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The Mickey Thompson 'Sears Allstate Special' cars of 1964


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#401 Seppi_0_917PA

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 14:45

Originally posted by TrackDog

...As I understand the sequence of events, Dave was almost beside Hansgen coming out of the turn, and travelling about 10 mph faster. He drove down inside Walt, who couldn't see him; and Walt moved down on him, unwittingly. MacDonald had to veer to the left suddenly to keep from hitting Hansgen, and the sudden swerve broke the rear end loose...Dan

That sounds like a very common, typical racing situation - no mysteries in this description of the accident.

And how evil was MacDonald's car if it was going 10mph faster than Hansgen through the turn?
[Edit]On second thought, strike that question. MacDonald's speed may have been due to the light fuel load.


Originally posted by Henri Greuter


Dan,

I always understood that he was short behind Hansgen and was closing in so fast after coming out of the turn that he should have rear ended Walt had he not made the move to the left.
But I am not aware of any film footage existing (and available to the public for watching) of the cars coming out of the turns in which Dave was not spinning already.

That film footage taken from the air could answer that question.
But where is it?

Henri

In lieu of film, there is Len Sutton's eyewitness account from the "best" vantage point—from inside the car following these two—which is found here:

http://forums.autosp...221#post2825221

[Edit]Here is Sutton's account:

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

Dave's back end got away from him and he headed for the inside guard rail. Anyone watching this unfold - and I was - could feel certain it was going to be tragic. By the time Dave's car was off the wall and heading back onto the track, I was just even with him and escaped down the front stretch.



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#402 HistoricMustang

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 20:06

Originally posted by TrackDog

He drove down inside Walt, who couldn't see him; and Walt moved down on him, unwittingly. MacDonald had to veer to the left suddenly to keep from hitting Hansgen, and the sudden swerve broke the rear end loose.
Dan


Now gentlemen, this observation is interesting and if it can be documented adds a new perspective on the events we have been discussing.

Also, the history books are being re-written. Here is a direct quote from a "History" web site:

"After introducing radical new car bodies, Thompson's team had problems from the start. In the end, only Dave MacDonald qualified a Thompson car. Early in the race, MacDonald lost control of his car, crashing into Eddie Sachs and killing both of them."

Of course we know two Thompson cars were qualified and Sachs actually impacted MacDonald, which could add an additional view of the events that took place.

The entire altered story: http://www.history.c...ArticleCategory

Henry

#403 TrackDog

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 20:28

Originally posted by Henri Greuter



Makes you wonder exactly when.
If the news would be out shortly after the race then Mickey must have had enough time to rebuilt the cars and/or design new versions of it but with the larger tires.
Or did he neglect the effects too long, underestiiated them, whatever?
If I give him the benefit of the doubt then the ban on the 12's was done rather late, leaving himwith not enough time to deal with the situation properly.

Henri


As I understand it, the cars began the month with the 12 inch tires, and USAC made them illegal soon after practice started. Is this true?

If the tires were banned soon after the 1963 race, then there HAD to be ample time for an alternate plan of some sort...



Dan

#404 Ray Bell

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Posted 25 September 2007 - 21:07

I can't say how long after the race they were banned, but my recollection is that they were banned as a result of them having been run in 1963...

Lack of testing opportunities may also have been part of the reason they went to Indy so poorly prepared. And perhaps Thompson spent the other parts of the year with his mind on other projects?

#405 Gerr

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 00:13

It was reported that Thompson and Gregory tested at IMS in March 1964 with the Ford, the 15 wheels and the Armstrong/Allstate tires. Walter Zoomie has pics showing this in post #4 (3rd and 2nd from the bottom). One of these is captioned "fall testing, 1964" but that is incorrect.

HRM reported the low-profile Allstate 15 inch tires were only one inch larger in diameter than the 12 inch Firestones of 1963. So the static loaded radius of the tire would raise the car less than half an inch. Should have been easy to correct.I feel Thompson was using the banning of the 12 inch wheel as an excuse for the cars being slow compared to the other Ford-powered entries.

#406 ovfi

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 00:30

Found this picture on the Indy official site:
Posted Image
The 12" tires are much smaller than 15" tires (1963 version)...

#407 TrackDog

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 10:37

Here's an interesting link regarding fuel tank location on the Thompson cars:

http://thompson-moto...m/indy6304.html

I wonder just how much oil the cars carried? Combined with atomized fuel, several gallons of oil could produce a serious explosion.


Dan

#408 HistoricMustang

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Posted 26 September 2007 - 23:46

Originally posted by TrackDog
Here's an interesting link regarding fuel tank location on the Thompson cars:

http://thompson-moto...m/indy6304.html

I wonder just how much oil the cars carried? Combined with atomized fuel, several gallons of oil could produce a serious explosion.


Dan


"Oil Fires" are seen often in Stock Car Racing with front impacts. It seems the oil hits the engine headers and ignites. Same logic would apply here if the right side oil tank ruptured and fluid was exposed to the rear engine style headers. Wondering if the initial fire after hitting the wall was in fact an "oil fire"?

