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The Mickey Thompson 'Sears Allstate Special' cars of 1964


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#201 Buford

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 10:34

Another interesting issue is what happened to the team car Eddie Johnson? It retired after 6 laps. He took the restart and then only ran 4 laps. Did he restart because despite the horror, horror was common in those days, and he restarted because that's what race drivers do? But then after the restart he suddenly realized he was driving a piece of crap that was all over the place, his teammate had just burned to death in a car just like it, and he decided to call it quits? Or did something actually break that soon, and if so what?

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#202 Ray Bell

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 10:36

Regarding the suggestion that MacDonald might be headed for the pits...

There is already mention in this thread (quoted from Mike Argetsinger's book) that he had to get out of it after not quite getting alongside Walt Hansgen in that corner. The quote was from Len Sutton, who was right behind him:

In the second lap at the end of the back stretch, going into the third turn, Dave MacDonald went whistling by me, jumped on the binders and proceeded across the short chute in front of me. Walt Hansgen was right in front of him then and Dave drove it deep under him, but not deep enough for Walt to see him. when Hansgen came down, as that was his line, Dave had to get his nose out or turn left enough to keep from running into him.

Dave's back end got away from him and he headed for the inside guard rail. Anyone watching this unfold - and I was - could feel certain it was going to be tragic. By the time Dave's car was off the wall and heading back onto the track, I was just even with him and escaped down the front stretch. Unfortunately for Eddie Sachs, Dave's car collided with him, igniting a second ball of flame and sent a burning tyre and wheel high into the air. The two drivers, from in front of me and behind me, were both killed, burned beyond help.



#203 Henri Greuter

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 11:18

Originally posted by Buford
Another interesting issue is what happened to the team car Eddie Johnson? It retired after 6 laps. He took the restart and then only ran 4 laps. Did he restart because despite the horror, horror was common in those days, and he restarted because that's what race drivers do? But then after the restart he suddenly realized he was driving a piece of crap that was all over the place, his teammate had just burned to death in a car just like it, and he decided to call it quits? Or did something actually break that soon, and if so what?



Final classification results say fuel pump failure.
kind of ironic part to break on the team car of....

Found it on Wikipedia which also stated that according Cris Economaki McDonald never had drive the car with full tanks.

Henri

#204 Seppi_0_917PA

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 14:27

Originally posted by HistoricMustang
Not so much refering to photograph, the comments were provided by a non-TNF member.

Okay, I understand now.

For what it's worth, has a fuel filler cap been noted on the right side of the Thompson cars? Either '63 or '64? (pic of '63 fuel bladder )

Bryant regarding Eddie Johnson's broken fuel pump: "I think it could have been repaired, but none of us had any interest in the race anymore."

Buford, Henri Greuter; check your PMs.

#205 Henri Greuter

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 15:11

Originally posted by Seppi_0_917PA


Buford, Henri Greuter; check your PMs.


Done: Please check yours too. Thanks.

Henri

#206 Jerry Entin

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 18:13

I have recieved this from Peter Bryant. He was on the crew of the car at the race. Here are his exact words on the gas tank situation.
"There was only one tank on the car and it was on the left side. It held 44 Gallons .(You know how big a 55 gallon oil drum is, where would that fit?)"

#207 McGuire

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 19:43

Originally posted by Seppi_0_917PA

Okay, I understand now.

For what it's worth, has a fuel filler cap been noted on the right side of the Thompson cars? Either '63 or '64? (pic of '63 fuel bladder )


None of the photos I have seen show a right-side fuel filler. They could have used a crossover from the left side tank but that would take forever to fill. So a right side tank would be possible without an external filler, but only be of use on initial prerace fillup.

It is sort of interesting... it has always been a recieved belief more or less that the car was a rolling fuel rig and that the right side tank lit up on impact. For example... the race report from Car and Driver that year (written by David E. Davis and slagging Dave MacDonald and Micky Thompson) flatly states that the car's "right fuel tank exploded." Pretty good trick if indeed it is positively determined that the car had no right tank.

One more minor (probably irrelevant) item to be put to rest: I have now seen several photos showing that the '63-'64 steel-framed cars used external cooling system pipes. (Grabbard's recent book Indy's Wildest Decade, and the photo of the burned MacDonald car posted here.)

#208 Buford

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 20:35

Originally posted by Jerry Entin
I have recieved this from Peter Bryant. He was on the crew of the car at the race. Here are his exact words on the gas tank situation.
"There was only one tank on the car and it was on the left side. It held 44 Gallons .(You know how big a 55 gallon oil drum is, where would that fit?)"


