A book about Indianapolis

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JOE COPPS, of Indianapolis Speedway, has forwarded to us an interesting book entitled “Why I Became a Race Driver.” The author is Wilbur Shaw, who won the Indianapolis “500” in 1937 with a Gilmore-Special, at 113.58 m.p.h. and in 1939 with Mike Boyle’s 2.9-litre Maserati, at 115.035 m.p.h. He was second in 1938 with a Shaw Special at 115.58 m.p.h., and has finished second on two other occasions, fourth and seventh, since 1933, in this classic American race. The book is nicely produced on art paper and contains a foreword by Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, President of Indianapolis, Shaw’s article and an article showing how racing developed four-wheel brakes, rear-view mirrors, safety-glass, alloy pistons, high-compression engines, reliable sparking plugs, streamlining and good suspension—a nice answer to one of our R.A.C.’s silly arguments against war-time racing. There are also twenty-one coloured head and shoulder pictures of famous American drivers, an interview with Wilbur Shaw by the Voice of Firestone, and some notes on Firestone tyres in racing. The Maserati is credited with 165 m.p.h. along the straights, at 6,800 r.p.m., at 190ºF. water temperature. The success of Indianapolis—crowds of 150,000 spectators—is largely due to good pre-race publicity, and Rickenbacker’s foreword in this book is typical. He briefly and very graphically describes this great race, terming it the greatest sports event in America, but reminding us that Indianapolis is also the “Great Outdoor Laboratory of the Automotive Industry.” Imagine our great Dunlop Rubber Co., Ltd. issuing a similar book some weeks before the Donington G.P. with such a foreword by Humphrey Cook and articles by Arthur Dobson . . . The photographs are beautifully reproduced and include some rare ones of the winning 1911 Marmon (with rear-view mirror), 1919 Peugeot, 1925 Duesenberg (with balloon tyres), 1920 Monroe and Dario Resta’s 1916 Peugeot. It is interesting that Shaw’s Maserati, which won last year, and which, as a foreign victor, adds much interest to this year’s race, clearly has “Boyle Special” painted on its scuttle. The reference to Shaw holding the “four-cylinder straightaway speed record at over 148 m.p.h. at Daytona in 1928” is a bit confused and Segrave’s name is wrongly spelt (he gave Shaw his first crash hat), but otherwise this little book is really good, and there is only one crash picture. We shall treasure it along with a fascinating model tyre— both gifts from the Firestone Tyre and Rubber Co.

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