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The Mickey Thompson 'Sears Allstate Special' cars of 1964


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#1151 McGuire

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 11:51

Originally posted by HistoricMustang
Not sure if this helps.

Henry

http://www.gomog.com...ineweights.html


That list has circulated the Internet for years. I don't give it any particular credence. One of the problems is there is no industry definition for "fully dressed." A starter and flywheel can weigh 50 lbs or more.

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#1152 McGuire

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 13:45

Originally posted by JimInSoCalif
That whole BOP engine program always seemed strange to me. Now days there seems to be a lot of swapping around of platforms and engines, but my understanding is that GM developed that line of engines, with the differences you noted, and then sold the entire program. I always wondered why they no longer had a use for the engine.


GM no longer had any market for a 215 cubic-inch V8. Especially one that had a very high unit cost due to its all-aluminum construction. Too expensive for a compact, economy car with a small profit margin. A six is a much better fit in that price class.

A fact that is often misplaced today: with programs such as the BOP aluminum V8, the all-independent, bent torque-tube Tempest, and the Corvair, GM had bet a considerable amount of money that American consumers were going to turn their backs on giant land yachts in favor of small but relatively refined (and thus not cheap) compact cars. GM turned out to be totally wrong about that. After a brief flirtation with compacts, Americans went right back to the large sedans. Ford made a similar bet with the Taunus but that program proved to be a non-starter for the USA and was transplanted to Ford of Europe.

However, while the aluminum BOP V8 went to Rover, a cast-iron version of the same engine was developed into the 300, 340, and 350 cubic-inch Buick small-block V8. That engine remained in production until 1977. Meanwhile, an iron-block V6 version of the BOP V8 was also developed. It was eventually known as the 3800 V6 and was in production until a year or two ago... ironic, because it was originally done as a 90-day wonder to supplant the aluminum V8. And in the 1960s, GM sold the V6 and all its tools to Kaiser Jeep, just as it had sold the BOP V8 to Rover. But in 1975, GM bought it back.

#1153 JimInSoCalif

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 21:23

Thanks for all the info. Now I understand something that I wondered about for a long time. Well, except that the Pontiac variant of this engine is never mention - just the Buick and Olds versions.

Detroit did not seem to understand that a lot of people who wanted smaller cars also wanted quality, so they gave us cars like the Pinto and Vega. We used to make over 50% of the cars in the World and look at the state of the industry now -- 'tis sad.

If the Big 3 - well, maybe that should be the Only 3 or perhaps 2.5 - built the best cars in the World, and I expect they do build pretty good cars, I don't know how they ever get their reputation back and become exciting to the car buying public.

Cheers, Jim.

#1154 antonvrs

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 21:26

Pontiac used the Buick version in the Tempest. I think they're very rare.

#1155 Henri Greuter

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 07:35

Originally posted by McGuire



The Buick-BOP and the Chevy are totally different engines with no common features. The Buick is based on smaller architecture.

280 lbs for the Buick and 350 lbs for the Chevy are very optimistic. We can safely add 30 to 50 lbs to each figure.



McGuire,

Do you also think that the values vor the 1963 and 1964 Fords (app, 350 and app 400 pounds) are too optimistic? If so, by how much?

Henri

#1156 McGuire

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 11:03

I believe those weight figures are accurate since the source is an SAE paper from Ford. We can't know how these figures stack up against those for other engines, but we can assume they are consistent with respect to each other. That is, both engines were weighed in the same trim.

#1157 ZOOOM

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 14:38

With all due respect gentlemen, the probability of the Mickey Thompson cars having a higher CG, or aft CG, or that the car handled differently when fully loaded with fuel, or the turbulence was different on race day...
is, I humbly think, overblown....
At no other race did the teams have a full month to sort out the cars. There were no distractions of other races, transportation issues, time limits etc.
I believe the assumptions that we are making here are that the problems we have pointed out, with the cars, were unique to Mickey Thompsons cars, is a mistake. In those days there were very few "perfect" cars during the month of may. The drivers of all the cars probably at one time or another called each one of them "Pigs" and walked away in disgust.
These drivers were all professionals in the truest sense of the word. They were all pretty well seasoned in their craft. Their job was to push the cars that were given them, to the limits, to see if they could be made to go faster. I'm pretty sure, that at the limits, none of the cars were "on rails".
To make the assumption that the AllState cars were junk, or not properly sorted out, or compromises, misses the fact that at that stage of the game, and for those stakes (the Indy 500) all the cars were pushed to their limits, and most of the drivers found those limits....

I'm reminded of the story that AJ Foyt was asked to bring one of his Coyote's to a very prestigeous wind tunnel complex to be tested for aerodynamics. At the conclusion, the tunnel masters told AJ that the aerodynamics were terrible and that the car would be almost undrivable....
AJ was to have commented that it may be so, "but I just won the 500 in that car"....

