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The most persistent, yet hapless, Indy 500 entrant of them all


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#1 Jerry Entin

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 18:42

Hopkins-Lindsey.jpg

For my first Post of the new year 2019, I am going to tell the story of Lindsey Hopkins Jr


The title description has to go to Lindsey Hopkins Jr, the quintessential sportsman car owner, who tried so hard to win the Indianapolis 500.

His first entry at the brickyard came in 1951, with the Blue Crown Special [a Moore/Offy] raced by Henry Banks. His last was in 1982, with the Kraco Car Stereo Special [a Lightning/Cosworth] raced by Gary Bettenhausen.

In Lindsey's 29 Indy appearances in 31 years [he did not make the race in 1953 and 1954] he saw it all: the coming of the roadsters, the lay-down engine development, the rear-engine revolution and the turbo charge era.

Starting with single entries, he progressed to two [1961 and 1963], three [1971] and even four entries [1973]. By 1978 Hopkins went back to single entries.

If he could not find sponsorship for his cars sometimes, he would enter them under Hopkins Special.

Over the years Lindsey's Indy 500 entries used every chassis imaginable: Moore, Lesovsky, Kurtis, Epperly, Watson, Lotus, Lola, Eagle, Coyote, Kuzma,Riley, Antares and Lightning, yet victory always eluded him.

The owner came closest with 2nd overalls in 1957 [Jim Rathmann's Chiropractic Spl , an Epperly/Offy] and in 1959 [Rathmann again, in the Simoniz Spl, a Watson/Offy], plus a third overall in 1973 [Roger McCluskey's Hopkins Buick Spl, a McLaren/turbo Offy]. Over the years his drivers won 13 AAA/USAC Championship races, including various National Championships.

Tragedy struck the team a number of times. In 1955 Bill Vukovich led the 500 in the Hopkins Kurtis/Offy, only to lose his life after a number of crashed cars blocked his way. In 1964 Bobby Marshman led the race in the Pure Oil Firebird Spl, a Lotus/Ford entered by Hopkins. Marshman dropped out and lost his life in the same car during tire testing a Phoenix in November 1964. Tony Bettenhausen never made it to the 500 in 1961, scheduled to race Lindsey's Autolite Spl, an Epperly/Offy. The driver fatally crashed while sorting out Paul Russo's ill-handling Watson in practice. Lloyd Ruby got the ride from Hopkins and finished 8th overall.

Hopkins was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1909. He built a career in commercial and industrial banking, owning homes in Miami and Atlanta, where he had close ties to Coca-Cola. He also owned a chain of hotels in the Bahamas.

Auto racing was not Lindsey's only interest. In 1967 he and fellow car owner John Mecom Jr bought the new franchise of the New Orleans Saints football team. He was also part owner of the Atlanta Falcons.

In addition, Hopkins was an accomplished amateur magician. As a result, his cars featured a decal with a white rabbit in front of a top hat.

Although rather late, Lindsey Hopkins Jr was finally inducted in the Indy 500 Hall of Fame in 2004. He died in Atlanta in 1986 at the age of 77, the result of heart failure. But what a contribution he made to motorsports.


All research: Willem Oosthoek
photo; IMS Collection

Edited by Jerry Entin, 07 January 2019 - 22:45.


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#2 Jerry Entin

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 19:00

Hopkins2.jpg

The Lindsey Hopkins Kurtis/Offy raced by Jim Rathmann at Indy in 1956. Apparently Hopkins had trouble getting sponsorship that year. Rathmann qualified on the middle of the front row, but retired after 175 laps due to oil loss.



Photo: IMS Collection

Edited by Jerry Entin, 06 January 2019 - 19:17.


#3 Jerry Entin

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 19:23

Hopkins-Lindsey-Hat-Rabbit16-Sonoita1007
Note on the car above the Rabbitt in the Hat logo on it's side ,Lindsey Hopkins loved magic and this was to be his Logo.

photo: Kevin Triplett

Edited by Jerry Entin, 06 January 2019 - 19:34.


