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The Mickey Thompson 'Sears Allstate Special' cars of 1964


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#951 TrackDog

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 23:26

Originally posted by R.W. Mackenzie
Here is a picture of the start of the race that I don't believe has been posted anywhere before:

Posted Image

The picture is scanned from "Racing Cars Racing Cars Racing Cars Racing Cars" by Richard Hough (published by Paul Hamlyn Ltd., London, 1966) which I got for Christmas in 1968. According to the acknowledgements at the back of the book the picture was provided by Peterson Publishing Company, Los Angeles, California and I'm sure this image remains their property. I don't have their permission to post it but I'm hoping that by giving the above credit I've covered any copyright concerns.

After I scanned the image I added the driver names in Microsoft Paint. (That's as sophisticated as I get.) The names are placed over the names I wrote in ink when I was a kid. (I had a habit I now regret of writing drivers' names on perfectly good pictures in perfectly good books not realizing how it would affect their future value and usefulness.)



ovfi,

Any chance you could scan and post thoase pictures?

Bob Mackenzie


The image shows MacDonald just behind Johnny Boyd in the #88; maybe this was the car he almost ran into.


Dan

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#952 TrackDog

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 23:38

Originally posted by ovfi
Here it is! I didn't added the names but I wrote them on post #23

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Posted Image


The second shot posted here was taken just a few seconds after the shot from post #158. You can see MacDonald still behind Boyd, with Duman moving up behind him. IIRC, the two of them got rather close later in the lap, and I always assumed that Duman's was the car Dave banged wheels with. Maybe not.

You can also see Sachs and Rutherford passing Dave on trhe outside; and you can plainly see Bobby Unser down on the apron.

it appears from the photographs that the start was fairly orderly. The field wasn't spread out in a ragged mess like it has been at the start of a lot of recent races.


Dan

#953 Henri Greuter

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 09:29

Originally posted by TrackDog



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



Dan,

The problem with the statements made by drivers about what happened is that (as is natable within this thread already) they made statements that were taken for granted ever since eventhough the facts proved them to be wrong: the 100 gallon fuel capacity that the cars involved were supposed to have being the most upsetting one.
Now I don't believe in a conspiracy that all drivers involved decided on putting the blame altogheter on Dave for whatever reason. But it is indeed telling that almost everyone isn't too positive on Dave's race as long at it lasted. On purpose, or simply because it is was indeed the undeniable reality.

Another point may well be how much press and what kind of press coverage there was before the accident. Was a lot about what happened before already being printed before the accident or not? For example, had Masten Gregory's comments being published before the accident? How many negative comments about what happened before the race were known and public before? These give, in my opinion a more objective view on the situation then the things told/written after may 30, 1964. By then it is always something of an afterthought, brought up because of....
By the way, this is no attack on everyone who critisized Dave after the accident. But Historic Mustang asks for objective research on this subject and I hereby give an idea about what I think to be more objective if it comes to negative comments about Dave by who-ever.
Many outspoken negative comments in print before the race carry much more credibility then when made after the race.

But it looks to me that in the aftermath too less of the truth has been published and made publc so the "legends" around the accident could live on. Probably because nobody cared too much about it, it didn't bring Eddie and/or Dave back, and their careers could not be resued anymore to their benefits, save for their memories. And the sooner this drama was forgotten or not mentioned anymore, the better. Now this additute may well have worked very much against, in particularly Dave.

I haven't seen the film mentioned by Russ, would like to see it. From the more unfamililar films I only saw the release by First Turn Productions. And somewhere, buried with this thread (when discussing the footage of this film) is my observation that, in one frame, as far as I can see, you can see a car almost breaking out and loose control. And when I have counted correctly, that was Dave's car that made the sidestep. And in that case...

I could not read the book but Pete Bryants but I finally saw it and flipped throught the section. I was surprised to see a picture of Dave's car after the accident and on first sight it appeared to be not is such a terrible shape for a car being T-boned by another car at high speed. I had expected much worse than that.




Henri

#954 TrackDog

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 16:36

Henri, I think I can understand where you're coming from. I think you're trying to say that a lot of the other drivers were basing their comments about Dave's driving on Gasoline Alley scuttlebutt regarding the problems the team had been having with the car all month long. It's kind of like the rumors floating around in 1967 about the STP turbine car being able to lap the track at 180 mph and not needing a pit stop for several thousand miles...the difference between the two situations is that the turbocar had a chance to dispel those rumors, and Dave didn't.

I also have only had a chance to glance at Peter Bryant's book; only being able to do a word search from the text at Amazon. I've learned that the handling problems with the car had been solved by stiffening the chassis and reworking the front suspension. Bryantr confirms that there was indeed a lot of 'bump steer" in the beginning. The car had a lot of oversteer at first, but was actually understeering by the time Bryant had worked it over. Dave wanted a little oversteer, according to Bryant, and some was dialed back in...Dave said he could do 160mph with that setup. He got to 155 on Carb Day.

I wonder if the Thompson effort shook up the establishment at Indy to a larger degree than has been documented in the press over the years...I've always felt that those 12 inch tires from 1963 really upset the apple cart, so to speak. There was no way a roadster could ever make use of them without a major suspension/axle redesign, but the rear-engine cars didn't have that problem. The 1964 cars were pretty radical with their enveloping bodywork and emphasis on aerodynamics...if they worked well, they'd render everything else even more obsolete. And, to top it all off, Thompson's drivers were road racers, not from the status quo.

