone who just liked the heck out of Eddie Sachs, it was really a very, very bad day for me and many others.

As I mentioned earlier, I spent considerable time looking into the crash not that long ago. There were no end of problems in the aftermath of the crash, most of which have been mentioned here. Those were the things that were really upsetting as I looked into things. Nothing is inevitable, but that Thompson car was an evil piece of racing machinery and it would have been a wonder had it gotten through the race in one piece. Masten Gregory was very fortunate to walk away from his crash -- had it been similar to that of MacDonald's ol' Masten would have probably suffered the same terrible fate.

If there is something that all of us here at TNF have somehow missed or some point that we have overlooked, some new information that has either come to light or was withheld -- or surpressed -- then it would good to be pointed in that direction. I don't think that many of us here could easily be cast as mouth-pieces for the corporate world or easily misled. More than a few of us have looked at this whole situation independently of each other and we have found ourselves in general agreement on this. That in and of itself should be a tell-tell sign of something since we almost never do that unless there is good and rational reasons for it.

I had not given the crash very close scrutiny until my research led me in that direction. Reading the contemporary accounts, those in the following weeks and months, and then those much later, there was a consensus that was difficult to dismiss as being part of a cover-up or that other factors may have been involved, such as a mechanical failure, prior to the crash leading to the tragedy. Nothing is impossible, but the probability is rather low.

Jeez Louise, if there is anyone who comes off as the person to cast long, hard look at, it is Mickey Thompson, not Dave MacDonald. With the Speedway getting the second long-look for its handling of the aftermath, although it is doubtful that any other track could or would have done much different.

I am sorry that you are upset, Henry, I truly am, but in the absence of any other information than what we -- including Donald Davidson -- have gathered, I am at a loss as to wonder what other conclusions we can or coiuld come to? Remember, as I mentioned, as a group we are not hesitant to challenge the Conventional Wisdom of things, nor afraid to state some unpleasant facts and truths. That has not happened here -- as of yet.

#82 Tom Glowacki

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 23:24

Originally posted by HistoricMustang
Ok here is the scene.

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

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

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

Thanks again to all!

Henry


Henry,

Just because you don't want to believe the obvious does not mean there's a conspiracy out there. Let's see,
Indy wants to cover up the death of a rookie from the sports car ranks when just a few years earlier, Tony Bettenshausen, one of the all-time Indy greats died in a crash there? A car powered by an engine from "one of the world's largest car Manufacturers ", running on tires from a "very large tire manufacturer", with "a very large oil company" sponsor, what are you talking about, here? Bobby Marshman's fatal crash later that year, a crash that has generally been attibuted to problems with the Ford designed throttle linkage? Someone was covering for Allstate the very year that Darel Dieringer died while testing Goodyear's safety tube tires?

Next thing, you're going to post a picture of Mickey Thompson on the grassy knoll.

#83 Jim Thurman

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 23:53

I think everyone needs to step back and chill out as it's taken on a life I believe away from it's original intent and purpose and is heading towards RC territory.

First, Henry can correct me, but I believe he was simply trying to find out if there was any reason other than "driver error". Is this correct Henry?

Henry, if you don't mind me asking, is this on your own or were the MacDonald family involved in any way?

Buford, as FLB writes, I can't blame the IRL or Speed for the poor choice of photos (notice it's credited to Speed.com as well, probably simply for where the photo appears).

Much as I understand your vehement hatred of Tony George, and as much as I loathe it, I must be fair even to him and say your last sentence is the likely scenario. Someone who didn't know any better simply saw the photo and thought "man, what a cool looking car". Since few folks involved in any of the media entities controlling racing have any historical background, this happens all the time.

It's hardly on a par with whoever the boob was on The History Channel who wrote copy that indicated "drivers Eddie Sacks (sic) and Dave McDonald (sic) escaped injury" in the "1957 (sic)" wreck at Indianapolis.

#84 ovfi

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 00:01

I've found this link on Tam's website, it's a movie about '63 Times GP showing a wonderful 4-wheel drift, which was Mac Donald's trademark.

What a skilled driver he was!

http://www.tamsoldra...deoRivGP63.html

#85 Jim Thurman

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 00:19

Wow, two more just in the time composing my last reply.

First, Don, I think Henry is questioning Mickey Thompson, not Dave MacDonald.

A couple of corrections here. Buford, Dave MacDonald wasn't in his first oval race, having run three NASCAR Grand National races at Daytona and Atlanta. And, yeah I know, running a big old boat hardly prepares one for Indy. I realize it might as well have been his "first oval" race, but it wasn't.

Tom, make that Billy Wade that died doing the Goodyear tire testing (and for that matter Jimmy Pardue), Darel Dieringer survived the tire tests.

If I could add my own couple of things to consider and Buford in particular could add to this, has anyone considered what might have happened to Dave MacDonald if he had "just walked away"?. Buford can tell you all to well what kind of labels were applied to guys that stepped away - even from shitboxes. Perhaps MacDonald thought it could impact his career?

