THE INDIANAPOLIS FIVE-CENTURY GRIND
THESI4 lines are scheduled to appear in print two days after tl
__it, Ft:snits of the Indianapolis 500 are known to the world. However, the following notes, will, I believe, be of interest to British racing enthusiasts, even though the exigencies of printing and distribution will prevent the actual result of th;! race being included in this issue.
The Indianapolis 500-mile race—the five-century grind, as they call it—is unique in America, or anywhere else, if it comes to that. Consequently it creates a tremendous amount of public interest, and is regarded as an annual fixture that they would not miss for worlds by thousands of Americans, rather in the same way as our Aldershot Tattoo is over here.
The crowd get value for their money. The race itself is worth going a long way to see, and in addition there is lots of Music from military bands to delight the car, the inner man is catered for by hotdog stands galore, and a general air of festivity reigns everywhere.
It is the pride of the famous T. E. ” Pop” Myers, general manager of the track, to make Indianapolis a ” better
500-mile Race each year.” This year his contribution has been to have the back stretch of the track entirely re-surfaced with a non-skid material known as Kentucky Rock Asphalt, which is a vast improvement on the previous brick surface which was so hard on the racingcars’ steering gear and suspension.
As a humble typewriter tapper myself, I must say I envy the Americans their command of picturesque writing. An advance notice of the race I hay,: received from Publicity Manager Joe Copps runs : “The Kings of Speed will roll again at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 30th, and will strut their stuff before the greatest crowd of motor-mad speed fans ever assembled within the huge Hoosier arena .
Good work, Joe, I must remember ” strut their stuff.” Last year, you will recall, Indianapolis was run under the Grand Prix formula laid down by the A.I.A.C.R., specifying engine limits of 3-litres supercharged
and 41-litres unsupercharged. The race was won by Floyd ” Parson ” Roberts, who ” whirled himself to fame and fortune ” at the excellent speed of 119.2 m.p.h. at the wheel of an unblown 41-litre four-cylinder Offenhattser Special. Which was very nice going, indeed. Just as a matter of interest it is worth comparing this speed with the 112.12 m.p.h. for the same distance recorded by the 41-litre blown Bentley in the B.R.D.C. ” 500 ” of 1930. Last year’s Indianapolis cars proved themselves to be remarkably quick, 150 m.p.h. being estimated as the speed of several unblown four-and-a-half litres. However, engine mortality was heavy, forcing many of them to ” the side lines.” During the past year the racing
fraternity have been hard at it ” working out the hugs” which caused all the trouble. And now for some notes about a few of the competitors. First entry received by the organisers was that of Bill White, who nominated the veteran Babe Stapp to pilot his Alf a-Rotneo. This Bill White has been a well-known figure in American motor-racing circles for a long time, and enters his cars in the name of Bill White Raking Cars, Inc. His head
quarters are in California. Stapp drove White’s Duesenberg into first place at Indianapolis iii 1927. but since then victory in the ” 500 ” has eluded him. Last year Stapp’s mount, the McCoy Auto Service Special, dropped out with mechanical trouble after fifty-four laps. The Alfa was originally a 3.8-litre car brought over from Italy to compete at the Roosevelt Raceway on Long Island. Last year Rex Mays—California flash—drove it in the big race, Miller, too, has been ready in good time with his cars, one of which was actually the first to try out the new asphalt paving on the back stretch. George Bailey was the driver, and he was timed to do 118 m.p.h., at which speed be reported that the throttle was
only half depressed. Ralph Hepburn has also been out and about in one of the cars. Wilbur Shaw, who won the race in 1937 by two seconds from Ralph Hepburn and was second last year to Floyd Roberts. is due to drive one of the latest straight-eight Ma.seratis, entered by Michael J. Boyle. This Italian car ” adds a dash of spaghetti, served fast ” to the race. The car was fetched from Po-1°pm by H. C. ” Cotton ” Henning,
after qualifying at an average speed of 122.8 VC m.p.h. This gave him the outside position in the first row, but he
retired. Nowadays, of course, the car has been reduced in size to the 3-litres limit, having a bore of 3 inches and a stroke of 3.02 inches, total capacity 181 inches. It should have as good a chance as any, especially as it has been carefully prepared, or ” readied.” Then there are the three hot-stuff machines entered by the great Harry Miller, who has won the race eleven times. Taking a leaf out of Auto-Union’s book, Miller had made his cars with rear engine, but has given them four-wheel drive. The fuel tanks are on each side of the Car, as on the Auto-Union, and the oil-tank is in front of the driver. The 3-litre supercharged engine is a six-cylinder unit, with exhaust pipes stubbing out of the tail fin. Americans describe the ears as super-streamlined but to European
eyes they look decidedly odd. The driver’s cockpit has no protection at the sides, and the drive to the front wheels makes him sit very high compared with our ideas of a racing-car’s layout. who has readied no less than three winning cars in the ” 500.” The car is said to be delivering 360 h.p., which should give it the heels of most others. It has two carburetters and two blowers_ The trouble at the time of writing is to adapt the car so that it can carry six gallons of oil on board—for, under new rules, no replenishments of lubricant are
allowed during the race. Barring mechanical trouble—always a big ” if” at Indianapolis—Wilbur Shaw should be able to win with something in hand, because the Maserati is known to be able to do a good 170 m.p.h., and this reserve of speed will give the engine a rest through the curves.
This Wilbur Shaw is something of a philosopher, by all accounts. He wants to buy a farm. ” Because I think everybody should own a farm if he can,” he says.. “A farm keeps a man from having a false sense of values, for one thing. Sure, I’d like to have a going farm.