There were a lot of eyes on Thompson, and when things didn't go so well from the start, a lot of people took notice. Thompson was a promoter by nature, and made some rather outlandish comments to bolster his image that the press jumped on. He drove his crew hard, as Bryant documents in his book; and if Mickey Thompson was a forceful man when things were going well, he must have been insufferable when things werre going badly. That didn't help his cause with the rest of the Gasoline Alley crowd or the press.

MacDonald was a bit of an unknown, also...as a road racer, he was known for his tails-out driving style. It worked very well for him in a Corvette or a Cobra on a road course, but Indy is the antithesis of that, with walls everywhere. In the race, Dave was doing several things that flew in the face of conventional INDY 500 wisdom...he was moving up at the start, when the field was still sorting itself out; and he was driving an oversteering car that was drifting through the turns. He wasn't giving way to the veterans, either...Rathmann and Boyd could attest to that. Dave was definitely racing on his terms, and many of the other drivers were at the very least surprised by that...and probably didn't have much of a way to compete with him, as long as the car held up.

The car might well have been much better than history has allowed it to be. Dave MacDonald's gameplan might have been more credible than his competitors would like to admit. It was a gamble, to be sure; and it might have paid off if only he and Walt Hansgen hadn't arrived at the same place at the same time.

It apparently isn't easy to root for Thompson, partly because of his personality and because he upset Indy's status quo. Dave MacDonald's legacy seems to be caught up in these factors, as well. Over the years, the press has emphasized Dave's tendency to dwell on the negative aspects of racing at Indy; the fact that he was a shy, introverted[almost to a fault, by some reports]and impressionable person who came alive behind the wheel has been largely overlooked.

And, nobody wants to dwell on what happenned at Indy in 1964...it was such a shock to everyone who saw or listened to the race; and even moreso when the pictures appeared in the papers and Life magazine. It's still hard to look at them today; and reading Peter Bryant's dsescription of the aftermath turned my stomach. So, I can see how those directly involved could harbor negative feelings toward those individuals they might see as perpetrators. This could have colored their perceptions and maybe even their memories of the event and what led up to it. I mean, they could have been killed, too...


There is probably some middle ground where the perceptions of the other drivers and what Dave MacDonald was trying to accomplish might meet...the car was probably more up to the task than it might have appeared to the rest of the Indy crowd, and Dave MacDonald was probably more in control of the situation than it might have appeared to his competitors. But, it wasn't the most prudent strategy to drive an oversteering car so quickly at the start of the world's biggest race on such a narrow track.


I didn't mean to demean Russ's assesment of what he saw on the film... I was just going by the prodigious amount of professional opinion that Dave MacDonald was driving over his head. I can see how that opinion might be colored by personal feelings.

There are two sides to every story, and unfortunately, Dave MacDonald can't speak for himself.

It would be so much easier for us all if he could...


Dan

#955 Flat Black

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 16:46

Lloyd Ruby sure looks out of shape in that top pic that TD posted.

PS--Sometimes in hindsight of an event such as this accident, people's minds play tricks on them. They recall seeing things they may not have really seen. This could explain many of the drivers' comments about MacDonald's driving prior to the crash. Likewise, once one commentator and then another create a common narrative, it is only human to fall in line with that narrative, no matter how inaccurate it may be. Then again, when so many drivers make statements that jibe so well, it is hard to just disregard them as tricks of the memory or as a lemming mentality. The point is, MacDonald's driving in the run-up to the crash is still a mystery. I would like to see Russ' video, though. Might help me make up my own mind.

#956 Buford

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 18:13

Originally posted by Henri Greuter

I was surprised to see a picture of Dave's car after the accident and on first sight it appeared to be not is such a terrible shape for a car being T-boned by another car at high speed. I had expected much worse than that.

Henri


Not sure what you were expecting but Mac Donald's car (right) looks pretty much a mess to me.

Posted Image
Posted Image

#957 TrackDog

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 19:08

He doesn't go into any specifics, but on pge 170, Peter Bryant states that Dave died of his injuries and burns; so there might be some truth to the statements regarding G forces and injuries in the Advocate article. And if Dave was injured, it's probably a safe bet that Sachs was, too.


Dan

#958 HistoricMustang

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 21:32

Originally posted by TrackDog
if only he and Walt Hansgen hadn't arrived at the same place at the same time.
Dan


Dan, 4 to 5 second into this video (repeated several times after) is the reason I was questioning movement of the Hangsen car in the overhead Dynamic Films video.

Russ indicated movement was not improper when viewed overhead. The movement (IMHO) is pretty obvious from this angle at ground level.

I accept the observation from Russ.

http://youtube.com/w...feature=related

This video has been placed numerous times in this thread.

Henry

#959 fines

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 21:36

What would be "improper" in this context?

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#960 HistoricMustang

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 22:15

Originally posted by fines
What would be "improper" in this context?


Blocking?

Henry

#961 Buford

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 22:23

Oh for Christ sake. Are you still also trying to contend that the fire was mostly blown away from Mac Donald and he would have been OK if that unaware Eddie Sachs hadn't run into him?

#962 ovfi

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 22:44

Hansgen was trying to pass Hurtubise, the same way as Dave was trying to pass Hansgen, which constrained Dave to steer a little more (this is a fact confirmed by images), but sufficient to lose rear wheel traction under the aerodynamic lift pulse that may be occurred when his car suddenly crossed the low/high air pressure threshold. It was a fatality, nobody can be blamed for what happened, Hansgen clearly didn't blocked Dave on purpose, he had to do it to not bump on Hurtubise, and the aerodynamics tricks were unknown at the time.
I would like to see aerodynamics tests to confirm that... I still think the aerodynamics was the most probable cause that sparked this tragedy.