And do not rule out pressure from Ford. Look what happened to several of their Stock Car drivers within the next couple of years. Some of them did walk away, citing pressure from the tire company wars, but it is interesting that it only seemed to be Ford factory drivers.

MacDonald was, IIRC, the youngest rookie in the 500 in '64, which at 27 or 28 shows the difference compared to today. And, no I am not implying anything with this last point. Before anyone misconstrues, I offer it only as an unrelated factual tidbit.

This is not grassy knoll talk, just a couple of items to consider and, hopefully, discuss.

#86 Buford

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 00:22

They showed more of that video at the Riverside reunion in L.A. at the Peterson Museum 3 or 4 years ago. Everybody was gasping at MacDonald's tail hung out style. But that can get you killed at Indy.

#87 Jim Thurman

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 00:24

I feel strange posting this without him being here, but here is what Len Sutton posted at another forum:

"I definatly disagree with Mickey on his assesment [excuse] for his cars performance with a tire change. As I remember his cars, with the low profile, his cars were competitive but not outstanding. When he changed to the traditional size tire he was competitive but not outstanding. At the start of that race, Dave MacDonald started 14th behind me[qual 151.4], I started 8th [153,8] and he drives by me going into the third turn on the second lap of the race.He wasn't doing that bad with those "higher" profile tires. He was just driving a little over his head in the opening stages of a race, with a full fuel load. Bad handling was not the cause of that fatal accident."

#88 Buford

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 00:37

Thanks Jim I didn't know he had driven ovals before. What would happen if he just walked away? Well the oval racers would have criticized him as just another hand kissing pussy road racer boy and not a real man that's for sure. But he would have still undoubtedly had a good road racing career with the Ford GTs or Cobras and maybe come back to Indy in the future in a better car.

Chris Amon walked away from Indy but he had a F1 career so he didn't really care what the USAC rednecks thought. But I do think, driving it despite warnings would have been easier than walking away... psychologically. He thought he could handle it. Eddie Johnson did. Maybe he shouldn't have been trying to win the race on the second lap? I don't think it was mechanical failure. As mentioned above, when Bettenhausen died, they said a bolt fell out. They always announced if something broke that caused an accident if that was discovered.

Thompson was no Indy insider to cover up for. The hard core USAC types would have liked nothing more than to discredit him if they could. They hated his cars and they got vindication of their beliefs. It didn't have to break to confirm to them these "funny cars" were unsafe and not real racing cars. Dave just lost it, I am convinced of that. No shame in that. The car sucked. But he lost it and it was his job to walk away, or not lose it on the second lap, or any lap. He didn't walk away and he didn't keep it under control. Two mistakes.

#89 ovfi

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 00:54

At the start of that race, Dave MacDonald started 14th behind me[qual 151.4], I started 8th [153,8] and he drives by me going into the third turn on the second lap of the race.


If he passed Sutton going by turn#3 then, in sequence, he passed Branson between turns#3 and #4, because when he lost control he was ahead of Branson, as showed by Walter Zoomie's second photo.
He was really flying!

#90 McGuire

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 04:00

Originally posted by Walter Zoomie


http://albums.photo....1180&p=62936869


Shifting gears a bit... this photo first caught my eye due to the exhaust configuration on the DOHC Ford...straight manifolds rather than the 180 degree snake headers... then I noticed this car is totally different from the '62 and '63 M/T chassis as typically shown in period photos. Looks rather Lotus-y. The man crouching on the far side looks like he could possibly be MT, perhaps not. Can anyone shed some light?

#91 ovfi

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 04:28

McGuire, it looks like Bobby Marshman's Lotus... see the following pictures until photo 63 on the same website.
Maybe someone made a mistake when labeling the photos

#92 McGuire

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 05:09

Yep, I'm sure you nailed it, good eye.

...I only looked at the linked photos, didn't go through the whole album. My loss, I missed a lot! Great photos.

There are some interesting shots of the M/T cars... photos 59 and 60: the #82 car seems to sporting an interim nosepiece that is sort of halfway between the '63 and '64 bodywork, while the #83 is wearing the more conventional '63-type nose. The rest of the bodywork on both cars appear to be the '63 pieces.

#93 ovfi

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 05:30

According to magazine reports at the time, Thompson blamed the 15 inch wheels for spoiling the aerodynamics of the car, so they tried many alternatives, including full fenders which were finally cut out (there are photos of it on the same website)... they minimized the problems adding two vents on the front hood. After learning more about the accident in this thread, I'm suspecting the 15 inch wheel worsened chassis' behavior due to an insufficient torsional stiffness, which could be the main cause of the bad handling reported by many drivers, who drove or saw it on the track.

#94 ovfi

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 06:21

Here is the link to the photo with full fenders, which was the worst handling configuration they had

http://albums.photo....7376&p=60779329

#95 Ray Bell

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 09:22

Undoubtedly in this instance 'spoiling the aerodynamics' would refer to making the car slower in a straight line... not destabilising it in the corners...

