Originally posted by Flat Black
According to MacDonald's dad, however, Dave felt very uneasy about the car's handling going into the race, citing its tendency to "float and lift" in the turns. Caught up in the excitment of the first laps of his first 500, he may well have forgotten about that tendency, and with cataclysmic results.
Peter Bryant said in his book that the car oversteered severely at the beginning of the month; but over the course of practice and qualifying, they had actually engineered that out of the car, and it actually was understeering. Dave wanted a fair amount of oversteer, so some was dialed back in. By Carb Day, it was evidently performing to his liking. The phone call must've been made before this chassis change took place...both Bryant and Thompson have stated that Dave was happy with the car by Carb Day.
From what I've read on other websites concerning Dave's driving style, he was somewhat of a charger...if he could, he'd drive hard from the start of a race. He seemed to be comfortable driving at or close to the limit, moreso than a lot of other drivers. From what I've seen of the start of the '64 race, he was definitely driving aggressively; he almost ran into the back of Dick Rathmann at the start...that was what slowed him down enough for a couple of other cars to pass him.
I think that what other drivers were so critical about concerning Dave MacDonald was that he wasn't being conservative at the start; he seemed to be going for broke when the veterans were feeling out their cars and the track conditions.
Add Walt Hansgen to the mix, too...he was trying to pass Jim Hurtubise as Mac Donald was trying to pass him. Dave dove underneath Walt, but Walt couldn't see him. Dave swerved to miss Walt, and the car just got away from him. It was a violent manouever, and it's possible that the fuel load, the aerodynamics, chassis flex issues, or the set-up didn't have a thing to do with it.
Bryant's belief was that Dave just got ahead of himself...the results were disasterous, and that blows Dave's actions and possible motives out-of-proportion. It appears that it was simply a racing accident.
Dave MacDonald is something of a "mystery man" in the annals of racing history, because his career was so short-lived, and it ended so abruptly and spectaculary. People forget, or don't even know that Eddie Sachs was, in his own words, "trying to make up 5 mph in one corner" on the first day of qualifications, and that's when he spun and hit the wall in the morning practice. If he'd kept his cool a little better, he would probably have started the race well ahead of MacDonald, instead of behind him. It probably wouldn't have saved MacDonald's life, but it might not have sullied his reputation so much.