#963 HistoricMustang

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Posted 26 July 2008 - 10:53

Originally posted by Buford
Oh for Christ sake. Are you still also trying to contend that the fire was mostly blown away from Mac Donald and he would have been OK if that unaware Eddie Sachs hadn't run into him?


There is a very real posibility that Dave did not injest large quantities of fuel until the second impact when his and Eddie's tanks exploded.

Henry

#964 ovfi

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Posted 26 July 2008 - 18:59

Originally posted by Johnny Mac
Posted Image


Henry, please click on the thumbnail and take a look at this image, taken 1/10th of second before Eddie T-boned Dave.

In my little experience as a retired sabbatic racing driver, I've the following conclusions:

1-You don't see what is happening behind huge flames, as showed in the picture.
2-If there isn't enough space to stop before the flames, you have to blind cross it in the area where the flames are smaller, and this is exactly what Eddie, Rutherford, Duman and Unser did, as showed in the picture.
3-Dave is totally engulfed by flames BEFORE Eddie hit his car, this meaning that there's no "real possibility that Dave did not injest large quantities of fuel until the second impact when his and Eddie's tanks exploded".

I believe Russ is right on his conclusions about the movie he purchased, it is probable that Dave wasn't driving imprudently and was only taking advantage of the occasional reduction of aerodynamical lift in the traffic, but didn't had tested it before, so he didn't knew he had to be extremely careful when exiting a speed stream, which led to the tragedy.
Sincerelly, I would like to see the results of aerodynamical tests of scale models with the correct Reynolds number. I think this is an interesting thesis for an University student, there are many Universities with 600 mph aerodynamical tunnels in the US, so it's only a matter of making the right contacts to put this to work.

#965 MPea3

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Posted 26 July 2008 - 19:47

Originally posted by HistoricMustang


There is a very real posibility that Dave did not injest large quantities of fuel until the second impact when his and Eddie's tanks exploded.

Henry


Not trying to be a jerk but just checking... I assume you mean breathing flames and not "injesting fuel"?

#966 Buford

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Posted 26 July 2008 - 20:00

As is quite clear in the photo, Mac Donald without Nomex would already have suffered fatal burns or been very close to it in the several seconds from inside wall impact to the point of collision with Sachs on the other side of the track. Look how nose-to-tail Sachs, Rutherford, and Duman were with only a small gap to Unser. They obviously were hard on the brakes and were trying to squeeze into the only area on the track not filled with smoke and flame to the right when the gap closed on them. Its too bad Eddie didn't have time to turn hard left and take his chances with the inside wall. But clearly the four closely following cars picked the only spot on the track where there was no fire and smoke and the instant before they got there it closed. MacDonald was gonna be dead regardless with a fire like that.Tragically he took Eddie with him.

#967 Flat Black

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Posted 26 July 2008 - 20:21

Yeah, I agree with Buford on this one. I mean, instantaneously after Mac's impact with the inside wall his car looks like a cigar covered in flame. With the primitive nature of fire suits in '64 Mac was doomed regardless of what happened after impact with the wall.

#968 HistoricMustang

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Posted 26 July 2008 - 21:15

Originally posted by ovfi

Henry, please click on the thumbnail and take a look at this image, taken 1/10th of second before Eddie T-boned Dave.


Yes, I see your point. Thanks! :up:

Henry

#969 TrackDog

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 16:19

Originally posted by HistoricMustang


There is a very real posibility that Dave did not injest large quantities of fuel until the second impact when his and Eddie's tanks exploded.

Henry


After reading Peter Bryant's description of Dave's condition post-crash, there might be some truth to this.

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

Bryant said that when he arrived on the crash scene, and he had to run about 1/2 mile to get there, Dave was still in the car, and his face was badly burned...Dave was almost unrecognizable. His nose was burned away. It would logically follow that the second explosion probably caused this trauma because it was much more violent and intense than the first one, and lasted longer. The car was barely moving at this time, as well. The damage to his lungs probably occurred as a result of this trauma, as gruesome as it is to think about...he breathed flames into his lungs through his nose from an explosion in his face.

The first explosion looks spectacular, but it's probably really a flash fire...there were droplets of gasoline and vapors sprayed over the car and driver, and they naturally burned; but the direction of the flames was toward the source, the left side mounted fuel tank, in a "wicking" action. It would seem that the major area of Dave's body receiving trauma at this point would be his back, neck and maybe the right side of his face.
His hands were also severely burned, as per a statement by Dr. Bob Raber in Denny Miller's book; he might not have been wearing driving gloves. Also, according to Raber, Sachs' uniform wasn't burned very badly; and burning gasoline splashed over his car, too...

In Dave's case, a lot of the flames from the first impact might be coming from the fiberglass body panels burning...only the right side panels were knocked off in the first impact with the wall.

Thompson always maintained that Dave would have lived if Sachs hadn't hit him.

There is a lot of truth to what Buford is saying...I don't mean to belittle that. Dave was in a world of hurt before Sachs hit him, and the real key to his survival would have been just how quickly the fire could have been extinguished and he could hve been extricated. His burns would have been life-threatening; but he might have survived them...he stayed in excellent physical condition.


Dan

#970 Henri Greuter

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 09:20

Originally posted by TrackDog
Henri, I think I can understand where you're coming from. I think you're trying to say that a lot of the other drivers were basing their comments about Dave's driving on Gasoline Alley scuttlebutt regarding the problems the team had been having with the car all month long. It's kind of like the rumors floating around in 1967 about the STP turbine car being able to lap the track at 180 mph and not needing a pit stop for several thousand miles...the difference between the two situations is that the turbocar had a chance to dispel those rumors, and Dave didn't.