#4 Jerry Entin

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 19:35

Hopkims5.jpg

Indy 1958. Jim Rathmann in the Leader Card 500 Roadster entered by Lindsey Hopkins. It used an Epperly chassis with Offy engine. After 200 laps Rathmann finished 5th overall.



All research: Willem Oosthoek



Photo credit: IMS Collection

Edited by Jerry Entin, 06 January 2019 - 19:37.


#5 Jerry Entin

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 21:32

Hopkins3.jpg

Indy 1970. Part of a two-car Hopkins team, Mel Kenyon qualified this Coyote/turbo Offy 22nd on the grid, two places better than teammate Wally Dallenbach in an Eagle/turbo Ford. Both ran as Sprite Specials, both dropped out, Kenyon after a wreck on lap 160.



All research: Willem Oosthoek

Photo credit: IMS Collection

Edited by Jerry Entin, 08 January 2019 - 04:14.


#6 Jerry Entin

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 21:34

Hopkins7-1968.jpg

Indy 1968. Roger McCluskey in the Hopkins Eagle/turbo Ford entered as the G.C. Murphy Special, after the sponsoring department store. McCluskey qualified 7th fastest, but retired after 29 laps when his oil filter broke.

Roger would pass away in 1993 at the age of 63 after a long battle with cancer.

All research: Willem Oosthoek



Photo credit: IMS Collection

Edited by Jerry Entin, 06 January 2019 - 22:47.


#7 Ray Bell

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 21:36

Thanks to Jerry and Willem for yet another interesting theme for this forum...

 

I hope others will be able to add to the story.



#8 E1pix

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 21:59

Fantastic OP.

(and I always wondered what the rabbit art meant)

#9 ensign14

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 22:30

"Hapless" is perhaps pushing it a bit, he was at least competitive.  Contra someone like Ralph Ligouri, who DNQd in material very capable of qualifying, or Gig Stephens, who seems to have turned up year after year yet barely turned a lap.

 

Was there any reason for the blue?  He seems to have had a rather attractive colour scheme quite regularly.



#10 Jerry Entin

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 23:33

Ensign14,

There is a slight difference between a driver and an entrant, which this thread refers to.

Also, neither Ralph or Gig tried for 29 years to win the race, both were stuck in their qualifying attempts.

#11 E.B.

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 23:53

Great thread Jerry. Had no idea of his NFL connection.

May I offer a couple of minor queries/corrections? (Dependent on whether I am right or not!)

I always thought that Marshman's fatal accident occurred in a different chassis to his 500 mount. Also, I believe Tony B died in a Watson rather than a Kurtis.

#12 ensign14

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 00:06

There is a slight difference between a driver and an entrant, which this thread refers to.

Also, neither Ralph or Gig tried for 29 years to win the race, both were stuck in their qualifying attempts.

 

True, although there's only so long you can continue as a racer, but you can continue until after death as an entrant (Jim Robbins). 

 

I suppose my favourite hapless entrants were Myron Caves, who threw away pole position, had poor Bob Hurt crash with near fatal results the next year, and finally got a car in the race on his last go in 1972, or Walther, whose cars always looked gorgeous, but didn't really "go".   Despite having some good talents alongside Salt.  Not many could say Fangio was their driver...



#13 Henri Greuter

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 08:23

Lindsey Hopkins and Lew Welch (of the Novi team) were among the owners who never won `the big one` during their many years of participation yet contributed more to Indy History then a few lucky entrants who were in the game for a limited number of years but could step out because of having won the 500 and thus had nothing more to challenge for other than more victories.

Like Lew Welch, Lindsay Hopkins was one of those entrants who you should have felt so happy for if his car had finally won the 500. But as far as I found out, Hopkins was a more liked entrant and person by many people at the track than Lew Welch was.

Indy can be so cruel with denying faithful supporters a well deserved victory. Lindsey Hopkins was definitely one of those supporters who gave indy more then it gave him back in return.

Edited by Henri Greuter, 07 January 2019 - 15:06.


#14 B Squared

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 10:01

Mr. Hopkins explains the origins of "Thurston"
Hopkins%20Thurston_zpsucokqtix.jpeg

#15 B Squared

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 10:25

Thanks for another neat subject Jerry.