Jerry. Any chance we could get a comment from Mr Bryant about why they were running so much less fuel than the other cars and what their pit stop strategy was? How did they expect to get a high finish making 2 to 4 more pit stops than the other cars?

#209 Ray Bell

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 20:53

Running on petrol, they would go further...

All the same, I can't see that this would be right.

#210 Jerry Entin

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 21:30

Ray has hit the nail on the head. In testing it was determined that the car running on Gasoline needed one less fuel stop then it would had it been on Alcohol. As far as the Eddie Johnson car goes. It wouldn't start at the beginning of the race. Danny Woo from Ford Motor company, their fuel injection specialist went out and messed with it and got it to run. There was a fuel feed problem with the Johnson car. It was probably the fuel pump. The car never ran right. When Mickey Thompson came back from the hospital he withdrew the car. It didn't run right at anytime on race day. Peters book goes into detail on what they did to Dave MacDonalds car at Indy to get it up to speed and to handling as good as possible. Mickey Thompson himself also messed with the cars settings and it wasn't as good as it could have been. Racing was very dangerous in those days. Not, that it still isn't. This was a racing accident.

#211 David M. Kane

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 21:35

Historic Mustang:

In the photo in Post 183, the front wheels are straight as is the steering wheel. There is also a consider bend in the bottom of the steering wheel. If this bend was caused by Dave' body, I suggest he might have had some internal injuries.

Like you said a driver turns into a slide so the steering and the wheels shouldn't be straight IMO.

Since Bob Reibe so knows so much @#$% about driving race cars maybe he has a %^&#@ answer?

#212 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 21:41

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Since Bob Reibe so knows so much @#$% about driving race cars maybe he has a %^&#@ answer?


Dave, I guess that is the Readers' Digest version of what I wrote.... Don

#213 HistoricMustang

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 22:17

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Historic Mustang:

In the photo in Post 183, the front wheels are straight as is the steering wheel. There is also a consider bend in the bottom of the steering wheel. If this bend was caused by Dave' body, I suggest he might have had some internal injuries.

Like you said a driver turns into a slide so the steering and the wheels shouldn't be straight IMO.

Since Bob Reibe so knows so much @#$% about driving race cars maybe he has a %^&#@ answer?


Hi David.

This photograph is still in my brain as massive "toe in".

Also, even though a forty year old photograph, of pretty good quality, there appears to be something between the drivers left side wheels.

As Ray has suggested on several occasions we simply need improved or better photographs and negatives. Some may be possible but have not yet come forward.

Thanks again!

Henry

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#214 Jerry Entin

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 22:17

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Here is a rare find. It is the 1964 Indy Program signed by the drivers. Dave Kane sent it for the forum members to enjoy. The owner of it is Brian Harlan and he is interested in selling it. Contact Dave Kane if you know of anyone interested in having this treasure.

#215 Ray Bell

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 22:42

Henry, isn't that simply the bodywork behind the front wheel showing?

That's how it looks to me. Isn't the negative of this available from Walter's father?

#216 HistoricMustang

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 23:35

Originally posted by Ray Bell
Henry, isn't that simply the bodywork behind the front wheel showing?

That's how it looks to me. Isn't the negative of this available from Walter's father?


Ray, as you have stated we simply need additional photographs/negatives before impact

To me it appears the drivers left wheel/tire is in slide correct mode while the drivers right wheel/tire, including wheel "spokes", can be seen which indicates it is not making corrections per driver input.

Am also focusing on Dave as he appears to be looking at drivers right wheel, perhaps realizing there is an issue.

We may never know unless additional photographs come forward or this one can be improved. I will check with Walter per our previous communications.

Thanks,
Henry

#217 Jerry Entin

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 00:09

Peter Bryant said that Eddie Johnson was older than most of the drivers at the time of the 1964 race. He was 45. He had turned a faster time then Dave MacDonald in his car. His best finish was a 6th in 1960 and a 7th in 1966. He was considered a finisher and a very steady guy. That is why he was in the other car. He came from the sprint car ranks. He was sadly killed in a plane crash on June 30, 1974 near Cleveland, Ohio. He was 55 in 1974. His best Indy type finish was a 3rd at Trenton in 1959. Eddie finished in the top 10 at Indy 5 times. A bit of trivia on Eddie Johnson is he drove near 5,000 miles at Indy without ever leading a lap. Only Chet Miller has driven more laps and never led a lap.