ZOOOM

#1158 McGuire

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 15:17

Exactly right. The Thompson's handling problems through the month of May are well documented. However, on race day the car handled well enough to make it through the first seven corners just fine, while passing a number of cars in the process. If the car handled so badly, why didn't MacDonald take it a little easier, especially in the first two laps? Apparently MacDonald was of the opinion that the car was working well. Meanwhile, the move the car made on the exit of Turn 4 does not indicate any particular handling problem. By all appearances he was simply a little too fast for the line he had taken and the rear end came around on him.

#1159 McGuire

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 15:32

Originally posted by ZOOOM
I'm reminded of the story that AJ Foyt was asked to bring one of his Coyote's to a very prestigeous wind tunnel complex to be tested for aerodynamics. At the conclusion, the tunnel masters told AJ that the aerodynamics were terrible and that the car would be almost undrivable....
AJ was to have commented that it may be so, "but I just won the 500 in that car"....

ZOOOM


Yep, AJ told me that story when I interviewed him about the '67 LeMans car and win. He was explaining how the Mk IV would just sort of float down the Mulsanne straight at 214 mph, but no one thought that was terribly peculiar -- that was just how race cars drove in those years. He related the Coyote wind tunnel story to me as his way of describing the state of the art at the time.

I remember the interview very well, which took place in his garage in Gasoline Alley in May 2000, sometime during the week before Pole Day. AJ has a well-deserved reputation for being umm, difficult at times, but when I told him I wanted to talk about LeMans '67 he loosened right up, put a leg up on a piece of equipment and started telling stories. He can be very charming when he is in that state, a real Texas gentleman. He was especially warm and generous toward Gurney, saying, "There just are not racers like that anymore."

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#1160 Flat Black

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 16:05

ZOOOM,

Are you suggesting that all cars at the '64 500 handled equally poorly?

#1161 JimInSoCalif

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 18:04

Originally posted by Flat Black
ZOOOM,

Are you suggesting that all cars at the '64 500 handled equally poorly?


Do we know that by race day that it did handle poorly compared to other cars of the day? As McQuire stated above, it seemed to be handling well enough that he was passing other cars.

Cheers, Jim.

#1162 OfficeLinebacker

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 18:17

Originally posted by Flat Black
ZOOOM,

Are you suggesting that all cars at the '64 500 handled equally poorly?


I would venture to say that compared to the cars of today, yes. They'd all be around a 2 to today's 9s and 10s.

However compared amongst each other there'd be significant differences.

But by today's standards, I'm willing to guess that they were all "evil handling cars."

#1163 Flat Black

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 20:10

Originally posted by JimInSoCalif


Do we know that by race day that it did handle poorly compared to other cars of the day? As McQuire stated above, it seemed to be handling well enough that he was passing other cars.

Cheers, Jim.


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.

#1164 lotuspoweredbyford

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 20:17

Originally posted by McGuire


There was no such practice in 1964.



Has anyone read the report by the "accident committee" referred to in the 1964 Indianapolis 500 yearbook?

#1165 jm70

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 00:41

I recall that in those days, they just "drove around it". There wasn't the constant fiddling with shocks, sway bars, springs that you see these days. And aero adjustments were a "black art" at best. After reading all this thread, and most of it many times, it just seems that Daves problem was probably just a quick aero push followed by an over-correction.

#1166 Buford

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 05:57

I drove pretty much of everything (type of race car) at one time or other in the 1970's and most of them were evil handling. That was what you had drivers for - to drive around the problems. Nobody actually knew how to fix them and even if we did, the parts to do it were unobtanium, either unaffordable or custom made - not available at your friendly racing parts website like today. If they actually handled it didn't feel like you were going very fast, but they would change soon so I am pretty sure today's drivers would get out and say "This thing is undriveable."

But there was evil and then there was EVIL. Evil predictable was OK. If it always pushed, turn in earlier. If it was loose, slow down and turn in late and catch it with power. If it wouldn't stop, turn it sideways and scruff off speed with the tires. I was really good at that. As long as it was predictable... evil it was OK. Real drivers knew what to do and it usually could be seen from the side of the track who was really controlling a beast. The cars were not glued down and on rails.

The really EVIL ones were the ones that did what they damn well pleased with no warning, and no rhyme or reason. Like 1970's Sprint Cars. Now THAT was EVIL!!!

#1167 Rosemayer

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 15:19

Originally posted by Buford
I drove pretty much of everything (type of race car) at one time or other in the 1970's and most of them were evil handling. That was what you had drivers for - to drive around the problems. Nobody actually knew how to fix them and even if we did, the parts to do it were unobtanium, either unaffordable or custom made - not available at your friendly racing parts website like today. If they actually handled it didn't feel like you were going very fast, but they would change soon so I am pretty sure today's drivers would get out and say "This thing is undriveable."

