1964 Indianapolis 500

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48th Indianapolis 500
Indy500winningcar1964.JPG
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning body USAC
Season 1964 USAC season
Date May 30, 1964
Winner A. J. Foyt
Winning team Ansted-Thompson Racing
Average speed 147.350 mph (237.137 km/h)
Pole position Jim Clark
Pole speed 158.828 mph (255.609 km/h)
Fastest qualifier Jim Clark
Rookie of the Year Johnny White
Most laps led A. J. Foyt (146)
Pre-race ceremonies
National anthem Purdue Band
Back Home Again in Indiana Vic Damone
Starting Command Tony Hulman
Pace car Ford Mustang
Pace car driver Benson Ford
Honorary starter N/A
Attendance 250,000 (estimated)
TV in the United States
Network MCA closed-circuit
Announcers Charlie Brockman
Nielsen Ratings N/A / N/A
Chronology
Previous Next
1963 1965

The 48th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 30, 1964. It was won by A.J. Foyt, but is primarily remembered for a fiery seven-car accident that resulted in the deaths of Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald. It is also the last race won by a front-engined "roadster", as all subsequent races have been won by rear-engined, formula-style cars.

Race winner Foyt drove the whole 500 miles without changing tires.[1] Goodyear supplied tires for some entries, but participated only in practice. No cars used Goodyear tires during the race itself. Foyt's 1964 winning car remains the only car in the collection of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame and Museum, regularly on display, that has never been restored to pre race condition.

Jim Clark, who finished second the previous year, won the pole position[2] in the Lotus 34 quad-cam Ford V-8. He took the lead at the start, and led the race during the early stages. However, a tire failure caused a broken suspension, and he dropped out after only 47 laps.[3]

Time trials[edit]

Time trials was scheduled for four days.

  • Saturday May 16 - Pole Day time trials
    • Jim Clark captured the pole position in his rear-engined Lotus 34. Rodger Ward was the first to make headlines, as he set a one-lap track record with a lap of 157.563 mph, and a four-lap average of 156.406 mph. Bobby Marshman upped the speed to 157.867 mph. Jim Clark secured the pole with a record-setting run. His second lap (159.337 mph) set the one-lap track record, and his four-lap average was a record 158.828 mph.
  • Sunday May 17 - Second day time trials
  • Saturday May 23 - Third day time trials
  • Sunday May 24 - Fourth day time trials

Sachs/MacDonald crash[edit]

Sears-Allstate Special[edit]

Dave MacDonald was driving a car owned and designed by Mickey Thompson, the #83 Sears-Allstate Special.[4] It was a rear-engined car that first raced in 1963, updated with a streamlined body for 1964.[5] The car utilized Allstate tires, manufactured by Armstrong Tire and Rubber Co.[6] Due to rule changes by USAC for 1964, the car was required to utilize 15-inch tires (it previously used 12-inch tires).[5] The wheels were most notably enclosed in the front and the rear by streamlined bodywork, intended to take advantage of aerodynamic effects to increase top speeds. However, it is believed that the wheel encasements, as well as the bodywork in general, made the car difficult to handle.[5]

The fuel tank was located in the left sidepod of the car, and held approximately 44-45 gallons of gasoline.[5] According to one of the mechanics, it was a single bladder, in a fiberglass shell supported by the fill neck and a moulded fibreglass body housing and a flat thin magnesium plate beneath the tank, braced by two steel straps hanging from the top rail of the frame.[7] Following the crash, numerous erroneous accounts described the tank as oversized, some claiming upwards of 80 gallons, however, it is understood it was in the range of no more than 45 gallons. An urban legend circulated that Thompson was boasting plans to drive the entire 500 miles without a pit stop, using an oversized fuel tank, but this account has been proven false. The crash-worthiness of the car and the fuel cell was brought into question at the time.[5]

Practice and qualifying[edit]

During practice, it was discovered immediately that the car's handling was seriously flawed. Masten Gregory complained that aerodynamic lift reduced the steering response.[8] Gregory suffered a crash on May 6, and quit the team due to what he believed was a terribly-handling car.

Dave MacDonald managed to qualify his car without incident. Eddie Johnson qualified the second team car. On Carburation Day, MacDonald tested the car, with conflicting accounts on whether he ever drove with a full load of fuel.[5][9][10] Other drivers in the paddock were known to be concerned about the car,[5] and at least one account claimed that Jim Clark advised MacDonald to get out of the car.[5]

Crash[edit]

On the first lap, MacDonald passed at least five other cars. As he passed Johnny Rutherford and Sachs, Rutherford noticed MacDonald's car was handling poorly, zig-zagging, and throwing grass and dirt up from the edge of the track. Rutherford later said, watching the behavior of MacDonald's car, he thought, "he's either gonna win this thing or crash."[11][12] Eyewitness accounts and film footage are inconsistent about the exact details of MacDonald's first two laps, but it is generally agreed upon that he was taking risks, attempting to pass many cars.[11]

On the second lap, MacDonald's car spun coming off turn four. The car slid across the track and hit the inside wall, igniting the gasoline in the tank and resulting in a massive fire. His car then slid back across the track, causing seven more cars to be involved. Ronnie Duman crashed, spun in flames and hit the pit lane wall, and was burned. Bobby Unser hit another car, and Johnny Rutherford's car on its left rear tire, and crashed into the outside wall. Chuck Stevenson and Norm Hall also crashed.