#218 Tom Glowacki

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 01:26

There are two photos of the McDonald car in David Freidman's "Indianapolis Racing Memories 1961-1969" The one on p. 60 is an overhead, and while the right side is partially obscured by a crewman, the only viisible filler cars are on the left side. The head on view on p.68 shows the area obscured on p. 60 and there is no right hand side filler cap.

#219 McGuire

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 06:34

Originally posted by HistoricMustang



To me it appears the drivers left wheel/tire is in slide correct mode while the drivers right wheel/tire, including wheel "spokes", can be seen which indicates it is not making corrections per driver input.

Am also focusing on Dave as he appears to be looking at drivers right wheel, perhaps realizing there is an issue.

We may never know unless additional photographs come forward or this one can be improved. I will check with Walter per our previous communications.


I don't see either of those things. To me it appears that both front wheels are pointed in the same nominal direction, and that MacDonald is simply looking down the track, as a driver often does with the car in that attitude (oversteer).

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#220 McGuire

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 06:43

Originally posted by Tom Glowacki
There are two photos of the McDonald car in David Freidman's "Indianapolis Racing Memories 1961-1969" The one on p. 60 is an overhead, and while the right side is partially obscured by a crewman, the only viisible filler cars are on the left side. The head on view on p.68 shows the area obscured on p. 60 and there is no right hand side filler cap.


P. 175 of Rick Pope's Indy Racing Chronicle shows a clear photo of Dave MacDonald's #83 shot from directly overhead. No right side fuel filler door; fuel filler plainly seen on left side only.

In this photo the car is shown in its sawn-out wheel opening stage of "development" so I suppose it is conceivable that a right side tank and filler were fitted later, but that possibility is of course directly refuted by the statements of Peter Bryant.

#221 McGuire

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 07:24

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps


Correct me if I am wrong, but you are saying that you in are in violent agreement with Henry Ford's supposition that history is bunk? That to examine an event in the past and then discuss it based on what is found makes one liar?


Not to wander off topic, but that is not at all what Henry Ford meant in the famous 1916 Chicago Tribune quote. He meant simply that we are not predestined; we are free to make our own history -- not a universal belief at the time, by the way. In fact, we know that Ford was a great lover of history: In his Henry Ford Museum he built one of the great private historical museums, next door to Greenfield Village, perhaps the world's first historical theme park.

Here in more complete form is the quote that one writer recently called "the mother of all misrepresented quotations":

"History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's dam is the history we make today."

#222 David M. Kane

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 13:27

Harry Truman said, "There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know."

#223 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 13:43

Originally posted by McGuire
"History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's dam is the history we make today."


Thanks, but quite familiar with the quotation, having used it as presented on more than a few occasions, both here and elsewhere.

Alas, it has been reduced to being simply another cryptic bit of shorthand that we use to convey notions that are not necessarily fully conveyed in the original source. Mea culpa.

#224 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 26 August 2007 - 16:48

Something had been bothering me for a bit about a contemporary account and last night I finally confirmed what it was -- sequence of events sidebar (page 26) in the report in August 1964 Car and Driver. I had to look around for it since my work area just got re-arranged.

Number two in the sequence: "MacDonald hits the angled extension of the inner retaining wall which ruptures the right-side fuel tank. The car explodes into flames and caroms into the center of the track."

According to the diagram in the report on number three in the sequence, Sachs hit MacDonald on the left side.

There is a series of six photographs showing the crash from just as MacDonald as hit the inner retaining wall to Unser hitting the wall.

In the race report, however, it mentions the fuel tank bursting without specifying any particiular side. It also mentions that "...MacDonald was struck by Eddie Sachs.... The collision caused another torrent if gasoline to burst from MacDonald's car and engulf Sachs...." (page 73)

#225 McGuire

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Posted 26 August 2007 - 17:48

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps
Something had been bothering me for a bit about a contemporary account and last night I finally confirmed what it was -- sequence of events sidebar (page 26) in the report in August 1964 Car and Driver. I had to look around for it since my work area just got re-arranged.

Number two in the sequence: "MacDonald hits the angled extension of the inner retaining wall which ruptures the right-side fuel tank. The car explodes into flames and caroms into the center of the track."

According to the diagram in the report on number three in the sequence, Sachs hit MacDonald on the left side.

There is a series of six photographs showing the crash from just as MacDonald as hit the inner retaining wall to Unser hitting the wall.