But there was evil and then there was EVIL. Evil predictable was OK. If it always pushed, turn in earlier. If it was loose, slow down and turn in late and catch it with power. If it wouldn't stop, turn it sideways and scruff off speed with the tires. I was really good at that. As long as it was predictable... evil it was OK. Real drivers knew what to do and it usually could be seen from the side of the track who was really controlling a beast. The cars were not glued down and on rails.

The really EVIL ones were the ones that did what they damn well pleased with no warning, and no rhyme or reason. Like 1970's Sprint Cars. Now THAT was EVIL!!!

:up: :up: :up:

#1168 SEdward

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 16:04

A number of contributors have referred to helicopter footage of the first two laps. Does anyone know where these images are available?

Edward

#1169 Russ Snyder

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 19:17

Originally posted by SEdward
A number of contributors have referred to helicopter footage of the first two laps. Does anyone know where these images are available?

Edward


Edward

The Dynamic film ( official Indy 500 filmco at the time) contains the above footage you request. Its out there and available.

Russ

#1170 TrackDog

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 00:08

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.


Dan

#1171 HistoricMustang

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 00:18

Originally posted by TrackDog


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.

Dan


In my humble opinion (IMHO) a very good observation, especially the movement of Walt's car just in front of Dave.

Henry

#1172 Henri Greuter

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 11:03

Originally posted by McGuire
I believe those weight figures are accurate since the source is an SAE paper from Ford. We can't know how these figures stack up against those for other engines, but we can assume they are consistent with respect to each other. That is, both engines were weighed in the same trim.


A belated thanks for your explanation.


Henri

#1173 Henri Greuter

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 14:54

Originally posted by TrackDog


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.

(SNIP)


Dan



Is there anyone out here in touch with Pete Bryant to get into this matter about what kind of progress was made in setiing up the car during the month? And what kind of comments there were on the car by the drivers in the final part of the practice week?

Henri

#1174 ZOOOM

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 14:58

Flat, I can still recognize a loaded question when I see one...
No, I am not saying that all the cars in that race were EQUALLY poor in the handeling department.
I would suggest that pert'near all of them were compromizes in a LOT of ways.
I would suggest that to condemn a particular car because it had a higher center of gravity, or had slightly more weight on the rear, and therefore was INHERITANTLY more unstable than any other car, would be begging the question.
Roadsters were clearly better handling than upright dirt track cars, but they were deamons when loaded with full tanks at the rearmost part of the car.
With overall size of the tires the same, smaller wheels would allow the tire to absorbe more of the bumps than a larger wheel. Wider wheels would give more grip but would increase the drag.
Transverse springs gave way to torsion bars, which gave way to coilovers. Each of which changed the handeling for better and sometimes worse.

The position of the engine in the roadsters was always open to interpetation. Some were layed down. Some biased to the right, some to the left, and some like the bent engined 8 ball, were on an angle. Were any of those decisions considdered wrong or dangerous?

Up until the era of advanced aerodynamics, the driver had to adapt his driving style to the car he had.
Ronnie Peterson in F1 was considdered a failure as a test driver because no mater what they did to his car, he always managed to "drive around the problem" to achieve the same lap times.

Back in the 50's and 60's drivers were vary capable of "carrying" the cars. Their jobs were to find a way to get the most out of the ride they were given.

On the other hand it was claimed that Sir Stirling Moss could detect the change of tire pressure on one tire by half a pound.

At Indy and at many other tracks today we watch the modern guys run three abreast and don't think much of it.
In the '50s and '60s it was NEVER done.... The handeling of the cars wouldn't allow it. They were too unpredictable.

Herk said that he was able to achieve the 149 MPH lap at Indy because he was able to roll the right rear tire over on itself in the corner and then use the unloading of the tire comming off the corner to "launch" the car down the straight faster. I suppose today he would be chastized for running too low a tire pressure....
ZOOOM

#1175 Russ Snyder

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Posted 26 September 2008 - 12:14

Originally posted by ZOOOM


At Indy and at many other tracks today we watch the modern guys run three abreast and don't think much of it.
In the '50s and '60s it was NEVER done.... The handeling of the cars wouldn't allow it. They were too unpredictable.


Walter - I was watching my 2 movies on the 1961 Indy last night and there were times, espc in the first few laps, that cars were running 2 abreast into the corners. I did not see 3 abreast as you correctly alluding about, altho it seemed that in the backstretch and fronstretch 4-5 abreast happened for short times....or passing bursts if you will.

Dan - I still have trouble thinking Dave drove any more aggressively than anyone else on the track that fateful day of 1964. I used to think that....Again, I did not see it live with my own eyes, just viewing the films/views provided ....and his line appears normal. I do respect your opinion since you saw it as it happened.

Henri - the Novi book, I never got the chance to say it, but thanks!