Henry

#409 Henri Greuter

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 09:33

Originally posted by HistoricMustang


"Oil Fires" are seen often in Stock Car Racing with front impacts. It seems the oil hits the engine headers and ignites. Same logic would apply here if the right side oil tank ruptured and fluid was exposed to the rear engine style headers. Wondering if the initial fire after hitting the wall was in fact an "oil fire"?

Henry


Given the intensity of the explosion, maybe the oil fire was part of the fire. But in my opinion the main reason for the inferno mus have been the gasoline tank releasing its contents.


Henri

#410 TrackDog

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 21:07

Originally posted by Henri Greuter


Given the intensity of the explosion, maybe the oil fire was part of the fire. But in my opinion the main reason for the inferno mus have been the gasoline tank releasing its contents.


Henri


Most likely, it was. I'm wondering if the inital source of ignition might have been the fuel pump breaking from tire damage, severing a fuel line, spraying atomized gasoline over a hot engine combined with a broken oil cooler spilling it's contents simultaneously over the same area, spreading down to a split-open fuel tank[the result of broken bodywork from the same initial impact]. If all three of those things happenned at nearly the same instant, it would make for a fireball of the magnitude that transpired.

But there was still a lot of fuel in the tank that hadn't burned yet, and that is evident from the flaming trail the car left behind it as it climbed back up the track, and fueled the second explosion as Sachs broadsided it. The 5 gallon[approx.] tank in Sachs' nose also exploded, and since 35 gallons were drained from his car in the garage afterward, and it's known that he was carrying 52 gallons, then approximately 17 gallons were burned away. Allowing for probably using a gallon or so to cover the 5 miles of race distance, that leaves 16 gallons involved in the fire, plus whatever remained in MacDonald's tank. In total, if our info is correct, then approximately 60 gallons of gasoline were consumed in the blaze.

The initial explosion, as devastating as it appeared, might have been more of a flash fire.



Dan

#411 McGuire

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 11:00

Originally posted by Henri Greuter
Given the intensity of the explosion, maybe the oil fire was part of the fire. But in my opinion the main reason for the inferno mus have been the gasoline tank releasing its contents.
Henri


Originally posted by TrackDog
The initial explosion, as devastating as it appeared, might have been more of a flash fire.
Dan


There were no significant explosions in the MacDonald crash that I can see. Gasoline requires oxygen for combustion. Only the surface of a volume of gasoline (that portion exposed to the atmosphere) can burn at all, so there is no runaway chemical reaction of the materials to produce a detonation or deflagration as with traditional explosives. Thus gasoline is not rated as an explosive.

However, gasoline vapor can be a low explosive when mixed with the precise amount of air -- from around 1.5:1 to 7:1 by mass. When a vehicle's fuel tank explodes (a much rarer occurance than television action shows would lead us to believe) it is not the gasoline that "goes off" but the vapor captured in the top of the tank. There is no evidence that occured here to any significant degree. This was a gasoline fire: MacDonald's rubber fuel cell obviously split open upon impact with the inside wall, and the gasoline continued to burn for some minutes.

EDIT: all this indicates why the risk of explosion is far greater with a near-empty fuel tank than with a full one.

#412 Henri Greuter

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 10:52

Originally posted by McGuire




There were no significant explosions in the MacDonald crash that I can see. Gasoline requires oxygen for combustion. Only the surface of a volume of gasoline (that portion exposed to the atmosphere) can burn at all, so there is no runaway chemical reaction of the materials to produce a detonation or deflagration as with traditional explosives. Thus gasoline is not rated as an explosive.

However, gasoline vapor can be a low explosive when mixed with the precise amount of air -- from around 1.5:1 to 7:1 by mass. When a vehicle's fuel tank explodes (a much rarer occurance than television action shows would lead us to believe) it is not the gasoline that "goes off" but the vapor captured in the top of the tank. There is no evidence that occured here to any significant degree. This was a gasoline fire: MacDonald's rubber fuel cell obviously split open upon impact with the inside wall, and the gasoline continued to burn for some minutes.

EDIT: all this indicates why the risk of explosion is far greater with a near-empty fuel tank than with a full one.




I have once read the story that you can actually dip a burning cigarette into a cup of gasoline and that nothing will happen firewise.
Didn't have the guts yet to put the matter to the test and that is not only because I hate smoking and all inconvenience it causes.

Other than that, your story does explain the inferno even further. Once the tank was leaking and spilling its contents over the track in the trail of the car sliding back onto the track, that enlarged the area of exposed gasoline (exposed to air/oxygen) and with a fire on already there was no stopping the wall of fire anymore.

Henri

#413 MPea3

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 11:06

Originally posted by Henri Greuter
I have once read the story that you can actually dip a burning cigarette into a cup of gasoline and that nothing will happen firewise.
Didn't have the guts yet to put the matter to the test and that is not only because I hate smoking and all inconvenience it causes.
Henri


Please don't. I've seen a man toss a lit cigarette into a can of gasoline to extinguish it, but I'd hate to see you live out the old joke of a NASCAR fan's last words being "hey ya'all, watch this".