I have to agree with Ensign though - I believe "hapless" is a most unfortunate term to be using with Mr. Hopkins. I sure don't recall any words like that directed at him, or to him, when he was a major part of the USAC trail. A hapless entrant doesn't employ some of the best in the business and have drivers wanting to drive your machines.

This is Mr. Hopkins 1981 Angelo Angelopolous Award that is part of my Hopkins/Marshman collection.
Hopkins%20Angelopolous%20Award_zpsacimzz

#16 B Squared

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 10:30

I always thought that Marshman's fatal accident occurred in a different chassis to his 500 mount.

You are correct, but both were Lotus 29's. Bob's 1964 Indy 500 Lotus can be seen at the Barber museum in Alabama returned to its original guise and painted as it started in Dan Gurney's 1963 livery from his 7th place finish. Clark's 2nd place Lotus 29 from 1963 was the car Bob was in when he had his Phoenix testing crash.

Edited by B Squared, 07 January 2019 - 10:33.


#17 Michael Ferner

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 11:12

When I opened this thread I was expecting to read about the likes of Charles Shambaugh, Don Mergard or Bob La Warre... but, Lindsey Hopkins?? Have to agree with e14 and B², hapless is not the right word!

But then again, Hopkins came to Indy to win, so yes, he wasn't successful in that. A failure, even. But he made the sport, and all of those who knew him richer by being a fine and respected human being.

Henry Banks of Michigan was actually responsible for bringing LH to Indy, and to Indy car racing. I have something at home about how Banks and Hopkins met and teamed up, but they went Midget racing all about the country for several years - well, Henry went, and Lindsey paid for it! Banks also made it to Indy on a regular basis, but without luck, for several owners. He was there in 1950, when Lou Moore, a five time winner of the 500, retired his team and put his cars up for sale right after the race. Banks picked the newest of the lot, a pretty ugly rail frame that had just finished sixth in its first and only race so far, and went to Miami to ask for the funds. Lindsey agreed, and Henry went on to win the National Championship with the car! For the next year, they were going to have something more sophisticated, and hired West coast builder Lujie Lesovsky to build a state-of-the-art tube frame car, but it was late in getting ready, and the "ugly duckling" had to make do for Lindsey's first 500 - it finished sixth, again, and was promptly retired from service.

So, I guess my main point was that he was a rookie owner winning the National Championship, and came to Indy with a big and proud #1 painted on his car - hardly a hapless individual. But, thanks anyway for a great thread idea, Jerry and Willem; I will try and add something more substantial when I'm back home. :)

Edited by Michael Ferner, 07 January 2019 - 11:34.


#18 Jerry Entin

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 12:54

E.B,
There are various versions about which Lotus was crashed by Bobby Marshman at Phoenix in late 1964, but the more convincing one seems to steer us to the fact it was his 1964 Indy ride.
As for Tony Bettenhausen, yes, you are correct. It was a Watson, not a Kurtis.
I am also very Glad to see my friends Henri and Michael contributing to this post.And thank you Brian for your input.

There are some Great pictures and stories coming and I know the Forum members will enjoy the coming Post.

Edited by Jerry Entin, 07 January 2019 - 12:56.


#19 Jerry Entin

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 15:27

Definition of Hapless: lacking hap “good fortune, luck”.

Yes, the wrong word to describe Lindsey’s history as a team owner in general, but certainly the right one in the narrower context of his Indy 500 entries over 29 years. Especially considering the quality of his cars and the talent of his drivers. And his Indy 500 efforts are the focus here.

Edited by Jerry Entin, 07 January 2019 - 15:27.


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#20 Jerry Entin

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 15:32

Tingelstad.jpg

Ready for the 1965 Indy 500.



The first appearance of a Lola at the brickyard, powered by Ford and sponsored by American Red Ball.
From the left, car owner Lindsey Hopkins, driver Bud Tingelstad, and crew chief Jack Beckley.
Tingelstad ran as high as 5th overall until the car lost a rear wheel, hitting the wall after 115 laps.

