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The Mickey Thompson 'Sears Allstate Special' cars of 1964


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#251 HistoricMustang

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 22:10

Originally posted by Henri Greuter



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


Thanks Henri but one thing really disturbs me.

If the car was so bad and if perhaps the driver was so over his head, why in the world did USAC, the Speedway and the sponsors allow the car on track and attempt an ill fated adventure. If they felt like an accident was possible, then why? Or, has the tragedy been hyped so much through the years we may never find a possible alternate resolution?

Did an iceburg sink the Titanic as was thought for so many years? Nope, it seems to have been metal in the steel plates that produced a mechanical failure.

Dave was a rookie at Indianapolis but his experience in high powered automobiles at very fast ovals and road courses is an indication that he was at least somewhat comfortable in the car. The old story of "I have never seen a pilot crash his airplane into the ground" applies here. Why would everyone concerned do something so stupid.

As mentioned, we can not even document the amount of fuel in the car. How can we rule out even the slightest possibility that perhaps there was some type of mechanical issue with the car that caused what some feel was unsafe driving on Dave's part just after the start and up until the accident.

We need more documentation as this goes much deeper than a accident 43 years ago that took the lives of two drivers. People are not going to change their "toon" after four decades so it is up to us to attempt to gather ADDITIONAL or NEW information if in fact it is there.

Henry

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#252 HistoricMustang

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 22:17

Originally posted by Jerry Entin
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.


Thanks Jerry but no one should tie Bob's feelings about the accident as being the same as Sherry's.

Just clarification on the above quote.

Henry

#253 HistoricMustang

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 22:22

Originally posted by David M. Kane
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.


You are correct and another reason why we must continue to explore alternative possibilities about the accident.

Like Dave's signatures, the family has heard nothing but what has been glorified for so many decades with nothing new coming forward since the 1960's.

New photographs and new information before it is gone my friends. That is what is needed if the tide is to ever be turned. Is this group us to the task? We will see.

Henry

#254 Bob Riebe

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 22:34

Originally posted by HistoricMustang


We need more documentation as this goes much deeper than a accident 43 years ago that took the lives of two drivers. People are not going to change their "toon" after four decades so it is up to us to attempt to gather ADDITIONAL or NEW information if in fact it is there.

Henry

This is becoming as asinine as the Kennedy shooting theories.

People that were there 43 years ago, hey, what the hell do they know; WE must not rest till WE get the answer WE will accept.

Bob

#255 TIPO61

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 23:08

Originally posted by HistoricMustang


You are correct and another reason why we must continue to explore alternative possibilities about the accident.

Like Dave's signatures, the family has heard nothing but what has been glorified for so many decades with nothing new coming forward since the 1960's.

New photographs and new information before it is gone my friends. That is what is needed if the tide is to ever be turned. Is this group us to the task? We will see.

Henry


Henry, Henry, Henry.

#256 HistoricMustang

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 00:06

Originally posted by TIPO61


Henry, Henry, Henry.


Sorry, never been much of a "Brandy and Cigars" type of individual.

#257 David M. Kane

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 00:19

Henry:

So you never called Donald Davidson, do you want me to do it?

#258 HistoricMustang

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 00:42

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Henry:

So you never called Donald Davidson, do you want me to do it?


Dave, it would be very much appreciated as I am very busy with the annual event at AIR that takes place on September 8th. Plus working a 40 hour per week job and attempting to get that retirement home at the lake by next weekend and providing an alternate point of view here is keeping myself rather busy.

I really do appreciate every point of view being posted...................well, most of them. :cat:

Also, there was a mechanic close to the accident and Eddie Johnson with the first name of Lenny. Does anyone know this individual or his family?

Henry

#259 MPea3

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 01:28

Henry, I'm not trying to be mean here, but is there an outcome to this discussion other than the opposite of the opinion that's prevailed over the last 40 years that would satisfy you? I understand that you're a huge Dave MacDonald fan, but other than some as yet unspoken evidence and the idea that all paths must be explored, is there any reason to doubt the prevailing thought as to the reasons for the accident?

It's almost as if you've adopted a defense attorney's approach of creating reasonable doubt to clear MacDonald. There always must be more research, there is always a question, and so on.

Perhaps it's not fair (whatever fair is) that so many only know the name Dave MacDonald as the Indy novice who spun and caused the infamous accident in which Eddie Sachs died. Perhaps it's more fair that he be remembered for his skills he showed so many other places and times. Good luck with making that happen though, because like it or not, a brilliant win in a sports car at Riverside meant nothing compared to the race that was the Indy 500. Also like it or not, I don't know how you'll ever prove that a mechanical problem caused the accident at Indy.

We DO know however, that he drove a car in the race which a number of respected drivers considered an evil handling pig, on a track and in a time that left no margin for error or mistake. He was advised to give the drive up, and he drove what I think was an extremely aggressively first lap which only compounded the situation. Remember, this isn't hindsight talking, it was the sort of behavior advised against by the more experienced people around him.

Is it possible that a mechanical problem caused the crash? Of course. While we're at it, let's rehash the Jim Clark tragedy again, check out the Gordon Smiley accident... hell, maybe even Richard Seaman was the victim of a faulty part, not to mention a German conspiracy. And in doing so, where does it end?

An English climber Alan Rouse, once said that if you died on a mountain it invalidated all of your successes. In a literal sense I think he's wrong, but I understand what he meant. His legacy is different with his having died on K2 than it would be had he made it back. The same holds true for MacDonald. His death at Indy will forever define his career for many. Fair? Probably not, but the exercise in trying to find a plausible explanation to correct that has become tedious.