#96 Walter Zoomie

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 11:07

Originally posted by ovfi
...it looks like Bobby Marshman's Lotus...Maybe someone made a mistake when labeling the photos


It happens! ;)

#97 McGuire

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 11:32

Originally posted by ovfi
According to magazine reports at the time, Thompson blamed the 15 inch wheels for spoiling the aerodynamics of the car, so they tried many alternatives, including full fenders which were finally cut out (there are photos of it on the same website)... they minimized the problems adding two vents on the front hood. After learning more about the accident in this thread, I'm suspecting the 15 inch wheel worsened chassis' behavior due to an insufficient torsional stiffness, which could be the main cause of the bad handling reported by many drivers, who drove or saw it on the track.


It's all relative of couse, but I would assume that changing from the wide 12" to the conventional 15" inch wheels would tend to reduce rather than increase the torsional loadings. Also, with narow tires and very little aero downforce, torsional rigidity was not the huge issue it would later become. But again, it's all relative. Race cars are designed to operate in a narrow window and if the window is shifted 3" to one side, nothing may no longer align as intended.

Also, one of the cars used a titanium tube space frame, and one tends to be skeptical that was pulled off successfully given the resources and knowledge available at the time. For the titanium version, photos show a tubular space frame of more or less conventional dimensions and proportions, and I just don't about that. Seems unlikely it could be as rigid as its steel tubing counterpart.

I am mainly concerned with the 3" change in wheel diameter in its effect on ride height and suspension geometry. It's not likely this considerable change could be corrected back to nominal with the chassis' normal range of adjustments, while the camber and toe curves would be severely altered in the process. Also, the cars ran halfshafts both front and rear to accommodate inboard brake rotors (made necessary by the tiny 12" wheels) and they would have to be straightened out as well. Basically, I presume one would have to saw all the suspension hard points off the chassis and then fabricate and weld on new mountings 1.5" higher on the chassis. At that point one may as well scrap the space frame and start over -- it would probably be easier. I don't know if that was done or not, or really what was done to accommodate the unanticipated change. It has been often reported that the 1964 cars were the 1963 cars, simply reskinned. Is that strictly true? I don't know. Many questions...

#98 McGuire

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 11:38

Originally posted by Walter Zoomie


It happens! ;)


Small potatoes... that is an absolutely wonderful album, thanks for sharing it.

There were some great shots of the old garages at the Speedway... set me to thinking: too bad nobody had the foresight back in the '80s to recognize a golden opportunity. Of course the new garages were necessary, for safety reasons if nothing else. But with perfect hindsight I ask: what if the new garages had been built over where the Pagoda Pavilion is now, and the old garages were left standing and then rebuilt and renovated as hospitality suites? How cool would that be?

#99 HistoricMustang

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 12:56

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps
I am sorry that you are upset, Henry, I truly am, but in the absence of any other information than what we -- including Donald Davidson -- have gathered, I am at a loss as to wonder what other conclusions we can or coiuld come to? Remember, as I mentioned, as a group we are not hesitant to challenge the Conventional Wisdom of things, nor afraid to state some unpleasant facts and truths. That has not happened here -- as of yet.


Don, I am not upset.

This was either a very good driver in a very poor car or there may be additional information that can be discovered (not uncovered) if we dig.

It is as simple as that and please re-read my PM.

Henry

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#100 Jerry Entin

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Posted 18 August 2007 - 12:59

In 1998 Willem Oosthoek interviewed Billy Krause, a racer whose driving style was not unlike Dave MacDonald's: road racing on the edge, with much four-wheel drifting. One of the subjects discussed was Indianapolis 1963, where Krause was entered in one of the Thompson cars. Krause recalled:
"The Indy cars constructed by Mickey had those little controversial 12-inch wheels and we tested them at a Firestone test track in Texas, a 7-mile oval in the middle of the desert. But that track did not offer enough high friction, so we couldn't find out much about the adhesion and handling characteristics of those tires. Firestone was nervous about their use and made real hard rubber compounds for them. It showed! When they let go during practice at Indy, there was no warning. When I spun the car, I had no clue. It was just gone, no traction. Usually you have a little warning, but it was zero. I was straight and I was sideways. I spun in turn 1 and ended up in turn 2, never touching the brakes. And I wouldn't have hit anything if Roger McCluskey's roadster hadn't run into me...
There was too much confusion in the team. Mickey had six cars entered. Three days in a row, when I was doing 200 mph on the back straightaway, the hot oil would come out and the wind would blow it in my face and goggles. I lost confidence. I didn't feel comfortable. I probably could have qualified the car, but I couldn't have driven it with 32 other guys, because I couldn't tell where it was going. So I decided to pack up and go home to California."
When asked if he had any regrets about his race career, Krause answered:
" Probably that I did not have more patience with Mickey Thompson at Indianapolis. With more time for development, we could have made a decent showing. On the other hand, Dave MacDonald, a good friend of mine, died in a similar car at Indy one year later. That could have been me."
It is clear that proper development never happened between 1963 and 1964. Unlike Krause, MacDonald's never acted upon his instincts or the warning signs during practice. Based on all eyewitness accounts, he acted as the charger he was on the opening lap. Sometimes charging hard with unpredictable equipment means you are in over your head, as was the case at Indianapolis in 1964.
all research Willem Oosthoek.