In the race report, however, it mentions the fuel tank bursting without specifying any particiular side. It also mentions that "...MacDonald was struck by Eddie Sachs.... The collision caused another torrent if gasoline to burst from MacDonald's car and engulf Sachs...." (page 73)


That is an interesting narrative in that in the body text, author David E. Davis Jr. clearly lets us know that he personally did not see the crash. (p.72, column 2) So the sidebar graphic (p.26) and the captions for the six serial photographs across the spread (25-26), along with the description in the main text, must have been compiled from the reports of other witnesses. Not questioning Davis Jr's reporting in the least -- after all, that is what good reporters do. Just making a note of it, for the purposes of categorization of info.

We also have here another example of the recurring presumption that the car was equipped with a right fuel tank, perhaps due to the nature of the fire(s). However, we have no solid evidence (photographic for example) that the car was equipped with a right tank. All the photos we have so far show no right tank. (Including the many 1963 construction photos.) We also have the first-person testimony of Peter Bryant that on race day the car was fitted with a left tank only.

#226 David M. Kane

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Posted 26 August 2007 - 19:55

:) I can't stand it any longer. First thing tomorrow I'm calling Donald Davidson at IMS; AND if he thinks it warrents it calls will be made to David E. Davis, Jr. and Johnny Rutherford since I now have his home number.

One of these 3 guys surely can point us in a new direction or tell me something that will allow me to put the matter to rest. :drunk:

#227 Jerry Entin

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Posted 26 August 2007 - 20:33

Dave: If it will put your mind to rest what Johnny Rutherford had to say as told to Peter Bryant on the Monterey weekend was that he felt that Dave MacDonald was trying too hard and lost the car. He didn't feel there was anything else that caused the wreck other than over enthusiasm.

#228 David M. Kane

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Posted 26 August 2007 - 20:47

Jerry:

That's always been my theory BTW. I just want to hear what Donald and David have to say about the vibe that day and the days after. I've talked to Johnny twice before and I'm interested in hearing how he approached this '64 500 since it was his 1st 500, that is in the days leading up to the actual race. Then I would like to know what knock-on effect Dave's and Gordon Smiley's accidents had on him. At the time he was very critical of how Gordon handled his spin and over-reacted in trying to save his car. This GS accident was equally gruesome To DM's and Eddie's. I was particularly upset by Gordon's accident since I raced against him in FF.

#229 Buford

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Posted 26 August 2007 - 22:11

I'll never forget that one either. I was in the press box, the underhang below the paddock penthouse. It was the only area that had TVs in those days. But I couldn't see one where I was sitting. There was an overhang in the way. Smiley went out and the announcer said, "He has made contact with the wall in turn 3." Nobody said anything among the people I was sitting with. This was common. I stood up and walked a few steps to where I could see the TV.

What I saw I couldn't comprehend. The entire track from turn 3 to 4 was strewn with small pieces like an airplane crash. The crash truck was just pulling up, and the guys jumped off and their heads were swiveling around. They couldn't find the driver. One threw his hands up to the sky in a futile gesture. They were running up to all the biggest pieces looking for him. I turned back to the people and yelled, "The car is in a million pieces. He doesn't have a chance." Everybody gasped and jumped up to see the TV screen. The trucks pulled up all around so our view was blocked. But we knew what the result was. There was no doubt at all. People were crying.

#230 HistoricMustang

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Posted 26 August 2007 - 23:57

My stomach remains in knots.

#231 FLB

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 00:13

Originally posted by Buford
What I saw I couldn't comprehend. The entire track from turn 3 to 4 was strewn with small pieces like an airplane crash. The crash truck was just pulling up, and the guys jumped off and their heads were swiveling around. They couldn't find the driver. One threw his hands up to the sky in a futile gesture. They were running up to all the biggest pieces looking for him. I turned back to the people and yelled, "The car is in a million pieces. He doesn't have a chance." Everybody gasped and jumped up to see the TV screen. The trucks pulled up all around so our view was blocked. But we knew what the result was. There was no doubt at all. People were crying.


Buford, I don't know what type of contacts you have with the IMS Safety Crews these days, but one second-hand account I've read mentioned a rescuer who's been there for the past 40 years. The gist of what I read of his account was 'If you thought Smiley was bad, thank God nobody saw what happened to Renna...'

#232 McGuire

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 00:25

Originally posted by David M. Kane
:) I can't stand it any longer. First thing tomorrow I'm calling Donald Davidson at IMS; AND if he thinks it warrents it calls will be made to David E. Davis, Jr. and Johnny Rutherford since I now have his home number.

One of these 3 guys surely can point us in a new direction or tell me something that will allow me to put the matter to rest. :drunk:


The thing is, while you are free to take at face value any of these views as you choose, especially if they will settle your mind, none of those three people possess any special knowledge that can provide absolute certainty as to all aspects of the events.

