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The Mickey Thompson 'Sears Allstate Special' cars of 1964


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#301 Jim Thurman

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 18:01

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, it is obvious that MacDonald was a part of FoMoCo's racing plans. He probably had other ACCUS/FIA calendar events on his schedule for the rest of 1964.

Now, there's an interesting question...what races was he planning to compete in for the rest of the year?

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#302 Henri Greuter

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 08:10

Originally posted by TrackDog

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


TrackDog,

What do you mean with the gasoline being laden with oxidants? Do you think (or maybe have approval) that the used fueld wasn't simply gasoline bud a `doped` blend?

As for Sachs, it is known that he wasn't taken out of the car when it was removed from the track since he was trapped. It is indeed for analysts to think about how McDonald had survived an impact that killed the other driver instantly (if so)


Henri

#303 Henri Greuter

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 08:11

Originally posted by Jim Thurman


Yes, it is obvious that MacDonald was a part of FoMoCo's racing plans. He probably had other ACCUS/FIA calendar events on his schedule for the rest of 1964.

Now, there's an interesting question...what races was he planning to compete in for the rest of the year?


Maybe he was to become involved in either the Cobra attack on Ferrari in '65 or even the GT40 program?
Ford really had quite a program in that era.


Henri

#304 TrackDog

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 20:15

Originally posted by Henri Greuter


TrackDog,

What do you mean with the gasoline being laden with oxidants? Do you think (or maybe have approval) that the used fueld wasn't simply gasoline bud a `doped` blend?

As for Sachs, it is known that he wasn't taken out of the car when it was removed from the track since he was trapped. It is indeed for analysts to think about how McDonald had survived an impact that killed the other driver instantly (if so)


Henri


I read someplace that the gasoline used at Indy in 1964 had an additive known as benzyl. I'm having trouble locating that source now; but I'll keep on searching for it. I've done some research on benzyl, and am rather confused...it seems that benzyl is more closely related to alcohol than gasoline.

I figured that racing gasoline was far more potent than pump gas, with a much higher octane rating, at least, and probably had other additives not commonly found in more common fuel. The choice of the term "oxidants" was probably misleading on my part...I should have said "additives". I didn't mean to imply that anybody was doing anything illegal to their fuel for the race. I was just trying to offer a possible explanation as to why the explosion was so massive, and as to why it was so difficult to extinguish. It was a poor choice of words on my part.

Can anybody clarify the composition of the gasoline that was used in the race?


Dan

#305 HistoricMustang

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 22:27

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.


Same here.

Can any of the members explain and can they confirm if three wheel steer was designed into the Mickey Thompson cars used at Indy in 1964. I would think this would be of interest when discussing the cause of accident.

Henry

#306 Henri Greuter

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 07:12

Originally posted by TrackDog


I read someplace that the gasoline used at Indy in 1964 had an additive known as benzyl. I'm having trouble locating that source now; but I'll keep on searching for it. I've done some research on benzyl, and am rather confused...it seems that benzyl is more closely related to alcohol than gasoline.

I figured that racing gasoline was far more potent than pump gas, with a much higher octane rating, at least, and probably had other additives not commonly found in more common fuel. The choice of the term "oxidants" was probably misleading on my part...I should have said "additives". I didn't mean to imply that anybody was doing anything illegal to their fuel for the race. I was just trying to offer a possible explanation as to why the explosion was so massive, and as to why it was so difficult to extinguish. It was a poor choice of words on my part.

Can anybody clarify the composition of the gasoline that was used in the race?


Dan



Dan,

Now we're talking.
There is indeed some confusion possible by now. Benzyl, or Benzol, or Benzene, they are all old names for a brand of chemicals that resemble another closely. I think you found that one out yourself too.

For those not familiar with all of this: a bit of chemistry.
Heart of the molecule is a ring structure made out of 6 carbon atoms where each C atom has a double binding with a C atom on one side but only a single binding with the C atom at the other side. The reality is that a structure exists that the C forms 2, stable "1.5" bindings with its neighbours. The resulting ring is very stable.
Each C has one binding site left, when that is occupied by a hydrogen atom you get benzene, Chemically written as C6H6, (numbers in subwriting by the way but I can't do that here) Highly carcinogenic compound by the way.
Now, if one of the hydrogens is replaced by als alcohol group (the so called OH group, an ogygen atom and one hydrigen atom combined) then you get benzyl-alcohol. and I know it as benzol but I have heard that one being named benzyl too. But there are a few more candidates to have been given that name. And that molecule is indeed a relative of methanol, it belongs to the group of alcohols (like methanol & ethanol).

The other candidate I have heard as possibly been named Benzyl is when instead of a hydrogen atom a methyl group (= 1 C atom combined with three hydrogen atoms) is connected to the carbon ring.
Nowadays they call that molecule most often toluene. In the years '83-88 that was a highly popular compound of the fuel mixtures used within the turbochardged F1 era. Was one of the most dense carbohydrates and thus per volumed contained about the most energy to be burned off. But that's an entirely different story because of the different rules for F1 at that time and Indycars in 1964.

But now things begin to become more clear. They were doing nasty things already in 1964 with gasoline based fuels.....
Could be suspected of course...

