1941 Indianapolis 500

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29th Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning bodyAAA
DateMay 30, 1941
WinnerFloyd Davis and
Mauri Rose (co-winners)
Winning EntrantLou Moore
Average speed115.117 mph
Pole positionMauri Rose
Pole speed128.691 mph
Most laps ledWilbur Shaw (107)
Pre-race
Pace carChrysler Newport Phaeton
Pace car driverA. B. Couture
StarterSeth Klein[1]
Honorary refereeGuy Vaughn[1]
Estimated attendance160,000[2]
Chronology
Previous Next
1940 1942-45 (cancelled-WWII)

The 29th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes Race was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, May 30, 1941. The start of the race was delayed due to a fire that swept through the garage area on race morning. No persons were injured, but one car in the field was destroyed. The race rolled off with only 31 cars, and ran to its scheduled distance. This would be the final "500" prior to the United States involvement in WWII. It was not known at the time, but it would be the final race organized by Speedway president Eddie Rickenbacker, and due to the war, the race would not be held again until 1946.

Race details[edit]

Sam Hanks was injured in a practice crash the day before the race and withdrew. Rather than elevate the first alternate to the starting field, Hanks was credited with 33rd place.

Garage area fire[edit]

On the morning of the race a fire broke out in the "Gasoline Alley" garage area. George Barringer's revolutionary rear-engined car was destroyed. At the time, the car was being refueled (with gasoline). In a nearby garage, another car which was owned by Joel Thorne was being worked on with a welder. The fumes caught fire from the sparks of the welding, and a huge fire broke out which burned down about a third of the southern bank of garages. The start of the race was delayed by a couple hours, and fire fighters had trouble getting to the Speedway to put out the blaze due to the heavy race day traffic. Barringer's car was withdrawn, and he was credited with 32nd finishing position. With both Sam Hanks and Barringer out, the race lined up with only 31 cars.

Various equipment, tools, parts, and other supplies were lost in the fire. Two cars that did not qualify for the race were reported to have been damaged. However, all of the other cars that qualified for the race were safely evacuated. No major injuries were reported. The fire was put out, but the site smoldered throughout the day, and smoke continued to rise even after the race had safely started.

About a month later, the entire garage complex was demolished. At some point during summer and fall of 1941, a new Gasoline Alley was built in it place.[3][4] However, it would sit unused until 1946.

Wilbur Shaw[edit]

Two-time defending champion (and three-time winner overall) Wilbur Shaw crashed while leading on lap 152, and failed in his bid to become the first driver to three-peat at the Indianapolis 500 (and first four-time winner). As of 2023, no driver has ever won the Indianapolis 500 three consecutive years. Going down the mainstretch, the car lost control, and hit the outside wall, rupturing the gas tank. Shaw was drenched with fuel, and suffered a back injury which left him immobile for several minutes. Despite the fuel spill, the fuel did not ignite, and Shaw was brought to safety by the medical staff.

It is believed that the morning garage fire had an effect on Shaw's efforts. At some point before the race, Shaw's crew was preparing his tires for race day, and used chalk to write notes on the spare tires. One particular wheel was determined to be out of balance, and rather than being discarded, it was labeled in chalk with the words "USE LAST". However, the firefighters' water hoses are believed to have washed off the chalk message.[5] Shaw inadvertently took on the bad wheel during a pit stop, which caused his crash.[6]

Shaw never drove another competitive lap at the Speedway, although he did participate in a special private tire test at the Speedway during World War II.[7]

Floyd Davis & Mauri Rose[edit]

Floyd Davis was the starting driver for the #16 car. On lap 72, Davis came in for a pit stop, and was relieved by Mauri Rose. Rose had started the race in another car and dropped out earlier. Car owner Lou Moore was apparently unsatisfied with Davis' performance thus far in the race, and ordered Rose to take over. Rose charged up the standings and took the lead in the #16 car, and went on to win. Both drivers were credited as "co-winners," similar to what occurred in the 1924 race. This marked the last time that one car would carry two drivers to victory at Indy.

Starting grid[edit]

Row Inside Middle Outside
1 3 United States Mauri Rose 1 United States Rex Mays 2 United States Wilbur Shaw  W 
2 15 United States Harry McQuinn 36 United States Doc Williams 7 United States Frank Wearne
3 34 United States Cliff Bergere 23 United States Billy Devore 41 United States Chet Miller
4 54 United States Ralph Hepburn 42 United States Russ Snowberger 47 United States Everett Saylor  R 
5 14 United States George Connor 12 United States Al Miller 19 United States Emil Andres
6 10 United States George Robson 16 United States Floyd Davis 45 United States Paul Russo
7 22 United States Kelly Petillo  W  27 United States Tommy Hinnershitz 9 United States Mel Hansen
8 8 United States Frank Brisko 5 United States Joel Thorne 53 United States Louis Tomei
9 62 United States Tony Willman 26 United States Overton Phillips  R  25 United States Joie Chitwood
10 4 United States Ted Horn 32 United States Deacon Litz 17 United States Duke Nalon
11 55 United States Al Putnam
R Indianapolis 500 rookie
W Indianapolis 500 winner

Did not start[edit]

Alternates[edit]

Failed to Qualify[edit]

Box score[edit]