In the case of DED Jr., he didn't even see the crash.

Rutherford can provide the perspective from where he sat, which is a far better seat than most of us had, but he wasn't sitting in MacDonald's seat. And he seems to have some bad info as regards how much fuel MacDonald was carrying, though we don't know that yet.

Donald Davidson probably has the best total info at his disposal, but maybe he has never thoroughly investigated the entire event... and as we can see, the commonly-held depiction of events contains some obvious flaws and contradictions.

My basic take on the crash has never changed: A guy was pushing very hard in a car with a reputation for bad handling and spun it at the exit of Turn 4. Period. It happens all the time, nothing the least bit extraordinary about that event. What followed -- a horrific fire and two deaths -- is what makes the event extraordinary, and why we still care about it today. But there is really no mystery to the basic event itself. Race cars spin out. We don't need an extraordinary explanation to account for that. We just want one.

#233 TIPO61

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 00:46

Originally posted by McGuire


The thing is, while you are free to take at face value any of these views as you choose, especially if they will settle your mind, none of those three people possess any special knowledge that can provide absolute certainty as to all aspects of the events.

In the case of DED Jr., he didn't even see the crash.

Rutherford can provide the perspective from where he sat, which is a far better seat than most of us had, but he wasn't sitting in MacDonald's seat. And he seems to have some bad info as regards how much fuel MacDonald was carrying, though we don't know that yet.

Donald Davidson probably has the best total info at his disposal, but maybe he has never thoroughly investigated the entire event... and as we can see, the commonly-held depiction of events contains some obvious flaws and contradictions.

My basic take on the crash has never changed: A guy was pushing very hard in a car with a reputation for bad handling and spun it at the exit of Turn 4. Period. It happens all the time, nothing the least bit extraordinary about that event. What followed -- a horrific fire and two deaths -- is what makes the event extraordinary, and why we still care about it today. But there is really no mystery to the basic event itself. Race cars spin out. We don't need an extraordinary explanation to account for that. We just want one.


Seems like you should have said; 'none of these four people'...
DED Jr's viewpoint doesn't matter to you.
Rutherford. 'Bad info...but we don't know that yet.'
Donald Davidson, 'maybe he has never thoroughly investigated'...
Me (McGuire), Golly gee, glad you asked me. I know everything.
NOT!

#234 McGuire

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 00:47

Originally posted by Buford
I'll never forget that one either. I was in the press box, the underhang below the paddock penthouse. It was the only area that had TVs in those days. But I couldn't see one where I was sitting. There was an overhang in the way. Smiley went out and the announcer said, "He has made contact with the wall in turn 3." Nobody said anything among the people I was sitting with. This was common. I stood up and walked a few steps to where I could see the TV.

What I saw I couldn't comprehend. The entire track from turn 3 to 4 was strewn with small pieces like an airplane crash. The crash truck was just pulling up, and the guys jumped off and their heads were swiveling around. They couldn't find the driver. One threw his hands up to the sky in a futile gesture. They were running up to all the biggest pieces looking for him. I turned back to the people and yelled, "The car is in a million pieces. He doesn't have a chance." Everybody gasped and jumped up to see the TV screen. The trucks pulled up all around so our view was blocked. But we knew what the result was. There was no doubt at all. People were crying.


Yep, that is exactly how I remember it too. I was there for Brack's crash at Texas as well, and it was exactly the same kind of deal -- the car just disintegrated, exploded. One instant it was there and the next it was missing. Just a shower of pieces raining down over the track. But this time by some miracle (and 20+ years of safety advances) Kenny was in one piece.

I absolutely agree about Smiley's crash: he just flat screwed up. No offense, RIP. All drivers make mistakes. It's not fair to pay with your life but racing is not fair.

#235 Tom Glowacki

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 01:28

Originally posted by McGuire


P. 175 of Rick Pope's Indy Racing Chronicle shows a clear photo of Dave MacDonald's #83 shot from directly overhead. No right side fuel filler door; fuel filler plainly seen on left side only.

In this photo the car is shown in its sawn-out wheel opening stage of "development" so I suppose it is conceivable that a right side tank and filler were fitted later, but that possibility is of course directly refuted by the statements of Peter Bryant.


Found a picture of Johnson #84 today in "Indy's Wildest Decade" by Alex Gabbard, which also has only left side filler caps. There are also several pictures of the '63 cars and their filler caps are in about the same place as the '64 cars, so it would appear that that part of the design did not change.