#1176 Henri Greuter

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Posted 26 September 2008 - 13:36

Originally posted by Russ Snyder


Dan - I still have trouble thinking Dave drove any more aggressively than anyone else on the track that fateful day of 1964. I used to think that....Again, I did not see it live with my own eyes, just viewing the films/views provided ....and his line appears normal. I do respect your opinion since you saw it as it happened.

Henri - the Novi book, I never got the chance to say it, but thanks!


Russ,

What still puzzles me is that there are so many statements out by several drivers that MacDonad drove agressively. Now had it been only one driver who said so...
But with that many claims about it, are that many guys all wrong?
I find that more difficult to believe then all kind of other accusations I can think of right now.


As for the book, better thank my friend George Peters for having faith enough in me to allow me to participate in his dream. If it wasn't for him you would not have heard from me because of the Novi.


henri

#1177 ZOOOM

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Posted 26 September 2008 - 13:56

The opening laps of the 500 have seen some wild driving on many occasions. Elesian and Rathmann, Herk and Parnelli, etc.
The drivers have been going at it for the whole month of May. There wasn't usually any racing going on during the month. The pressure was intense. They were all ready to get after it.
I just attend the races and watching the whole program up to gentlemen.... is pressure packed. The excitement is so thick you can still cut it with a knife.

The first laps are probably the most dangerous of the entire month. The drivers have no hot laps before the start. The cars have been taken apart several times over since carb day.. Fuel tanks are full, until lately, the start is three wide, something nobody has practised with. The noise, the buffeting from other cars, the stands full....
There is no bigger thrill than watching the start of the 500.

EVERYONE is keyed up. Reactions are razor sharp.

And then.... the big one happens.... Try driving through hell at 150 miles an hour, with the track blocked, with twenty or so guys behind you all wound up, cars and pieces flying all over......
Then give me ten minutes and ask me what happened. I don't know if I would believe myself..........
We know that some of the comments from the drivers are factually incorrect.
Personally, I wouldn't take anything said right after that mess as gospel...

ZOOOM

#1178 Russ Snyder

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Posted 26 September 2008 - 17:49

Originally posted by Henri Greuter


Russ,

What still puzzles me is that there are so many statements out by several drivers that MacDonad drove agressively. Now had it been only one driver who said so...
But with that many claims about it, are that many guys all wrong?
I find that more difficult to believe then all kind of other accusations I can think of right now.


As for the book, better thank my friend George Peters for having faith enough in me to allow me to participate in his dream. If it wasn't for him you would not have heard from me because of the Novi.


henri


Henri

No question it puzzles me too that those drivers all stated that....as I reported before earlier in the thread when I first got the 1964 dynamic film and watched, I expected to see a zigging and zagging Dave Macdonald all over the track, driving on the edge....but that is not what I saw. I saw him cut off one car heading into turn 1 on lap 2 (Rathmann?) but I also attritbuted that to NORMAL passing and taking advantage of the low line, something that was commonplace in those years. One looks no further than the Vuckovich/Mcgrath duel in 1955 to open the race for the first 30 laps or so. Vuky took the same low line under the white line.

A belated thanks then to George Peters as well...still, a marvy book and an asset to my collection. My Late Dad always talked about how R Hepburn had the crowd roaring on its collective feet with his blue Novi making high and low passes during the 1946 Indy. Its almost unheard of to think that he was 9mph faster than the pole sitter that day.

#1179 Russ Snyder

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Posted 26 September 2008 - 19:19

Henri

One further thought on the drivers and aggressive driving statements....ex post facto due to tragedy that occured? Was that the general feeling in the hours, days, weeks..... afterwards? AJ Foyt might have said it best. "I was sitting on a bar stool with a seat belt, surrounded by gas going 150mph. How more us didn't die is a miracle"

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#1180 ZOOOM

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Posted 27 September 2008 - 00:40

Russ.... You make my point...
ZOOOM

#1181 Gary S.