SNIP


There are two sides to every story, and unfortunately, Dave MacDonald can't speak for himself.

It would be so much easier for us all if he could...


Dan



Dan,

I entirely agree with you on all of this. Most of it was also crossing my mind but you put in on the web better than I could. Thanks.

Henri

#971 Henri Greuter

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 09:32

Originally posted by Buford


Not sure what you were expecting but Mac Donald's car (right) looks pretty much a mess to me.

Posted Image
Posted Image



Buford,

Maybe someone who has the Bryant book wants to scan the pic on the page. (hmmm... copyrights?)
But as far as I could see, the car almost appeared as if still having a lot of stuff on the left side of the wreck, and that was the side Eddie went into.
Or maybe loose panels or whatever were put over it instead?
Anyway, I had expected much worse, much worse, also after having seen the pic you posted here at an earlier time already.

As for how well the cars got out of this disaster. I don't know if it is true but I recall having read something that the wreck of Sachs was actually used to re-create the car again in its 1964 shape?
I have seen a 1964 Sachs resembling Shrike at IMS museum once. But could they really use the original car for that?


Henri

#972 TrackDog

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 16:07

Ted Halibrand was quoted in Denny Miller's book EDDIE SACHS THE CLOWN PRINCE that the Shrike wasn't burned that badly, and that the front end and cockpit section were in the shop for "...A long time..." after the accident, but eventually, he lost track of it. He also stated that the cockpit wasn't damaged "...One iota..."; all the damage was to the leg compartment, which housed the radiator. This would be consistent with reports that Sachs sufferred a broken leg in the accident.

There were published reports that Sachs had a chest injury from hitting the steering wheel that were directly attributed to Halibrand; but in Miller's book, at least, Halibrand vigorously denied making any such statements.

One of Sach's boots was found in the car post-crash, and it wasn't even singed.

The Life photo of fire and rescue personnel reaching MacDonald's car, taken from the right side of the wreck, shows that the right front wheel was off the ground by a few inches. The aerial photo from Buford's post shows that Sachs must've hit Dave's car just behind the steering wheel, and evidently tried to "submarine" under it. This bent the frame and twisted it in the cockpit section. Also from Miller's book is a quote from Indy fire chief Cleon Reynolds stating that MacDonald's car had to be chopped apart before he could be extricated. This was accomplished, evidently from the right side of the car.

The Shrike held up a lot better than the Thompson car did; there was some warping of the front end skin from the heat, and the radiator was damaged. The right front tire was likely damaged when Chuck Stevenson hit Sach's car.

I've also heard the story that there is a Shrike out there somewhere that claims to be the car Eddie Sachs was killed in, but it's most likely a replica. The original was cut into two pieces, at least, by the Halibrand shop.


Dan

#973 Russ Snyder

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 18:22

Henry/Henri/Dan/FB/Fines/ovfi/Jim and anyone else adding recently to this thread.

The 1935-65 DVD "Roadster era" produced yet ANOTHER view of the crash with Mel Allen (the NY Yankee's baseball voice) narrating the sequence!

The shot is hand held from the stands and it is of the entire field coming around the 4th turn on lap 2. The camera stays on turn 4 as Clark/Marshman & co go by and you see Dave bobble and go into the wall, karoom back, and Eddie hits. It is from a distance, no close ups, but from what I can tell when I slow the DVD down...there is no blocking by Walt or a low dive by Dave. It simply looks...as my Dad always said: "he lost it for one reason or another"...

What are those reasons? ie fuel weight, aggressive driving, bad aero dynamics, a back end failure....tried to hard might be the easiest answer Dan, but it might not be the only answer?

Did something catastrophic happen to the right rear area due to: traffic + fuel weight x speed x turn?

I think that is one of the things that Henry has been questioning since day 1 on this thread...

One last bit from the Dynamic film - they show pre-race crashes/qualifying, and the Thompson cars are shown 3 times "losing it", once hard into the wall.... Dave is seen spinning a 360 and recovering nicely between turns 1 and 2. No traffic with that spin btw

#974 paulhooft

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 19:09

The 1935-65 DVD "Roadster era" produced yet ANOTHER view of the crash with Mel Allen (the NY Yankee's baseball voice) narrating the sequence!

.....
Is this the Wallen dvd or am I totaly mistaken and is there another one??
greetings from...
Another Flying Dutchman...
PcH

#975 Flat Black

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 19:23

Sounds like the Thompson cars were bears to handle throughout the Month of May. Of course, when you wipe out in the middle of a field of 33 the consequences can be slightly greater than when you're on the track by yourself or with only a few other cars. I somehow doubt that Eddie Johnson would have been able to keep his car on the track for the full 500 miles if he hadn't had the fuel pump problem.

#976 fines

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 19:37

Originally posted by TrackDog
The Shrike held up a lot better than the Thompson car did; there was some warping of the front end skin from the heat, and the radiator was damaged. The right front tire was likely damaged when Chuck Stevenson hit Sach's car.

THAT is something I've been trying to find out for a long time, without success so far: what was Stevenson's involvement with the accident? Did he actually hit Sachs??? When and how did THAT happen? And how did HE escape from the fire then???

#977 Flat Black

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 19:57

Yeah, those are good questions. Given the configuration of Mac and Sachs' cars after the crash, it is difficult to see how Stevenson could have banged into Sachs' right front without becoming hopelessly enmired in the mayhem.