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#260 Tom Glowacki

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 01:32

[QUOTE]Originally posted by HistoricMustang
[B]


"As mentioned, we can not even document the amount of fuel in the car. How can we rule out even the slightest possibility that perhaps there was some type of mechanical issue with the car that caused what some feel was unsafe driving on Dave's part just after the start and up until the accident."

Henry,

What mechanical condition would cause "unsafe driving"? McDonald was smart enough to pull off the track if he was having a serious problem. Are you saying he kept his foot in and was passing people because the car was malfunctioning?

If you have something solid to go on, let's see it. Otherwise, continually questioning whether some infinite number of possibilities caused the accident in the face of some pretty solid facts is not getting us anywhere. Although granted, this has been an interesting thread.

#261 Henri Greuter

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 07:21

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.


About the fuel tank on McDonald’s car.

Now here I have found something that could be of interest but is likely explainable after all.
.
Popely, P175 overhead shot: Nothing on the right, only at left a fuel filler.
I. Racing memories by Friedman: P68 frontal view: Front wheel tops visible. Nothing on the right, only at left a fuel filler
I. Racing memories by Friedman: P64 frontal view: Fully enclosed front wheels with vents/flaps in/at nose cone: Nothing on the right, only at left a fuel filler. (same picture in Wallen’s ’Roar of the sixties’ P251 says it to be a test after qualifying
I. Racing memories by Friedman: P60 overhead view: Fully enclosed front wheels, no vents/flaps on nose cone. Nothing on the right, only at left a fuel filler but also a filler at the left side between the front wheels.
(Same car pictured in Wallen’s “Roar of the Sixties” P250, again nothing on the right but also with the smaller filler cap between the front wheels.

On Qualifying shots of McDonald the tops of the fenders are cut off, same in the race.

So it appears as if there were different nose cones around, and sometimes hiding this front fillercap, sometimes not. Though I must instantly add to this that on the pictures with the nose cone with vents/flaps this smaller filler cap might be hidden behind the left flap.

I suppose that this smaller filler cap must have been for the radiator or maybe the oil tank?
As much as I felt that the car might have contained more fuel, I don’t think it is very likely that there was another fuel tank with another filler in the very front of the nose.


As for what was usual in these days for tank capacity. As of niow, the only numbers I found were in the 1983 Hungness yearbook, the article on Norm Hal, who drove the '64 #26 Nothing Special.
His car (a Watson) had a 54 gallon tail tank and a 28 gallon tank alongsude the engine and he intended to make a two-stop race for fresh tires and fuel.

Henri

#262 Henri Greuter

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 07:23

Originally posted by Jerry Entin
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.



Thanks a lot Jerry.
Have more, other, reasons to get in touch with Bob myself anyway.


Henri

#263 Henri Greuter

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 08:45

Originally posted by HistoricMustang


Thanks Henri but one thing really disturbs me.

If the car was so bad and if perhaps the driver was so over his head, why in the world did USAC, the Speedway and the sponsors allow the car on track and attempt an ill fated adventure. If they felt like an accident was possible, then why? Or, has the tragedy been hyped so much through the years we may never find a possible alternate resolution?

Did an iceburg sink the Titanic as was thought for so many years? Nope, it seems to have been metal in the steel plates that produced a mechanical failure.

Dave was a rookie at Indianapolis but his experience in high powered automobiles at very fast ovals and road courses is an indication that he was at least somewhat comfortable in the car. The old story of "I have never seen a pilot crash his airplane into the ground" applies here. Why would everyone concerned do something so stupid.

As mentioned, we can not even document the amount of fuel in the car. How can we rule out even the slightest possibility that perhaps there was some type of mechanical issue with the car that caused what some feel was unsafe driving on Dave's part just after the start and up until the accident.

We need more documentation as this goes much deeper than a accident 43 years ago that took the lives of two drivers. People are not going to change their "toon" after four decades so it is up to us to attempt to gather ADDITIONAL or NEW information if in fact it is there.

Henry


Thanks as well Henry,

As for for USAC not banning the car. Well, when did USAC or AAA ever ban a car from the Speedway? up til 1964, about the only car I can come up with out of the top of my head was that AAA inspecteed the Novi after Hepburn's fatality after claims by Bergere and others that the Novi was unsafe.
The other things I can recall right now is in 1967 when they mandated a hole within the airbreak of the STP turbine car in order to allow drivers behind it a little window to look through it. And the STP Lotus Turbines being forced to use susspension components odf a different specification metal than was used.
Other than that I can not mention a car that was banned of the track for being questionable in safety.

By the way, the latest on what sank the Titanic that the hull plates were of acceptable quality for the time of the day But there is a theory that the pop nails to bind the plates together were not strong enough. They gave in once the titanic hit the iceberg, the hull wasn't so much ripped open by the ice but the pop nails giving in and some the plates becoming separated. Pats of the wreck salvaged from the bottom of the ocean and metallurgic analysis of them seem to support this theory.

Back to topic.
Itr appears to me that you can't accept anything wrong being done by Dave in the race. I think that, however, there is still one driver error he did made that can be said about that he did make it.