#414 paulhooft

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 11:21

there are 10 types of people in this world, those who understand binary and those who don't.

WRONG:
there are 16 types of people in this world, because I have learned to think HEXADECIMAL!!!
a long, long time ago, that was!!
PcH

#415 Lotus23

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 16:28

I was witness to the power of unleashed hydrocarbons nearly 40 years ago.

I was stationed in Germany conducting a unit "fire school", which consisted of going to the motor pool, taking a 55-gal oil drum cut down to about 12" high, then pouring a pint or so of petrol into it and setting it alight.

Along with several NCO's, I then supervised the troops as they took turns putting out the small fire with a hand-held extinguisher.

At the end of the day, I had 3 or 4 gallons of petrol remaining and was about to pour it into the tank of a nearby jeep. However, the NCOs urged me to dump it all into the drum and set it off: "It'll be fun, sir!!"

Having had some exposure to organic chemistry, I can recall having serious reservations about the plan. But idiocy prevailed, and the resulting volcanic "WHOOOOM!!" damn near immolated myself and half the motor pool!

Got away with singed eyebrows and a much greater respect for what could happen to a match in the hands of a fun-seeker. Hours later, the Old Man asked me what that godawful noise was, and I told him it was nothing, probably just a truck backfiring.

#416 HistoricMustang

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 21:20

Originally posted by Lotus23
I was witness to the power of unleashed hydrocarbons nearly 40 years ago.

I was stationed in Germany conducting a unit "fire school", which consisted of going to the motor pool, taking a 55-gal oil drum cut down to about 12" high, then pouring a pint or so of petrol into it and setting it alight.

Along with several NCO's, I then supervised the troops as they took turns putting out the small fire with a hand-held extinguisher.

At the end of the day, I had 3 or 4 gallons of petrol remaining and was about to pour it into the tank of a nearby jeep. However, the NCOs urged me to dump it all into the drum and set it off: "It'll be fun, sir!!"

Having had some exposure to organic chemistry, I can recall having serious reservations about the plan. But idiocy prevailed, and the resulting volcanic "WHOOOOM!!" damn near immolated myself and half the motor pool!

Got away with singed eyebrows and a much greater respect for what could happen to a match in the hands of a fun-seeker. Hours later, the Old Man asked me what that godawful noise was, and I told him it was nothing, probably just a truck backfiring.


My friend.....................humor is "The Best Medicine".

I again want to thank everyone that has taken part in this thread. When several hours are freed up I will personally read each and every post for its fullest effect (or should that be affect). It appears we have moved this tragedy from a simple rookie mistake.

As a side note this past weekend I spent some time with a former NASCAR Champion who informed me that he simply walked away from a Mickey Thompson Corvette at Daytona after turning a few laps.

"No way the car could be driven."

Henry

#417 Cynic

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 21:51

"It appears we have moved this tragedy from a simple rookie mistake."


Have we? An amazing number of possibilities have been raised, but as far as I can tell, none has been proven. At this point, with no access to any physical evidence, it would seem unlikely that any theory can ever be confirmed.

There may be family members who believe that there's no way Dave MacDonald made a "rookie" mistake, and they may be right. That possibility still exists, though, and there would seem to be supporting evidence in statements from other drivers, which suggest that MacDonald was in a hurry to get to the front; perhaps too much of a hurry.

There is also evidence which suggests that the car handled strangely, and perhaps MacDonald had little experience in the car with a full fuel load. Not a good combination, but not really proof either.

You began the thread with the (apparent) belief that something might have broken on the car. Again a possibility, but I don't believe that any evidence has ever been discovered to prove this theory either.

Certainly this discussion has been interesting, and has brought out new information on the car (and shown too many examples of quick and shoddy journalism). Most likely the accident, like most, was the result of a particular group of circumstances. Remove any one circumstance and this might have been a harmless spin, or a single car accident. It wasn't, and we don't really know why.

Have I missed something?

Cynic

#418 MPea3

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 01:15

Originally posted by Cynic

Have I missed something?

Cynic


I suppose that depends on who you ask, but if you have, I have too.

#419 Jerry Entin

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 02:45

Henry : I believe without naming names that Junior Johnson was the NASCAR driver who wouldn't drive Mickey Thompson Sting Ray. The reason he refused to drive Mickey's Sting Ray was not the car, but the fact that it rained during the start of the Daytona Challenge Cup in February 1963. Bill Krause took his place, while team member Rex White had no objections taking the start in the other Thompson Sting Ray. Nor did other oval track specialists such as A.J. Foyt and Paul Goldsmith. Maybe Junior just doesn't like it wet out.
all research Willem Oosthoek.

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#420 TrackDog

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 04:00

I used to think that Dave MacDonald was just another rookie that didn't respect Indy, and paid the ultimate price for his "foolishness". This thread has led me to believe otherwise. Now, I see him as a victim of circumstance...contractually obligated to a poorly organized race team that looked better on paper than it did in reality, and a team owner who was probably out of his element.