Henri

#307 HistoricMustang

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 09:19

Originally posted by Henri Greuter



Dan,

Now we're talking.
There is indeed some confusion possible by now. Benzyl, or Benzol, or Benzene, they are all old names for a brand of chemicals that resemble another closely. I think you found that one out yourself too.

For those not familiar with all of this: a bit of chemistry.
Heart of the molecule is a ring structure made out of 6 carbon atoms where each C atom has a double binding with a C atom on one side but only a single binding with the C atom at the other side. The reality is that a structure exists that the C forms 2, stable "1.5" bindings with its neighbours. The resulting ring is very stable.
Each C has one binding site left, when that is occupied by a hydrogen atom you get benzene, Chemically written as C6H6, (numbers in subwriting by the way but I can't do that here) Highly carcinogenic compound by the way.
Now, if one of the hydrogens is replaced by als alcohol group (the so called OH group, an ogygen atom and one hydrigen atom combined) then you get benzyl-alcohol. and I know it as benzol but I have heard that one being named benzyl too. But there are a few more candidates to have been given that name. And that molecule is indeed a relative of methanol, it belongs to the group of alcohols (like methanol & ethanol).

The other candidate I have heard as possibly been named Benzyl is when instead of a hydrogen atom a methyl group (= 1 C atom combined with three hydrogen atoms) is connected to the carbon ring.
Nowadays they call that molecule most often toluene. In the years '83-88 that was a highly popular compound of the fuel mixtures used within the turbochardged F1 era. Was one of the most dense carbohydrates and thus per volumed contained about the most energy to be burned off. But that's an entirely different story because of the different rules for F1 at that time and Indycars in 1964.

But now things begin to become more clear. They were doing nasty things already in 1964 with gasoline based fuels.....
Could be suspected of course...

Henri


From post #297 -

"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."

Then does the above observation from Joel, who witnesssed the accident, tie into what you two are discussing?

Henry

#308 McGuire

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 10:35

Originally posted by TrackDog


I read someplace that the gasoline used at Indy in 1964 had an additive known as benzyl. I'm having trouble locating that source now; but I'll keep on searching for it. I've done some research on benzyl, and am rather confused...it seems that benzyl is more closely related to alcohol than gasoline.

I figured that racing gasoline was far more potent than pump gas, with a much higher octane rating, at least, and probably had other additives not commonly found in more common fuel. The choice of the term "oxidants" was probably misleading on my part...I should have said "additives". I didn't mean to imply that anybody was doing anything illegal to their fuel for the race. I was just trying to offer a possible explanation as to why the explosion was so massive, and as to why it was so difficult to extinguish. It was a poor choice of words on my part.

Can anybody clarify the composition of the gasoline that was used in the race?


Dan


According to Ford Motor Co., 103 octane gasoline was used in the race.

I think we need to clarify what the source meant by "benzyl." Benzine (with an i) is a range of alkanes, everything between naphtha and kerosene in petroleum distillation -- heptane, hexane etc. Known to the public as "white gas" -- aka Coleman fuel. Benzene (with an e, C6H6) is one of the common components or feedstocks in commercial pump gasoline, typically used to increase octane. Benzyl or benzol alcohol is a solvent not likely to figure here. Further adding to the confusion: In various places around the world, ordinary commercial gasoline is known as benzine, benzin, benzene, benzol, etc. and so on. (The confusion arises because a century ago they were all the same thing for practical purposes.)

However, the octane of a fuel does not speak to its flammability or heat value. Neither here nor there really, so in that regard racing gasoline is no more nor less hazardous than retail pump gasoline. Octane rating refers only to a fuel's resistance to knock. That said, 40 or 50 gallons of any gasoline will create a prodigious fire very difficult to extinguish, no special ingredients required. We are so accustomed to having gasoline around that I don't think we realize what the stuff is. Napalm is essentially just jellied gasoline.

#309 Henri Greuter

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 11:34

Originally posted by HistoricMustang


From post #297 -

"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."

Then does the above observation from Joel, who witnesssed the accident, tie into what you two are discussing?

Henry



Henry,

This is a bit obscure to answer because I am not that certain on it all.
I have a background in chemistry but at the time when I got my education the fear for benzene and other similar molecules began to increase because the carcinogenic characeristics of this kind of chemicals became known. Remeber the outcry of the public when it was told that in order to reduce the Tetra-Ethyl-lead levels in commercial fuels were reduced and the "Lead" being replaced by benzene. Something the oil companies had not told publiicly that loud?

But I dare to risk my neck and tell it as I remember things. If anybody else knows more and/or knows I'm wrong, please correct me.

If the fuel used by the Fords was indeed dobed with benzene and/or benzene-like components, then I think that this might explain some of the black clouds being so dense. And this for the following reasons for as good as I can remember them.

Benzene is a liquid but it is less volatile that gasoline. Though basicly it burns well, it takes more efforts to get the burning process started. It has a higher octane rating. Yet it contains high amounts of energy that is released if the burning process is complete. But I remember having seen movies of a benzene fire and there was far more black smoke visible because of the burning process being more difficult. Once burning real well and with enough oxygen however...

If I have understand it well, a benzene fire is more difficult to start than with other fuels. But it can be enhanced by mixing it with more volatile components with a lower flaming point. Once these burn they act as a catalyst to enhance the benzene burning.

