Indianapolis is different
"Motor racing is the same the World over," you might retort. To which the answers appears to be, "At Indianapolis it ain't!"
Certainly the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race run every year on May 30th—Memorial Day—is different in many ways from other important motor races.
It is the only surviving track contest, the longest event for purely racing cars, and since 1949 has been the fastest long-distance race in the World (up to then this distinction belonged to the B.R.D.C. "500" at Brooklands), with the exception of the Monza "500s" of 1957 and 1958, the latter won at a fantastic 159.6 m.p.h., although this was the average of a series of heats, and the fabulous Daytona 500, for saloon cars, won this year by Ford at over 151.6 m.p.h. and last year by Pontiac at 152.4 m.p.h., although, like Monza, on a steeply-banked course.
First held in 1911 on the 2 1/2-mile 559-acre brick speedway that was opened in 1909 (and which was re-surfaced with macadam last year), the race winners being shown in the table.
It will be seen that no European driver has won the race since 1915 and that no European car has been successful since 1940, when a disguised Maserati won for the second year running. But since the war British drivers and builders have been having tentative shots to do something about this. In 1961 John Cooper sent Brabham out with a special Cooper; he finished ninth. Last year there was the abortive appearance of Pierre de Villiers' 1957 G.P. Connaught. This year the race takes on a new significance for the English, with the Lotus 29 entries to be driven by Clark and Gurney, and World Champion Graham Hill in a Harvey Aluminium Special with basically a Chevrolet V8 engine.
Since the Second World War every Indianapolis winner has been powered with the simple, robust Offenhauser-Meyer-Drake twin-cam 4-cylinder power unit, giving a reliable 400 b.h.p. at 6,700 r.p.m. and 342 lb./ft. torque at 5,400 r.p.m., from 4 1/2-Iitres, which has beaten cars with a variety of famous engines, from 4-cylinder Coventry-Climax to Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz V12s and Novi, Chevrolet and light-alloy Buick V8s. This year Colin Chapman fields the new Ford V8-powered Lotus 29 entries.
Indianapolis is unique in many respects. Where else does the winning driver, as Rodger Ward did last year, take over 125,000 dollars (say £42,000) in prize money, half a dozen trophies (and in America they are usually king-size), a Studebaker Avanti (Ward thus becoming the first private owner of an Avanti), 1,000-dollar wardrobe, a master tool chest, a sports jacket, some Firestone mattresses, a wrist watch, a treasure-chest of jewels, five prizes for his chief mechanic and a kiss from 20-year-old 107-lb. Jerilyn Jones, the 1962 "500" Festival Queen?
Last year's race was watched by 200,000 spectators, or twice the number estimated to have gathered for the first "500" in 1911. Although Ward won at record speed, he was only 11 1/2 sec. ahead of Len Sutton in another Leader Card Special that finished in second place, after 500 miles' racing. It is interesting that Mobil supply the fuel, Firestone the tyres, for these extremely fast semi-track cars, the fastest of which qualified with a lap at 150.37 m.p.h. (Parnelli Jones in the Agajanian Willard Battery Special—he was promptly showered with 150 dollars for this feat)—already, I hear, beaten by Gurney's Lotus this year. Firestone reckon to change 3,700 tyres during the practice and qualifying period and during the race several of the cars require four stops, most of them three stops, for fresh tyres, which are usually 7.60 in. x 16 in. at the front, 8.00 in. x 18 in. on the back wheels. Rover's entry of a gas-turbine car for Le Mans this year was pre-dated by the Boeing gas turbine-powered Zink Special entered last year, although it failed to start. The only Indianapolis entry last year to use drum, as distinct from disc, brakes was a Chevrolet V8-powered car run for experimental purposes by the Grizzly Brake Company. Of the entries for the 1962 "500" 63 had 4-cylinder engines, seven were 8-cylinder cars, there was a solitary 6-cylinder and the aforesaid gas-turbine job. Only four were supercharged.
With slightly-banked corners, pit-stops, a lurid "build-up" and special cars called by trade names and covered with advertising, the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race presents formidable problems to European contestants. May the very best of good fortune attend the Lotus 29 cars in this year's race.—W. B.
Year - Formula - Driver(s) - Car - Average Speed, m.p.h.