I believe that Dave MacDonald was facing the challenge of his life, and was bound and determined to make the best of a bad situation. He had no previous experience at Indy, and was probably a little intimidated by the place. His position at Ford may have been at stake, he wanted to excel in racing...who wouldn't...and he was the senior member of the team after Masten Gregory left.

He was impressionable, and there is evidence that Mickey Thompson might have exploited this.


It's entirely concieveable to me that his charge to the front at the start of the race might have been more of a desperate attempt to master the car than a mad rush for the lead...race drivers often exhibit a tendency to perform better under severe stress; and this was the most stressful time of his life. I wonder if he wasn't better than the car...if he wasn't driving at the best of his ability, and the car just didn't measure up?

In hindsight, it would have been best to walk away from the car...but was he really in a position to do that? What would it have done to his career? And there's always the possibility that the car might break, or spin harmlessly...or, just maybe, finish the race in the money.

And, just how genuine were some of the concerns of some of the other competitors and officials? Were they trying to psych him out? There wasn't a lot of love lost between the USAC regulars and the road racers, either.

Technology was fast-outpacing the rules...and USAC could have been a little more attentive of this...the use of gasoline in cars that were substantially faster than in previous years, and that involved different driving techniques should have appeared to officials as an accident waiting to happen. There was a tire war, an engine war, and a chassis war; as well as a changing of the guard, driver-wise. It was a recipe for disaster; and into this mix steps an inexperienced driver eager to prove himself in a poorly constructed car with an obstinate team owner urging him on, with little regard for his safety.

Driving in the 1964 Indianapolis 500 ws the opportunity of Dave MacDonald's life, and he tried to make the best of it. He was driving his heart out, which was the only way he knew how to do it. He deserved a far better fate...



Dan

#421 McGuire

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 06:15

Originally posted by Gerr
HRM reported the low-profile Allstate 15 inch tires were only one inch larger in diameter than the 12 inch Firestones of 1963. So the static loaded radius of the tire would raise the car less than half an inch. Should have been easy to correct.I feel Thompson was using the banning of the 12 inch wheel as an excuse for the cars being slow compared to the other Ford-powered entries.

I have to disagree. I am unable to find the HRM reference but in any event I have to question its assertion. Car and Driver gives 21.2" F/24" R while HRM gives 22"F/24"R as the diameter of the 1963 tires. So far I have not found quoted specifications for the '64 Allstate/Armstrong tires, but we have plenty of photos and we do know that the '64 wheels are 15"... a little scale work will show that the difference in loaded diameter is considerably greater than one inch, and certainly sufficient to alter the ride height and roll centers and therefore the vehicle's handling characteristics.

Posted Image
Posted Image

As for an excuse, in my view it would be neither here nor there. Thompson was obligated to Ford to run a competitive car with the tires available, just like the other Ford teams. "These tires are too big" would not be be a credible excuse in any case.

#422 HistoricMustang

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 08:52

Originally posted by Jerry Entin
Henry : I believe without naming names that Junior Johnson was the NASCAR driver who wouldn't drive Mickey Thompson Sting Ray. The reason he refused to drive Mickey's Sting Ray was not the car, but the fact that it rained during the start of the Daytona Challenge Cup in February 1963. Bill Krause took his place, while team member Rex White had no objections taking the start in the other Thompson Sting Ray. Nor did other oval track specialists such as A.J. Foyt and Paul Goldsmith. Maybe Junior just doesn't like it wet out.
all research Willem Oosthoek.


Hi Jerry, actually Rex is the driver that felt it best not to drive the Corvette in competition after practice sessions. And, you are correct about him not really enjoying a wet track.

During our next visit I will inquire about who actually occupied his seat for the Challenge Cup event.

Henry

#423 Jerry Entin

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 09:01

Henry: As you know Doug Hooper drove Mickey Thompson's Sting Ray to a win in 1962 at the Riverside 3 hour Enduro. That was a easier course and it wasn't raining.

#424 TrackDog

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 10:34

Originally posted by McGuire

I have to disagree. I am unable to find the HRM reference but in any event I have to question its assertion. Car and Driver gives 21.2" F/24" R while HRM gives 22"F/24"R as the diameter of the 1963 tires. So far I have not found quoted specifications for the '64 Allstate/Armstrong tires, but we have plenty of photos and we do know that the '64 wheels are 15"... a little scale work will show that the difference in loaded diameter is considerably greater than one inch, and certainly sufficient to alter the ride height and roll centers and therefore the vehicle's handling characteristics.

Posted Image
Posted Image

As for an excuse, in my view it would be neither here nor there. Thompson was obligated to Ford to run a competitive car with the tires available, just like the other Ford teams. "These tires are too big" would not be be a credible excuse in any case.


It certainly looks as though there is more than an inch difference in loaded diameter in those images. Any higher, and that car would have been on radar at Weir Cook!

