Is the book in question one of those Fahrenheit 451 candidates? In spite of the scathing post I entered earlier, I'm still reading it. It's not perfect, and I don't agree with all of Art's conclusions. But, it's an excellent effort and sorely needed addition to motor racing literature. We can agree to disagree on the few points where we differ.
Only Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald really know what actually happened that day... Art Garner has gotten as close to them as anybody could.
Last edited by Tifositoo; 05-16-2014 at 05:40 PM. Reason: Ron Garner was a college buddy of mine.
Tibi Fumus Obsidio Septum Doro
Naturally, the objective is to have a book or an article error-free, of course. However, on more than one occasion I have proofread galleys for books with, for example, the all spellings and captions that I checked being correct only to have them emerge in the published work incorrect. I am still baffled as to how this could happen, let alone how it was even possible.
Research is often the genesis for where things go wrong, along with sorting out one's research notes. The latter has been the source of embarrassment and errors for more than a few authors over the years.
There are times when one's research uses sources that are either simply in error or whose interpretations are questionable for any number of reasons; failing to either question these sources or seek other interpretations can lead to errors of both fact and interpretation.
Errors easily creep in when someone is writing about topics outside their area of interest or expertise. There are times when you take something on the presumed authority of a source -- and the source is either incorrect or not clear.
Then, there are "errors" that really are not errors, there being either differing interpretations or opinions about various topics. This is common when an existing interpretation or commonly-held view or opinion is challenged by a new interpretation that results from someone's research. For the better part of over four decades, for example, virtually all racing journalists and "auto racing historians" accepted as fact that the 1933 GP di Tripoli was the hippodrome that Alfred Neubauer described in his book. However, Betty Sheldon conducted research that proved that while there was certainly collusion involved, it did not resemble in any way what had long been accepted as fact. Despite the usual diehards (in this case, Robert Newman at Vintage Racecar, for example) who seem unable to accept the research and cling to the mythology, it is now that Sheldon's interpretation is the one that fits the facts of the case. In his biography of Nuvolari, Christopher Hilton originally planned to use the generally-accepted Neubauer version in his chapter on the Tripoli event, but changed its focus once he was made aware of Sheldon's research.
Similarly, the issue of the amount of fuel carried by MacDonald (and others) was long more a factor of mythology and opinion than of research.
As someone once suggested, opinion is easy, research is hard.
And so we beat on, boats against the current, drawn back ceaselessly into the past ... F. Scott Fitzgerald
Ever have the feeling that the rest of the world is a tuxedo and you're a pair of brown shoes? ... George Gobel
Writing is difficult. Criticizing is easier.
Serious Gearhead? Read ---> Mac's Motor City Garage.com
I am pumped about getting to read an outstanding book about the 1964 500. I couldn't put it down, now I will go back and re-read some parts.
"You just don't know what Indy Means", Al Unser Jr.
"That's why to me it does feel more precious when an American wins it...", Michael Andretti
Just finished reading the book. Very good, really enjoyed it! Got it from the local library which has a crap collection of books on racing. Very pleased that the library had it since I'm out of work and can't afford to buy it.
Just finished the book yesterday, extremely well written with compassion for the parties involved.
A great read for Indy fans about the history and past of our race and the former "month of May".
Thanks all for your support. It means a lot to know you've enjoyed it.
Read the book and it really captured the era and the players while dealing with the central issue in a factual manner. I will make sure my racing friends read this.
I have been following the Indianapolis 500 since 1960. This book gives a very good history of the changes going on during that time period. It covers more that just the Sachs-MacDonald crash. Thank you Art for all the research and time you put into this.
I'm just a mouse around the house.
Read the book while on vacation. IMO, Art does a great job of capturing the Month of May 1964. From the onset, you know what's going to transpire, yet you pray for a different outcome.
Never really understood how 3W screwed up, but now I realize it was a simple ergonomic comfort that caused Ward to misunderstand that the "Lean/Rich" valve was set upside down in his car.
Also, it appears that the Thompson garage was in "full thrash mode" getting their cars ready for the race. Never a good recipe for an outcome. Dave M just got caught up in something he wasn't expecting to occur. Particularly without sufficient time on the seat.
Lastly, AJ (as much as I've always pegging him for being a mean SOAB), appears to have been truly saddened by what happened that day. Especially to Eddie.
Some thoughts which Art doesn't address (unless I overlooked them ... sorry, Art):
1. Did AJ give the Ford execs the "we're number one" which driving down pit lane after the race?
2. Did Thompson employ the "rear-steer." Unlikely, but another of those 'things' that popped up after that race. Unlikely at that.
Mentioned the fact that Foyt singled he was number one while lapping Ward late in the race. He waited until he was on the straight so the Ford execs could see.