In fuel blends the use of benzene was popular because to generate much engergy you didn't neet such a large volume for it as with alcohol. But making the stuff burn entirely was the main problem. Therefore it needed an igniter that burned first and then started the benzene burning within the cylinder.


And as for closure.....

A practical example about which has been published.
in 1988 Honda used for its turbocharged F1 engines a mxture of 84% toluene and 16% n-heptane. Toluene is a derivative of Benzene, on the 6 atom carbon ring I mentioned before there is a single C atom with 3 hydrogenmolecules attached onto.
Now you need to know that n-heptane is of a lower quality that straight gasoline (octanes) but the mixture Honda used was legal as it was rated comparable with an 102 octane rating as the rules prescribed.
But toluene contained more energy per liter than any other fuel and the F1 turbo engines were restricted to a maximum of 150 liters for an entire race, they needed a very energetic fuel compound. Toluene was the best option and to get it burned and make the fuel legal it was mixed with heptane.
But think about this: The Honda fuel was legal, rated at 102 Octane, yet it didn't contain a droplet of any carbonhydrate component, to be identified as an octane! (And a number of different octanes do exist)

I hope all this fueled discussions at least is a of a tiny bit of help in this `heated ` debate and that I don't `fuel` yet another controversy?

I feel a bit burned out by now.....
Or will I be burned off because of having made mistakes????


Henri

#310 McGuire

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 13:51

Benzene is a standard blending stock in commercial pump gasoline -- up to 5% or more over the years. Due to environmental concerns that percentage has been gradually reduced. I believe the next limit is around .65% in 2010.

If anyone is interested, here is the gasoline specification for the 1964 Ford DOHC Indy engine, from SAE paper #640252:

Reseach Octane Number 102.5 min
Motor Octane Number 97.0 min
Gravity, API 57.5-58.5
Reid Vapor Pressure, Lbs 7.5 max
TML, cc/gal 2.00-3.00
Sulfur 0.02% max
ASTM gum, mg/100 ml 2.0 max

Hyrdocarbon analysis:
Aromatics: 30.0 max
Olefins: 1.0 max
Saturates: remainder

Pretty standard fare.

#311 E.B.

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 18:29

Originally posted by HistoricMustang
Can any of the members explain and can they confirm if three wheel steer was designed into the Mickey Thompson cars used at Indy in 1964.


1964 yearbook, p107:-

"Conversation topic switched from Yunick's wierdo to Mickey Thompson's conception when it was revealed that the outside rear wheel on the Sears-Allstate specials steers with the front wheels. This three-wheel steering has been a well kept secret in a place where nothing is secret. Rookie Dave MacDonald, who passed his driving test Saturday, had his car No. 83 up to 146mph today (May 4), three wheel steering and all"

#312 TrackDog

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 08:16

Originally posted by McGuire
Benzene is a standard blending stock in commercial pump gasoline -- up to 5% or more over the years. Due to environmental concerns that percentage has been gradually reduced. I believe the next limit is around .65% in 2010.

If anyone is interested, here is the gasoline specification for the 1964 Ford DOHC Indy engine, from SAE paper #640252:

Reseach Octane Number 102.5 min
Motor Octane Number 97.0 min
Gravity, API 57.5-58.5
Reid Vapor Pressure, Lbs 7.5 max
TML, cc/gal 2.00-3.00
Sulfur 0.02% max
ASTM gum, mg/100 ml 2.0 max

Hyrdocarbon analysis:
Aromatics: 30.0 max
Olefins: 1.0 max
Saturates: remainder



Pretty standard fare.


What I've been able to gather from the discussion so far is that benzyl, or benzene is a common additive in just about all gasoline, and was probably present in some amount in the fuel used by the Fords in the '64 500.

I STILL haven't been able to locate that source that listed benzyl as an additive in the gasoline that Ford used in '64...I would imagine that benzene was what it really was, from what I've read here. There might have been a large amount of benzene in the fuel mixture, more than found in normal pump gas.

In checking my sources, I DID find something else that might be of some interest...A.J. Foyt's autobiography offers an interesting theory about the accident...

A.J. [page 146] "MacDonald came out of Four and hit the bump. The car got sideways and spun right across the track and into the concrete retaining wall on the inside of the track. It bounced off the wall and the gas tanks broke open, spreading gasoline all over the track. It exploded. It was right in Sachs's path when he came into the strraightaway. Eddie T-boned him."

So, there''s a "bump" in Turn 4...I knew of a bump in Turn 1 that's caused a lot of accidents over the years, but not of one in Turn 4. I suppose it's possible that a bump could upset an already unstable car, especially one that the driver had never driven with a full fuel load...


Dan

#313 McGuire

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 12:29

If I could offer another possibility of where the benzyl story could have originated: In qualifying, one of the fuel blends reportedly tried by the Ford teams was 80% methanol, 20% toluene. As Henri alluded, another name for toluene is methyl benzene.

#314 Henri Greuter

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 14:46

Originally posted by McGuire


Benzene is a standard blending stock in commercial pump gasoline -- up to 5% or more over the years. Due to environmental concerns that percentage has been gradually reduced. I believe the next limit is around .65% in 2010.