I don't know very much about how the tires on an Indy car behave at speed; but I'm wondering if they might actually grow a little in height at speed, like a top-fuel dragster's tires do...would different tire compounds affect this, or am I barking up the wrong tree?



Dan

#425 Henri Greuter

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 07:12

Originally posted by HistoricMustang



I again want to thank everyone that has taken part in this thread. When several hours are freed up I will personally read each and every post for its fullest effect (or should that be affect). It appears we have moved this tragedy from a simple rookie mistake.


Henry



Henry,

I know you want it to be proven that Dave nmade no mistakes very much but I must agree with the posts of Cynic #417 and Trackdog #420.

There is, as of date, nothing proven about mechanical failure causing the accident and regrettably, the person who told so hasn't come forward yet or is even unable to do so.

On the other hand, the film footage that proved that Dave drove over his head has not appeared either.
And in all film evidence that I have seen of the first 1.5 laps of the race, I can't say that, as far as I could identify, Dave did strange things. But there was one moment in which I got the clear feeling that he almost lost the car.

In all honesty, the best that has been achieved in this tread is:

In the aftermath of the accident, things were told by certain people, probably based on the the impression of the moment and these things have been told over and over again. Maybe because researchers found those printings and didn't want to bother these people another time about that disaster, if they were willing to talk about it yet again to begin with.
I also got a feeling that Dave was blamed for a number of things, because he was a rookie. But there were a few things that were beyond his control. Like has beenb said, take away wone factor and it may well have been a harmless spin.

I think that more of the truth has been revealed, more correct, details that were known for a long time combined in this thread revealed a better understanding of the sequence of events which eventually lead to the thing we saw. Also about the circumstances during practice, qualifying, etc.

Machanical failure can't be excluded.
But neither can be any driver error, of whatever kind of error you can think about. Be it driving too fast with a car in a setup and with a fuel load he hadn't driven with yet. Or using his preferred driving style that he was told about not to use because of the walls waiting for him should he lose control. Or being in too much of a hury early on it the race and ignoring advises from his teamboss and an experienced veteran to take it easy early on because of the car he drove.
All of these errors (and any other that may be suggested) may well be a result of the things that happened in the weeks before within the team and also be directly related with the car he drove.
If the verdict "Driver Error" keeps standing, then at least this thread brought up a number of factors which were involved with how Dave, a young man under pressure eventually made this error if the verdict driver error remains.
The situation he was in has become much clearer and that makes what eventueally happened more understandable and also took away a lot of the accusations made about him and his team owner in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Even if Dave can't be released of error, at least for me there is far more understanding for him about what happened, for me he became even much more of a nice guy at the wrong time at the wrong place in the wrong car in the wrong situation. And got too much blame and guilt loaded upon his shoulders in the aftermath because he was a rookie.


Best regards,

Henri

#426 HistoricMustang

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 09:25

Originally posted by Henri Greuter



Henry,

I know you want it to be proven that Dave nmade no mistakes very much but I must agree with the posts of Cynic #417 and Trackdog #420.

There is, as of date, nothing proven about mechanical failure causing the accident and regrettably, the person who told so hasn't come forward yet or is even unable to do so.

On the other hand, the film footage that proved that Dave drove over his head has not appeared either.
And in all film evidence that I have seen of the first 1.5 laps of the race, I can't say that, as far as I could identify, Dave did strange things. But there was one moment in which I got the clear feeling that he almost lost the car.

In all honesty, the best that has been achieved in this tread is:

In the aftermath of the accident, things were told by certain people, probably based on the the impression of the moment and these things have been told over and over again. Maybe because researchers found those printings and didn't want to bother these people another time about that disaster, if they were willing to talk about it yet again to begin with.
I also got a feeling that Dave was blamed for a number of things, because he was a rookie. But there were a few things that were beyond his control. Like has beenb said, take away wone factor and it may well have been a harmless spin.

I think that more of the truth has been revealed, more correct, details that were known for a long time combined in this thread revealed a better understanding of the sequence of events which eventually lead to the thing we saw. Also about the circumstances during practice, qualifying, etc.

Machanical failure can't be excluded.
But neither can be any driver error, of whatever kind of error you can think about. Be it driving too fast with a car in a setup and with a fuel load he hadn't driven with yet. Or using his preferred driving style that he was told about not to use because of the walls waiting for him should he lose control. Or being in too much of a hury early on it the race and ignoring advises from his teamboss and an experienced veteran to take it easy early on because of the car he drove.
All of these errors (and any other that may be suggested) may well be a result of the things that happened in the weeks before within the team and also be directly related with the car he drove.
If the verdict "Driver Error" keeps standing, then at least this thread brought up a number of factors which were involved with how Dave, a young man under pressure eventually made this error if the verdict driver error remains.
The situation he was in has become much clearer and that makes what eventueally happened more understandable and also took away a lot of the accusations made about him and his team owner in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Even if Dave can't be released of error, at least for me there is far more understanding for him about what happened, for me he became even much more of a nice guy at the wrong time at the wrong place in the wrong car in the wrong situation. And got too much blame and guilt loaded upon his shoulders in the aftermath because he was a rookie.