Sachs aimed for an opening along the outside wall, but MacDonald's burning car slid into his path. Sachs hit MacDonald's car broadside, causing a second explosion, and died instantly of blunt force injuries. Despite Sachs' body being trapped in the burning car, his driver's suit was only scorched and he received slight burns on his face and hands. The car was covered with a tarp before being towed to the garage area for removal of his body. A lemon that had been on a string around Sachs' neck was found inside Rutherford's engine compartment after the crash.[12]

MacDonald was pulled from the wreckage and taken into the infield hospital. Though very badly burned, he was alive. His lungs were seared from flame inhalation, causing acute pulmonary oedema. He died at 13:20 after being taken to Methodist Hospital.[11]

The crash was well documented in film and still images, and shown worldwide. For the first time in its history, the Indianapolis 500 was stopped because of an accident. Partially in response to media pressure, USAC mandated cars carry less fuel (and crafted the rules to effectively eliminate the use of gasoline, effective for the 1965 season). This resulted in a change to methanol.[13] Another response to the crash was the 1965 introduction of the Firestone "RaceSafe" fuel cell, with technology used in military helicopters.[14]

Box score[edit]

Finish Start No Name Qual Rank Laps Led Status
1 5 1 United States A.J. Foyt 154.672 6 200 146 Running
2 3 2 United States Rodger Ward 156.406 3 200 0 Running
3 7 18 United States Lloyd Ruby 153.932 8 200 0 Running
4 21 99 United States Johnny White 150.893 28 200 0 Running
5 13 88 United States Johnny Boyd 151.835 18 200 0 Running
6 19 15 United States Bud Tingelstad 151.210 26 198 0 Flagged
7 12 23 United States Dick Rathmann 151.860 17 197 0 Flagged
8 27 4 United States Bob Harkey 151.573 19 197 0 Flagged
9 32 68 United States Bob Wente 149.869 31 197 0 Flagged
10 20 16 United States Bobby Grim 151.038 27 196 0 Flagged
11 30 3 United States Art Malone 151.222 25 194 0 Flagged
12 9 5 United States Don Branson 152.672 12 187 0 Clutch
13 10 53 United States Walt Hansgen 152.581 13 176 0 Flagged
14 11 56 United States Jim Hurtubise 152.542 14 141 0 Oil Pressure
15 8 66 United States Len Sutton 153.813 9 140 0 Magneto
16 33 62 United States Bill Cheesbourg 148.711 33 131 0 Engine
17 6 12 United States Dan Gurney 154.487 7 110 0 Tire wear
18 18 14 United States Troy Ruttman 151.292 24 99 0 Spun T3
19 23 54 United States Bob Veith 153.381 10 88 0 Piston
20 25 52 Australia Jack Brabham 152.504 15 77 0 Fuel Tank
21 26 28 United States Jim McElreath 152.381 16 77 0 Filter system
22 28 77 United States Bob Mathouser 151.451 21 77 0 Brakes
23 4 98 United States Parnelli Jones 155.099 4 55 7 Pit fire
24 1 6 United Kingdom Jim Clark 158.828 1 47 14 Suspension
25 2 51 United States Bobby Marshman 157.857 2 39 33 Oil Plug
26 24 84 United States Eddie Johnson 152.905 11 6 0 Fuel Pump
27 15 86 United States Johnny Rutherford 151.400 23 2 0 Crash FS
28 29 95 United States Chuck Stevenson 150.830 29 2 0 Crash FS
29 14 83 United States Dave MacDonald 151.464 20 1 0 Died in crash at FS
30 17 25 United States Eddie Sachs 151.439 22 1 0 Died in crash at FS
31 16 64 United States Ronnie Duman 149.744 32 1 0 Crash FS
32 22 9 United States Bobby Unser 154.865 5 1 0 Crash FS
33 31 26 United States Norm Hall 150.094 30 1 0 Crash T4

Alternates[edit]

Tire participation chart
Supplier No. of starters
Firestone 29*
Sears Allstate 2 
Dunlop 2 
Goodyear Practice only
* - Denotes race winner

Gallery[edit]

Broadcasting[edit]

For the first time ever, the race was shown live, flag-to-flag, on closed-circuit television television in theater venues across the county. Charlie Brockman served as the anchor.

Radio[edit]

The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Sid Collins served as chief announcer. Fred Agabashian served as "driver expert." Lou Palmer conducted the winner's interview in victory lane.