Jack Beckly would go on to be the Technical Chairman for Indy Racing from 1976-1991. He passed away in 2006 at the age of 87 in Glendale, Arizona.



All research: Willem Oosthoek

Photo credit: Lola archives

Edited by Jerry Entin, 07 January 2019 - 16:17.


#21 Allen Brown

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 16:34

You mention the many makes of car he entered: Moore, Lesovsky, Kurtis, Epperly, Watson, Lotus, Lola, Eagle, Coyote, Kuzma, Antares and Lightning

 

Obviously the first five of those mean nothing to me because the engine was in the wrong end, but to the later ones I can add Halibrand Shrike (#15 in 1965), Gerhardt (#78 in 1966), McLaren (#3 in 1973) and 'Riley' (#1 in 1974, #15 in 1975, #11 in 1976), the last of which is sometimes referred to as 'Hopkins'.



#22 E1pix

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 17:05

True, although there's only so long you can continue as a racer, but you can continue until after death as an entrant (Jim Robbins).

Apologies for brief drift but have been wondering something for 40 years now...

Is Jim Robbins the same person as former Corvette racer J. Marshall Robbins?

#23 RA Historian

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 17:20

 'Riley' (#1 in 1974, #15 in 1975, #11 in 1976), the last of which is sometimes referred to as 'Hopkins'.

In 1975 McCluskey ran the Hopkins Riley at Milwaukee, a race which I saw. To me, it looked like a carbon copy of Foyt's Coyote. Both were Riley designs, but I was a bit surprised that there was apparently no effort made to give it a bit of a different look. In the entry the car was listed as a 'Rocket'. Apparently there was not much of a push to use that as a car name, because I do not recall seeing it elsewhere.

 

Tom



#24 racinggeek

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 17:31

Speaking as a wordsmith, Jerry's use of "hapless" is technically accurate. The dictionary definition is "unfortunate; luckless," as he noted in an earlier post. However, people do equate the word with "hopeless" or "no chance," I think; I admit I had to look it up myself when I saw it used for Hopkins' Indy efforts.

 

One of the fascinating tings about Hopkins' entries in the 1970s was the willingness to run its own chassis, quite an endeavor for a lesser-budget team. Yes,, McCluskey had his best successes with a used McLaren M16, but to try and find an edge with the Riley (1974-75) and Lightning cars was a rather Quixotic effort. Not to mention the Antares, which I believe Pat Patrick also entered in '72 so I don't know that that was an in-house job.



#25 racinggeek

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 17:41

In 1975 McCluskey ran the Hopkins Riley at Milwaukee, a race which I saw. To me, it looked like a carbon copy of Foyt's Coyote. Both were Riley designs, but I was a bit surprised that there was apparently no effort made to give it a bit of a different look. In the entry the car was listed as a 'Rocket'. Apparently there was not much of a push to use that as a car name, because I do not recall seeing it elsewhere.

 

Tom

 

Yeah, it was pretty much a copy, although it originally was intended to run without a rear wing and had some work done to reposition a few items on the Offy engine to clean the airflow back there. Airflow was generally intended to be cleaner than on the Coyote, kinda of a new/improved version, according to the '74 Indy 500 Yearbook, although the naked eye probably couldn't tell.

 

As for "... not much of a push ...," that was at least part of the reason I read for its lack of success; Riley designed the Riley and Coyote more for straightline speed than cornering ability in those pre-ground effect days, and Foyt's Ford was always going to make more horses than the Offy.



#26 Jerry Entin

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 18:25

Ting3.jpg

Another shot of Bud Tingelstad in the Hopkins-owned American Red Ball Lola/Ford at Indy in 1965.
Bud Tingelstad would finish 16th in 1965, in 1964 he had his best Indy finish of 6th place.
Bud passed away of a heart attack in 1981 at the Tender age of 53.


American Red Ball had better luck the next year, when it sponsored John Mecom’s Lola/Ford. Graham Hill took it victory.



All research: Willem Oosthoek

Photo credit: Henry Ford Museum

Edited by Jerry Entin, 07 January 2019 - 18:37.