Regarding the rear-steer or three-wheel steering as it was referred to then, it was one of those things that cut out of the final book. The team had tested it briefly at Phoenix on the way to Indianapolis and Thompson realized there wasn't time to properly develop it and disconnected it. Colin Chapman spotted the hardware for three-wheel steering when he was checking out the cars and Thompson pointed out it wasn't connected. Peter Bryant told me the first thing he did every day after arriving in the garage was to check to make sure it had not been reconnected.
And once that became obvious to me I can't understand why Dick Sommers in his book "Eddie called me Boss" didn't straighten that one out to take away the many bad feelings that his Shrike also generated over the years. If there is one book, published long ago that could have set people at the right trail and have done more justice to both Sommers' car and and car builder, it is "Eddie called me Boss"
Missed opportunity, your luck?
"I think of Indianapolis every day of the year, every
hour of the day, and when I sleep, too. Everything I
ever wanted in my life, I found inside the walls of
the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."
- Eddie Sachs.
I just got the Kindle Fire version of it yesterday for my B-Day. I'm only a small part of the way into it, but I've already learned things about Eddie Sachs that I didn't know. I knew he was called the Clown Prince of of auto racing, but one gets a lot more of the reason why and how he got the nickname. I can't wait to get the the Dave McDonald parts.
I believe you will find that Sachs was killed instantly, blunt force trauma. No burn damage to his lungs.. McDonald did die of burns.
I just finished the book and it was definitely one of the best auto racing history books I've read, Great job! I have to challenge your opinion on page 309 "What to blame for the events of 1964, if any, should fall on Speedway management and the races sanctioning body, the United States Auto Club. The two organizations ruled the Speedway with an iron fist, yet failed to keep pace with rapidly changing technology that was bringing escalating speeds, added danger, and bigger crowds. 15 years of status quo following WW2 lulled the speedway into a false sense of security, even though drivers continued to die on track. Safety advancements came at a glacially slow pace".
Since the book appears to have a road racing slant (ditto for the Indy Car forum), lets compare driver deaths in both Indy Car and F1 from WW2 to the end of the 63 seasons, as a percentage of driver fatalities to races ran. F1, from WW2 to the end of the 63 season had 16 in 119 races, (excluding Indy 500 fatalities). Indy car had 35 from WW2 (a huge majority of which were dirt track races) to end of the 63 season in 290 races. F1 had .1344 deaths per race and Indy car had .1206 per race average, so the results are pretty similar comparing the two.
That said, safety advancements in the entire automotive and racing culture moved very slowly during this era. F1 didn't have full guard rails around their tracks and Clark went into the woods in 68 and perished. Your right when you advise, "There was no standards", but no track, nor sanctioning body had much concern for safety, at that time. Bill Simpson didn't introduce his first fire suit until 1964, but you bring up Jerry Unser wearing a T shirt in 59. In regard to gasoline, I might be wrong but F1 still uses a blend which is pretty close to "Ordinary Petrol". "No structural requirements", but you don't advise of a single racing series at the time that also had these requirements, nor how much fuel could be carried on board.
According to what I've read, MacDonalds car had a rubber bladder, not supported by an outer shell to contain its movement in extreme impacts and split at the filler neck. Safety was the sole responsibility of the car owner and the driver who climbed into the car. Blaming the sanctioning body doesn't seem fair given the lack of safety culture at the time.
Another interesting tidbit coming from some old timers in the Detroit Area who knew Johnny White, was when Foyt got suspended for hitting White after a "meaningless"? sprint car race - page 102. Rumor has it, since White was a rookie in USAC after being very successful IMCA sprint car action, Foyt came up to White before the race, as they were both starting on the front row, put his arm around him and advised White that they needed to run easy into the first turn and start racing on the back stretch. Coming down for the green, White gave Foyt the finger and led every lap on the one groove track where passing was nearly impossible, not that he was "cutting him off in the corners". I'm pretty sure it was in Allentown, PA. White saw Foyt coming at him after the race and simply crouched down in the seat while Foyt pounded him on the top of his helmet. Not sure if its true but it is a good story.
White did finish 4th, on the lead lap and earned rookie of the year in the 64 500, that you should have mentioned in the book, after your description of his early laps, with a full fuel load.
Lastly, if any races were "meaningless" it was the 60's road racing events and not the sprint car events that provided many young drivers with their shots at the high dollar Indy 500 purse, which was the true test in the eyes of the Indy Car owners at the time, outside of Thompson and Chapman of course. As proof, you quoted Foyt as saying "Them sporty cars is all right, but remember, I'm just a poor working boy who can't afford to race for fun". I'll let that statement stand on its own, from the best driver to ever strap on a helmet.
Last edited by Motor City; 04-12-2016 at 04:56 PM.
Gary Lee "Would you be willing to take your career to Europe and run road racing over there"
Jeff Gordon " Definitely, if the right deals came along and it was a good opportunity where it would enhance my career, I would definitely go over there" Jeff Gordon (after testing a Formula Super Vee)