I’d like to make money with it. But that’s not the first requirement.” Shaw has driven racing-cars for exactly half his life, eighteen years. ” Of course
I still like it,” he says. ” I love it. Couldn’t drive if I didn’t. I hope to
drive the rest of my life.”
Shaw has something to say about the way a racing driver gets so keyed-up during a race that he is oblivious to pain. “I remember what happened to me when I was fortunate enough to win back in ’37,” he said. “My right foot was cooked—literally cooked, not just burnt. And I didn’t know it until after the race was over. Oh, I had felt heat, all right. I knew that the transmission
was hot, smoking hot. But what I did not know was that my shoe was quite burned away, and, more importantly, that the right side of the foot was cooked. I began to know it only during the letdown after the race was over. Incidentally, it isn’t a quick let-down. It takes hours to return to normal. And so that night, instead of enjoying what I thought was going to be a well-earned rest, I was up all night long nursing that foot —and I cried like a baby, it hurt me so.” Shaw was not the only driver in pain In that race. “For instance,” he says “Floyd Roberts, who won last year, -drove brilliantly despite a painfully
injured arm. Floyd had qualified and had passed all the medical examinations. You know those tests are the most exacting in the world. You just can’t get by those race-track medicos if there is anything wrong with you. “Only Floyd did. He had just been given the final O.K. by the doctors and then had to go jumping around on some pogo sticks in a stunt put on for the day
before-the-race crowds. He fell and hurt his arm.
“Floyd was afraid that there was a broken bone and was afraid to have it checked for fear he’d be ruled off. So he kept his mouth shut, drove 194 laps to finish in 13th place, and then had an X-ray. Sure enough, there was a small bone fracture and the man who had driven nearly 500 miles in the world’s toughest competition was unable to comb his hair for nearly a month.” One of the most interesting cars in the race should be the Sampson Comet. This machine will have a modified version
STANDARD C.O.C. The Sixth Southern Counties’ Trial
of April 30th was a decidedly stiff trial. The winner was Miss ” Pip” Meyrat, handling a Standard Eight.
ROYAL SCOTTISH A.C. The classic Scottish takes
The classic Scottish Rally takes place from May 29th to June 2nd and has attracted over 130 entries. It concludes
at Glasgow. Details from : R.S.A.C., 163, West George Street, Glasgow, C.2.
SUGATTI OWNERS’ CLUB The Club will hold a member’s
The Club will hold a member’s meeting at Prescott on June 11th, with the usual classes, including a formula run for pre 1915 cars. There is also a class for ‘ specials” and a class for Invicta cars. Entries closed on May ’29th at 10/per -class. An excellent little meeting should result, and the prizes include silver cups -and tankards. Things commence at -2 p.m., with a practice period on the
of the sixteen-cylinder engine developed by the late Frank Lockhart, and which he was using in his Stutz Special at the time of his 200 m.p.h. crash at Daytona. Its capacity, of course, is just suited to the International Grand Prix formula. It has been fitted into an entirely new chassis, and at the time of writing no driver has been nominated. This is in the nature of a come-back for Sampson, whose association with motor him on ,the telephone, put up the proposition to him, and to his amazement it
was accepted. Sampson is reputed to have mortgaged his garage to pay Shafer for the car, and a few days later Meyer drove it to victory—and a fortune. After that, Sampson, Meyer and an. old-timer named Riley Brett formed a racing organisation which functioned for several years. Then Meyer became an ine_cpendent—incidentally winning at
racing makes quite a good story. It was in 1928—strangely enough the year Lockhart was killed—that Lou Meyer, then a young and untried driver, applied for a place in the Duesenberg team for Indianapolis and was turned down. At the track, he met Phil Shafer, who had readied two cars for the race and was prepared to sell one of them. Money was Meyer’s problem, and at last he remembered a garage proprietor he has met at Atlantic City some time ago. He got
Sunday morning only, from 9.80 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Full details from : E. L. Giles, 2, Queen Street Mayfair, W.1.
The 750 Club is going great guns and already has some forty members. A social event is held once a fortnight on a Sunday recent runs including a rally to Stonehenge a run to support the Dancers’ End hill-climb and a Treasure Hunt, the Ford Enthusiasts’ Club being invited to the latter event. But the need for more competitive events is not being overlooked, and it is expected that a trial closed to members driving Austin Sevens, will be held on June 25th. The scheme for exchanging spare parts is now under way. Secretary Hunter works very hard indeed and is singularly successful in enrolling new members and extracting their subscriptions in cash—he enrolled K. C. Jarvis at Dancer’s End. The annual sub
In.lianapolis in 1933 and 1986—Brett went over to the Harry Hartz stable and Sampson gave up motor-racing for the profitable business of inventing and making pin tables.
Last year Sampson watched the” 500″ as a spectator. The sound and the speed got him again, he looked up Riley Brett, and formed a new partnership with him and Leo Goossen.
Romantic, isn’t it ? scription is only 7/6, with no entry fee, and non-Austin owners may join as associates at the same rate. The Club is anxious to acquire an early Austin Sevens, not later than 1924, or one of the pre-war, single cylinder Austins as a mascot, if anyone knows of one, such as the Ford Enthusiasts’ Club bought a
1912 niodel-T Ford. Hon. Secretary : P. H. Hunter, 89, Warland Road, London, S.E.18.
In our report of the Stanley Cup meeting we referred to Hurst’s M.G. as ” aided by Bellevue,” in winning the Racing Car Handicap. Actually, Hurst and Edmondson bought this car—formerly raced by Dugdale—from the Bellevue Garage and since then they have fitted a new body and tuned it themselves. It was not serviced by Bellevue Garage (Racing) Ltd., and in this race beat a Bellevue prepared M.G.