Again, I agree with you that, based on what evidence is available now, for the time being mechanical failure can’t be excluded for the full 100% yet. But the fact remains that poor Dave still has almost every available evidence against him, partly due to, regret to say, his own fault.
If there was indeed a conspiracy by Thompson, Ford and other prominent parties involved to blame the entire accident on a rookie, then I suppose that you won’t believe much of all what Mickey Thompson has said like about having sorted out the car on carb day. Or the fact which was stated by both Thompson and Fred Bailey about McDonald having to take action to avoid into another car’s tale after closing in on him so much faster out of the corner. ( I put those quots within this thread)

If Thompson was indeed right and had the car sorted out on Carb day, then why did Clark still come up to Dave and advise him to walk away from that car? I think that more or less approves that the car still wasn’t sorted out. Or did Thompson do something else on the car after that as the last, final attempt?
Also his comment to Dave to take it easy in the first laps could well be a lie in order to put the blame on Dave.
And should USAC director of competition Henry Banks also have been in the plot and made up a story about having talked with Dave short before the start?

Also, was Bob Falcon (who’se story I quoted) lying about knowing of at least two people with whom Dave had spoken about the car worrying him? And Dave’s dad when he spoke about the concerns of his son about the car, was he not telling the truth either.


Because: If Dave was indeed hesitant about the car, then why in Heaven’s name did he take so much risks in overtaking so many drivers in the first laps with a car he had expressed his hesitations about and which he had never driven yet wit a full fuel load in busy traffic yet?
Dave was said to be all over the place. So he must have been utterly confident all of a sudden that he could tame the car. And I have understood from reports about his driving style that he hung out the tail of his cars quite often. (Is that correct by the way??)
So all of a sudden he must have been utterly confident or, in case that his peers were right and that Dave almost lost it twice already, he then failed to realize that he was driving beyond the limits of his car, even with his skills to control a tailhappy car.

You suggested he might have been heading for the pit lane. To me it appears more likely that, if it wasn’t for avoiding a driver directly ahead of him, maybe he had taken the corner at his beloved manner, hanging the tail out? And then being unable to catch up the car and straighten it out again, due to whatever reason, equipment failure not excluded..

Now, that reason could indeed still have been a mechanical failure at that particular moment. I won’t deny that, I can’t prove you’re off with that suggestion. Neither can I approve that nothing was wrong at all and Dave simply lost it yet again but this time for once and for all.
As you said: We just don't know.

But: even if the wreck showed suspension failure: how can it be proven by now that it was a result of breakage before the crash? Given the impact of Sachs’s car and the fact that Rutherford went over the car as well, who else did run into Dave’s wreck how much of all damage on the car is a result of all these collisions.
Are the odds on a car breaking its suspension like a sister car did better than finding out that on a heavily mangled wreck which had several heavy impacts the suspension was wrecked exactly like on that sister car?

Yes, it could indeed have been mechanical failure.
But I am afraid that, given Dave’s manner of driving in a car that he was having thoughts about, he didn’t take these feelings (and those of others about his car) in consideration in those early laps.
And I think that is what can be rated as Dave’s `driver error` he made. Even if mechanical failure will be proven later on, that won’t take away the fact that within the 1 ¾ laps he drove, he didn’t drove like a driver who had expressed some reservations for his own car as he knew it, had not driven yet in the conditions he was to drive it early on in the race, and kept all of that in consideration, for whatever reason.
We knew he knew better about his car, yest when it really counted he didn't behaveactdrove like that.
The heat of the moment, for which the first laps at Indy are known for, might have been the case, I don’t know.

But then: I don’t blame him for having done what he did, I only don’t understand it why he did it while he knew better about his car.
Neither do I blame him for loosing control, for whatever reason that did happen, neither for the wreck that followed, neither for the fatality of Sachs and all other injuries and the aftermath of it all. Once he was in a slide, it was out of his hands, nothing to blame hime for.
By the way, nothing I wrote is intended as a personal attack on Dave. I pity him and I regret that he ended up in a situation like this. He didn't deserve that and it is sad that it all happened like that.

Last suggestion to you Henry,
Whatever the outcome will be, I hope that pictures taken shortly before the impact will appear eventually. But maybe you need to be on another forum? Like Eagle104 ‘s nostalgia forum or the Historic Racing Group at Yahoo. These groups are much more into Indy history than this Atlas group.


Best regards,

Henri

#264 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 12:15

Originally posted by Henri Greuter
But maybe you need to be on another forum? Like Eagle104 ‘s nostalgia forum or the Historic Racing Group at Yahoo. These groups are much more into Indy history than this Atlas group.


I would argue just the opposite.

Not sure how to put it politely, but both of these fora tend to get far more bogged down in endless sidebar digressions (which somehow seem to always end up relating to the current racing schism) and tend to rarely produce much actual discussion focused on the issue at hand. Being "much more into Indy history" is not remotely the same as having people who understand history actually participate -- or pontificate as is often the case -- in any discussion such as this one. As challenging as this discussion may seem to have been here at TNF, I think that it produced a far more rounded discussion than it would elsewhere.

I participated in both fora for some period of time and have now dropped out of one entirely and doing the same to the other. There is a very strong anti-historian bias (as in the "liberal arts" or scholastic type of historian) at the RacingHistory group; this finally led to me to depart after years of trying to accommodate the challenges associated with both the format and the narrow scope of the group. The TrackForum nostalgia forum tends to be populated by those supporting the IRL and/or who concentrate only on the Indianapolis event. I have not seen any evidence that would lead me to think that either of the other groups is all that much more knowledgable on this topic than those here at TNF.

The major reason is that they both lack the depth of overall knowledge of motor racing and its history that this forum has. This is not to say that the two fora are not without their merits, but this type of in-depth discussion is simply not their forte. Both tend to not be very "curious" in the historical sense, there being little interest in topics which do garner enough attention to open up new "doors of perception" here at TNF. Sorry if this seems to be in infomercial for TNF, but while it is possible either one of the others might contribute something to this discussion, the level of discussion would fall far short of what you see here.

#265 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 19:23

I would agree with Don...