#27 Henri Greuter

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 19:58

In 1975 McCluskey ran the Hopkins Riley at Milwaukee, a race which I saw. To me, it looked like a carbon copy of Foyt's Coyote. Both were Riley designs, but I was a bit surprised that there was apparently no effort made to give it a bit of a different look. In the entry the car was listed as a 'Rocket'. Apparently there was not much of a push to use that as a car name, because I do not recall seeing it elsewhere.

 

Tom

 

 

To be honest, I think the Riley differed enough from the Coyote. The initial shape of it was intended to be entirely different hat the rear end without the rear wing worked properly. It was to some extend an early version of the BLAT ideas and also had something of the wing car technology ipkoming. Time ran out to sort it out properly in time for the 500.

 

As far as I know, the Riley had a better Cw value thanks to the more narrow center fusilage due to the use of an Offy. That Coyote was much wider in the center due to the frontal area of the quadcam. I really wonder, if the turbo boost of the 1974 engines had not been reduced yet which handed a certain Texan driver an instant power advantage of an estimated 50 to 75 hp, it could have been quite interesting to see how the Rley would have hold up against the Coyote.

And every other Offy powered indycar for that matter.....


Edited by Henri Greuter, 07 January 2019 - 20:04.


#28 Tom Glowacki

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 21:23

Yeah, it was pretty much a copy, although it originally was intended to run without a rear wing and had some work done to reposition a few items on the Offy engine to clean the airflow back there. Airflow was generally intended to be cleaner than on the Coyote, kinda of a new/improved version, according to the '74 Indy 500 Yearbook, although the naked eye probably couldn't tell.

 

As for "... not much of a push ...," that was at least part of the reason I read for its lack of success; Riley designed the Riley and Coyote more for straightline speed than cornering ability in those pre-ground effect days, and Foyt's Ford was always going to make more horses than the Offy.

 

Bob Riley designed the 1974 Hopkins car, which was called a "Riley", after having designed the 1973 Coyote for Foyt.  He also did the 1975-78 Wildcats.   The reason they were so similar was not a matter of copying, it was merely the evolution of Riley's thinking.



#29 racinggeek

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 21:53

Bob Riley designed the 1974 Hopkins car, which was called a "Riley", after having designed the 1973 Coyote for Foyt.  He also did the 1975-78 Wildcats.   The reason they were so similar was not a matter of copying, it was merely the evolution of Riley's thinking.

 

True -- should've made that clear. The Grant King Dragon, now that was a copy.



#30 Jerry Entin

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 21:57

img138-2.jpg
Mel Kenyon and the Atlanta Falcons sponsored Eagle for 1973

The fellow next to Lindsey Hopkins with the curly dark hair is Mel Kenyon's brother Don Kenyon
The car is a 1972 Eagle with a 4 cam Foyt engine. And Mel would finished 4th at Indy in 1973.

photo: Bill Wiswedel collection

Edited by Jerry Entin, 07 January 2019 - 22:04.


#31 Tom Glowacki

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 22:04

True -- should've made that clear. The Grant King Dragon, now that was a copy.

Friendly amendment:  "The Grant King cars, now those were copies."  Eagle, McLaren, Riley, you name it, he copied it.



#32 Jerry Entin

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 22:15

img137-2.jpg
Mel Kenyon at the 1971 Indy 500



photo: IMS collection

Edited by Jerry Entin, 07 January 2019 - 22:21.


#33 Jerry Entin

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 22:23

img141-2.jpg

Wally Dallenbach at the 1971 Indy 500
Car is a 1970 Kuzma Turbo Offy


photo:IMS Collection

Edited by Jerry Entin, 07 January 2019 - 22:34.


#34 B Squared

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 22:29

There are various versions about which Lotus was crashed by Bobby Marshman at Phoenix in late 1964, but the more convincing one seems to steer us to the fact it was his 1964 Indy ride.