If anyone is interested, here is the gasoline specification for the 1964 Ford DOHC Indy engine, from SAE paper #640252:

Reseach Octane Number 102.5 min
Motor Octane Number 97.0 min
Gravity, API 57.5-58.5
Reid Vapor Pressure, Lbs 7.5 max
TML, cc/gal 2.00-3.00
Sulfur 0.02% max
ASTM gum, mg/100 ml 2.0 max

Hyrdocarbon analysis:
Aromatics: 30.0 max
Olefins: 1.0 max
Saturates: remainder

Pretty standard fare.



If I could offer another possibility of where the benzyl story could have originated: In qualifying, one of the fuel blends reportedly tried by the Ford teams was 80% methanol, 20% toluene. As Henri alluded, another name for toluene is methyl benzene.


Maybe good to know the following about the term Aromatics within the list above the Aromatics

Aromatics is a general gathering name, though a bit old fashioned nowadays. But in former times the one thing that made a cheical an aromatic was when it conaned a Benzene ring structure. Benzene itself was the ultimate aromatic, Benzene alcohol, toluene, nitrobenzene, name it, they are all belonging to the category of Aromatics.
On the lab where I worked it was a standard joke to ask new students to prepare a fresh supply of Aromatic-free benzene for further use as a solvent in other experiments. I recall numberous students asking for details on the protocol for that procedure. So far for using textbook knowledge in practice.....

My knowledge about regular fuels, sold on the gas stations in the streets in that time isn't worth anything at all. So I don't know if 30% of the contents being aromatics is a high percentage or not. But it seems rather high to me on first sight.


Henri

#315 TrackDog

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 19:43

I've located my Benzyl source...it came from the July/August 2007 issue of Vintage Motorsports magazine, from the article "Johnny Boyd, The Fresno Flash" written by Tom Madigan. The quote in question is found on page 50, and reads as follows:

".....One final innovation was introduced into the 1964 Indy 500. The field was given a choice between running racing fuel [methanol] or gasoline with a 100-plus octane rating and a Benzyl additive."

The quotation marks are mine. The statement is part of Madigan's narrative, and is not directly attributed to Boyd.


Dan

#316 HistoricMustang

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 21:35

Originally posted by TrackDog
I've located my Benzyl source...it came from the July/August 2007 issue of Vintage Motorsports magazine, from the article "Johnny Boyd, The Fresno Flash" written by Tom Madigan. The quote in question is found on page 50, and reads as follows:

".....One final innovation was introduced into the 1964 Indy 500. The field was given a choice between running racing fuel [methanol] or gasoline with a 100-plus octane rating and a Benzyl additive."

The quotation marks are mine. The statement is part of Madigan's narrative, and is not directly attributed to Boyd.


Dan


Any idea on what type of fire extinguishers were used during the 1964 Indy?

Just wondering if several types were avaliable to address the different fuels being used.

Henry

#317 scags

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 21:42

I would doubt that they would have different extinguishers for different fuels.

#318 ovfi

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 23:09

Originally posted by TrackDog
In checking my sources, I DID find something else that might be of some interest...A.J. Foyt's autobiography offers an interesting theory about the accident...

A.J. [page 146] "MacDonald came out of Four and hit the bump. The car got sideways and spun right across the track and into the concrete retaining wall on the inside of the track. It bounced off the wall and the gas tanks broke open, spreading gasoline all over the track. It exploded. It was right in Sachs's path when he came into the strraightaway. Eddie T-boned him."


So, there''s a "bump" in Turn 4...I knew of a bump in Turn 1 that's caused a lot of accidents over the years, but not of one in Turn 4. I suppose it's possible that a bump could upset an already unstable car, especially one that the driver had never driven with a full fuel load...


Originally posted by Ray Bell
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.

If we sum the two testimonies, from Foyt & Sutton, things become more clear.


#319 TIPO61

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 23:20

Originally posted by HistoricMustang


Any idea on what type of fire extinguishers were used during the 1964 Indy?

Just wondering if several types were avaliable to address the different fuels being used.

Henry


Henry, with respect; EXACTLY what are you trying to prove with all of this. Can you state your case succinctly?

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#320 TrackDog

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 23:37

Originally posted by scags
I would doubt that they would have different extinguishers for different fuels.


Probably not...but there would have to be a water supply to dilute the methanol, in addition to the powder and Halon.



Dan

#321 HistoricMustang

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 23:44

Originally posted by TIPO61


Henry, with respect; EXACTLY what are you trying to prove with all of this. Can you state your case succinctly?


Your multiple posts expressing concern is appreciated but am not really trying to prove anything.

Henry

#322 David M. Kane

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 01:15

I assume that Allstate never made racing tires after this. What was the fallout from the accident? I assume it hrt their sales.

#323 McGuire

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 01:36

Originally posted by TrackDog



In checking my sources, I DID find something else that might be of some interest...A.J. Foyt's autobiography offers an interesting theory about the accident...

A.J. [page 146] "MacDonald came out of Four and hit the bump. The car got sideways and spun right across the track and into the concrete retaining wall on the inside of the track. It bounced off the wall and the gas tanks broke open, spreading gasoline all over the track. It exploded. It was right in Sachs's path when he came into the strraightaway. Eddie T-boned him."


Foyt started in the middle of the second row in fifth. MacDonald started in the middle of the fifth row in 14th.

#324 Tom Glowacki

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 01:45

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

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

#325 TrackDog

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 03:06

Originally posted by McGuire


Foyt started in the middle of the second row in fifth. MacDonald started in the middle of the fifth row in 14th.