Not to decry those other fora, but because I've seen an infinite number of instances where TNF members have shown themselves to be, collectively and singly, willing to go to great lengths to seek out the truth.

And always able to avoid scrapping amongst themselves as they get on with reaching conclusions. Though there have been instances, of course.

#266 West3

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 23:34

I have found this thread to be very enlightening, engrossing and occasionally disturbing. A real roller coaster of emotions.

There is a possibility that I have not yet seen proposed. Could the accident have been due in part to a stuck (or sticking) throttle?

The facts, as we currently know them, seem to allow this possibility.

1) The car was known to have unstable handling characteristics. MacDonald was warned by at least two of his contemporaries of this. He was advised to "Get out of that car mate. Just walk away." by no less than Jim Clark. But other accounts indicate the team had a handle on the car's problems by race day and MacDonald was apparently much happier with its behavior.

2) The assertion that the car's aerodynamics might have caused the front to lift at speed may indeed have merit. However MacDonald comprehensively lost control at one of the "slowest" points of the track. One would assume an unstable aero condition would manifest itself at higher speeds. Also, if front end lift was the issue, it is much more likely a loss of steering control would result, causing the car to drift to the outer wall. By all accounts this did not happen; control was lost from the rear.

3) Jack Brabham's recollection of seeing MacDonald nearly losing control a couple of times before the accident could conceivably be due to MacDonald not having the fine throttle control necessary under race conditions.

4) Len Sutton's eyewitness report also lends credence to the possibility of a stuck throttle. Make of it what you will.

"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."

5) It is possible that MacDonald, obviously aware of the problem, was in fact attempting to return to the pits, as has been suggested. He may have not anticipated Hansgen's move or felt his considerable car-control skills would have allowed the pass. If so, he would likely done so to minimize his time lost in the pits.

6) The above might also explain why MacDonald was passing so many cars so early in the race. This after he had agreed to take it easy early on.

I have no idea if the post-accident investigation and examination of the wreckage could have ruled out the likelihood of throttle problems, but since this possibility hasn't been previously proposed, I thought it worthwhile to do so.

There is certainly no chance that every possible cause of this tragedy will ever be ruled out, just as we can never have a "Titanic" discovery and be able to utilize modern forms of forensic investigation to determine what happened. Likewise, statements by persons involved at the time can be clouded by the passing years and may be more "recollections of memories" than statements of fact.

Still, what a great forum to try to flesh out an answer.


#267 Henri Greuter

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 06:48

Originally posted by West3
I have found this thread to be very enlightening, engrossing and occasionally disturbing. A real roller coaster of emotions.

There is a possibility that I have not yet seen proposed. Could the accident have been due in part to a stuck (or sticking) throttle?

The facts, as we currently know them, seem to allow this possibility.

1) The car was known to have unstable handling characteristics. MacDonald was warned by at least two of his contemporaries of this. He was advised to "Get out of that car mate. Just walk away." by no less than Jim Clark. But other accounts indicate the team had a handle on the car's problems by race day and MacDonald was apparently much happier with its behavior.

2) The assertion that the car's aerodynamics might have caused the front to lift at speed may indeed have merit. However MacDonald comprehensively lost control at one of the "slowest" points of the track. One would assume an unstable aero condition would manifest itself at higher speeds. Also, if front end lift was the issue, it is much more likely a loss of steering control would result, causing the car to drift to the outer wall. By all accounts this did not happen; control was lost from the rear.

3) Jack Brabham's recollection of seeing MacDonald nearly losing control a couple of times before the accident could conceivably be due to MacDonald not having the fine throttle control necessary under race conditions.

4) Len Sutton's eyewitness report also lends credence to the possibility of a stuck throttle. Make of it what you will.

"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."

5) It is possible that MacDonald, obviously aware of the problem, was in fact attempting to return to the pits, as has been suggested. He may have not anticipated Hansgen's move or felt his considerable car-control skills would have allowed the pass. If so, he would likely done so to minimize his time lost in the pits.

6) The above might also explain why MacDonald was passing so many cars so early in the race. This after he had agreed to take it easy early on.

I have no idea if the post-accident investigation and examination of the wreckage could have ruled out the likelihood of throttle problems, but since this possibility hasn't been previously proposed, I thought it worthwhile to do so.

There is certainly no chance that every possible cause of this tragedy will ever be ruled out, just as we can never have a "Titanic" discovery and be able to utilize modern forms of forensic investigation to determine what happened. Likewise, statements by persons involved at the time can be clouded by the passing years and may be more "recollections of memories" than statements of fact.

Still, what a great forum to try to flesh out an answer.



Given the fact that Eddie Johnsson's team car had a fuel supply problem: you give an interesting theory that could indeed be the case.
Approval is another matter but, yes, I can envision such a scenario to happen.

Henri

#268 Henri Greuter

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 08:12

Originally posted by Walter Zoomie
Fords Go Gas; Ward Dissents

by George Moore

snip

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.

snip



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



A slight error to correct on. Moore mentions acetate but that is not correct. It must be acetone. for those who are not into chemistry: Acetone is a dissolvent fairly common used, konwn to be used in all kind of fuel blends for, particularly supercharged engines.
Acetate however is a component acetic acid, best known as being the acid within vinegar.



Then:
In previous messages data were asked about fuel tank capacities of other cars.

I have found statements that Walt Hansgen (MG Liquid Suspension Spcl, RE Offy) had a 78 gallon capacity. The Ferguson Novi could take 86 gallons on board.

I think that by now the legend of the Thompson cars being fuel traps must be put aside for once and for all.