You are correct, but both were Lotus 29's. Bob's 1964 Indy 500 Lotus can be seen at the Barber museum in Alabama returned to its original guise and painted as it started in Dan Gurney's 1963 livery from his 7th place finish. Clark's 2nd place Lotus 29 from 1963 was the car Bob was in when he had his Phoenix testing crash.

The only thing that is certain regarding which Lotus Bob was driving at Phoenix at the time of his accident is that there is no consensus. Knowing that this is a bit of a mystery, Michael Argetsinger, myself and others contributing research to the Bobby Marshman book (that Michael wrote and Racemaker Press is currently working on for publishing) spent a great deal of time and effort to consult numerous primary sources. We'll have to agree to disagree on our differing conclusions, but it is laid out in Michael's book and will be another great reason to purchase Bobby's biography once released.

Thanks again Jerry.

#35 B Squared

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 23:03

...owning homes in Miami and Atlanta, where he had close ties to Coca-Cola.

He was also part owner of the Atlanta Falcons.

Again from researching Mr. Hopkins during the Marshman book project, this Coca-Cola connection was the reason for the Atlanta Falcons having red, black and white as their team colors - those same colors associated with Coke.

#36 B Squared

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 23:07

Mr. Hopkins was also the founder of Lindsey Hopkins Technical College in Miami/Dade.

https://www.lindseyhopkins.edu/

#37 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 23:54

img138-2.jpg
Mel Kenyon and the Atlanta Falcons sponsored Eagle for 1973

The fellow next to Lindsey Hopkins with the curly dark hair is Mel Kenyon's brother Don Kenyon
The car is a 1972 Eagle with a 4 cam Foyt engine. And Mel would finished 4th at Indy in 1973.

photo: Bill Wiswedel collection

Great looking car and team. And imagine how good Mel would have been with two hands!

I saw him race midgets here in Oz and he was very good.



#38 Cynic2

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 00:53

Jerry,

 

Thanks for starting this thread.  It's a fascinating piece of Indy 500 history with all sorts of trivial facts involved.

 

The #24 Kurtis-Offy that Jim Rathmann drove in 1956 (who was really Dick Rathmann and vice-versa -- another long story) was the same car in which Bill Vukovich was killed while leading the 1955 Indy 500 and was well on his way to what would have been his third consecutive win.

 

Hopkins originally entered the Kurtis-Kraft 500 C (which had no chassis number) in 1954 as #35.  It was driven by Pat O'Connor to 21st position after spinning on the 181st lap.

 

In 1955 it was #4 driven by Vukovich who started fifth.  (Hopkins' mechanics for 1955 were Jim Travers and Frank Coon -- the principals of "Traco Engineering").  Vukovich was leading and increasing his lead on every lap when an accident  occurred in front of him blocking the track and he flipped over the wheels of Johnny Boyd's Sumar Special.  "Vuky's" car went end over end, clearing the outside wall and ending upside down with Vukovich dead.

 

The Kurtis roadster was repaired and entered in 1956 for Rathmann.  (In 1959 this same car was entered for the Indy 500 by Frank Arciero.  Driver Shorty Templeman failed to qualify the Kurtis, then powered by a Maserati V8.) 

 

Unlike modern racecars which shed parts and thus energy in an accident, roadsters of the 1950s were built pretty much like the Bay Bridge.  They could be involved in horrific accidents which killed the driver (such as Vuky's) and repaired for the next year's 500.  It was almost impossible to severely damage a roadster's chassis.

 

I don't think Bill Vukovich was ever described as "hapless," but he could have won four consecutive Indy 500s, something no one has ever done.  In 1952, his second year in the 500, he  drove a Kurtis-Kraft  500 A/Offenhauser "roadster" for Howard Keck.  (Travers and Coon were his  mechanics.)   Vuky qualified eighth and was leading the race with only eight laps to go when his steering seized.  So close . . . .

 

The same Kurtis/Offy car was entered by Keck for Vukovich in 1953 and 1954 again with Travers and Coon as mechanics.  Vuky qualified on pole in 1953 and 19th in 1954;  he won both years.  Switching to the Hopkins Kurtis 500 C he was killed in 1955 when leading.  So close to four consecutive wins but the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is very unforgiving (something like Lake Superior for those who follow the history of shipping on the lake).

