Skip to comments.50 Years Ago At The Indy 500 - Fire, Death, and a GREAT race!
Posted on 05/24/2014 5:02:09 PM PDT by Loud Mime
These are just a few observations. I encourage other Freepers to add to this thread.
I just just in the 8th grade at this time and was addicted to the race, having attended the '62 and '63 races. This event I watched on closed circuit TV at Graumann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
Shortly into the race there was a picture that I cannot forget, a screen filled with smoke and fire in a wreck that was so bad it stopped the race and claimed the lives of two drivers.
Dave McDonald drove Micky Thompson's car, which used gasoline. He lost control coming out of turn four. and crashed into the infield retaining wall. Immediately upon impact
the car blew up like a napalm bomb and bounced back into the track. It was hit dead center by Eddie Sachs' car. Both men died in this horrible crash.
Later in the race, Parnelli Jones' car caught fire during its refueling stop. Parnelli didn't catch on immediately, focusing on joining the race. But the waving of the fans finally caught his attention.
I remember his turning in his seat, recognizing the fire, aiming the car toward the pit wall, and then bailing out of the car.
I still remember how the crowd moved from the area that Jones' car was headed. It was almost funny. It was like how pepper moves from the drop of detergent.
Jim Clark, was favored to win the race. But that month the Dunlop tires started losing chunks of their tread. They had to race on the same tires they qualified on, so they couldn't change the design.
During the race Clark's tire threw off a section of tread that caused his suspension to collapse. The car was still skidding in the infield when Clark undid his harness and rose and twisted his body so he could see what had happened to his car.
Earlier, Clark, the fastest in the field, jumped far ahead of the field at the start. After the fire had stopped the race, Chris Econamaki asked Clark how he had jumped into such a lead. Clark told him something
like "if you wait, I'll show you again." He did exactly that.
For some time the dinosaur front engine cars vied for the lead in the race. It was the last time they would do this, as the rear-engine cars took over.
A.J. Foyt, the eventual winner, is pictured here fighting it out with Parnelli Jones (his real first name is Rufus).
“Later in the race...”
So men died and they kept racing? I see we haven’t progressed since the Roman colosseums.
most were household names. wow
I was seven and watching at home with my Dad. I remember it well .
It was totally different.
Was not a Lotus, Jim Clark fan...didn't like those newfangled mid-engine European machines.
I was a big Parnelli as well as AJ fan.
And then there was The Biggest Spectacle In Racing. Kinda wish the turbo cars had won a couple of years later...
Dad, brother and I were sitting on the outside of the 4th turn, about 15-20 rows up. Huge fireball. I thought at the time we were going to get burned by it.
Yea knew it well my uncle use to race with Parnell out at old Ascot in So Cal. when they we’re first staring out..they were tight friends.
Was there that day. In our school bus changing out of band uniform to street clothes iirc. Not a pleasant memory. We left for home early. Didn’t see end of the race
Yes, everyone should have immediately curled up into fetal position and cried, and then all of the spectators should have been given grief counseling.
I guess you are one of those people who think they should have speed limits in Indy races and that tightrope walkers should have nets.
Outlaw all sports where there is even the remotest chance that people might die or get seriously injured.
Are you in favor out outlawing football and hardball for children under the age of 21?
Do you support outlawing dodgeball in elementary schools?
Were you one of the people that lobbied to get rid of swingsets in elementary schools?
“Are you in favor out outlawing football and hardball for children under the age of 21? Do you support outlawing dodgeball in elementary schools?”
I grew up with a BB gun and the freedom to go out on my own and shoot stuff. Still have my eyes.
When I have kids I won’t be wrapping them in bubble wrap.
Kids playing sports and human beings getting burned alive are two different things. Pro-life means you are pro-LIFE. When somebody DIES it’s time to stop and give a re-think.
Perhaps in war we should call a truce everytime a soldier is killed? Or maybe we should just surrender before the first shot is fired.
Whoa... are you comparing war to an amusement for fun? Two different things! Go ask our soldiers if they are having fun.
People died for a chance to sell beer and popcorn to spectators. Not the same thing as war!
The other drivers said that Eddie Sachs and Dave McDonald would have wanted the race to continue. It’s what I would have wanted as well.
People didn’t go to the race to see anyone die, as they did in the Roman Gladiator days. They came to see racing, as they did many times before.
After this race gasoline was outlawed and other safety features were installed. I think this was where pressure feeds for fuel transfer was also outlawed and more fire equipment was placed around the track.
Wow. I’ve seen lots of stuff in my life, but nothing like that.
IIRC, you’re a race fan
I used to go to Ascot, as well as Lions Drag Strip. That’s when California was the Golden State.
More people have died from heart attacks and heat stroke sitting in the stands watching the Indy 500 than have died racing in the event.
Should they stop the race because someone dies in the stands?
and 9 years later I was 8 watching the 73 Indy with my Dad too.
That was a bad month too. Do you remember Salt Walther and his crash South Side?
You remind me of how the America I grew up in is gone. Too bad. The men got thrown out with the bathwater.
I was there. Didn’t see the crash as I was in Turn 3, but will never forget the bloodthirstiness of the crowd, feeding on every word of every detail of the accident.