Absolutely true...I should have included the paragraph previous to the one I quoted in my post. It reads as follows, also from page 146:

" I didn't see it start. I saw it later on television and saw the horrible pictures everywhere, so I know what happenned."

I'm sorry for not including this in my original post.

Speaking of starting positions, Sachs had turned in a best time of 154.8 on the day before Pole Day. In the Saturday morning practice session, he spun and hit the wall in the second turn. The car had to be repaired with parts flown in from Halibrand's shop in California, so Pole Day was a wipeout. Sachs , if he could have maintained that 154+ average, would have started on the second row, or near it. He was within a fraction of Foyt's best speeds...however, he had to settle for being the fastest 2nd day qualifier, right behind MacDonald. It had been a race to get the car repaired, and Sachs evidently only had one slow lap to shake down the car, and it was pushed into the qualifying line. According to his car owner Dick Sommers, the brakes were dragging and the tires weren't scuffed; but Eddie was still the fastest 2nd round qualifier.

If only things were a little different, he might have won. He certainly could have given Foyt a run for his money.


Dan

#326 TrackDog

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 06:07

Originally posted by David M. Kane
I assume that Allstate never made racing tires after this. What was the fallout from the accident? I assume it hrt their sales.


This is another point where there several different stories...Allstate apparently didn't actually manufacture the tires. Donald Davidson says in his new book that the tires were manufactured by General Tire. I've also heard that the tires were actually made by Armstrong, and even that they were made by Firestone.


There WAS a great deal of fallout from the accident, apparently. Sponsors were forced to reconsider their committments and prioities to the teams and the general public. I don't have any specifics, but even Ford had to do damage control. Lee Iacocca issued a statement that basically reinforced the decision to continue the racing program in the hope that it would aid in the develpoment of safer highway vehicles, or words to that effect.

It should be remembered that for the first time, over a million people were actually viewing this event live, at the Speedway and in closed-circuit theatres all over the country. Also, there were newspaper photos and a very graphic spread in Life Magazine that showed a picture of rescue workers approaching Dave MacDonald, still in his car, along with several shots of cars bursting through the flames. I remember Ed Sullivan showing footage of his visit to the race on his show, and expressing sorrow at the passing of Eddie Sachs.

The accident was every bit as shocking as Dale Earnhardt's death was. Eddie Sachs was a mixture of Darrell Waltrip, Payne Stewart and Bob Ueker all rolled into one. Everybody loved him and lost something in his death. He used to march with the Purdue Marching Band and cried before every 500 start. How could anyone not be moved by that? One of the first clues that he was gone was the fact that nobody was interviewing him immediately after the accident. Without Eddie, there was nobody to bring racing "down to earth..." He was everybody's hero, almost a folk hero...like Earnhardt.

That was why the sport moved so quickly to police itself and make itself safer. Nobody involved with the sport could afford another public relations disaster of such devastating proportions.

Dan

#327 McGuire

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 10:41

Originally posted by TrackDog
This is another point where there several different stories...Allstate apparently didn't actually manufacture the tires. Donald Davidson says in his new book that the tires were manufactured by General Tire. I've also heard that the tires were actually made by Armstrong, and even that they were made by Firestone.


That is a curious statement from DD as in '63-'64 there was a rather extensive story in Motor Trend about the Allstate/Armstrong Indy tire program on the Mickey Thompson cars. Came across it again just the other day. One item in the piece that caught my eye was how Armstrong had hired some experienced racing tire engineers from the other tire makers (presumably Goodyear or Firestone) for the project, though it did not go into further detail on that point. I wonder if DD's reference to General Tire was just a throwaway slip or if there is more to this story.

We do know that the 12" tires used on the 1963 cars were built and branded by Firestone, and apparently Thompson and Firestone worked closely on that project. That could possibly explain some Firestone personnel following Thompson to Armstrong for '64. Of course, Thompson would eventually become a tire retailer in his own right.

#328 McGuire

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 10:56

Originally posted by TrackDog
I've located my Benzyl source...it came from the July/August 2007 issue of Vintage Motorsports magazine, from the article "Johnny Boyd, The Fresno Flash" written by Tom Madigan. The quote in question is found on page 50, and reads as follows:

".....One final innovation was introduced into the 1964 Indy 500. The field was given a choice between running racing fuel [methanol] or gasoline with a 100-plus octane rating and a Benzyl additive."

The quotation marks are mine. The statement is part of Madigan's narrative, and is not directly attributed to Boyd.
Dan


I don't know about that. In the absence of further information I am inclined to assume that the writer did not quite have his arms around his chemical terms. Benzene or (more likely) methylbenzene -- aka toluene -- make sense, but not "benzyl." Based on the contemporary sources I am also inclined to believe that the methylbenzene was in the methanol, not the gasoline.

But in any event the presence of additional benzene or toluene in the gasoline blend would not have a significant influence on the scale of the fire, IMO... though it would presumably have some effect on the color and odor of the flame. These agents have a significant effect on the properties of combustion inside an engine, but in an atmospheric fire not so much. In that regard, gasoline is pretty much gasoline as I see it.

#329 McGuire

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 11:56

Originally posted by David M. Kane
I assume that Allstate never made racing tires after this. What was the fallout from the accident? I assume it hrt their sales.