#978 Russ Snyder

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 20:31

Originally posted by paulhooft
The 1935-65 DVD "Roadster era" produced yet ANOTHER view of the crash with Mel Allen (the NY Yankee's baseball voice) narrating the sequence!

.....
Is this the Wallen dvd or am I totaly mistaken and is there another one??
greetings from...
Another Flying Dutchman...
PcH


Greetings Paul


I am not sure if it is the same..but i can tell you it has scenes from every Indy 500 from Wilbur Shaws 1937 win to the 1965 pre-race festivities. It has a rare home movie scene of Shorty Cantlon hitting the wall fatally and spinning off Turn 1 in the 1947 race.

FB - I will re-watch tonight too see where Stevensons car was at the end. I believe he was #26 or #28 (no jack fox book at work, total memory here lol) That car is shown against the wall near where the collision happened. They show R Duman all bandaged up and being taken to a helicopter for further help. Norm hall and C Stevenson were not injured even tho their cars were kaput... as was JR and B Unser...pure luck they were not injured severly. just pure luck.

#979 Jim Thurman

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 20:50

Originally posted by fines

THAT is something I've been trying to find out for a long time, without success so far: what was Stevenson's involvement with the accident? Did he actually hit Sachs??? When and how did THAT happen? And how did HE escape from the fire then???

I don't know. I can't recall the path of his car from the film I saw many years ago (I believe it was one of the Champion Spark Plug films). But, IIRC, the film gave a rundown of those eliminated and injured and showed the drivers on screen. When they showed Stevenson, he looked even more glum than the others, had a cloth on his neck and was described as having suffered minor burns to his neck.

EDIT: I might have been thinking of Rutherford as far as the minor burns and cloth on his neck. Pretty tough trying to recall something I saw when I was 6 or 7 years old.

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#980 HistoricMustang

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 20:51

Originally posted by Flat Black
Yeah, those are good questions. Given the configuration of Mac and Sachs' cars after the crash, it is difficult to see how Stevenson could have banged into Sachs' right front without becoming hopelessly enmired in the mayhem.


This is a great photograph of what is about to take place. Perhaps it can help answer this question. It has been posted rather large for detail so perhaps someone, with more knowledge than I, can identify cars the cars in line.

It appears to me that Hangsen is making his pass.

Henry

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#981 Flat Black

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 20:57

According to Wiki, Stevenson drove #95, Russ.

PS--David Davis states that Rutherford's fuel tank was ruptured in the crash and the only thing that spared him a fate similar to Mac and Sachs is that he was running alcohol rather than gasoline.

#982 Jim Thurman

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 20:59

Originally posted by TrackDog
There are two sides to every story, and unfortunately, Dave MacDonald can't speak for himself.

It would be so much easier for us all if he could...

Even more unfortunately, and perhaps telling in some cases, if Dave MacDonald and Eddie Sachs would have survived, I doubt this thread would have even come up (at the very least it would not have had so many posts to it).

Walt Hansgen and Eddie Sachs can't speak for themselves either.

#983 Flat Black

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 21:03

That's probably true, Jim, but OTOH, the crash was so visually spectacular and had such profound implications for racing (even absent fatalities) that it still would have been historically significant, I believe, and would have elicited a lengthy thread on TNF.

#984 TrackDog

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 21:14

Originally posted by Russ Snyder


Greetings Paul


I am not sure if it is the same..but i can tell you it has scenes from every Indy 500 from Wilbur Shaws 1937 win to the 1965 pre-race festivities. It has a rare home movie scene of Shorty Cantlon hitting the wall fatally and spinning off Turn 1 in the 1947 race.

FB - I will re-watch tonight too see where Stevensons car was at the end. I believe he was #26 or #28 (no jack fox book at work, total memory here lol) That car is shown against the wall near where the collision happened. They show R Duman all bandaged up and being taken to a helicopter for further help. Norm hall and C Stevenson were not injured even tho their cars were kaput... as was JR and B Unser...pure luck they were not injured severly. just pure luck.


Stevenson finished 28th; his car # was 96, the Diet Rite Cola Special.


There are a couple of passages in Denny Miller's EDDIE SACHS THE CLOWN PRINCE that are very interesting; both concern Chuck Stevenson's role in the events of that day.


CHUCK STEVENSON---"I saw the explosion just as I was going into turn four. I saw the flames cover the track. I wanted to stop before I got to it but I knew I was going too fast. I thought if I stopped, I'd probably end up right in the middle of it. I picked a spot and went through. it was just blind luck that I made it. I couldn't see where I was going. I hit something on the track. Whatever it was, it broke my shock absorber bracket and brake drum. The paint blistered on the car."

That was what Stevenson said in public. Privately, he told a different story...as per race promoter Ted Hollingsworth...

TED HOLLINGSWORTH---" I think Chuck Stevenson, if you could get him to talk about it and he's only talked about it a couple of times that I know of, will tell you that he went over Sachs' wheel in the wreck. When he looked over, he saw Sachs struggling to get out of his race car. He was not dead on impact. Everybody was heavy on the brakes because they didn't know what they were getting into. Those guys went blind into that smoke."

both quotes are from page 545.

The Hollingsworth quote is the reason I don't believe that Eddie was killed instantly...Stevenson had a ringside seat to see him trying to get out of his car. I've always assumed that Chuck hit Eddie's right front wheel with his left front...Sachs was turning to the left when he hit Dave, and the rear end of his car lifted into the air upon impact. Rutherford hit Sachs' right rear tire, and this probably spun the #25 around counterclockwise. From there, I can't reconstruct anything...I don't know if anybody besides Stevenson hit Sachs or not. I doubt that Stevenson hit Sachs after the #25 stopped spinning, unless he went over the nose of the car, and I would think that there would be more damage to Eddie's car than there appears to be, if that were the case; maybe not.

