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Thread: Mike Burch - 1950 Indy DNQ, any info?

  1. #1
    Mythbuster
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    Mike Burch - 1950 Indy DNQ, any info?

    Mike Burch, DNQ for the 1950 Indy 500 and is a complete mystery.

    I've Googled and searched and contacted fellow racing historians and we can't come up with anything on this man.

    When Richie Jenkins was working on his great "Where Are They Now?" for Indy and I helped him, we ran into a complete dead end on Burch. He's come up again for another racing history project.

    Does anyone know anything about him?

    Any information at all would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Irrational Bully® Jamski's Avatar
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    This is no help whatsoever...but it's all I could find. Wonder about the spelling.
    I don't make mistakes. I make prophecies which immediately turn out to be wrong. Murray Walker, OBE

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    Mr. G-Stand Indy Red's Avatar
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    Not much but..http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/fo...p?db=ct&n=2330


    Mike Burch was fatally injured during a car race in May of 1955 in the United States. No further details are known about this accident.

    In one appearance at the 1950 Indianapolis 500, he did not qualify in car #84, a Maserati 8CTF-C L4, sponsored by George Hoster, Inc. Billy Earl did not attempt to qualify the same car.
    I am blessed to have witnessed "The Greatest Spectacle In Racing" 50 times!

  4. #4
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    Thanks TTE and IndyRed.

    The chief researcher for Motorsport Memorial, Rick Kelly, is the one that contacted me, as he doesn't believe the current info at their site is accurate. We aren't even 100% certain of his birth and death dates.

    Jason Bach, of the champcarstats.com website, did find a newspaper account from May 11, 1950 of a traffic accident in Indianapolis involving a Charles "Mike" Burch, described as an entrant in the 1950 Indianpolis 500.

    But, that's all that has turned up.

    Even other very obscure drivers that attempted Indy seem to have some sort of background, but Burch seems to have nothing.

    Makes me wonder about an alias.

    Strange.

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    There doesn't appear to be any mention of him in the 1950 Clymer, but I am checking again tonight.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by JThur1
    ...Jason Bach, of the champcarstats.com website, did find a newspaper account from May 11, 1950 of a traffic accident in Indianapolis involving a Charles "Mike" Burch, described as an entrant in the 1950 Indianpolis 500.

    But, that's all that has turned up....
    Jim, this subject has me intrigued. I have always wondered who this fella was and where he came from and now that you bring it up, I can't find anything on him either. I plan to go to the main Indy library sometime this week or next and find the May 11th story in the Indy Star, News or Times. All of which they have on microfilm.
    If I can search someplace else, let me know what it is. I'm not sure where to look but the Indy newspapers from May 1950 are a good start.

    Lemme know, I'm glad to help. Great subject.

  7. #7
    Insider carl s's Avatar
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    fwiw
    Not sure how reliable a source Fox's Indy 500 Illustrated is?
    I think, more than anything, this is a good example of poor record keeping at the time of entry.
    Can't find any driver info on Mike Burch in the years before and after the mention as a DNQ in 1950 which tends to make one wonder if the name -as JT speculates- is fictitious and perhaps a part of the Indy qualifying shenannigans.

    Mike Burch driver info is listed there as:
    1950 Mike Burch in the #84/George Hoster DNQ
    (of note is driver Danny Kladis-who over the years attempted to Q in a number of unusual cars-Kladis is also listed as a 1950 DNQ driver in car #84 as well as a DNQ in the # 39 Federal Enginering car Maseratti)

    In the 1950 failed to Q section of Fox's book (which contains '30' entries that DNQ):
    #84 is listed as Mike Burch in George Hoster, Inc. 'Ford' owner Ed Shreve
    (there is no mention in this section of Danny Kladis)
    Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roadster Fan
    Jim, this subject has me intrigued. I have always wondered who this fella was and where he came from and now that you bring it up, I can't find anything on him either. I plan to go to the main Indy library sometime this week or next and find the May 11th story in the Indy Star, News or Times. All of which they have on microfilm.
    If I can search someplace else, let me know what it is. I'm not sure where to look but the Indy newspapers from May 1950 are a good start.

    Lemme know, I'm glad to help. Great subject.
    Thanks John. I appreciate it This one really puzzles me too. If possible, could you also check the Star and News on June 23, 1955 as some have Burch dying in a race mishap, though I can't confirm the accuracy of this.

  9. #9
    There are articles in the Thursday, May 11, 1950 editions of the Indpls. Star, Indpls. News and Indpls. Times newspapers about Burch's auto accident. However, I could not find anything in the June 20-25, 1955 editions mentioning Burch's fatal racing accident. The papers were very good about posting any level of racing in central Indiana back then, especially fatal accidents, so my guess is it didn't happen near Indy. I printed out the stories but unfortunately I do not have scanning capabilities. So, here's word for word from each.