Bernie Herman departed the crew, and newcomer Chuck Marloe was stationed at the backstretch location. During the broadcast, a young Donald Davidson visited the booth, and made a brief appearance for an interview.[16] Charlie Brockman left the radio crew permanently in 1964 to take over anchoring the MCA closed-circuit television broadcast. John DeCamp joined the booth to serve as statistician.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network
Booth Announcers Turn Reporters Pit/garage reporters

Chief Announcer: Sid Collins
Driver expert: Fred Agabashian
Statistician: John DeCamp

Turn 1: Bill Frosh
Turn 2: Howdy Bell
Backstretch: Chuck Marloe
Turn 3: Mike Ahern
Turn 4: Jim Shelton

Jack Shapiro (north pits)
Luke Walton (center pits)
Lou Palmer (south pits)

Eddie Sachs eulogy[edit]

During the live radio broadcast of the race, IMS Radio Network anchor Sid Collins drew critical praise for an impromptu on-air eulogy for Eddie Sachs. During the red flag, track public address announcer Tom Carnegie made the official announcement of the death of Sachs (MacDonald had not yet expired, and his death was not announced until later).[17] The announcement was simulcast on the radio feed.

"It is with deepest regret that we make this announcement. Driver Eddie Sachs was fatally injured in the accident on the mainstraightaway.

Silence was heard on-air for about five seconds, and at that point, Collins chimed in with a solemn, unprepared eulogy:[17]

"You heard the announcement from the public address system. There's not a sound. Men are taking off their hats. People are weeping, over three hundred thousand fans, here; not moving; disbelieving. Some men try to conquer life in a number of ways. These days of our outer space attempts, some men try to conquer the universe. Race drivers are courageous men who try to conquer life and death, and they calculate their risks. And in our talking with them over the years, I think we know their inner thoughts in regards to racing: they take it as part of living. No one is moving on the race track. They're standing silently. A race driver who leaves this earth mentally, when he straps himself into the cockpit, to try what for to him is the biggest conquest he can make, is aware of the odds; and Eddie Sachs played the odds. He was serious and frivolous. He was fun. He was a wonderful gentleman. He took much needling and he gave much needling. And just as the astronauts do perhaps, these boys on the race track ask no quarter and they give none. If they succeed they're a hero, and if they fail, they tried. And it was Eddie's desire, I'm sure, and will to try with everything he had, which he always did. So the only healthy way perhaps we can approach the tragedy of the loss of a friend like Eddie Sachs is to know that he would have wanted us to face it, as he did: as it has happened, not as we wish it would have happened. It is God's will, I'm sure, and we must accept that. We're all speeding towards death at the rate of sixty minutes every hour. The only difference is that we don't know how to speed faster, and Eddie Sachs did. So as since death has a thousand or more doors, Eddie Sachs exits this earth in a race car. And knowing Eddie, I assume that's the way he would have wanted it...

...Byron said 'who the gods love, die young.' Eddie was 37. To his widow Nancy we extend our extreme sympathy and regret. And to his two children. This boy won the pole here in 1961 and 1962 [sic],[17] and was a proud race driver. Well, as we do at Indianapolis and in racing: as the World Champion Jimmy Clark I'm sure would agree, as he's raced all over the world: the race continues. Unfortunately today, without Eddie Sachs. And we'll be restarting it in just a few moments."

Collins received over 30,000 letters requesting a transcript of the eulogy.[18]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley - 1070-AM WIBC, May 28, 2004
  2. ^ Setright, L.J.K. "Lotus: The Golden Mean", in Northey, Tom, ed. The World of Automobiles (London: Orbis, 1974), Volume 11, p.1232.
  3. ^ Setright, p.1232.
  4. ^ Mickey Thompson @ 1963 Indy 500
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Greuter, Henri (2011-12-08). "The Indy 1964 second-lap disaster - Closing in on the truth; Part 2: Before May 30, 1964". 8W. Retrieved 2014-03-14. 
  6. ^ The Foyt Files :: IndyCar Series
  7. ^ Can-Am challenger. Peter Bryant, David Bull Publishing. Phoenix, AZ, USA, (2007) ISBN 1 893618 86 2
  8. ^ Floyd Clymer’s 1964 Indianapolis 500 Mile race Yearbook. Floyd Clymer, Los Angeles, 1964.
  9. ^ Autosport.com
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ a b c Greuter, Henri (2011-12-08). "The Indy 1964 second-lap disaster - Closing in on the truth; Part 3: May 30, 1964". 8W. Retrieved 2014-03-14. 
  12. ^ a b Motorsport Memorial
  13. ^ IndyStar.com: Indy 500
  14. ^ "bleacherreport.com: Not so "Good Old Days"". Archived from the original on 2009-10-09. Retrieved 2009-10-06. 
  15. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley - 1070-AM WIBC, May 14, 2004
  16. ^ "One on One With Mark Montieth". 2009-05-10. WFNI. http://www.1070thefan.com/oneonone/.
  17. ^ a b c 1964 Indianapolis 500 - Radio Broadcast, May 30, 1964
  18. ^ Sid Collins; Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame; 1980; Jani Lange; Retrieved May 5, 2008

Works cited[edit]


1963 Indianapolis 500
Parnelli Jones
1964 Indianapolis 500
A.J. Foyt
1965 Indianapolis 500
Jim Clark