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 19:50

:( Someone mentioned Eddie Sachs driving directly where Dave McDonald began his spin and thus causing his death. I must dispute that based on books I have read on the accident. In their comment as they heard this from Sachs himself on a video that was produced in 1960 when he made "Eddie on the Pole" in a prophetic statement that to paraphrase "if I see an accident I will drive right for where the car was as I know when I get there the car will be gone." However I have read several books one by Johnny Rutherford in fact called "Lone Star J.R." who was right behind Sachs and the other was a book recently written about the life and times of Eddie Sachs. Those two publications indicate that obviously things happened very fast but Rutherford said he got right behind Sachs when the race started as Eddie was a wily veteran who Rutherford (then a 2nd time starter) knew would show him the way to the front. Johnny (Rutherford) said that what he remembered was seeing a red car sliding, hitting the wall and exploding as they approached turn 4 and then remembered Eddie Sachs' day glo helmet moving from side to side as he was trying to see where it was clear. I have read where Eddie first was going left but for some reason at the last minute chose to turn slightly right and directly into McDonald's burning racer. There is a film clip from a home movie camera directly in front of the accident that shows Sach's leaning forward, trying to see where it is clear right before impact. One has to know that with all that fire and smoke, it was impossible to know where to go. It was fortunate more drivers did not burn to death in that crash. Eddie Sachs just guessed wrong at the last minute. Chuck Stevenson was believed to had said that he remembers zeeing Sach's desperately trying to unbuckle his belt and get out of his car but was overcome by flames and could not breathe. Stevenson, it was alleged, kept this very hush-hush as it was believed Sachs died on impact. He did in fact, burn alive. In the book about Eddie Sachs, it says the torso area of Sach's uniform was virtually not damaged at all however his face, head and exposed hands were burnt to a crisp. He did not have a chance after a brief moment of time probably to escape his car. He more than likely could not breathe and oxygen is absorbed by fire. He could not get any air. Had he escaped and lived, he would have suffered the same fate as Jim Hurtibise did when he was burned severely in Milwaukee after the 1964 Indy 500.

Does anyone have proof that Jim Clark did tell Dave McDonald to not drive his car on Carb Day in 1964?

Gary S.

#1182 TrackDog

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 06:13

Sachs was in an impossible situation...he had Rutherford behind him to his right and Duman and Unser behind him to his left when he came up on MacDonald's burning car. Each of the drivers following him closely were doing so because they were inexperienced, and he wasn't; the idea was that if there were a crash, Eddie would know what to do or where to go and the others would follow his lead. But...there wasn't any room for him to react to the situation. If he turned to the right, he faced the distinct possibility of Rutherford hitting him, either broadside or up the back...the same from the left with Duman. And Bobby Unser's Novi weighed nearly 1000 pounds more than Eddie's Shrike, meaning that it would probably tear his car in half if it didn't just sail right over the top of it. The Shrike would have gone up like a torch if hit, and the other drivers probably wouldn't survive the conflagration.

Sachs had more Indy starts than Unser, Rutherford, MacDonald and Duman all put together...which makes his death all that much nore ironic.

Stevenson was reported by some to have been very shaken as he was interviewed after the crash, probably by the events he witnessed while driving through the melee. Many fans seated near the crash site have stated that they could see Sachs trying to free himself from the wreck, and could hear him screaming as he burned to death. Many vowed never to return to the Speedway because of that.

It is known that the radiator of Sachs' car was compressed into the cockpit and that one of his legs was broken, so it might have been impossible for him to have been able to extricate himself even if one of the compartments in the fuel tank in front of him hadn't exploded.

As for Sachs turning to the right just before impacting MacDonald's car, I hadn't heard that...I knew that he turned to the left at the last second, probably because Unser and Duman were a little farther behind him thas Rutherford was on his right.

The Clark quote has been discussed here in this thread...whether or not he actually admonished MacDonald to abandon the car is in question. Sally Stokes, Clark's former girlfriend has said that Jim and Dave were rather close friends, but the level of their friendship is impossible to measure since both men are no longer with us. Clark may have said something to Dave about the handling of the Thompson car; it may have been an admonishment of some kind, or it could have been in jest...or, he might not have said anything. Nobody really knows.

The crash was, without a doubt, the single most horrific event in the history of American motorsports. It is a horrible thing to read about, much less to have had to have witnessed. I'm glad I wasn't there!


Dan

#1183 P0wderf1nger

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 21:15

Forgive me if this point has been raised already - it is a long thread - and I readily admit, as a Brit, to knowing nothing about American civil law, but anyway, here goes...

Were inquests held into the deaths of MacDonald and Sachs? If so, were they not held soon after the dreadful events of May 1964? Did the US equivalent of a coroner not listen to all available testimony and consider all available evidence? What were the verdicts? Are the proceedings in the public domain? Can someone post them here?

Just a thought.

Rgds

Paul

#1184 HistoricMustang

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 21:43

Originally posted by P0wderf1nger
Forgive me if this point has been raised already - it is a long thread - and I readily admit, as a Brit, to knowing nothing about American civil law, but anyway, here goes...

Were inquests held into the deaths of MacDonald and Sachs? If so, were they not held soon after the dreadful events of May 1964? Did the US equivalent of a coroner not listen to all available testimony and consider all available evidence? What were the verdicts? Are the proceedings in the public domain? Can someone post them here?

Just a thought.

Rgds

Paul


Hi Paul and thanks for your interest.

As originator of the thread let me just say things were not done that way back in the 1960's. This topic was discussed numerous times during our conversations.

Others like to add anything for Paul?

Hope this helps.

Henry

#1185 Ray Bell

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 21:56

There would most certainly have been an inquest...