    I typed these exactly as they were printed so a paragraph or two might appear out of order.
    --------------
    Indpls. Star - May 11, 1950 - page 1 -

    "1 Dies, 4 Hurt in Truck Crash"
    'Nominee for '500' Uninjured In Wreck'
    (Picture On Page 11 - the picture showed the panel truck on it's side)

    An Indianapolis race driver, nominated to drive in the 500-Mile Race, was involved in a truck accident yesterday in which one man was killed and four other injured on Ind. 67 at Post Road.
    The victim was Arthur Winfrey, 60 years old, 26 South Capital Avenue, who died of a fractured skull in General Hospital four hours after the accident
    State Police identified the truck driver as Charles (Mike) Burch, 43 years old, 1722 East 10th Street, who is scheduled to drive the eight-cylinder Hoster-Roberts Special in the Memorial Day event. He was unhurt in the accident.
    Burch said he deliberately swerved his pickup truck to the left side of the road to avoid an oncoming car in the center of the four lane highway.
    His truck collieded with a panel truck driven southwest on the highway by Don Corey, 24, 608 West 31st Street. Corey's truck, containing four other men who had been distributing handbills, overturned. Burch's truck careened back across the highway and stopped in a filling station lot.
    Others injured, all riding with Corey, were Joseph Keenan, 65, 737 North Noble Street, in serious condition in General Hospital with a fractured hip: Paul West, 61, 328 East Washington

    (Turn to Page 19, column 6)

    "1 Dies, 4 Hurt"
    Concluded From Page 1

    Street, fair with fractured collar bone and ribs: Paul Bailey, 45, 26 South Capital Avenue, fair, fractured pelvis.
    Corey, who suffered cuts and bruises, and West and Bailey, were taken to Billings Veterans' Hospital at Fort Harrison.
    THE EMERGENCY TRUCK of the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Department was the first equipment to reach the scene of the crash almost immediately after it occured.
    Members of the department left their work to answer the emergency call and applied first aid measures until ambulances arrived from Indianapolis General Hospital and Fort Harrison some time later.
    It was the first traffic accident call the Lawrence department has received since adding its new piece of apparatus, the gift of Lawrence businessmen.

    ------------------------------

    The Indianapolis News article 'Crashes Kill 2; '500' Driver Hurt', is basically the same as the Star's. However, they continued the story with the description of another fatal accident so that's why it's titled 'Crashes Kill 2....' The News story does change slightly with this line, "....Burch, who is scheduled to drive the George Hoster Special in the Memorial Day race, received a minor bump on the head."

    -------------------------------

    The Indianapolis Times (it was the Scripts-Howard afternoon paper that folded about 1968) article has a different twist
    Thursday, May 11, 1950 - I forgot the page #


    'State Police Probe Fatal Accident'
    Race Driver Figures in Ind. 67 Collision

    An accident fatal to one man in which a rookie 500-Mile race driver was involved was under investigation by State Police today.
    Police said the two drivers involved in the State Rd. 67-Post Rd. crash last night gave conflicting statements and that witnesses gave still another version.
    They said they were investigating witnesses' statements that Charles Michael Burch, 43 of 1722 1/2 E. 10th St., the race driver, made a U-Turn in the four lane highway just before his pickup truck was in collision with another driven by Don Corey, 24, of 608 W. 21st. St.

    Passenger Fatally Hurt

    One passenger in the Corey car, Arthure Winfrey, 60, of the Salvation Army's Harbor Light Shelter, was injured and died last night in General Hospital.
    Mr. Corey and three other passengers in his truck were injured. Mr. Corey was reported in fair condition in Billings Veterans Hospital today.
    Passengers injured were George Keenan, 65, of 737 Noble St. in serious condition in General Hosptial and Paul Bailey, 61, 328 E. Washington St., both in fair condition in Billings.
    Mr. Burch, who is scheduled to drive the George Hoster, Inc. Special in the Memorial Day Classic, was uninjured.

    Versions Differ

    Mr. Burch told police he swerved to avoid an oncomng car in the center lane and that Mr. Corey's truck struck the rear of his truck. State Police said, however, witnesses reported Mr. Burch was going northeast on State Rd. 67 when he suddenly made a U-turn. His truck was struck be the Corey truck, heading southwest, police quoted witnesses as saying.
    In another accident yesterday Mrs. Evelyn.......

    -------------------

    Jim, that's it for now. I looked at the editions 3-4 days before and after for followup stories, but nothing. I did the same on the June 23, 1955 date.

    Perhaps the best story I came across was a mention in the sports section that this is the first year (1950) that all rookie drivers at the Speedway were to now carry contrasting colors of tape on the tails of their cars to show they're rookies. It mentioned that last year the officials tied streamers to the goggles of the rookies, but it didn't work out that well (go figure!). The streamers either whipped themselves loose or they made the goggle straps come undone.

    I'd never heard that one! Anyway, sorry for the long wind. I hope this helps. Any other ideas of where to look? I'd have read every May edition if I had time.

    Roadster Fan

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    I assume you have tried to speak with Donald Davidson? He is very approachable and is willing to speak openly with fans when they call him at the Speedway.
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by pdalbey
    I assume you have tried to speak with Donald Davidson? He is very approachable and is willing to speak openly with fans when they call him at the Speedway.
    I've known Donald for nearly 30 years and we get along great, but for me, calling him to get the answers takes all the fun out it! If I feel I'm to the point where I can't dig it up elsewhere, then I'll call. He's helped me in the past and I've considered it for this one, but not just yet.......