 

Sorry for rambling on like this, Jerrry, but you hit so many notes for me.  I grew up in Indianapolis, and Bill Vukovich was one of my early heroes, plus as a young kid I was involved with a Kurtis 500 S/Cadillac sports car being prepared for the 1953 Carrera Panamericana.  How could I resist?

 

David


Edited by Cynic2, 08 January 2019 - 02:58.


#39 Jerry Entin

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 00:55

img139-2.jpg
Lee Kunzman and Ayr-Way Lloyds 1972 Eagle
This was at the 1973 Indy race and Lee Kunzman would finish 7th.
David: In my youth I would listen to the Indy 500 on the radio. I liked how they talked to the drivers when they were knock out of the race. Most of them said they would be back next year.
Photo: IMS Collection

Edited by Jerry Entin, 08 January 2019 - 01:00.


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#40 B Squared

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 09:04

Eagle%201967%20Hopkins%20McCluskey_zpsdx
This is the Eagle that Lindsey Hopkins owned and Roger McCluskey ran at Indianapolis in 1967. I took the picture the day after Christmas at a friend's race shop in Indianapolis. Still looking good!

#41 Henri Greuter

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 10:27

Jerry,
 
Thanks for starting this thread.  It's a fascinating piece of Indy 500 history with all sorts of trivial facts involved.
 
The #24 Kurtis-Offy that Jim Rathmann drove in 1956 (who was really Dick Rathmann and vice-versa -- another long story) was the same car in which Bill Vukovich was killed while leading the 1955 Indy 500 and was well on his way to what would have been his third consecutive win.
 
Hopkins originally entered the Kurtis-Kraft 500 C (which had no chassis number) in 1954 as #35.  It was driven by Pat O'Connor to 21st position after spinning on the 181st lap.
 
In 1955 it was #4 driven by Vukovich who started fifth.  (Hopkins' mechanics for 1955 were Jim Travers and Frank Coon -- the principals of "Traco Engineering").  Vukovich was leading and increasing his lead on every lap when an accident  occurred in front of him blocking the track and he flipped over the wheels of Johnny Boyd's Sumar Special.  "Vuky's" car went end over end, clearing the outside wall and ending upside down with Vukovich dead.
 
The Kurtis roadster was repaired and entered in 1956 for Rathmann.  (In 1959 this same car was entered for the Indy 500 by Frank Arciero.  Driver Shorty Templeman failed to qualify the Kurtis, then powered by a Maserati V8.) 
 
Unlike modern racecars which shed parts and thus energy in an accident, roadsters of the 1950s were built pretty much like the Bay Bridge.  They could be involved in horrific accidents which killed the driver (such as Vuky's) and repaired for the next year's 500.  It was almost impossible to severely damage a roadster's chassis.
 


S N I P

 
David



Memory lane?????
Can I have a stroll through that because of this particular Kurtis????
here we go.....

I remember how in the Summer of '97 I was called upon by the historian of the Louwman Collecion (Then still in Raamsdonksveer) to help identify two of their 30's Indycars. I knew about them owning 2 roadsters too so in return I was permitted to inspect those as well.

At that time there were not so many books with chassis records listed but we could identify 3 of the 4 cars. But one Roadster remained a mystery. All that the Museum knew about it was that in its last year at Indy it had a Maserati V8 engine.
I have a friend, Greg Littleton who specialized on Roadsters and together with Bill Enoch he published a book about all the roadsters some years later. I contacted Greg about what I had seen in Raamsdonksveer with the conclusion that it looked as if I had found what was once the '59 Templeman car. Some of the body parts on the car still appeared to be the ones used in '59 as well. But it had a Triumph TR2 drive line and some modifications that supposedly made the car road legal. But the earlier history was a mystery for me, what could he tell me about that earlier history

When I had gone to Raamsdonksveer I had the faint hope of maybe running into one of the missing Novi chassis (Ever the Novi fan in me!!!!!) but I left with the knowledge that I had likely found a Kurtis of which there were so many....