That's something that's never changed.

#1186 HistoricMustang

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 22:02

Originally posted by Ray Bell
There would most certainly have been an inquest...

That's something that's never changed.


Thanks Ray,

If there was an offcial inquest, in written form, it was never shared with at least one of the families involved in the accident. I am 100% sure of that.

I would love to have a key to the archive room at the track.

Henry

#1187 Jim Thurman

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 22:29

Before we get carried away here...

I seriously doubt there was any formal inquest. As Henry first stated, it simply was not done in most areas in the states. Even then it was state by state and even more beyond that, local authority to local authority. Even now, one has to either request an inquest or have it done privately in cases other than "suspicious" Sadly, there was nothing suspicious about what happened to Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald. The death certificates and it's findings were quite likely the beginning and ending of all "investigation".

So, Henry, it's worth looking into, but I do not feel for a second that it was not shared with one family...

because it's likely there was nothing done to share - with anyone.

#1188 Ray Bell

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 23:12

I've seriously misjudged the US system then...

In Australia such an incident would certainly have resulted in an inquest.

#1189 TheStranger

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 00:15

Jim and Ray: I wonder if this has changed in recent years; I know that a police investigation occurred after Scott Kalitta's death at the Englishtown NHRA event this season.

#1190 JimInSoCalif

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 00:51

I believe that in New Jersey, unlike most states, that the police or highway patrol have some regulatory role with respect to auto racing. I don't really know what their authority and responsibility is. Perhaps someone can fill us in.

#1191 Jim Thurman

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 00:53

Originally posted by TheStranger
Jim and Ray: I wonder if this has changed in recent years; I know that a police investigation occurred after Scott Kalitta's death at the Englishtown NHRA event this season.

Again, only state to state. It varies just like every other law and regulation. New Jersey has had state regulations on auto racing for years now. Connecticut too. Had Kalitta's accident happened in many other states...there would have been none.

The California Highway Patrol did investigation on Greg Moore's accident at Fontana. There may be investigations in California as a routine matter, but I've never heard of any formal auto racing regulation as in the two above mentioned states.

EDIT: just in the time it took me to compose this, I see that Jim mentioned New Jersey. There are actually highway patrolmen in the pits at New Jersey short tracks checking the car's safety equipment.

#1192 Jim Thurman

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 00:55

Originally posted by Ray Bell
I've seriously misjudged the US system then...

In Australia such an incident would certainly have resulted in an inquest.

Yes...I realize in England and Australia there would be a coroner's inquest...but not here in that era in most locations. Had there been suspected foul play or had someone seen a driver slump over before hand, then there might have been a formal investigation. I can't think of any other circumstances where there would have been.

#1193 MPea3

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 01:11

Originally posted by TheStranger
Jim and Ray: I wonder if this has changed in recent years; I know that a police investigation occurred after Scott Kalitta's death at the Englishtown NHRA event this season.


It may or may not have, as you're talking about 2 different states. You'll find that any investigation requirements are dependent on state and local law.

As far as the 1964 accident, I can think of three sources for a possible investigation in 1964. According to McGuire IMS had none, which doesn't surprise me. I can't really imagine why they would, or and if they did why they would release it to the public, as it could possibly open them up to some sort of legal action.

One could make the case for USAC conducting one as the sanctioning body. Again if they did so I can imagine they might want to keep it private.

The most likely source of an investigation would have been the local authorities. it should be easy to establish what responsibilities either city or state police or the coroner might have had, they'd be a matter of law. Someone would have been responsible for listing a cause of death, but it's not like that was in question.

Regardless of who might have investigated the accident, what would have been investigated? Accident forensics certainly wasn't at the point it is now, and neither is the sort of data which is now collected and kept. The MacDonald car spun coming off of turn 4, became a fireball when it hit the inside wall and bounced back across the track, and was hit by the Sachs car resulting in two deaths. Question and speculation for the sake of trying to exonerate a driver's name may be a good reason to post on a bulletin board but it's hardly evidence which needs to be investigated by authorities. There wasn't anything unusually or exceptional about the accident, only the results.

Furthermore, if there was an investigation, I'd find it frankly to be in very poor taste if those who'd conducted it had sought out either of the families to give it to them. The idea that somehow the families should have been given these sorts of reports is kind of troubling. When my father died, the circumstances dictated am autopsy. No one came to me with a copy of that report. Thank God.

#1194 JimInSoCalif

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 03:47

It seems strange to me that the Highway Patrol would have responsibility for vehicles that are not used on public roads. I would think race cars would be in the same class of vehicle as such things as golf carts, farm tractors, and airport tugs.

I suppose if I lived in NJ that it would seem normal.