#236 Catalina Park

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 09:14

From the photos that I have seen, MacDonald's car seems to burst into flame as soon as the right hand side hits the inner wall. Why did it explode in that fashion if the only tank was in the other side? Could it have knocked off the fuel pumps or filters? Could that cause that much fire?

According to Doug Nye's Cooper Cars, the 1961 Cooper Climax running gasoline would have been getting about 12 mpg verses 2-3 mpg for the alcohol fueled cars. Can anyone come up with some better mpg figures for the 1964 cars? 40 gallons may have been just right for a one stop race.

#237 Henri Greuter

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 09:41

Originally posted by Tom Glowacki


Found a picture of Johnson #84 today in "Indy's Wildest Decade" by Alex Gabbard, which also has only left side filler caps. There are also several pictures of the '63 cars and their filler caps are in about the same place as the '64 cars, so it would appear that that part of the design did not change.



The past weekend I received copies of the magazine "The alternate", published by Phyllis Devine.
The editions I received had a two part story about the 1964 crash, written by Bob Falcon, an engineer with Halibrand (builder of the Shrike) and later on he also worked at USAC for safety impovements.

Falcon described the Thompson and also stated that it had only one fuel bladder, on the left site of the car. but he estimated it at about 55 gallons.
What was really shocking to me was that based on these description I realized that the fuel tank in the Thompson wasnt a metal box but a rubber bladder only. One that ruptured open due to inertia when colliding with the wall.

Maybe, just maybe, a right side fuel tank was installed later on in the days before the race. Given the sea of flames I find it difficult to believe it was only 44 gallons. I also share the feeling that why should someone built a car with such a small tank? How many it stops did Carter make in 1963 in the forerunner of the 1964 car? or did he use gasoline already too? Find that one hard to believe.
For 1964 it should make some sense if Thompson knew way in advance that he got the Fords and that he was to use the more economic gasoline fuel in the race. But otherwise?

Falcon stated that only one, single 4.5 gallion fuel tank on Sachs' Shrike had hydrauliced and leaked. All other tanks were intact.

By now, I begin to have less questions about what caused the accident but get more wonders about: How many fuel tanks did the Thompson really have on Race Day?

Henri

#238 Catalina Park

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 10:12

I just had a thought, could it have had a fuel collector pot in the right hand side? :

#239 McGuire

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 10:58

Originally posted by TIPO61


Seems like you should have said; 'none of these four people'...
DED Jr's viewpoint doesn't matter to you.
Rutherford. 'Bad info...but we don't know that yet.'
Donald Davidson, 'maybe he has never thoroughly investigated'...
Me (McGuire), Golly gee, glad you asked me. I know everything.
NOT!


Well, that flew straight over your head. :D

My opinion of the crash itself does not differ in any meaningful way from the stated views of the people above. However, nobody alive or dead can fill in all the missing details sufficiently to resolve all doubt. That rather depends on the doubter, doesn't it.

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#240 McGuire

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 11:00

Originally posted by Tom Glowacki


Found a picture of Johnson #84 today in "Indy's Wildest Decade" by Alex Gabbard, which also has only left side filler caps. There are also several pictures of the '63 cars and their filler caps are in about the same place as the '64 cars, so it would appear that that part of the design did not change.


Yes, we have a stack of photographic evidence, and the first-person assertions of Bryant and Thompson, that the car was equipped with a left tank only. That would be the preponderance of evidence at this point, safe to say. We have everything short of final, irrefutable evidence that there was no right tank... say a race day, pre-crash photo showing the right body cavity empty.

But for some reason people who were there, including Johnny Rutherford and DED Jr, believed the car carried tanks on both sides. It would be helpful to learn what is the basis for this belief, as then we could set it aside once and for all -- or we would know there was indeed a right-side tank. Until then we have two conflicting points and a call to make. The car reportedly weighed less than 1200 lbs dry. If the stories are true that the car was carrying 80 or 90 gallons of gasoline, that is 480 to 540 lbs.

#241 Jerry Entin

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 11:28

Henri: The fellow you are talking about is Bob Falcone. He is the inventor of the ShoeHorn device used to extract drivers from a wrecked car without further back injuries.

#242 HistoricMustang

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 11:28

Originally posted by McGuire

That rather depends on the doubter, doesn't it.


Sorry, but I still fall in that catagory. We will see...................

Henry

#243 Henri Greuter

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 11:49

Originally posted by Jerry Entin
Henri: The fellow you are talking about is Bob Falcone. He is the inventor of the ShoeHorn device used to extract drivers from a wrecked car without further back injuries.