I can't fault Stevenson for not wanting to talk about what he saw...he had been involved in another earlier crash that killed his best friend, Clay Smith; and Stevenson stopped driving open-wheeled cars for several years after that. His career was never the same.

Stevenson was credited with 2 laps, so he was able to get past the crash.


Dan

#985 TrackDog

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 21:36

Chuck drove the #95, not the 96...please excuse my clumsy fingers...


Dan

#986 HistoricMustang

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 22:22

Perhaps this should be added to our documentation?

http://greatestspect...urnal-1964.html

Henry

#987 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 00:22

I see that we are back into the Wisconsin Death Trip scenario. This is a reference to the book that resulted from Michael Lesy's Ph.D. dissertation for Rutgers in the early Seventies, I think it was 1973. It was one of those books that whatever its merits, made you want to strangle the newly-minted doctor for unleashing a host of imitators who not only missed the point of the photographs from Jackson County, Wisc., but focused their lenses do narrowly trying to out-do or replicate -- or whatever they were trying to do at the time -- what Lesy did that they lost sight of the bigger picture and the context. One of the few good things that resulted was that Otto Bettmann released The Good Old Days! There Were Terrible! which I assigned rather than the Lesy book.

#988 MPea3

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 01:37

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps
I see that we are back into the Wisconsin Death Trip scenario. This is a reference to the book that resulted from Michael Lesy's Ph.D. dissertation for Rutgers in the early Seventies, I think it was 1973. It was one of those books that whatever its merits, made you want to strangle the newly-minted doctor for unleashing a host of imitators who not only missed the point of the photographs from Jackson County, Wisc., but focused their lenses do narrowly trying to out-do or replicate -- or whatever they were trying to do at the time -- what Lesy did that they lost sight of the bigger picture and the context. One of the few good things that resulted was that Otto Bettmann released The Good Old Days! There Were Terrible! which I assigned rather than the Lesy book.


They even made a film from the book in 1999.

My concern with this thread is now doing the same. My fear is not that it's a search for the truth. I welcome that and whatever might be proven. I DO have a problem with phrases such as "I doubt that", "this probably spun", "I would think that", "it appears to me" and "I somehow doubt" having become where this thread now is. It has become a thread of conjecture and speculation as opposed to anything resembling research. There are a limited few on this forum who can be legitimately called historians, but how many here can we legitimately call forensic crash scientists? It would seem to take that to - at this point - really figure out any of the questions or speculation that can be raised. I'll also add that simply raising questions doesn't alter or change what we know, no matter how limited that is.

#989 Buford

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 02:47

Don is over my head here but my only concern having witnessed this crash with my own eyes with an unobstructed view from the front row of the paddock penthouse, is when people are saying or quoting that this or that wasn't burned very badly and this guy or that guy wouldn't have died if this or that. The fire was all away from him in the wind and all that malarkey. It's all total bullshit. It was a MASSIVE roaring fire for a long long time and they weren't even close to rescuing the drivers. It wasn't put out in 30 seconds. It took many many minutes to put out. It was totally unsurvivable for anybody in that fire past 10 seconds. Anybody who tries to say otherwise is full of crap. I saw it, I know. Our only question on the scene was how many were dead. We thought it could be 6 or 7... it was that big. Sounds horrible I know but two was actually a relief of sorts.

#990 TrackDog

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 03:22

Originally posted by MPea3


They even made a film from the book in 1999.

My concern with this thread is now doing the same. My fear is not that it's a search for the truth. I welcome that and whatever might be proven. I DO have a problem with phrases such as "I doubt that", "this probably spun", "I would think that", "it appears to me" and "I somehow doubt" having become where this thread now is. It has become a thread of conjecture and speculation as opposed to anything resembling research. There are a limited few on this forum who can be legitimately called historians, but how many here can we legitimately call forensic crash scientists? It would seem to take that to - at this point - really figure out any of the questions or speculation that can be raised. I'll also add that simply raising questions doesn't alter or change what we know, no matter how limited that is.



Well, I've already admitted that I'm at best an amateur historian, and I also admitted that i couldn't reconstruct the accident past Rutherford hitting Sachs' rear wheel. I figured that since Sachs had already veered left when he hit MacDonald, and Rutherford hit his right rear tire, that would probably spin Sachs around in the direction he was already going. From there, who knows? There was so much fire and smoke that it's almost impossible to tell.

I was trying to answer the question of how Chuck Stevenson's involvement in the crash might have affected the outcome to the best of my ability. The truth is, I don't know very much about that, and I tried to make it clear. I had access to a couple of relevant quotes, and I tried to put them into some kind of context, to try to add to the pursuit of the truth about what really happenned on May 30, 1964.

The best source to go to in this matter would be Chuck himself, and since that's no longer possible, we have to do the best we can with what knowledge we have. That's all I was trying to do.


I'm looking for the truth, too. I don't have the resources that some of the more established historians are blessed with; no real contacts in the racing world to fall back on. I feel frustrated, hamstrung and sometimes intimidated by my lack of knowledge compared to many of my fellow posters. I've written two articles for a small website, and that's the extent of my journalistic career. I came to this forum in order to do research for another article on this subject. There's so much drama and pathos to this story that it's crying out to be told; and even though many have tried, I've never really seen anybody truly do it justice. What I've really been doing from time-to-time is postulating, I guess...trying to find out from the rest of you if I have a clear picture of what really happenned.

So, I guess I'm investigating; that means I have to ask questions, and I have to hypothesize.