#1195 TrackDog

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 04:35

I think somebody mentioned earlier in this thread that USAC did an official investigation of the accident and issued an internal report; but it was kept behind closed doors, never released to the press. If you think about it, there would HAVE to be some kind of investigation in order to establish the parameters for new regulations regarding chassis and fuel cell design and driver safety equipment. If the accident hadn't been investigated as completely as possible, how could conclusions regarding driver safety have been drawn?

If the Speedway was involved in any way, we'll probably never know, because the IMS doesn't release information, either documents or photographs regarding incidents where fatalities have occurred.

In this case, it's kind of sad, because the policy has certainly fueled speculation and rumor regarding the severity of the crash...Sachs' death, for example, has been attributed to a multitude of different injuries; a broken neck, a basal skull fracture, pulmonary edema, a crushed chest...one published report from about 20 years ago had him being impaled[actually cut in two] by his car's driveshaft[ where IS the driveshaft on a rear-engined car with a transaxle?]. The generally accepted view is that he died upon impact with MacDonald's car, but an eyewitness with what had to be considered the best seat in the house, Chuck Stevenson, privately told his closest friends that he could see Sachs struggling to get out of his car just after the in intial impact, just as Stevenson tagged Sachs' wheel.

A major motoring magazine published a report that MacDonald hit the inside wall head-on and was thrown from his car in the process. Other magazines printed reports that there were fuel tanks on both sides of the MacDonald car, and that one of them exploded upon impact with the wall. Other stories circulated that MacDonald was carrying over 100 gallons of gasoline, that he was "scared to death" of the car, that he sufferred a mechanical problem just before the crash...one local television station broadcast an interview with a driver expert who concluded that MacDonald might have been on fire before he lost control of this car.

The eyewitness accounts of some of the drivers who were involved in the crash don't always give the most accurate picture of what happenned, either. Johnny Rutherford has commented to the press several times as to just how loose the MacDonald car was at the start of the race, but he wasn't familiar with Dave's driving style...that's just how the man drove; aggresive from the start, with the tail hanging out. Other drivers have derided Dave for being impatient, but he was improving his position, and that's what racing is all about, isn't it?

The Thompson car has been branded as an evil handler, but by raceday, it was sorted out to MacDonald's liking, according to both Mickey Thompson and Peter Bryant, the consulting engineer who actually made most of the chassis changes.

Dave MacDonald was trying to pass Walt Hansgen, who was trying to pass Jim Hurtibise; Hansgen couldn't see MacDonald. THAT'S what set the chain reaction in motion...not an evil handling car; not a poorly constructed car; not an inexperienced driver or an unprepared and hapless raceteam with an impossible dream.

Sachs can't be held blameless in this matter, either...he was, by his own admission, trying too hard to get a few extra mph just after learning that Bobby Marshman had set an unofficial 160 mph lap in the pre-qualification warm-up on Pole Day. Sachs was like that...several times, he got ahead of himself at Indy, and the results were usually a spin or mechanical failure that didn't need to happen. If he hadn't gotten ahead of himself on Pole Day, he probably would have qualified in the second or third row, well ahead of Dave MacDonald. He might have even been able to give Foyt a real run for his money.

I realize that I've gotten a little off-track, and this post has become somewhat of a rant; I apologize for that...but it's frustrating that there is still so much misinformation out there regarding this accident. Dave MacDonald seems hopelessly miscast as a murderous, careless opportunist with a deathwish, and Eddie Sachs is held up as a helpless victim of circumstance. Neither view is really accurate. The truth is out there; but you have to really hunt for it, which means you really have to want to find it. There have been books written about other races and other motorsports tragedies, Christopher Hilton's excellent LE MANS 55 comes to mind; but I fully realize that it was originally a $35.00 book that I bought at Amazon for 6 bucks a couple of years ago.

Still...there needs to be a documentation of what really happenned at Indy in 1964. There are many players and many circumstances that the majority of the gemeral public and a lot of racefans just don't know about.


Dan

#1196 HistoricMustang

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 11:10

Originally posted by TrackDog
I think somebody mentioned earlier in this thread that USAC did an official investigation of the accident and issued an internal report; but it was kept behind closed doors, never released to the press. If you think about it, there would HAVE to be some kind of investigation in order to establish the parameters for new regulations regarding chassis and fuel cell design and driver safety equipment. If the accident hadn't been investigated as completely as possible, how could conclusions regarding driver safety have been drawn?

If the Speedway was involved in any way, we'll probably never know, because the IMS doesn't release information, either documents or photographs regarding incidents where fatalities have occurred.

In this case, it's kind of sad, because the policy has certainly fueled speculation and rumor regarding the severity of the crash...Sachs' death, for example, has been attributed to a multitude of different injuries; a broken neck, a basal skull fracture, pulmonary edema, a crushed chest...one published report from about 20 years ago had him being impaled[actually cut in two] by his car's driveshaft[ where IS the driveshaft on a rear-engined car with a transaxle?]. The generally accepted view is that he died upon impact with MacDonald's car, but an eyewitness with what had to be considered the best seat in the house, Chuck Stevenson, privately told his closest friends that he could see Sachs struggling to get out of his car just after the in intial impact, just as Stevenson tagged Sachs' wheel.