I don't know the precise effect it had on Allstate, but after 1964 Thompson was virtually a pariah at the Speedway. We know he never got a deal on the scale of Ford or Sears at Indy again, though he was eventually very successful in other circles.

The theory of a broken part is interesting in this way: If the crash had been attributed to a component failure, it probably wouldn't have affected peoples' opinion of Thompson at the Speedway one way or the other. In looking for a broken component or similar explanations, we are probably seeking a smoking gun -- a degree of finality and clarity after all these years to which we may or may not be entitled.

#330 Henri Greuter

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 14:56

Originally posted by TrackDog


Probably not...but there would have to be a water supply to dilute the methanol, in addition to the powder and Halon.



Dan



For those who remember the F1 equivalent of Sachs-McDonald: the `cremation` of Roger Williamson at Zandvoort 1973.

(I apologize to insulted Williamson fans for using that harsh term but,as a Dutchman, I am still ashamed about the total incompetence of Zandvoort's race stewarts that day which resulted in the TV public being withness of an unessecary fatality. Never before and never therafter I have seen a human's live been so wasted at a race track.)

The story goes that Zandvoort escaped on another fire tragedy that race. Emerson Fittipaldi had a heavy crash with his lotus and was injured enough to be unable to get out of the car on his own. Later on it turned out that, had the Lotus caught fire, the fire extinguishers at that location were not suited for a gasoline fire.

If the story goes about the Sachs-McDonald fire that small fires arose all the tie for a while, then I get the suspicion that not all the used extinguishers used were up for the job to deal with a gasoline fire.
What was possible in 1973 could well be possible too 9 years earlier.



Another paralel between Williamson and Sachs...

David Purley, the hero who tried to save Williamson told to the press that when he arrived Williamson was dead already. But later on in pprivate he told that was a lie for the better to avoids that people knew how hoorible and unnecessary Roger's death really was. All this pretty much for the sake and the comfort of Roger's family and friends.

When I read about near intact cockpits of both McDonald's car and Sachs' car, knowing that MacDonald was taken out of his wreck still alive and some rumors about people having heard Sachs'.....
I don't want to write out my fears in this anyore, it makes me sick.....



Henri

#331 E.B.

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 19:28

Originally posted by McGuire
That is a curious statement from DD as in '63-'64 there was a rather extensive story in Motor Trend about the Allstate/Armstrong Indy tire program on the Mickey Thompson cars. Came across it again just the other day. One item in the piece that caught my eye was how Armstrong had hired some experienced racing tire engineers from the other tire makers (presumably Goodyear or Firestone) for the project, though it did not go into further detail on that point. I wonder if DD's reference to General Tire was just a throwaway slip or if there is more to this story.


A minor point, but the chapter that mentions this ("General manufactured the low profile, Thompson designed tires that were rebadged with the Sears name") was written by Rick Shaffer rather than DCD.

#332 David M. Kane

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 22:20

Swede Savage's accident appears to have happened in almost the same spot. I stumbled upon a video of it yesterday. Maybe there is a bump there as the car just snapped very unexpectly.

Since I have Johnny Rutherford's number I'm thinking of calling him since he was in both races and he would know all about Turn 4.

Even though it was 9 years after Dave's accident was Swede running gasoline? It looked like a gasoline fire to me, it couldn't been an oil fire IMO.

#333 Henri Greuter

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Posted 10 September 2007 - 06:23

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Swede Savage's accident appears to have happened in almost the same spot. I stumbled upon a video of it yesterday. Maybe there is a bump there as the car just snapped very unexpectly.

Since I have Johnny Rutherford's number I'm thinking of calling him since he was in both races and he would know all about Turn 4.

Even though it was 9 years after Dave's accident was Swede running gasoline? It looked like a gasoline fire to me, it couldn't been an oil fire IMO.


Given the fact that this was the last year of the unlimited turboboost Offies, and these monsters needing excessive amounts of methanol in order to procude all that power and remain cool: no way it was gasoline.
Maybe an oil fire after all? Or a radiator coolant additive perhaps?

Henri

#334 David M. Kane

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Posted 10 September 2007 - 12:55

Thanks Henri, my other point was he left the track the same way and he hit the wall very similarly in the same area of the wall.

#335 Henri Greuter

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Posted 10 September 2007 - 13:47

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Thanks Henri, my other point was he left the track the same way and he hit the wall very similarly in the same area of the wall.



As for the fuel, my pleasure. I mentioned those engine being monsters. Were you aware of the fact that in 1973 the alleged power output of the Offy's in race trim was a 1000 hp or thereabout, qualifying power an estimated 1200 hp and maybe more for the top teams? And that on a testbacnch, Dan gurney's AAR team had an Offy produce more than 1400 hp and that by accident because something had gone wring in the test?
And that 1400+ engine survived the mishap too!
Those 70-73 Offy's were truly impressive engines and a highlight in US racing engine technology. As much as I loathe US stoock block technology, I rate these 70-73 Offies as among the most impressive engines of all time, considering they have a heritage that goes back to the mid thirties as for parent engine.

I must look that up on the films I have. I don't know if it was at the exact same point but you're right, they were in the same part of the track. And I guess one can say that 1964 was gruesome because of the flames but Swede really had an airplane kind of crash that, because of less flames was greusome to see because you saw the car desintegrate in components and parts of them.