I hope you can bear with me.


Dan

#991 Henri Greuter

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 08:38

Originally posted by Buford
Don is over my head here but my only concern having witnessed this crash with my own eyes with an unobstructed view from the front row of the paddock penthouse, is when people are saying or quoting that this or that wasn't burned very badly and this guy or that guy wouldn't have died if this or that. The fire was all away from him in the wind and all that malarkey. It's all total bullshit. It was a MASSIVE roaring fire for a long long time and they weren't even close to rescuing the drivers. It wasn't put out in 30 seconds. It took many many minutes to put out. It was totally unsurvivable for anybody in that fire past 10 seconds. Anybody who tries to say otherwise is full of crap. I saw it, I know. Our only question on the scene was how many were dead. We thought it could be 6 or 7... it was that big. Sounds horrible I know but two was actually a relief of sorts.



Buford,

I certainly won't question your observations and impressions of the crash. From what I've seen of it on films and photos, I am also surprised that it `took only 2 drivers`.
If any of my comments ever gave you the impression I doubt the severety of the events, that isn't the case.
And I think that no-one who posted in this thread will deny it was a horrible accident with scenes not yet seen in the racing world for so many attendants and people worldwide.
Seeing it makes it clear that even the fact that McDonald was still alive when taken out of the wreck was a miracle in itself. But given what is known of his injuries, you may doubt if it was any sign of mercy for him to begin with and for these people who had to treat him.

But all of this makes it so strange that there are a number of observations about the cars having stood up to the fire (and in the case of the Shrike also for the impact itself) so well.
The picture in the Bryant book of Dave's car, I can't help it. It's my own impression but to me the wreck seems not that bad compared with what I expected from a car that had been involved in such an accident. But of course, I don't know what had been done with it before it was photographed.

But that the fire itself was not to survive for whoever got into it, given the time it took to put the flames out...
Like I said, it's a mystery how Dave could survive it to begin with. Maybe that is one of the reasons why the severity of the actual fire is doubted as well.
Personally, what concerns me the most of all about this fire is that this was a fire because of what can be estimated as being about 60 gallons of gasoline at the very most. And not the `at least 150 gallons` it was believed to be for such a long time since it was generally assumed both cars involved carried close to 100 gallons of fuel.
Had that been the case, and had both cars leaked all their fuel....
The accident as it was is a nightmare already....



Respectfully,

Henri

#992 HistoricMustang

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 09:18

Originally posted by TrackDog

So, I guess I'm investigating; that means I have to ask questions, and I have to hypothesize.

I hope you can bear with me.

Dan


Dan and others.

I also fall into this catagory.

Being just sixteen years of age at the time and having experiened the loss of two individual's I followed (the other being Glenn Roberts) in such a short time period has always left a void within me that needs (needed) to be filled. This thread and the bits of information, some new, that continue to come forward helps myself and others.

The burden carried by the families involved, for decades, must have been horrible. I know for a fact that one of the families is very, very appreciative of what has been brought forth in this thread. For that we should all feel pretty good. They lived with being told that a wild man took to the track and then killed himself and another. This group is proving that it is much more complicated than that.

I continue to say thanks.

Henry

#993 Henri Greuter

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 11:50

Quote by Buford

Don is over my head here but my only concern having witnessed this crash with my own eyes with an unobstructed view from the front row of the paddock penthouse, is when people are saying or quoting that this or that wasn't burned very badly and this guy or that guy wouldn't have died if this or that. The fire was all away from him in the wind and all that malarkey. It's all total bullshit. It was a MASSIVE roaring fire for a long long time and they weren't even close to rescuing the drivers. It wasn't put out in 30 seconds. It took many many minutes to put out. It was totally unsurvivable for anybody in that fire past 10 seconds. Anybody who tries to say otherwise is full of crap. I saw it, I know. Our only question on the scene was how many were dead. We thought it could be 6 or 7... it was that big. Sounds horrible I know but two was actually a relief of sorts.


Buford,
Going through this tread another time, on page 9, Post #324 reads this about the very same picture I referred to. But I must admit that when I made my comment about having seen this picture, I had forgotten about this quote. But I bring it up here for you so you can see that if it comes to this picture, I seem not to be the only one who felt the car wasn't looking so bad at all.

Respecfully,

Henri

Originally posted by Tom Glowacki
The new Peter Bryant book has an amazing picture of the McDonald car on page 171, back in the garage after the crash. The bodywork is gone, ripped away in the crash. The fuel cell, was ripped open when the body flew off, and the sparks set the whole thing off. The car is remarkably intact, three of the tires are visible in the picture and are not burned away. It's hard to say for sure, but the cockpit looks intact. The right front tire/wheel is either totally torn off, or close to it and the right rear is not in the picture.

He has no new theories to explain the crash, but talks at length about his attempts to fix the handling and the aerodynamics. It's not clear whether the three wheel steering made it into the race, but the car was built with it, and they tested the system before Indy.



#994 Russ Snyder

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 12:32

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps
I see that we are back into the Wisconsin Death Trip scenario. This is a reference to the book that resulted from Michael Lesy's Ph.D. dissertation for Rutgers in the early Seventies, I think it was 1973. It was one of those books that whatever its merits, made you want to strangle the newly-minted doctor for unleashing a host of imitators who not only missed the point of the photographs from Jackson County, Wisc., but focused their lenses do narrowly trying to out-do or replicate -- or whatever they were trying to do at the time -- what Lesy did that they lost sight of the bigger picture and the context. One of the few good things that resulted was that Otto Bettmann released The Good Old Days! There Were Terrible! which I assigned rather than the Lesy book.