A major motoring magazine published a report that MacDonald hit the inside wall head-on and was thrown from his car in the process. Other magazines printed reports that there were fuel tanks on both sides of the MacDonald car, and that one of them exploded upon impact with the wall. Other stories circulated that MacDonald was carrying over 100 gallons of gasoline, that he was "scared to death" of the car, that he sufferred a mechanical problem just before the crash...one local television station broadcast an interview with a driver expert who concluded that MacDonald might have been on fire before he lost control of this car.

The eyewitness accounts of some of the drivers who were involved in the crash don't always give the most accurate picture of what happenned, either. Johnny Rutherford has commented to the press several times as to just how loose the MacDonald car was at the start of the race, but he wasn't familiar with Dave's driving style...that's just how the man drove; aggresive from the start, with the tail hanging out. Other drivers have derided Dave for being impatient, but he was improving his position, and that's what racing is all about, isn't it?

The Thompson car has been branded as an evil handler, but by raceday, it was sorted out to MacDonald's liking, according to both Mickey Thompson and Peter Bryant, the consulting engineer who actually made most of the chassis changes.

Dave MacDonald was trying to pass Walt Hansgen, who was trying to pass Jim Hurtibise; Hansgen couldn't see MacDonald. THAT'S what set the chain reaction in motion...not an evil handling car; not a poorly constructed car; not an inexperienced driver or an unprepared and hapless raceteam with an impossible dream.

Sachs can't be held blameless in this matter, either...he was, by his own admission, trying too hard to get a few extra mph just after learning that Bobby Marshman had set an unofficial 160 mph lap in the pre-qualification warm-up on Pole Day. Sachs was like that...several times, he got ahead of himself at Indy, and the results were usually a spin or mechanical failure that didn't need to happen. If he hadn't gotten ahead of himself on Pole Day, he probably would have qualified in the second or third row, well ahead of Dave MacDonald. He might have even been able to give Foyt a real run for his money.

I realize that I've gotten a little off-track, and this post has become somewhat of a rant; I apologize for that...but it's frustrating that there is still so much misinformation out there regarding this accident. Dave MacDonald seems hopelessly miscast as a murderous, careless opportunist with a deathwish, and Eddie Sachs is held up as a helpless victim of circumstance. Neither view is really accurate. The truth is out there; but you have to really hunt for it, which means you really have to want to find it. There have been books written about other races and other motorsports tragedies, Christopher Hilton's excellent LE MANS 55 comes to mind; but I fully realize that it was originally a $35.00 book that I bought at Amazon for 6 bucks a couple of years ago.

Still...there needs to be a documentation of what really happenned at Indy in 1964. There are many players and many circumstances that the majority of the gemeral public and a lot of racefans just don't know about.


Dan


Dan, a very good summary.

Please check your PM's.

Thanks,

Henry

#1197 Buford

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 11:38

If they had a big deal inquest every time a race car driver got killed in that era the government wouldn't have had time to do anything else. What was there to inquest? Some damn crazy fool (this case two) got himself killed in one of those crazy ass contraptions in front of a bunch of blood thirsty ghouls in the grandstands. These things didn't require an inquest. Sane people didn't need to inquire. They knew what was going on. It was just crazy people being crazy. An inquest would have only been required if somebody didn't kill himself in those death traps. That might mean it was fixed.

#1198 ZOOOM

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 13:49

Don't hold anything back Buford.....


ZOOOM

#1199 B Squared

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 14:08

"Sachs can't be held blameless in this matter, either...he was, by his own admission, trying too hard to get a few extra mph just after learning that Bobby Marshman had set an unofficial 160 mph lap in the pre-qualification warm-up on Pole Day."

It was 44 years ago today that Bobby Marshman had his testing accident at Phoenix. Another burn victim of the 1964 season. He would fight gallantly & bravely for 7) days before losing his life because of 3rd degree burns over 90% of his body on December 3, 1964 at Brooke Burn Center in San Antonio,Texas.

His sister, LaRone (Ronney) is a dear friend of my family. My thoughts are with you & your family today. As always,

Brian

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#1200 B Squared

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 14:25

With all of this talk of an inquest for a racing accident in May, 1964 - may I point out that on November 22, 1963 we had an American President murdered in Dallas, Texas and all official lines of forensic investigation and the chain of best evidence was thrown out the window when JFK's body was taken back to Washington D.C., instead of an autopsy done in the state where the murder occurred (it should have been, by law). With this in mind, the concern over a lack of a proper or official investigation for this horrific ACCIDENT, seems a bit out of perspective; to me anyway.

Brian