1911 - 600 cu. in. - Harroun - Marmon - 74.59
1912 - 600 cu. in. - Dawson - National - 78.72
1913 - 450 cu. in. - Goux - Peugeot - 75.93
1914 - 450 cu. in. - Thomas - Delage - 82.47
1915 - 300 cu. in. - de Palma - Mercedes - 89.84
1916 - 300 cu. in. - Resta - Peugeot - 84.00*
1919 - 300 cu. in. - Wilcox - Peugeot - 88.06
1920 - 3-litre - Chevrolet - Frontenac - 88.50
1921 - 3-litre - Milton - Frontenac - 89.62
1922 - 3-litre - Murphy - Duesenberg-Miller - 94.48
1923 - 2-litre - Milton/Wilcox - Miller - 90.45
1924 - 2-litre - Coram/Boyer - Duesenberg - 98.23
1925 - 2-litre - de Paolo/Batten - Duesenberg - 101.13
1926 - 1 1/2-litre - Lockhart - Miller - 95.89†
1927 - 1 1/2-litre - Souders - Duesenberg - 97.54
1928 - 1 1/2-litre - Meyer - Miller - 99.48
1929 - 1 1/2-litre - Keech - Miller - 97.59
1930 - 6-litre, s/c. barred - Arnold - Miller - 100.45
1931 - 6-litre, s/c. barred - Schneider - Miller - 96.63
1932 - 6-litre, s/c. barred - Frame - Miller - 104.14
1933 - 6-litre, s/c. barred - Meyer - Miller - 116.98
1934 - Fuel limit (45 galls.) - Cummings - Boyle Products Miller - 104.86
1935 - Fuel limit (42 1/2 galls.) - Petillo - Gilmore Speedway Miller - 106.24
1936 - Fuel limit (37 1/2 galls.) - Meyer - Ring Free Miller - 109.06
1937 - Pump fuel - Shaw - Gilmore-Offenhauser - 113.58
1938 - 3-litre s/c., 4 1/2-litre non-s/c.- Roberts - Burd Piston Ring Special - 117.20
1939 - 3-litre s/c., 4 1/2-litre non-s/c. - Shaw - Boyle-Maserati - 115.03
1940 - 3-litre s/c., 4 1/2-litre non-s/c. - Shaw - Boyle-Maserati - 114.23
1941 - 3-litre s/c., 4 1/2-litre non-s/c. - Rose/Davis - Hose Clamp Special - 115.12
1946 - 3-litre s/c., 4 1/2-litre non-s/c. - Robson - Thorne Special - 114.82
1947 - 3-litre s/c., 4 1/2-litre non-s/c. - Rose - Blue Crown Special - 116.80
1948 - 3-litre s/c., 4 1/2-litre non-s/c. - Rose - Blue Crown Special - 119.81
1949 - 3-litre s/c., 4 1/2-litre non-s/c. - Holland - Blue Crown Special - 121.33
1950 - 3-litre s/c., 4 1/2-litre non-s/c. - Parsons - Wynn Special - 123.60‡
1951 - 3-litre s/c., 4 1/2-litre non-s/c. - Wallard - Belanger Special - 126.24
1952 - 3-litre s/c., 4 1/2-litre non-s/c. - Ruttman - Agajanian Special - 128.92
1953 - 3-litre s/c., 4 1/2-litre non-s/c. - Vukovich - Fuel Injection Special - 128.74
1954 - 3-litre s/c., 4 1/2-litre non-s/c. - Vukovich - Fuel Injection Special - 130.84
1955 - 3-litre s/c., 4 1/2-litre non-s/c. - Sweikert - John Zink Special - 128.20
1956 - 3-litre s/c., 4 1/2-litre non-s/c. - Flaherty - John Zink Special - 128.49
1957 - 2.8-litres s/c. or 4.2-litres non-s/c, diesels up to 5 1/2-litres, turbines - Hanks - Belond Exhaust Special - 135.60
1958 - 2.8-litres s/c. or 4.2-litres non-s/c, diesels up to 5 1/2-litres, turbines - Bryan - Belond-AP Special - 133.79
1959 - 2.8-litres s/c. or 4.2-litres non-s/c, diesels up to 5 1/2-litres, turbines - Ward - Leader Cord Special - 135.85
1960 - 2.8-litres s/c. or 4.2-litres non-s/c, diesels up to 5 1/2-litres, turbines - Rathmann - Ken-Paul Special - 138.76
1961 - 2.8-litres s/c. or 4.2-litres non-s/c, diesels up to 5 1/2-litres, turbines - Foyt - Bowes Seal Fast Special - 139.13
1962 - 2.8-litres s/c. or 4.2-litres non-s/c, diesels up to 5 1/2-litres, turbines - Ward - Leader Card Special - 140.29
* Race distance 300 miles.
†Race distance 400 miles.
‡Race distance 323 miles (rain).