If you speak Johnny, please let us know what he had to say. I also wonder what his feelings are about his assumptions that McDonald carried up to 80 gallons but that by now is virtually 100% sure proven that was not the case. Since Johnny has been one of the most quoted drivers about this accident, I thing that a number of the misbeliefs about what really happen are a result of his statements.
No offence to Johnny by the way. I'm sure he didn't do it on purpose.


Henri

#336 Bob Riebe

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Posted 10 September 2007 - 17:09

WHat year did they stop using nitro?

Nitro burns slowly,unlike alcohol, as does oil.

Bob

#337 HistoricMustang

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Posted 10 September 2007 - 20:27

Originally posted by Henri Greuter


Since Johnny has been one of the most quoted drivers about this accident, I thing that a number of the misbeliefs about what really happen are a result of his statements.
No offence to Johnny by the way. I'm sure he didn't do it on purpose.

Henri


Thanks Henri and no disrespect to any observations that occurred so many decades ago, yet, my belief is that this re-examination of the accident has been healthy. A great deal of information has been explored with very little negative feedback.

Also, does anyone have information that may confirm some of the front suspension parts (or at least the design) are actually from the Chevrolet Corvair?

And, I would again like to ask if anyone remembers any discussion about possible electrical issues, resulting in fire, either during the race or during practice?

Henry

#338 TrackDog

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 03:24

Originally posted by HistoricMustang


Thanks Henri and no disrespect to any observations that occurred so many decades ago, yet, my belief is that this re-examination of the accident has been healthy. A great deal of information has been explored with very little negative feedback.

Also, does anyone have information that may confirm some of the front suspension parts (or at least the design) are actually from the Chevrolet Corvair?

And, I would again like to ask if anyone remembers any discussion about possible electrical issues, resulting in fire, either during the race or during practice?

Henry


I remember seeing on local TV [I'm from central Indiana] not too long after the accident, an interview with someone who postulated that he thought there was a possibility that MacDonald might have been on fire at the moment he lost control. In fact, he seemed to believe this was the real cause of the accident. I was only 9 years old at the time, and I can't remember just who it was, or what program it might have been. The fire theory seemed plausible at the time, but in looking at pictures of the accident unfolding, I really don't see any evidence of any fire until the car hits the wall.

But, Bobby Unser said he had a fire in his cockpit in 1981, when he won; and no photographic record of that exists, either.


Dan

#339 Henri Greuter

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 07:18

Originally posted by Bob Riebe
WHat year did they stop using nitro?


Bob



I don't know th year but I have a theory on it.
Nitro was added to bring in some oxygen within teh fuel and enhance combustion. (Nitro contains 3 oxygen molecules)
I think the use of Nitro stopped when the turbocharged engines cam in use. Instead of adding Oxigen within the fuel as a fuel component, the turbo (or supercharger in case of the few rootsblown Offies that were used as well in the mid sixties) blew in extra air, hence oxigen in the cylinders. Thus more fuel could be burned off, and it didn't have to contain extra oxygen containing compounds like nitro anymore.
As long as the cylinderblocks and the pistons could withstand the pressure, you could pump in as much air into the Offy's cylinders as possible. In case of the Ford/Foyt, I believe the weak link was primarily the cylinderhead gasket that could be blown away.

So I assume that nitro became something of the past in the late 60's with the rise of the turbocharged Offy.
But facts can prove me wrong.

Nitro was most helpful with atmo engines, with super/turbocharged engines, in theory, the gains are less, Drag racing excluded .


Henri

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#340 McGuire

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 15:24

Originally posted by HistoricMustang


Also, does anyone have information that may confirm some of the front suspension parts (or at least the design) are actually from the Chevrolet Corvair?


From the photographs, it appears the rear upper and front lower ball joints are Chevrolet Corvair. Nothing the least bit dubious about that, however: The use of production suspension and steering components was SOP in formula-type cars at the time.

I can see how the Corvair ball joint would be an attractive choice here: compact, simple mounting, and for this application well understressed. Looking over the photos of the '62 and '63 cars, I am compelled to remark that John Crosthwaite was a markedly clean and neat designer IMO. To me the '62 chassis is particularly nice. However, it would appear that the '63 chassis got well bodgered up as it became the '64 car, with the conversion from 12" to 15" wheels and from smallblock Chevrolet to DOHC Indy Ford engine. The '64 cars show the signs of guys in the midst of a mad thrash, no longer keeping everything tidy.

The 1962 car, nice piece :up:
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#341 David M. Kane

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 15:47

Why were the 12'' ban? IMO the potential of the car in its original form scared people because of its potential.

#342 FLB

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 17:03

Originally posted by TrackDog


I remember seeing on local TV [I'm from central Indiana] not too long after the accident, an interview with someone who postulated that he thought there was a possibility that MacDonald might have been on fire at the moment he lost control. In fact, he seemed to believe this was the real cause of the accident. I was only 9 years old at the time, and I can't remember just who it was, or what program it might have been. The fire theory seemed plausible at the time, but in looking at pictures of the accident unfolding, I really don't see any evidence of any fire until the car hits the wall.

But, Bobby Unser said he had a fire in his cockpit in 1981, when he won; and no photographic record of that exists, either.