Don

I was born into a family that enjoyed and embraced open wheel racing.

I was 6 months old when this accident happened.

I consider myself a fan, a historian and a seeker of answers.

The big picture - a terrible accident happened that claimed the lives of 2 men.

...and inside that big picture? a variety of questions imo.

You cannot fault some of us for talking this out ex post facto. As I said when I first came on this thread, this is one place where we can question and talk about this accident in a respectful tone. I hope you can understand that.

#995 Flat Black

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 14:39

Conjucture is part of history writing. Anybody who tells you otherwise is selling something.

#996 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 18:22

Conjucture is part of history writing. Anybody who tells you otherwise is selling something.


Conjecture is usually defined as "the information of an opinion without sufficient evidence for proof; to conclude or suppose evidence insufficient to ensure reliability."

This is why we require courses in historiography as part of the training in research for historians since conjecture is often confused with the notion of a thesis. Conjecture is, of course, part of history writing, but not necessarily the writing of good history. However, it does play a role as a means, rather than as an end -- which is often as far as such ideas get, when "war-gaming" or developing hypotheses to form a thesis.

Not trying to sell anything, just saying that I understand what FB is stating to be spot on when it comes to developing hypotheses and theses. Give credit where credit is due, this is a very good point and one that needs to be kept in mind.

The point in raising Lesy is that this very examination is part of the context of the incident. It certainly made an impression to those who experienced it, whether it was live, by watching the telecast (which was my case), from relatives who experienced it or simply reading about it later.

The incident itself has been given quite an examination here at TNF, one far more in depth than probably anywhere else since the days following its occurrance. Not given much discussion is the issue of context, how this incident fit into the "bigger picture." Given what happened to MacDonald and Sachs, why did there not occur a similar incident at the start of the 1966 event? Certainly the potential was there, but it never escalated beyond that point.

Also, at what point does the inquiry finally reach an asymtotic point?

#997 Russ Snyder

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 18:53

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps


Also, at what point does the inquiry finally reach an asymtotic point?



I am not sure in the minds of some that it will ever reach that point.

but, that said

I do understand the rational of your stance.

#998 Buford

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 23:09

Originally posted by Henri Greuter
I seem not to be the only one who felt the car wasn't looking so bad at all.

Respecfully,

Henri

[/B]



I guess it is a matter of what you expect. The young man in the story Historic Mustang linked said this...

"When the fire was finally put out, one of the tow trucks picked up McDonald’s car and drove through the pit area to the garage area. As the trucked passed in front of us, the race fans stared and moaned in disbelief at the remains of what was once No. 83, the MT Sears Allstate Special. I don’t think any of them had ever seen such a horrible mess."

I wish I had my photos and they were not in the Watkins Glen museum. We had pictures of both cars. The one that was much less damaged than you would expect was Sachs'. My dad had a close up when they were draining the tanks in the garage area afterwards with no covering on it. But Mac Donald's was a mess when they brought it by us. All blackened, noticeably bent, and just a bunch of frame pieces pointed in all directions.

Where we agree is the fact there was some form of life in Mac Donald for some time after the fire was out is actually beyond belief. Has anybody seen an estimate how long it took to put out the flames? None of the videos show more than about a minute and they weren't even hardly started. One guy on the outside of the wall was shooting through the fence at Mac Donald's car. My more than 40 year old recollection would say 10 minutes, but that may be long. Certainly it was longer than a boxing round and thats 3 minutes. I would say 7 to 10 minutes from recollection - but we all were in shock as it happened so I wouldn't want to testify in court to the time.

#999 ZOOOM

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 00:56

I have read this thread from start to finish. There has been talk of the cars having 40/60/100 gallons of gas, each, onboard. There has been a question about how only 80 gallons we now think were in the cars, could have allowed for such a big fire. I sat up in J the year Swede savage had his accident. I photographed the crash. The fire ball is about 1/2 the size of the McDonald/ Sachs fireball. Savage only had half the fuel that McDonald and Sachs had. It was alcohol, which suposedly doesn't burn as brightly as gas. I have never published the photo before. I have taken it off the wall and will scan it at the office tomorrow.
Just another piece of the puzzle.
ZOOOM

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#1000 Tom Glowacki

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 01:36

As the original poster of Post #324, and probably the only other member of this august Board, besides Col. Capps, to have a copy of "Wisconsin Death Trip" in the house, my wife's book, I have to make several responses.

First, The car had a single 44 gallon tank per Peter Bryant, not 80. End chat. Let's not re-visit that issue, we've had long discussions on that point, and the "one 44 gallon tank" theory is proven. Savage had about 75 gallons in his car, closer to twice McDonald's fuel load, not half of it.

Second, I posted the description of the picture from the Bryant book at #324 before seeing the aerial photo posted first at post #956 by Buford. Post # 324 shows a much straighter chassis than does #956, and with a fairly intact fuel tank. It would be interesting to have a better focused detailed close-up version of #956

Third, we're spending, as Col. Capps has pointed out, way too much time arguing over each other's adjectives. Bryant is content with Len Sutton's description of McDonald's driving: "McDonald was moving up through the field at a great rate, . . . and simply lost it". No purpose is served by arguing whether he was driving recklessly, he passed a number of cars in not quite two laps, and there is no evidence of mechancial failure or his having been hit by another car. Therefore, Bryant's simple, unadorned description seems to be the accurate one. Res ipsa loquitor as we say in the courtroom, the thing speaks for itself. A small mistake and maybe some bad judgment, that's all, even with the horrific consequences.