Eddie Sachs

Full Name:
Edward Julius Sachs jr
Born:
28th May 1927
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Died:
30th May 1964 (Aged 37)
Indianapolis, Indiana, Indianapolis 500
Nationality:
American
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

The "Clown Prince of Auto Racing", Eddie Sachs was among the most popular Indianapolis drivers of the 1950s and 1960s. Never champion or winner of the Indy 500, his engaging personality, sense of humour and media savvy guaranteed that affection. His death in a horrifying accident during what was to have been his final Indy 500 was therefore mourned all the more intensely.

Background and early racing career

Although slight of frame, Sachs tried baseball and American football while at High School. However, his ambitions changed forever when he went to a race at Greensboro, North Carolina in 1947. His own early events behind the wheel were none too impressive although Sachs was soon taught the basics of race driving by the owner of his local speedway.

He competed in sprint cars and midgets during the early 1950s while attempting the odd Indycar race without success. He failed his rookie test at Indianapolis in 1953 and 1954 and when he finally passed in 1956, he then failed to qualify for the race itself. However, that form was soon to be turned on its head.

USAC National Championship success

Sachs had only qualified for six such races so far when he drove a Hillegass-Offenhauser at Atlanta’s Lakewood Speedway dirt oval on July 14 1956 – a race delayed by a week due to rain. He started ninth and was running third with two laps to go when leader Bob Veith crashed. Sachs then passed Al Keller to win his first race in the USAC National Championship. He scored another three top-five finishes and was 12th equal in that year’s standings.

His improved form continued at Indianapolis in 1957 when he qualified Peter Schmidt’s Kuzma-Offy in a fine second position. He retired from the race shortly after half distance and then finished second at Langhorne. He was also at Monza for that year’s Race of Two Worlds and his Kurtis-Offy led early before finishing fourth in the opening heat.

Sachs continued with Schmidt’s dirt car in 1958 and won Indycar races at Langhorne and Indiana State Fairgrounds – the latter Hoosier Hundred success was achieved at record pace. Seventh in the points that year, he again qualified Schmidt’s Kuzma second at Indy in 1959 but Sachs was perennially unlucky in the race he wanted to win most. However, he improved to sixth in that year’s standings thanks to another two victories after switching to a Competition Engineering Meskowski-Offy.

Challenger at Indianapolis

Sachs qualified a Dean Van Lines Ewing-Offy on pole position for the 1960 and 1961 Indy 500s. In the leading pack before retiring once more that former year, he seemed to have won in 1961 when leading with barely two laps to go. However, his tyre had worn through to the canvas and Sachs was forced to pit. He finished second behind A.J.Foyt both in the race and the championship in 1961 but victory at Indianapolis had become his single-minded quest.

He was third in the 1962 Indy 500 but crashed a Watson roadster a year later on Parnelli Jones’ oil in Turn 4 when running third. Sachs was furious and the following day’s argument ended with Jones punching him.

Sach's final Indy 500

Sachs told his wife that 1964 would be his last Indianapolis 500 as he prepared to retire and settle down as an executive in a Detroit removals company. Whether he would have followed that decision through (he had promised before) will never be known.

Sachs qualified a Halibrand-Ford but he was caught up in Dave MacDonald’s frightening second-lap accident. The rookie spun into the inside wall in the final turn and his fuel-laden car burst into flames. Sachs hit the burning wreckage head on and his car was also engulfed. One of America’s best-loved drivers was killed instantly and MacDonald also succumbed hours later.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1964 USAC National Championship
DVS
Ina Mae McDermott
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
35th 80
1963 USAC National Championship
DVS
Ed Kostenuk
Walter Meskowski
5 0 1 0
0% win rate
21st 160
1962 USAC National Championship
Dean Van Lines Racing Division
6 0 1 0
0% win rate
9th 1060
1961 USAC National Championship
Dean Van Lines Racing Division
7 2 5 2
29% win rate
2nd 1760
1960 F1 World Championship
Dean Van Lines Racing Division
1 1 0 0
0% win rate
0
1960 USAC National Championship
Dean Van Lines Racing Division
10 1 2 1
10% win rate
12th 650
1959 F1 World Championship
Peter J Schmidt
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1959 USAC National Championship
Walter Meskowski
Mari Hulman George
Peter J Schmidt
12 1 3 2
17% win rate
6th 797
1958 F1 World Championship
Peter J Schmidt
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1958 USAC National Championship
Pete Salemi
Peter J Schmidt
Mari Hulman George
11 0 4 2
19% win rate
7th 990
1957 F1 World Championship
Peter J Schmidt
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1957 USAC National Championship
Peter J Schmidt
3 0 1 0
0% win rate
25th 160
1956 F1 World Championship
Ray T Brady
0 (1) 0 0 0 0
1956 USAC National Championship
Ray T Brady
Ed Kostenuk
Lee S Glessner
5 0 2 1
20% win rate
12th 650
1955 AAA National Championship
Ray T Brady
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
45th 46.8
1954 F1 World Championship
Milt Marion
0 (1) 0 0 0 0
1954 AAA National Championship
John Zink
Lee S Glessner
3 0 0 0
0% win rate
28th 160
1953 F1 World Championship
Dr Ludson D Morris
0 (1) 0 0 0 0
1953 AAA National Championship
Lee S Glessner
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0