Tahnks Jerry,

When he mentioned within the articles he had done something with USAC's safety board I instantly took this man's opinions etc. serious. Everything within the article I read shows he knowns what he is talking about.

Henri

#244 Jerry Entin

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 11:57

Henri: Bob Falcone's father was Lou Falcone. Lou ran a wheel alignment shop across from the MGM Studios in a place called Culver City, California. Lou was also the crew chief on my friend Joe Playan's Porsche 550 Spyder.
Bob his son also comes to the breakfast meetings held once a month at the Coral Cafe, in Burbank. This is a get together for racing friends. The fellow who wrote the article you read made a mistake on Bob's last name.

#245 Henri Greuter

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 12:35

Originally posted by McGuire


Yes, we have a stack of photographic evidence, and the first-person assertions of Bryant and Thompson, that the car was equipped with a left tank only. That would be the preponderance of evidence at this point, safe to say. We have everything short of final, irrefutable evidence that there was no right tank... say a race day, pre-crash photo showing the right body cavity empty.

But for some reason people who were there, including Johnny Rutherford and DED Jr, believed the car carried tanks on both sides. It would be helpful to learn what is the basis for this belief, as then we could set it aside once and for all -- or we would know there was indeed a right-side tank. Until then we have two conflicting points and a call to make. The car reportedly weighed less than 1200 lbs dry. If the stories are true that the car was carrying 80 or 90 gallons of gasoline, that is 480 to 540 lbs.


McGuire,

I think that indeed the conclusion must be that the Thompson had only a single fuel cell. It still raises eyebrows with me, given the strategies and haits of the time but so be it.)
And in that case I think that the effects of gasoline in a fire are even more dramatic than was anticipated.
The size and severety of the fire gave the impression that it was much more than the, say 50 or so gallons that the entire spilled fuel volume has been.
I still find it difficult to believe that it was `only` 50 or so gallons of fuel that was involved within this fire. But the evidence (three, creditable eyewitnesses and the postcrash picture) force me to accept the inevitable. The Thompson had only one single fuel tank.

God only knows what should have happened if it should have had two tanks and if all the tanks within the Shrike of Sachs also would have leaked their contents.

I also wonder how many more assumptions and romours about this crash will be confirmed or laid to rest at last. The fact that all of us have proven that there can't have been a right side fuel tank involved within the cahin of events is something of a revelation.

Henri

#246 Henri Greuter

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 13:56

Originally posted by HistoricMustang


Sorry, but I still fall in that catagory. We will see...................

Henry



I'm affraid I must advise you once again to look up the story about mr Leslie Harrison of the Mercantile Marine Service Association and the other members of the "Lordian Lobby" and what all their doings in the aftermath of the Titanic disaster eventually had as a result.


The Bob Falcon I mentioned within the article of "the alternate" also wrote a bit on Dave MacDonald and the difficulties with his car and this is what he wrote.

"This car (the Thompson car of MacDonald HG) was reported to have severe handling problems. Dave MacDonald told two different people I know of his uneasiness with the car. But, when he was advised by both, that he contractually commited to drive the car in the 500, or he might never get another chance.

Evidently, the car suffered from a terrible condition known as “bump steer.” Part of this problem may have been a result of the ultra small wheels and tires used, but my knowledge of suspension geometry, once my friends told me of Dave complaints, suggests there was a bump-steer problem. This reaction to bump and rebound of the suspension members is the result of the arcs traveled by the outboard knuckles on the steering tie rods ends and the lower suspension arms ball joints. When these two components travel over different arcs during bump and rebound, a serious change in the toe-in settings occur.”


That the car indeed suffered from bump steer too is of course not proven. But it does add to the possible reasons why the car was so difficult to sort out mechanically, in addition to the aerodynamic instability it also suffered from.

I really, really wished that your informant who claims that it must have been mechanical failure could add to this discussion in person.


Best regards,

Henri

#247 McGuire

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 15:14

Originally posted by Henri Greuter



I also wonder how many more assumptions and romours about this crash will be confirmed or laid to rest at last. The fact that all of us have proven that there can't have been a right side fuel tank involved within the cahin of events is something of a revelation.

Henri


I don't believe we have proven that yet, though that would certainly be my conclusion if we had to close the door this moment. But as you say, it is interesting that it has been simply an article of faith for so many years that the car carried left and right tanks.