Swore I’d never return to the race, but I went back on my word to myself in ‘66 as a good friend’s dad was a top USAC official and we had special escort getting in, pit passes, and tickets to the awards banquet afterwards where AJ Foyt was at the table next to ours.
Went to 6 or 7 Indy 500 races, but this one left a big hole in my gut.....
“More people have died from heart attacks and heat stroke sitting in the stands watching the Indy 500 than have died racing in the event. Should they stop the race because someone dies in the stands?”
No, silly! People have died while eating ice cream.
I am only saying that if people were horribly burned to death in this one race it says something about the crowd of people who stayed on to watch.
“You remind me of how the America I grew up in is gone. Too bad. The men got thrown out with the bathwater. “
This was not the America you miss. Real men — true men — never exult in the loss of human life. Life is precious.
The America you grew up in was an America where life meant something. Before we murdered 60 million of our unborn.
Hogwash. Everyone was very solemn, at least where I was sitting. A few were crying.
My favorite driver from back then was Jim Rathmann. I also favored Jim Hurtubise. Those guys were old school even back then.
I’ve been to many racing events, even ones where some participant died. I’ve watched people talking about the crash, but never in a bloodthirsty manner that you write about.
But, your comment reminds me of the Gulf War, as people at the news conferences giggled as bombs blew people away.
Care to give some examples of those who 'exulted' in the loss of the two drivers at Indy?
People are people. Some stayed because they were fascinated by the thought of crashes. Others stayed because they were there to watch the race.
Automobile racing is exciting because death is waiting around every turn. The drivers know this when they chose to get into the profession. These are brave men who risk their lives at every turn of the wheel. People go to races primary to watch brave men in action. We would dishonor their lives and their sport if every time a driver suffered a serious crash, they stopped the race. Crashes are part of the sport. If nobody risked death, nobody would ever go to the races.
This was all very big news, and what I'm saying is, that I remember the time and place where I was, and all that.
I do, but not quite as vividly. Later in the summer of ‘64, we passed through Indianapolis on vacation, and I think that helped solidify the memory . Lots of memories from that year, including watching the GOP convention with my parents in our motel room!
I was just looking up that crash
Swede Savage Horrifying Fatal Crash: Rare Footage Alternate
Hurtubise in the '63 race. Back then the color films were slow, so most of the action shots were black/white. The car was FLORESCENT ORANGE!
Your link doesn’t work.
I went to Indy maybe three times as a fill-in for a group that drove down there every year. The first year I went was Teo Fabi’s rookie year, and I see that was ‘83. I was rooting for him, but my group was having none of that.
I was also there in 1987 when a spectator was killed by a loose tire which was launched into the stands when struck by another car. I actually had a view of this from where I was sitting, but did not see it happen, although I was aware of the race track incident involving Roberto Guerrero. I only learned about it when we got back home.
It’s a huge venue, and I was very impressed by many elements of the spectacle ... and it did very much make me think of ancient Rome. Heh. I see that Dan Quayle was Grand Marshall in 1990, and I remember him being flown in over the infield by a small fleet of helicopters. That’s three years right there, so maybe I went 4 or 5 times ... but not lately!
Well they paid to see a race so lets race
No hogwash. All around me it was so clear most were loving the grim details, eager to pass them on.....
I don’t question what you said about those around you. It was different where I was.......and at that time I typically wasn’t at all sensitive to such things - I was a very self-centered 18 year old.......don’t remember anyone crying.......
I love the excitement of racing; the speed, sounds and feeling. I also liked Hockey when Gretzky played: fast and classy.
Jimmy Clark’s death was sad. But Jochen Rindt’s just spoiled racing for me for some time. I still like drag racing, because you see the entire race and its tremendous power.
There has been a special floating around on cable TV about the changes in Grand Prix safety from the Clark, Rindt days. It’s worth watching.
Jones started out in a '34 Ford jalopy. "Whoa Nelly" Jalopy racing was popular in So. Cal.
I was a crew member for 20 yrs,
shook hands with Louie Myer thru Tony Stewart,
I stood on the winners podium with Arie Lyendyck and went to Scotty Braytons
Many emotions but never,ever,
“I stood on the winners podium with Arie Lyendyck “
Were you there when he and AJ got into it?
If you don’t want to take a chance of dying, don’t drive a race car!
I’ve always taken the attitude that if it saves time, or you can win the race and have a 50% chance of survival, I DO IT!!!
safety is for cowards!
i’ve busted myself up a lot of times but i’m still here at 76.
can’t say that I recall that,,
I remember the look in Al Jr’s. face when he didn’t make the show driving Roger Penskes car
by that logic nobody should drivecars anywhere anymore. thousands die on roads every year either by ther own stupidity, someone else’s or totally by unfortunate accident.
also all pools will be shut down, no more going in the ocean, bathtubs and jacuzzis are banned, no plane travel, boat travel, no motorcycles, no horse riding, etc etc. because when somebody dies, it’s time for a re-think.
all of them knew the chances they were taking and none of them would have wanted to have the race canceled/stopped...
that is part of what makes them drivers, accepting the risks involved
Your telling me. got home movies out at the jalopy races when I was 4 years old....