When Greg mailed me back two days later after I had told him what I had found, I was shaking in my chair: Greg wrote that if I was absolutely sure, then I had found a car that was believed to be missing for a long time, the Vuky death Car....
I suppose that only a very few people in the Netherlands realized the significance of this car, and its share in motor racing history at Indy and in general, remembering the year 1955....

Still one of my most memorable days ever in my motor racing history research years: being told you have found the missing Vuky car back.....


BTW, the car is not in the Netherlands anymore, Louwman traded it in 2014 and it went to the Arciero family. I'm told they want to restore the car in one of the original shapes, either the Templeman version since that was their very first Indy involvement ever or maybe the Vuky car.
I have lost trace of the car since then, I don't know where and how it looks nowadays. Has anyone seen it recenty in the USA?
But I miss that mutilated Kurtis every time when I go to The Hague, that car brought so much memories, feelings and emotions to me every time when I saw it....

Still get goosebumps when thinking back about that day.....

Edited by Henri Greuter, 08 January 2019 - 16:46.


#42 Michael Ferner

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 14:07

Henry, great story about the ex-Hopkins car - that one I knew, you told it before. But, what about the 30s Indy cars? Care to enlighten?

(use PM if you wish)

#43 Henri Greuter

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 14:44

Henry, great story about the ex-Hopkins car - that one I knew, you told it before. But, what about the 30s Indy cars? Care to enlighten?

(use PM if you wish)



Can't remember all of them and the exact details anymore right now, have to look up my pictures of that day again and then it will come back to me. Will PM you then in order to keep this thread devoted to Lindsey Hopkins and his cars.

#44 Jerry Entin

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 16:33

Very interesting. Thanks for sending that. I did meet Lindsey on several occasions. In 59 after the Sebring race Red Byron and I were working on the 2 liter Maserati at the shop of Gerhart Menningman and Sven Ibsen in West Palm Beach, for the race at Daytona. Lindsey would come by the shop and visit with Red and talk about his car that was testing at Daytona for the Indy car race there. If memory serves me, Bob Veith was driving for him and got upside going down the straight on the roll bar. His helmet was rubbing on the track wearing a hole, through it but did not wear a hole in his head.

The next time I met him was at the December 59 Nassau speed weeks races. Red and I went to the cocktail party at Lindsey’s resort hotel and we visited with him.

Frank Lance

#45 Jerry Entin

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 16:37

David:
Thanks for bringing to our attention that Hopkins did enter a car at Indy in 1954, for O'Connor. Looking at the 1954 results, the car was entered as a Hopkins Special, although the entrant [the column I had concentrated on] lists just Motor Racers Inc. I completely missed it. That leaves just 1953 as a no-show for Lindsey, and a total of 30 appearances rather than 29.

Edited by Jerry Entin, 08 January 2019 - 16:38.


#46 Michael Ferner

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 19:11

Hopkins entered two cars in 1953, but Henry Banks and Danny Okaes did not complete their qualifying attempts.

Edited by Michael Ferner, 08 January 2019 - 19:17.


#47 Jerry Entin

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 19:49

Mc-Cluskey-1974-on-track.jpg
Roger McClusky at Indy in the Riley in 1974

photo: Pete Klain collection

#48 Jerry Entin

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 20:02

Riley-Wing-2.jpg
Riley for 1974 with what they hoped was a better Idea for wing placement.

This idea was abandoned and as far as I know, never tried again.

photo: Pete Klain collection

Edited by Jerry Entin, 22 January 2019 - 15:48.


#49 Jerry Entin

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 23:26

vuky-55-2.jpg
Bill Vukovich in the 1955 Indy 500
Note Thurston the Rabbitt on the side of the Lindsey Hopkins entered Kurtis.

#50 ensign14

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Posted 08 January 2019 - 23:59

On the Coca Cola link, wasn't Hopkins a bottler?   For a long time the Coke bottlers made more money than the Coke company, because of the way the thing had been structured in the 1920s.  Coke's big market before then was supplying the syrup for soda fountains and the bottles were a secondary consideration.