Henri

#269 McGuire

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 13:08

Originally posted by Henri Greuter


Then:
In previous messages data were asked about fuel tank capacities of other cars.

I have found statements that Walt Hansgen (MG Liquid Suspension Spcl, RE Offy) had a 78 gallon capacity. The Ferguson Novi could take 86 gallons on board.

I think that by now the legend of the Thompson cars being fuel traps must be put aside for once and for all.
Henri


I'm still looking for good information on the 1964 Lotus cars, but the 1963 Lotus reportedly carried 50 gallons of fuel in multiple tanks throughout the monocoque. Their pre-race estimate was 7.5 mpg, which would give the car a potential range of 375 miles. (Source: HOT ROD magazine, June '63, p. 35)

Consequently, running gasoline Clark was able to run the distance with one fuel stop in '63, and with relative ease. Ford engineers determined that due to using too-short air horns (proper length not available) on the Weber carbs, they had a reversion problem (aka fuel standoff). They estimated that over the course of the race they pumped several gallons of gasoline up into the air.

Of course, this was a very different situation than the Offy-engined, methanol-fueled roadsters, which were compelled to carry large fuel loads. The rear-engined Ford cars were several hundred pounds lighter, had considerably less frontal area, and ran on gasoline for much better mileage.

#270 Tomas Karlsson

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 13:34

I don't know if it had anything to do with the MacDonald car or if it was just an awareness of the dangers with fire, but according to Popely's Indinapolis book the rule changes for the '65 race stated that "no fuel lines or crossover tubes are allowed ahead of the driver."

#271 McGuire

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 14:55

Originally posted by Henri Greuter



Given the fact that Eddie Johnsson's team car had a fuel supply problem: you give an interesting theory that could indeed be the case.
Approval is another matter but, yes, I can envision such a scenario to happen.

Henri


I am not following how a fuel supply problem on one team car would make a throttle-sticking problem on the other car more likely. Mechanically they aren't really related.

To me the thottle-sticking scenario has this problem: we don't need it to explain anything that happened that day. No, we are coming at it from the opposite direction -- we have a throttle-sticking theory and we are seeing what we can do to make it fit the incident. The incident itself doesn't really indicate a stuck throttle.

Sure, it's possible that the throttle stuck. It is also possible that the car was struck by a meteorite. After all, it is reported that over 1700 extraplanetary objects penetrate the atmosphere and strike the earth's surface each year. Nor can we rule out sabotage... possibly by Nazi spies operating from a secret midget submarine base in Riverside Park, unaware that the war had ended 19 years earlier.

I don't mean to be facetious, but it seems as though in studying this event we are constanly searching for zebras when we ought to be looking for horses, and here they are standing right in front of us. While I have no way to absolutely disprove the theory that MacDonald passed all those cars in front of him because his throttle was stuck open, my horse sense tells me that is not the most likely explanation we have available to us, or even a plausible explanation.

#272 David M. Kane

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 22:22

I've asked Donald Davidson to look at this topic.

#273 HistoricMustang

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 23:24

Originally posted by David M. Kane
I've asked Donald Davidson to look at this topic.


VERY much appreciated!

Thanks so much for your efforts Dave.

Henry

#274 Henri Greuter

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 07:26

Originally posted by McGuire


I am not following how a fuel supply problem on one team car would make a throttle-sticking problem on the other car more likely. Mechanically they aren't really related.

To me the thottle-sticking scenario has this problem: we don't need it to explain anything that happened that day. No, we are coming at it from the opposite direction -- we have a throttle-sticking theory and we are seeing what we can do to make it fit the incident. The incident itself doesn't really indicate a stuck throttle.

Sure, it's possible that the throttle stuck. It is also possible that the car was struck by a meteorite. After all, it is reported that over 1700 extraplanetary objects penetrate the atmosphere and strike the earth's surface each year. Nor can we rule out sabotage... possibly by Nazi spies operating from a secret midget submarine base in Riverside Park, unaware that the war had ended 19 years earlier.

I don't mean to be facetious, but it seems as though in studying this event we are constanly searching for zebras when we ought to be looking for horses, and here they are standing right in front of us. While I have no way to absolutely disprove the theory that MacDonald passed all those cars in front of him because his throttle was stuck open, my horse sense tells me that is not the most likely explanation we have available to us, or even a plausible explanation.



McGuire,

Iwhen suggesting it to be possible since the other car had a fuel pump problem, it required me to think about both cars haveing a problem somewhere between fuel tank and fuel injectors, including the throttle.
HistoricMustang suggested the theory that because one car crashed, suspension failure being told the reason, something similar may have happened with a sister car.
If such theories are plausible, then I was thinking along the lines that if one car turned out to have an error somwhere in the fuel supply system, then the team car may have been bugged by a problem in the system as well, yet a different one. Likely? I don't know, remote at best. Possible? Well, I don't dare to exclude it.
I still must agree with HistoricMustang that car malfunction can not be excuded yet. But how to approve it, if it was the indeed the case to begin with?

But I fear that it will be almost impossible to prove at least with all evidence available right now.
I don't know if the wreck was examined carefully enough to pay attention to such details. The more while shortly after the accident the word was out that Dave overdid it in his manner of driving. I don't know how investigators attitiudes were at that ime but with so much evidence already at hand, then why look for that remote chance that it was something different after all?
And after all that happend with the wreck, was at that time any damage to be identified as pre-crash damage or a result of all the collisions?


Henri

#275 Henri Greuter

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 08:13

Originally posted by HistoricMustang


VERY much appreciated!

Thanks so much for your efforts Dave.

