Having spent the last couple of years researching European cars at Indianapolis I was delighted to read Jenks’ excellent account of the Maserati V8RIs at the Brickyard (MOTOR SPORT January/ February 1990).
In the 1937 500 Texan Babe Stapp must have had more than clutch trouble to cope with. After the race he casually remarked: “when the gasoline started boiling in the carburettor I got kind of leery about an explosion and quit.” Stapp first came to Indy in 1926, helping Cotton Henning prepare the works Duesenbergs, drove in 13 500s, promoted racing at Arlington Downs near Dallas, was President of the Speedway’s 100-Miles-An-Hour Club and later ran various businesses — a Gilmore gas station, air conditioning shop and car wash. Son Steve now works on Indy cars.
Of the other Maserati drivers, two died racing. George Robson, born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, won the 1946 500 in eccentric millionaire Joel Thorne’s Sparks Big Six and was killed four months later at Atlanta. Walt Brown, a bank clerk In Massapequa, New York, lost his life at Williams Grove PA in July 1951. Pennsylvania Dutchman Tommy Hinnershitz, “The Flying Farmer”, retired in 1959,
London-born Henry Banks, 1950 National Champion, lives in Indianapolis and Jim Rathmann runs a Chevrolet dealership in Florida. A biography of Jim and brother Dick is currently in preparation. Hollis Cheeseman, owner of 4504, had been a Balmacaan Team mechanic with veteran Jean Marcenac at the 1937 Vanderbilt Cup.
What becomes of old Indy cars has long been a mystery to historians and, if any readers can add to my files, I’d be pleased to hear from them.
Martyn H Flower