About Unser, the proof that does exist is provided by his driving suit. If you look at the pictures taken after the race, it's charred. He showed it again on ESPN Classic when they showed the 1981 race.

Fran├žois Cevert witnessed Boley Pittard's fatal accident at Monza. He speculated the fire had already begun and caused Pittard to lose control of his car. The Lottery final was a long race and several cars had fuel tanks above the driver's knees. Cevert thought that Pittard might have unknowingly damaged a fuel line and created a leak, which became the fire's source. There were no visible flames IIRC, but it would definitely have caught Pittard's attention.

Something similar happened to Robbie Gordon at the 1997 Indy 500.

#343 TrackDog

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 22:04

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Why were the 12'' ban? IMO the potential of the car in its original form scared people because of its potential.


Possible concerns about grip and wear, perhaps? The smaller diameter tires turn more revolutions per given distance than larger ones; therefore in '63, at least, the compound was harder; therefore less grip. Graham Hill commented on this in Life At The Limit.



Dan

#344 Buford

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 22:22

No it was totally political. The hard core USAC types had roadsters, hated the road race pretty boys, and could see they had a advantage with wider tires not available to them.

#345 McGuire

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 00:22

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Why were the 12'' ban? IMO the potential of the car in its original form scared people because of its potential.


Since Firestone manufactured both the 12" and the conventional tires, and had decades worth of clout at the Speedway, we can be sure they had a lot to do with the say about that.

Meanwhile, since it is more or less physically impossible to fit 12" tires to a chassis designed for conventional tires, Thompson was confronting the tyranny of the majority if nothing else. Had the 12" tire actually proved superior, it would have obsoleted every car at the Speedway -- roadsters, funny cars, Novis, everything.

#346 HistoricMustang

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 00:27

Several individuals not associated with TNF continue to work with the photographs and video links posted earlier.

Would be interested in getting comments on rear tire area indicated by arrow in this enhanced photograph from Walter's collection.

My apology for size of photograph.

If you have resources it will be necessary to enlarge to receive full effect.

Henry

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#347 Henri Greuter

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 09:16

Originally posted by HistoricMustang
Several individuals not associated with TNF continue to work with the photographs and video links posted earlier.

Would be interested in getting comments on rear tire area indicated by arrow in this enhanced photograph from Walter's collection.

My apology for size of photograph.

If you have resources it will be necessary to enlarge to receive full effect.

Henry


Henry,

I am sorry but I can't make anything else out from it that this picture was taken at exactly the moment when the inner erge of the tire shoulder was at exactly the same height as the line where wall and track come together at the picture.
But because of this being a B&W picture originally,somehere in the process the resolution between three different shades of grey meeting up at one and the same point on a negative/picture/scanner (the more when all of this is enlarged and thus even more out of focus) may cause difficulties to visualise this properly.
Personally I think there is even less arguments to suspect this wheel being wrong somewhere than the left front wheel being suspect of being out of line with the right wheel.



Be reminded that whenever you work with big enlargements that, due to resolution effects you appear to see "false" objects that were not really there.

Have you got word from Donald Davidson and/or other persons by now to fill us in more about what you've heard till date? Any reasons why you want ius to look to this wheel by now?


Henri

#348 HistoricMustang

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 22:18

Originally posted by Henri Greuter


Henry,

I am sorry but I can't make anything else out from it that this picture was taken at exactly the moment when the inner erge of the tire shoulder was at exactly the same height as the line where wall and track come together at the picture.
But because of this being a B&W picture originally,somehere in the process the resolution between three different shades of grey meeting up at one and the same point on a negative/picture/scanner (the more when all of this is enlarged and thus even more out of focus) may cause difficulties to visualise this properly.
Personally I think there is even less arguments to suspect this wheel being wrong somewhere than the left front wheel being suspect of being out of line with the right wheel.



Be reminded that whenever you work with big enlargements that, due to resolution effects you appear to see "false" objects that were not really there.

Have you got word from Donald Davidson and/or other persons by now to fill us in more about what you've heard till date? Any reasons why you want ius to look to this wheel by now?


Henri


As always thanks Henri and the resolution effects you mention make sense.

Am just trying to investigate any and all possibilities.

Mr. Davidson has been contacted by e-mail but no phone conversation has yet taken place.

Henry

#349 HistoricMustang

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 23:44

Originally posted by Buford
I find it hard to believe MacDonald's car had only one 44 gallon tank on the left side when cars at that time routinely held 75 gallons. They didn't reduce fuel maximum to 40 gallons until after the 1973 fires if I remember right. A single 44 gallon tank in 1964 would have resulted in nearly double the number of pit stops as other cars. And if there was only one on the left side, why did the car explode into an instant fireball when it hit the angled wall on the right side? I am quite sure if there was a 44 gallon tank on the left side, if that figure is accurate, then there was another one on the right side too.


Does this photograph help with the one or two fuel tank issue?

Do not believe it has been displayed before in this thread.

Henry

http://www.historicm.../FuelTanks.html

#350 Ray Bell

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 02:04

This fuel tank thing also bugs me...

I can't believe there was no tank on the right hand side. I'm prepared to accept that the filler was on the left as the pits and refuelling is on the left, and that the filler neck fuelled both tanks at once.

The first impact damaged the right hand tank, in my estimation, and it erupted in flames. Couldn't it also have been destroyed by that fire? All trace gone?