Henry




Henry,

I have contacted a friend of me who collects film material about the 500.
To his knowledge, there is no professional footage known that is available for the public that shows the full accident happening. What is available to the public shows McDonald already out of control, not how and when he lost it.
I am sorry but that seems to make finding that kind of material for evidence even more difficult.


The closest to the moment that Dave lost it which I have seen can be found on "The Roadster's last Triumph", a DVD by First Turn Productions. That DVD also is reported to contain footage of McDonald in which you can actually see that the car lifts its nose. But I haven't noticed such yet.
That DVD also contains footage of the crash itself and it does approve to me that there was indeed no fuel tank on the right side of the car.
Gruesome color footage, be warned for that. But I must give the guys of First Turn kudo's for how they show the accident and how they narrate it. It is done with respect for both drivers who lost their lives.

This DVD also disclaims another suggestion that was made in the 1964 Race report of Car & Driver that also talked about the exploding right side fuel tank. Donald Capps posted about this article early on within this thread.
On the diagram within the article that explains how the accident happened it appears as if MacDonald was already loosing it in Turn Four and was rather low at the track. He was however barely out of the turn, if not already at the straight already. In fact, he was up so high on the outside of the track that I find it diffuclt to believe that at that time he wanted to make a pitstop. For doing so he had to steer down from there to the other side of the track toenter the pit lane. He thus had to cross the track from right to left in front of the field still right behind him while he had to slow down and they were accelerating up on the straight.

Finally, another thought that the First Turn DVD raised with me.
The DVD "The Roadster's last Triumph" showed footage, taken at the place of the accident and from there they looked into the direction of turn 1, heading up the straight.
The straight of Indy at that time really appeared to be a funnel, coming out of a wide turn heading up on the far more narrow straight. That wall on which MacDonald collided really, really narrowed the track and assured that everything that collided onto it was thrown back on the track or, if sliding along the wall first, then eventually was directed back upon the track.

I don't know the lay-out of the track well enough to know how the endo of turn 2 looked like in those days, and the beginning of the back straight. But I wonder if anything what eventually happened would have been similar when coming out of turn 4 if is had happened when Dave had lost control when coming out of Turn 2.

I keep posting if I find more for you. But I can't garuantee that, whatever I may find, that you'll like it, let alone that it supports your case. No offence meant by the way.

Best regards,

Henri

#276 HistoricMustang

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 10:31

Originally posted by Henri Greuter


Henry,

I keep posting if I find more for you. But I can't garuantee that, whatever I may find, that you'll like it, let alone that it supports your case. No offence meant by the way.

Best regards,

Henri


Thanks Henri.

Your input and input from other members is very much appreciated.

There is some misunderstanding (certainly not by you) that my attempt is to re-write the history of this accident but that simply is not the case. Questions have been asked and opinions given in hopes of gaining additional insight and this has infact happened. The fuel tank construction is but one interesting outcome from the discussion.

As the discussion progressed into multiple post and then multiple pages more and more members have provided information and opinions and we have explored other possible options on what may have caused the accident. Others have not been reviewed such as a possible electrical issue with the car which I have personally discussed with a MacDonald family member. This issue was brought forward immediately after the accident. Possible fluid leakage from Dave's car or another has not been reviewed and perhaps it should not.

The point being, that what has taken place is very much appreciated by myself and others close to the tragedy.

Henry

#277 McGuire

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 14:09

Originally posted by Henri Greuter



McGuire,

Iwhen suggesting it to be possible since the other car had a fuel pump problem, it required me to think about both cars haveing a problem somewhere between fuel tank and fuel injectors, including the throttle.
HistoricMustang suggested the theory that because one car crashed, suspension failure being told the reason, something similar may have happened with a sister car.
If such theories are plausible, then I was thinking along the lines that if one car turned out to have an error somwhere in the fuel supply system, then the team car may have been bugged by a problem in the system as well, yet a different one. Likely? I don't know, remote at best. Possible? Well, I don't dare to exclude it.
I still must agree with HistoricMustang that car malfunction can not be excuded yet. But how to approve it, if it was the indeed the case to begin with?

Henri


I am thinking more in terms of causality. It is known that the other car had a fuel supply problem. However, a fuel supply problem will not cause the throttle to stick, nor do the items known to cause fuel supply problems cause throttle sticking. The two problems are not really integrated or related. In a Hilborn fuel injection system you have air control and fuel control and with the exception of the barrel valve, they are essentially two separate sets of parts.

That said, personally I would not exclude the possibility of any mechanical failures. I would welcome the opportunity to examine the slightest bit of evidence. Where is it?

#278 FLB

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 14:21

Originally posted by McGuire


I am thinking more in terms of causality. It is known that the other car had a fuel supply problem. However, a fuel supply problem will not cause the throttle to stick, nor do the items known to cause fuel supply problems cause throttle sticking. The two problems are not really integrated or related. In a Hilborn fuel injection system you have air control and fuel control and with the exception of the barrel valve, they are essentially two separate sets of parts.

Are there any reports that MacDonald's engine may have been missing? A missing engine in the middle of a high-speed corner can be enough to destabilize a good car, let alone one that already has iffy handling in the best of times AND that's on full tanks.

#279 David M. Kane

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 16:04

Henry:

Check your PM Donald Davidson wants to ask you some questions.

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#280 Buford

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 19:19

Turn two in those days did not have a similar wall that angled toward the track. I think turn 4 was that way because they did not want to cut down the huge tree on the inside that actually caught fire from the flaming fuel sprayed on it since it was right next to the point of impact. The tree lived several more years after that and the wall remained the same. It was only changed when they made the much wider pit entrance they still use today. Another reason was they wanted to protect the pit entrance and not have a 90 degree perpendicular wall there, and they thought it was safer to have an angled wall than have cars hit one head on.