Best regards,

Henri


Henri, thanks so much to you and the other members involved in this thread in search for information. I again am amazed at the amout of energy and information that continues to be presented by the TNF members.

For the first time I also want to give thanks to the TNF members directly from the MacDonald family, expecially Dave's son and his brother. I also believe most of what has been attempted by myself in this thread can be understood by me now advising that the MacDonald family has begun the process (as most of you know a very long process) of writing a book about the life of Dave MacDonald. There is no better place to gather information than from this group of racing historians.

Finally, perhaps some of my actions can now be understood by the members. Was never on a mission to change what might have taken place, just on a mission to add additional information to what did take place.

Good Racing to all!

Henry

#427 Jerry Entin

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 19:01

Henry:
Whatever Rex White remembers today, he did drive Mickey Thompson's Sting Ray in the Daytona Challenge Cup in February 1963. Thompson brought four of them, including two "high bank" versions for White and Junior Johnson.. These were set up like stockcars, with rollcages and special 427 hemi engines. The other two were regular "road racing" Sting Rays for the Continental the next day, when the infield was added to the banking. Bill Krause and Doug Hooper were assigned to the regular cars.

Rex White actually set the fastest practice lap, recording 162.264 mph [261.245 kph]. On raceday Junior refused to start because it was wet and very windy, so Thompson put Krause in the car at the last moment. Since Johnson weighed 250 pounds, Krause had to be supported by a pile of blankets in his seat, otherwise he could not reach the pedals. Bill Krause actually led the first few laps, but the cars would steam up in the rain and water would slosh around in the car. White made a pitstop on lap 36 and pulled out, water knee deep in the cockpit and zero visibility. Thompson took the wheel and did another two laps, after which the White car was retired. Krause finished 3rd. The special Thompson Sting Rays were never run again. Doug Hooper's victory at Riverside came in one of the road racing models.
all research Willem Oosthoek.

#428 HistoricMustang

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 19:34

Originally posted by Jerry Entin
Henry:
White made a pitstop on lap 36 and pulled out, water knee deep in the cockpit and zero visibility. all research Willem Oosthoek.


Thanks again Jerry, this does tie in with Rex's remark last Saturday that he "walked away from the car".

I just assumed it was before the race was flagged green.

Henry

#429 Bonde

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 20:01

Slightly OT, reference dangers of full versus empty fuel tanks, McGuire's post 411:

Military aircraft in daily use are, AFAIK, normally 'parked' or sheltered with full tanks in order to minimize the risk of a vapor explosion.

And I agree, it doesn't take many gallons of hydrocarbon fuel finely spread out to cause a very sizeable volume of flame. Fuel atomized into a cloud that is subsequently ignited is used in the so-called air-fuel weapons which create a tremendous pressure wave.

A question: Did the fuel bladders used at Indy in 1964 contain foam? ISTR in post somewhere that the foam (if used normally then) was left out in order to secure every drop of available fuel volume. Without foam, a ruptured bladder empties quickly and fairly completely, whereas one with foam empties at a slower pace but may burn for a longer time.

#430 T54

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 20:11

I don't know if someone mentioned it but the new book by Peter Bryant tells the story on the 1964 cars better than anyone I have read yet. It is also one of the most entertaining auto racing books I have ever read.

T54

#431 TrackDog

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 20:43

Originally posted by Bonde
Slightly OT, reference dangers of full versus empty fuel tanks, McGuire's post 411:

Military aircraft in daily use are, AFAIK, normally 'parked' or sheltered with full tanks in order to minimize the risk of a vapor explosion.

And I agree, it doesn't take many gallons of hydrocarbon fuel finely spread out to cause a very sizeable volume of flame. Fuel atomized into a cloud that is subsequently ignited is used in the so-called air-fuel weapons which create a tremendous pressure wave.

A question: Did the fuel bladders used at Indy in 1964 contain foam? ISTR in post somewhere that the foam (if used normally then) was left out in order to secure every drop of available fuel volume. Without foam, a ruptured bladder empties quickly and fairly completely, whereas one with foam empties at a slower pace but may burn for a longer time.


The bladders in 1964 didn't have any foam in them...that wasn't required until 1965, and I'm not certain that the technology was even applicable to racing in 1964. The post regarding foamless bladders was probably mine, regarding the tragic events of the 1973 race; by that time, the rules were evidently relaxed regarding sponges in the tanks.

Your third paragraph lends more credence to the shattered fuel pump theory.



Dan

#432 Bonde

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 21:27

Dan,

Thanks for clearing up the foam versus no foam issue for me.