  12. #12
    quiet bat person ensign14's Avatar
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    If Mike Burch was involved in a road accident fatality, and (as I infer from the reports) he was to blame, could that have essentially ended his racing career? Would his licence have been pulled? In the 1930s Le Mans winner Luis Fontes killed someone in a DUI, spent a couple of years in prison, and never drove competitively again.
    "An emphasis was placed on drivers with road racing backgrounds which meant drivers from open wheel, oval track racing were at a disadvantage. That led Tony George to create the IRL." -Indy Review 1996

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by ensign14
    If Mike Burch was involved in a road accident fatality, and (as I infer from the reports) he was to blame, could that have essentially ended his racing career? Would his licence have been pulled? In the 1930s Le Mans winner Luis Fontes killed someone in a DUI, spent a couple of years in prison, and never drove competitively again.
    I don't know what the AAA rules, NASCAR, F-1, or Le Mans rules were back in the early 1950s regarding a driver involved in a street fatality, but I think that as far as some of the "outlaw" associations or backwoods short tracks were concerned, your street driving record meant very little. In those days it could have taken days for the track or association to check records and it was common for drivers to enter on the day of the race. In my opinion, I doubt if that would have stopped someone from racing, if they really wanted to. My guess is that IF Burch was killed in a race then it had to be a small local affair. If it happened in a race put on by a major racing association, or even minor racing group, I'm sure someone on this board or some other boards would have a verified record of it.

  14. #14
    Mythbuster
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    Thanks RF. Outstanding

    Not long winded at all. The streamers were a new one to me too. You've also answered another question I've seen come up - which year was the first for the yellow "rookie" stripes.

    I checked with Terry Reed and he knew nothing about Burch either, but he asked Donald Davidson. Even Donald can't add a lot...he recalled that Burch came from San Antonio, that he lived in Indianapolis, that he may have been a mechanic in George Hoster's auto dealership and that there is no record of Burch's having raced anywhere previously.

    (comment: and they entered him at Indy anyway?, surely they knew the AAA wouldn't allow him on the track)

    It's beginning to look like the 1955 fatal accident might not have occurred either. The SSDI lists a Charles Burch that passed away in Indianapolis in July 1981 that matches the age (based on the 1950 articles). I'm checking with someone to see if they can pin down an exact date in July then perhaps a check of the Indianapolis newspaper obituaries can confirm if it's the right man.

    In my opinion, "Mike" Burch has to be the most obscure driver entered in the '500' post-WWII.

    I also wish this whole saga with the Hoster car and Burch would have come up a couple of years ago and someone could have asked Billy Earl about it

  15. #15
    Sorted.
    Mike Burch's daughter has got in contact and please find below:

    My father was Charles "Mike" Burch. He was born on 4/29/1907 and passed away on 7/11/1981 I saw on another site that he is recorded as having been killed in 1955 in an automobile accident. While I believe he was involved in a serious automobile accident in approx. 1950 in which someone was killed, it was not him.

    He participated as a steward at the Indy 500 many years as he got older--driving golf carts, etc--probably on the safety team.

    We were told that he was a mechanic on the Mauri Rose Blue Crown Special as well. That is something I was trying to verify that information and find that book recently--and that is how I discovered you were searching for information about past 500 participants. We purchased the book in which his name is listed for his last birthday in 1981. He was very happy with that gift. I would love to find another copy for our family--in case you might have any suggestions on what book that might be.

    He did participate in auto racing for many years at Art Zipp's Speedrome in Indianapolis in probably the early 50's and beyond. So far as I know he did not participate in the 500 during those years other than attending and/or working on a crew somewhere.


    I've told her the book is Jack Fox's Indy guide. Jim, in case you don't see this, I'll email you.

  16. #16
    I have been looking up older Indianapolis 500 drivers and I looked up Mike Burch. I came across a Russian website that apparently is a profile on him, with a picture of him included.

    However, can anybody confirm if that is actually him or not?

    https://auto.vercity.ru/autosport/fo...ts/mike_burch/

  17. #17
    Proud to be a Furriner :) Michael Ferner's Avatar
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    The picture shows Jackie Holmes, sitting in the Clancy 6-wheeler (1949). Tricky, because it's one of the rare pictures of him not wearing a striped shirt!

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Ferner View Post
    The picture shows Jackie Holmes, sitting in the Clancy 6-wheeler (1949). Tricky, because it's one of the rare pictures of him not wearing a striped shirt!
    Honestly, I would have been surprised if it was him, since I don't believe he actually made it to the track.

  19. #19
    Proud to be a Furriner :) Michael Ferner's Avatar
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    I don't believe so, either. The info that I have is that he didn't pass the physical, although I can't remember now where I got that from.

    Mike Burch was a very loooooooooooooooooooooooooong shot at Indianapolis. I only have him in a couple of pretty obscure 1949 Midget races, finishing fourth in the consy for one, and being mentioned only for a crash in the other. In 1951, he ran "hardtops", i.e. modified stock cars in the Indianapolis area, and then disappears again.

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