Finish Start No Name Chassis Engine Qual Rank Laps Status
1 17 16 United States Floyd Davis (laps 1–72)
United States Mauri Rose (laps 73–200)
Wetteroth Offenhauser 121.106 25 200 Running
2 2 1 United States Rex Mays Stevens Winfield 128.301 2 200 Running
3 28 4 United States Ted Horn Adams Sparks 124.297 8 200 Running
4 10 54 United States Ralph Hepburn Miller Novi 120.653 28 200 Running
5 7 34 United States Cliff Bergere Wetteroth Offenhauser 123.890 13 200 Running
6 9 41 United States Chet Miller Miller Miller 121.540 23 200 Running
7 4 15 United States Harry McQuinn A-R Weil Alfa Romeo 125.449 4 200 Running
8 6 7 United States Frank Wearne Shaw Offenhauser 123.890 12 200 Running
9 18 45 United States Paul Russo Marchese Miller 125.217 5 200 Running
10 20 27 United States Tommy Hinnershitz Adams Offenhauser 121.021 27 200 Running
11 24 53 United States Louis Tomei Miller Offenhauser 121.070 26 200 Running
12 31 55 United States Al Putnam Wetteroth Offenhauser 121.951 20 200 Running
13 26 26 United States Overton Phillips  R  Bugatti Miller 116.298 33 187 Flagged
14 27 25 United States Joie Chitwood Lencki Lencki 120.329 29 177 Flagged
15 30 17 United States Duke Nalon Maserati Maserati 122.951 17 173 Flagged
16 13 14 United States George Connor Stevens Offenhauser 123.984 10 167 Transmission
17 12 47 United States Everett Saylor  R  Weil Offenhauser 119.860 31 155 Crash T4
18 3 2 United States Wilbur Shaw  W  Maserati Maserati 127.836 3 151 Crash T1
19 8 23 United States Billy Devore Stevens Offenhauser 121.770 21 121 Rod
20 25 62 United States Tony Willman Stevens Offenhauser 123.920 11 117 Rod
21 11 42 United States Russ Snowberger Snowberger Offenhauser 120.104 30 107 Water pump
22 29 32 United States Deacon Litz Stevens Sampson 123.440 15 89 Oil trouble
23 22 8 United States Frank Brisko Stevens Brisko 123.381 16 70 Valve
24 5 36 United States Doc Williams Cooper Offenhauser 124.014 9 68 Radiator
25 16 10 United States George Robson Weil Duray 121.576 22 66 Oil leak
26 1 3 United States Mauri Rose Maserati Maserati 128.691 1 60 Spark plugs
27 19 22 United States Kelly Petillo  W  Wetteroth Offenhauser 124.417 7 48 Rod
28 14 12 United States Al Miller Miller Miller 123.478 14 22 Transmission
29 21 9 United States Mel Hansen Miller Offenhauser 124.599 6 11 Rod
30 15 19 United States Emil Andres Lencki Lencki 122.266 19 5 Crash T1
31 23 5 United States Joel Thorne Adams Sparks 121.163 24 5 Crash T1
DNS 35 United States George Barringer Miller Miller 122.299 18 0 Garage fire
DNS 28 United States Sam Hanks Kurtis Kraft Offenhauser 118.211 32 0 Practice crash
[10][11]

 W  Former Indianapolis 500 winner

 R  Indianapolis 500 Rookie

All entrants utilized Firestone tires.

Race statistics[edit]

Other Notes[edit]

Speedway president Eddie Rickenbacker did not attend the race, and instead listened to it on the radio.[15] He was recovering from injuries suffered in a near-fatal plane crash a few months before the race.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Fox, Jack C. (1994). The Illustrated History of the Indianapolis 500 1911-1994 (4th ed.). Carl Hungness Publishing. p. 22. ISBN 0-915088-05-3.
  2. ^ Wilkins, Lloyd H. (May 31, 1941). "Nervous, Dusty, Affable Crowd Sees Race—Well, Part of the Time". The Indianapolis Star. p. 1. Retrieved June 2, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  3. ^ "1942 Speedway Rules Unchanged". The Indianapolis Star. July 2, 1945. p. 18. Retrieved April 6, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  4. ^ Bostwick, Mary E (February 3, 1946). "Old Speedway Office Lively Place Again; Orders Pour In". The Indianapolis Star. p. 3. Retrieved April 6, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  5. ^ Cadou Jr., Jep (April 13, 1985). "Speedway to replace all-wooden garages". The Indianapolis Star. p. 1. Retrieved October 12, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  6. ^ Stories of the 500: 1941, Wilbur Shaw
  7. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley – WFNI, July 22, 2009
  8. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley - 1070-AM WIBC, May 14, 2004
  9. ^ "1941 International 500 Mile Sweepstakes". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  10. ^ "Indianapolis 500 1941". Ultimate Racing History. Archived from the original on 17 January 2012. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
  11. ^ "Indianapolis Motor Speedway". www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com. Retrieved 2023-09-12.
  12. ^ "Crowd Sets Record". The Commercial Appeal. May 31, 1941. p. 12. Retrieved April 23, 2024 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  13. ^ Patton, W. Blaine (May 31, 1941). "Regains Lead Lost As Own Motor Fails". Indianapolis News. p. 1. Retrieved April 23, 2024 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  14. ^ "Mays Led for While". Indianapolis News. May 30, 1941. p. 11. Retrieved April 23, 2024 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  15. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley. May 10, 2010. WFNI.


1940 Indianapolis 500
Wilbur Shaw
1941 Indianapolis 500
Mauri Rose
Floyd Davis
1946 Indianapolis 500
George Robson