Since they made the current turn 4 configuration lots of cars have hit there in the same way as Mac Donald's car did and if they are going fast enough they still come back out on the track the same way. One example you may recall was Arie Luyendick's first test of the SAFER wall version one in an IROC car.

#281 Walter Zoomie

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 23:04

I've gone through my collection of old Indianapolis Star newspapers and found a few things of interest. Many of the stories were written by my father, sort of like a daily track side report thing.

I've imbedded the Indy Star publication date in the image properties. Hope some of this is useful....

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#282 David M. Kane

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 23:51

Walter excellent work, I think Mickey Thompson must have been totally stressed out by the time race day came around! Lying down like that in the tow truck can be a sign of high stress IMO.

I'd like to know more about this three wheel steering, I assume they ran it on race day.

#283 HistoricMustang

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 00:50

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Henry:

Check your PM Donald Davidson wants to ask you some questions.


Dave, no PM but contact is being made with the info you provided. Thanks a TON and you have a copy. :wave:

Henry

#284 HistoricMustang

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 00:57

Originally posted by Walter Zoomie
I've gone through my collection of old Indianapolis Star newspapers and found a few things of interest. Many of the stories were written by my father, sort of like a daily track side report thing.

I've imbedded the Indy Star publication date in the image properites. Hope some of this is useful....


In my opinion this is the type of "new" information that needs to be presented and explored.

Thanks so much.

Henry

#285 Buford

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 02:29

Looks like everybody who drove one spun or crashed or both, Gregory, Johnson, Arnold, MacDonald.

#286 ovfi

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 03:26

And the car #82 (Titanium chassis) was crashed by all the drivers (including Graham Hill and Bill Krause in '63) and didn't qualified in both years '64 and '63.

ooops...correction: Graham Hill crashed the red car #83, in 1963

#287 Bob Riebe

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 03:48

What ever the reason for this thread, even I have to admit the history is fascinating.

It would be great if someone wrote a book on every post sixtyone driver that ever drove, includng those who failed to maket he show, with as much info as this.
Bob

#288 McGuire

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 10:37

Originally posted by Buford
Looks like everybody who drove one spun or crashed or both, Gregory, Johnson, Arnold, MacDonald.


Great point.

#289 McGuire

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 11:06

Originally posted by Walter Zoomie
I've gone through my collection of old Indianapolis Star newspapers and found a few things of interest. Many of the stories were written by my father, sort of like a daily track side report thing.


Thanks a ton, you have supplied lots of great and fascinating info there.

MT's fiddling with different antiroll bars to combat a camber rate problem was particularly interesting. (That most likely was due to the change from 12" to 15" wheels.) This indicates he was getting excessive camber change in roll and was using the antiroll bars to limit roll and keep the cambers in range -- in other words, as the proverbial solid-axle conversion kit.

#290 McGuire

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 11:24

Originally posted by FLB

Are there any reports that MacDonald's engine may have been missing? A missing engine in the middle of a high-speed corner can be enough to destabilize a good car, let alone one that already has iffy handling in the best of times AND that's on full tanks.


I haven't heard of any reports of an engine misfire, which is notable as that is one problem that would have been audibly evident to everyone there. I also tend to doubt the engine had a misfire since MacDonald passed a slew of cars on the first lap, which hardly suggests a sick motor. Also, he didn't spin in the middle of the corner but on the exit, where putting down too much power is generally the problem rather than not enough. At that point on the track, an engine misfire is in effect traction control.

But as for contemporary reports, you can find stories speculating anything and everything about the crash. Perhaps the most remarkable (if not incredible) report is found in the August '64 Motor Trend. Conspiracy buffs will find a wealth of raw material there. The Car and Driver story contains some errors, but the MT report seems to describe a different event.

#291 David M. Kane

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 12:14

As hard as those tire were (1,000 racing miles!) it would take two laps to get them up to temperature, till then who knows how difficult they were. No wonder the car was all over the place!

#292 McGuire

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 15:18

Originally posted by David M. Kane
I'd like to know more about this three wheel steering, I assume they ran it on race day.


I have no evidence either way, but I would tend to think the right-rear steering was disabled on race day, as Thompson claimed to have the car halfway sorted out by then. :D

I hate to say this as I don't wish to encourage any more baseless speculation than we already have, but if the right-rear steering mechanism failed or malfunctioned at the moment of corner exit, it would likely produce exactly what happened: the rear end stepping to the outside and a big lazy spin. Not that I have any basis to think that is what happened.

No offense to Thompson but with corners of 840 ft radius, rear wheel steering is not a potentially fruitful development for Indianapolis. He was barking up the wrong tree with that one IMO, but then it was a different era with lots of experimentation. Look at Smokey Yunick's two cars at about that time, the python and the sidecar. Both were dopey ideas if you ask me, but then we have the benefit of hindsight. We have far more technical resources at our disposal than they ever dreamed of. And we have a huge knowledge base today, to which experiments like these have made a considerable contribution.

#293 MPea3

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 15:52

Originally posted by McGuire
No offense to Thompson but with corners of 840 ft radius, rear wheel steering is not a potentially fruitful development for Indianapolis. He was barking up the wrong tree with that one IMO, but then it was a different era with lots of experimentation. Look at Smokey Yunick's two cars at about that time, the python and the sidecar. Both were dopey ideas if you ask me, but then we have the benefit of hindsight. We have far more technical resources at our disposal than they ever dreamed of. And we have a huge knowledge base today, to which experiments like these have made a considerable contribution.