Having looked at the YouTube video of the 1964 tragedy again, it appears to me that even though the car hit with the right hand side, which appears from the foregoing to have housed no fuel tank but still an oil cooler and attendant plumbing (and the oil will also burn if spread into droplets), burning fuel appears to me to be gushing from the left hand tank very shortly after the initial impact, before poor Sachs hits poor McDonald's wreck. I believe that the inital impact was severe enough to somehow rupture the fuel bag on the opposite side of the car - I find it difficult to believe that the pump alone, even with the aid of lubrication oil, could supply enough fuel to both virtually completely engulf the car and leave a sizeable trail of fire from the point of initial impact to the secondary impact site, a trail that burned quite fiercely for some time, especially after the impact which would, I suspect, have broken the pump and may well have stopped the engine. It wouldn't require much of a puncture, though, in a full fuel bag without foam, a bag which will not compress due to it being full, to spew out a large fan of droplets. There would have been a massive amount of inertia in the full fuel bag, which would have pushed it against the chassis, quite possibly rupturing it against something 'sharp' on the chassis itself, in the initial impact with the wall. The bag wouldn't need to hit the wall itself to rupture. Remeber poor Paletti's accident at Montreal in 1982? The inertia of the engine ruptured the firewall bulkhead and the tank, IIRC. I also remember seing how the virtually full fuel bag on Beltoise's BRM literally popped open the tub side skin in the 1973 Silverstone melée, hapilly without rupturing the bag, although admittedly the cause of that particular bag compression was someone else running quite heavily into Belter's side...

#433 T54

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 23:32

Anders,
May I suggest that you read Peter Bryant's new book, he explains EXACTLY and in simple terms what actually happened. He was the chief mechanic for the two cars and I think that he knows more about the details of the tragedy than anyone else still alive.


#434 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 07:19

The thread has already exposed what Peter Bryant has said… but to recap…

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


Tom Glowacki posted: Peter Bryant's book, "CanAm Challenger" explains his view, as chief mechanic on the car:
A.) he accepts Len Sutton's explanation that McDonald "simply lost it" p.169,
B.) "We only had room in our fuel tank for 44 gallons, p. 167, and
C.) "The big impact with the wall had broken the right side suspension and pushed it all against the bodywork. The body had been ripped away and had taken a big part of the fuel cell with it. I guess that when that happened, the frame metal hit the wall and caused sparks tht ignited the gasoline." p.170.


#435 David M. Kane

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 20:50

I just got a call back from the message I left Johnny Rutherford this morning. He said he talked to Dave's mechanics and they said he had 80 gallons on-board. His cell phone was breaking up a little so I couldn't hear how or where all the bladders were located; but he said he felt it affected the ride height, thus the handling.

Like when he passed Johnny in turn 2, Dave drove into turn 4 low, down low Johnny said it was dusty and rough. Johnny thinks these 2 factors (dusty and rough) are what unsettled the car intially, then the extra weight took over.

#436 steve deiters

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 20:54

Several years ago I was talking to Jerry Grant at the Performance Racing Industry Show and the subject of Dave MacDonald came up. They were sharing an apartment together in Indy and he said they used to "argue" as to who had the worst handling car at the Speedway. Grant was driving one of the MG Liquid Suspension Specials (a car which David Hobbs would drive latter and quoted years latter as saying "it was the worst handling car he ever drove-it had oversteer and understeer at the same time"!) and didn't make the field until the next year in that stellar rookie class of 1965 with a more suitable mount.
I asked him who "won" the discussion and he alluded to the net result of the accident and that he was still here.
I don't know nor do I want to speculate the cause of the accident and the resulting conflagration, but based on the depth of experience the Dave McDonlald had I wouldn't call it driver error, but a poorly handling car that was at its limit and beyond. The switch from the small tires of the year before to the more standard tires of 1964 had to radically change the geometry of the the chassis to the degree that no amount of adjustment could correct.

Steve Deiters

#437 David M. Kane

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 00:15

Steve:

I agree.

It's all well and good that you say you are "going to take it easy" because the car is a s@#t bucket, then they announce you're name, you look up and all you see is 100,000s of people. The juices start flowing because you're a racer and off you go giving it your best and a little bit more.

It's tragic, very tragic; but it's understandable what happens in the heat of the moment at what use to be a VERY BIG race.

#438 TrackDog

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 06:26

Originally posted by David M. Kane
I just got a call back from the message I left Johnny Rutherford this morning. He said he talked to Dave's mechanics and they said he had 80 gallons on-board. His cell phone was breaking up a little so I couldn't hear how or where all the bladders were located; but he said he felt it affected the ride height, thus the handling.

Like when he passed Johnny in turn 2, Dave drove into turn 4 low, down low Johnny said it was dusty and rough. Johnny thinks these 2 factors (dusty and rough) are what unsettled the car intially, then the extra weight took over.


So, there's that "bump" that A.J. Foyt talked about in his autobio...


Dan

#439 David M. Kane

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 15:32

TrackDog:

Our connection wasn't that great, but I specifically asked if there was a bump and he said didn't think there was one, just rough and dusty low down. I specifically asked if he saw any similarities between Swede Savage's accident and Dave's(I too thinking, "was there a bump")? Johnny said the track was completely different in '73 from '64. His cell signal was lost, so I wasn't able to ask how the tracked differed in '64 compared to '74.