I think there are several areas that could stand a second look -- for example the belief that front aero lift played a significant role in the crash. I don't know about that. There are two problems with it:

1. MacDonald clearly lost the back of the car, not the front -- near-classic corner exit oversteer.

2. His speed probably wasn't great enough for aero front lift to come into play. Turn four was the second-slowest point on the track. We have to estimate that MacDonald was traveling somewhere around 140 mph at the absolute maximum... and perhaps as little as 120 mph, even less, since there is testimony that he was hard on the brakes dicing with Hansgen. (And he was on full tanks. And he was running gasoline rather than the methanol he qualified on @151 mph, which would reduce his lap speeds around 4 mph according to the Ford SAE papers.)

We have no reason to doubt Masten Gregory's report that the M/T cars suffered front end aero lift at speed. At the time, he was probably as familiar as anyone with the properties of race cars at and over their limits, and not afraid of them. However, as we all know aero forces operate as to the square of the airspeed, so conditions like front lift tend to exhibit a critical speed, with the condition most severe at/near the top of the observed speed range. If the car exhibited front aero lift sufficient to alter the handling significantly at 120 mph, it is very doubtful it would be capable of 150 mph lap average speeds: at ~185 mph (approx. max trap speed that year, according to the Ford SAE papers) the front wheels would likely be well off the ground. So if there were a cornering or handling problem due to front aero lift, we would expect to see it at the end of the straight and into the corner entry, not at the beginning of the straight and off corner exit.

So while I am not disputing in any way that the car had potential problems with front aero lift, it is altogether less clear that the problem could have played a meaningful role in MacDonald's crash.

#248 Walter Zoomie

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 15:36

Fords Go Gas; Ward Dissents

by George Moore


Is the Ford Motor Company out engineering itself, or is it pulling a shrewd maneuver based upon the premise it knows what it is doing?

Car owners using Ford V-8 engines are committed to using gas in the race whether they want to or not. And not all want to do so.

The dissenter is a lone individual, Rodger Ward, but Ward and Ford are having what could be described as an earnest discussion over the relative merits of gas versus alcohol.

Actually, Rodger's preference is not straight alcohol as much, but rather a blend which will be a compromise between two factors, horsepower and mileage.

An over simplification of the situation is that if gas is utilized it is possible to obtain better mileage per gallon because not so much of it is burned in the fuel-air ratio needed to make the engine function. However, gasoline has more BTU content. Consequently, it is necessary to lower the compression ratio and this in turn is one of the factors contributing to less horsepower.

Alcohol on the other hand acts as an internal coolant for the engine, and as a consequence it is possible to run higher cylinder pressures and obtain more power. Its drawback is that it requires more fuel to the air needed to make the engine run, so the miles per gallon go down.

What Rodger wants is a compromise of these two factors, a sacrifice of some power for mileage but not to the extent that the power is dumped overboard just to go further on a gallon of gas.

This can be achieved by using what is known as a blend, the most common form being alcohol with benzine and acetate. The other Ford users say they are willing to go along with gasoline.

Colin Chapman admitted that gas would give his Lotus cars considerably less power, although he declined to say how much. However, he said he didn't think it would put his team at a disadvantage or he wouldn't use the stuff.

Lindsey Hopkins, owner of Bobby Marshman's Pure Oil Firebird Special, thought gas would work to their advantage, since it would take some of the stress off the V-8 and lengthen its life. He said the engine was designed to function on gas, so there should be no problem.

This also was the feeling of Wally Meskowski whose Ford powered American Red Ball Special experienced a number of mechanical ills last week. Mickey Thompson also will be using gas in the race, although he currently is burning alcohol in an effort to qualify one other Allstate Special.

The switch to gas by Ford may change the thinking of the hot Meyer-Drake chauffeurs, since they now may figure the old four-cylinder can catch the V-8 if it has less power. However, the other side of the picture is that Ford still probably can maintain a 153 to 154 mph pace to stay in the lead, as well as go a longer distance with less engine strain.

When the facets of the Offy and the Ford are balanced against each other, they create one of the greatest unknown situations seen at the Speedway in years.


Originally appeared in May 19, 1964 edition of The Indianapolis Star.

#249 Jerry Entin

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 18:52

Henri: I have heard from Bob Falcon. He has told me that his dad changed their last name from Falcone to Falcon in 1942. I am wrong on that. He has told me he was at a barbecue this weekend and saw Sherry MacDonald there. He hadn't seen her in sometime and it was a very nice meeting. He has told me that his opinion of what happened has been accurately stated on this site. Those were his findings, and they have been stated as he found them.

#250 David M. Kane

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 19:14

Jerry:

Henry told me when he showed Sherry the autographed cover of the 500 Program that was the first time his kids had seen his signature; and that made them happy.