To me one of the fun things about racing in the "old days" was some of the dopey ideas. There was a real appeal to the idea of being able to build a competitive race car in one's garage, and one man with an idea could throw things at the wall and discover something huge. I agree with you about hindsight, but Thompson and Yunick's cars, even if not effective, remain fascinating to this day. Compare that to Honda's news that they're planning "radical upgrades" for their F1 car at Fuji, including new front and rear bargeboards... *sigh*

#294 McGuire

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 16:49

Originally posted by MPea3


To me one of the fun things about racing in the "old days" was some of the dopey ideas. There was a real appeal to the idea of being able to build a competitive race car in one's garage, and one man with an idea could throw things at the wall and discover something huge. I agree with you about hindsight, but Thompson and Yunick's cars, even if not effective, remain fascinating to this day. Compare that to Honda's news that they're planning "radical upgrades" for their F1 car at Fuji, including new front and rear bargeboards... *sigh*


I totally agree.

#295 Jerry Entin

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 17:07

Posted Image
Peter Bryant and Mickey Thompson and Fritz Voight who was the Thompson shop Foreman in 1964. In the car Dave MacDonald.
Peter Bryant has written a book called Can-Am Challanger and in it he explains all the work that was done in 1964 to bring the Thompson car up to speed. This photo is from the book. I am sure the forum members would enjoy reading this great book. It is from David Bull Publishing.
http://www.bullpubli...m.asp?itemid=94

#296 TrackDog

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 22:44

A few posts back, someone asked about the possibility of Dave MacDonald suffering any injuries other than burns and pulmonary edema. While I can't comment on that, I do remember reading in Bill Libby's book PARNELLI: A STORY OF AUTO RACING, that Eddie Sachs had a broken leg as a result of the accident. I don't believe that the author specified which leg was broken, but as I recall, this was his only bodily injury. Libby , as I recall, stated that MacDonald was badly burned, and didn't specify any other injuries.

The photos that Walter posted of the accident aftermath, especially the overhead shot shows that the Thompson car's frame was bent in the area where Sachs most likely hit it. The damage to the Shrike wasn't nearly as severe as I would have expected. It's difficult for me to believe that Sachs woud have suffered a broken neck from that impact...the lemon coming loose from around his neck isn't surprising, since it might have been attatched very loosely so that it could have been accessed easily during the heat of competition.

The collapsed radiator might have caused trauma to Sachs' legs and feet, trapping him in the car. And, as much as I hate to think about this, he was probably drenched in burning gasoline from MacDonald's ruptured fuel bladder...and then, the fuel tank above his knees probably exploded, either on impact, or shortly thereafter. His leg might have been broken in the crash, or in trying to get out of the car.

The bulk of the burning fuel came from MacDonald's car...about 55 gallons total from both vehicles, according to evidence uncovered here. If it seems like that wasn't enough to cause such a blaze, it should be remembered that MacDonald was trailing burning gasoline from the moment the car came off the inside wall, and Sach's car picked up a lot of it and spread it over an even larger area. The gasoline was also laden with oxidants that would only fan the flames.

Probably the key to Sachs expiring earlier than MacDonald was the fuel tank exploding literally in his lap. Even if it only held a few gallons, it was enough...


It's very neat and tidy to say that Eddie Sachs died instantly in the accident and didn't suffer...nobody likes to think of such an icon of sport dying in a gruesome manner. MacDonald was still alive when he was removed from the car, and everyone knew it; there was nothing to hide from the public.

All in all, it was probably the darkest day in motorsports history, at least in America...and regardless of the parties involved, their actions and emotions and the limits of the technology available, a tragedy of this scope and magnitude was bound to happen. And, it could have been much worse, especially if everyone would have been using gasoline.

But, it's over, and we learned from it.

Dan

#297 Lotus23

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Posted 01 September 2007 - 02:11

A fascinating thread. I really enjoy reading the input, even if I don't concur with it all.

Like Buford, I was there that terrible day. My first Indy -- I was sitting directly across from the pit entrance, close enough to have the whole scene seared into my memory. In the past 61 years, I've seen more on-track fatalities than I care to recount, but the horror of that scene was in a league of its own.

I took a bunch of 35mm snapshots, but they mostly just showed huge columns of smoke. I do recall the great difficulty the firemen had in putting out many of the flames: they'd die down to nothing, apparently extinguished, then 10-15 seconds later they'd flare back up again. And again.

#298 TrackDog

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Posted 01 September 2007 - 04:09

Originally posted by Lotus23
I've seen more on-track fatalities than I care to recount, but the horror of that scene was in a league of its own.

I do recall the great difficulty the firemen had in putting out many of the flames: they'd die down to nothing, apparently extinguished, then 10-15 seconds later they'd flare back up again. And again.


I'm sure that had a great deal to do with the anguished and apprehensive expressions on the faces of the rescue workers in the pictures posted here and in those I remember seeing in Life Magazine as a youngster. Dealing with that scene must've been an exhausting and horrifying ordeal.


Dan

#299 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 12:00

A bit of information about Dave MacDonald for the 1964 season that I realized while doing research at App State: he was competing using a NASCAR license that season. Indeed, he was usually hovering in or near the top ten in the Grand National points standings that Spring.

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#300 HistoricMustang

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 13:16

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps
A bit of information about Dave MacDonald for the 1964 season that I realized while doing research at App State: he was competing using a NASCAR license that season. Indeed, he was usually hovering in or near the top ten in the Grand National points standings that Spring.


Yes Don, some are not aware of Dave's venture into the NASCAR ranks.

There were strong suggestions that he move entirely into the realm of stock car racing.

Henry

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