I'll see if my contact can hook me up with AJ too!

BTW, Johnny called me back within 2 hours of my leaving a message and was very patient, understanding and very helpful...a real gentleman!

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#440 TrackDog

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 22:06

Originally posted by David M. Kane
TrackDog:

Our connection wasn't that great, but I specifically asked if there was a bump and he said didn't think there was one, just rough and dusty low down. I specifically asked if he saw any similarities between Swede Savage's accident and Dave's(I too thinking, "was there a bump")? Johnny said the track was completely different in '73 from '64. His cell signal was lost, so I wasn't able to ask how the tracked differed in '64 compared to '74.

I'll see if my contact can hook me up with AJ too!

BTW, Johnny called me back within 2 hours of my leaving a message and was very patient, understanding and very helpful...a real gentleman!


I think the track was resurfaced in 1972, not sure exactly...I do know that drivers were complaining in the late '60's that it was very rough.

It would be great to hear from A.J. about this particular race.

Dan

#441 Henri Greuter

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 11:20

Originally posted by David M. Kane
I just got a call back from the message I left Johnny Rutherford this morning. He said he talked to Dave's mechanics and they said he had 80 gallons on-board. His cell phone was breaking up a little so I couldn't hear how or where all the bladders were located; but he said he felt it affected the ride height, thus the handling.

Like when he passed Johnny in turn 2, Dave drove into turn 4 low, down low Johnny said it was dusty and rough. Johnny thinks these 2 factors (dusty and rough) are what unsettled the car intially, then the extra weight took over.



Thanks for sharing this David.

Now that brings a new question. How can the chief mechanic state that there was only 44 gallons in the car but other mechanics within the team talk about 80 gallons?

To me, the second picture in Post 142, (the Thompson after the accident) is pretty much sufficient info that there was no fuel tank on the right side of the car. The footage of the accident as seen on the FirstTurn DVD "The Roadster's last triumph" also suggests so.
Unless that tank was ripped off so quickly within the accident that it can't be seen on the video.
And if there was nothing on the right, then I wonder where else in the car could they hide yet another 44 gallons of fuel. Thad sidepos is wide but not very high and volumous.
So then where could that additional 40 gallons have gone?

Yet more confusion I think.

By the way, David, If I have been hard on Rutherford, that wasn't intentional. I think that what he said then was feeded by the signs and events of the time and all he obviously was told. If it can be prover wrong after all, I don't blame him for doing it on purpose.


Henri

#442 David M. Kane

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 13:27

Henri:

Johnny sounded very sincere, so I tend to think he believes what he says is true. Hopefully, I can get to talk to A.J. and get his recollections too.

#443 David M. Kane

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 20:50

I have messages out to both Donald Davidson and AJ Foyt. Today is a Holiday in the USA, so some offices are closed (all Government of course, schools, etc.), while most working folk are at their jobs as usual.

#444 Buford

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 21:02

Very interesting - thanks David.

#445 Ray Bell

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 21:39

Originally posted by Buford
Very interesting - thanks David.


That it's a holiday?

I am interested in pursuing the fuel capacity. I really do think it's unlikely that all the fuel was on one side.

#446 David M. Kane

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 21:45

Monday October 8th, 2007 2:00 PM

"Peter Bryant actually came in at the request of Masten Gregory who was down to drive one of the cars. The officially listed chief mechanic on the McDonald car was Paul Nicolini.

No records I know of indicates fuel capacity on any of the cars. I have in mind that 75 gallons was pretty much the limit at that time, and that it BECAME 75 gallons after the 1964 accident.

I will dig further.

Donald Davidson"

#447 HistoricMustang

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 21:56

Would the second Mickey Thompson car, driven by Eddie Johnson, provide any insight into the amount of fuel on board?

Is this race car still with us?

Henry

#448 David M. Kane

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 22:20

Ray:

I agree how could all the fuel be on one side even with all left turns; but I've never driven an Indy car or an oval.

Let's let this thing play out some more. Does anyone one know Paul Nicolini. Jerry Entin do you know how to reach Pter Bryant?

#449 TrackDog

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 01:53

Paul Nicolini was a prominent drag racer in the '50's...he built a transverse-engined car with chain drive that evolved into a car driven by Jack Christman in 1959 that was rather successful. He and Thompson probably meet during their drag racing days, although I can't prove it. I have no ides if he's still with us or not, but the NHRA would be a good place to start looking for more info on him.


Dan

#450 TrackDog

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 01:59

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Ray:

I agree how could all the fuel be on one side even with all left turns; but I've never driven an Indy car or an oval.

Let's let this thing play out some more. Does anyone one know Paul Nicolini. Jerry Entin do you know how to reach Pter Bryant?


I'll bet that rubber bladder expanded when it was full, enough to extend behind the seat, or maybe even underneath it...either that, or it was so full that there was no room for it to compress in an accident, and it punctured itself on a frame rail as the car impacted the wall...like a full waterballoon.


Dan