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Thread: Historical Indianapolis 500 journals - The Lost Letter

  1. #1
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    Historical Indianapolis 500 journals - The Lost Letter

    Hey everyone, many may not remember, but many years ago, I started electronically archiving my dad's handwritten journals from his many years at the Indianapolis 500. He started attending the race in 1954, and since that time, he has only missed the 1965 race. Sometime around 1960, he started keeping these very detailed, very personal journals of his trips, his experiences, and the activity at (and around) the track while he was there. Over the course of the past 20 years (off and on), I have been working to get them all typed up, but life has often gotten in the way. It's been almost 5 years since I posted the last journal (which was his 1993 effort).

    I have recently restarted an Indy car blog (Fieldof33.com) and am working to get them all transferred over to the new site from More Front Wing. I expect to have dad's 1994 journal ready and posted very soon.

    Because my dad was enlisted in the USAF in the early 1960s, it was always questionable whether he would get to attend the race or not in those years. Unfortunately, as he was nearly the end of his enlistment in 1965, he was not granted leave and missed the race, the only one he has still missed to this day. (He was able to watch the race on a closed-circuit feed at a theater near George AFB in California). I had always assumed 1965 would be a gap in the canon of his journals. However, while we were cleaning out my parents' house a couple months ago, I found a letter my dad had saved from his dad dated June 2, 1965. As I started reading it, it became quickly apparent this was my grandpa writing to my dad detailing HIS experiences at the 1965 race. You cannot imagine the amazement I felt holding this letter in my hand and reading his words.

    Today I have posted this letter to my site and made it available for all to read. To those who have read many (or any) of my dad's own journals, the similarity between dad's and grandpa's writing is uncanny. The letter is short on race details, but in depth in personal details. I hope those who have enjoyed dad's journals will enjoy this letter just as much.

    Check it out here: https://fieldof33.com/2019/02/11/ind...e-lost-letter/
    --Paul Dalbey
    (the poster formerly known as 'pdalbey')

    Different men, from vastly different backgrounds, focused on the same goal – a white line painted on a yard of brick 500 miles ahead.

    http://Fieldof33.com

  2. #2
    Thanks for sharing the new letter, Paul. I enjoyed the earlier journals from your father when you posted them some years back.

    I noticed this one quote from your grandfather's letter:

    "I was sorry to see A.J. Foyt drop out so soon because Ted likes him and wanted him to win. I see in today’s paper he is thinking of quitting."

    It's true that Foyt was talking about quitting in 1965 although I don't think anyone really took it all that seriously. This was during the period when Foyt and Bignotti were fighting all of the time.

    Years later I got to spend a couple of hours with George Bignotti and this was one of the things he talked about. He said that Foyt would defy him no matter what his instruction might be. He said that Foyt himself was the reason that their car went out of the race in 1965. Based on their plan and mileage Bignotti started giving Foyt the sign to pit but Foyt disregarded the sign for many laps and kept going purposely running the car out of fuel. Coasting on the backstretch Foyt jammed the transmission down into low trying to weave the car back and forth so it might pick up a little fuel. Foyt was going too fast when he shifted into low and destroyed the transmission putting the car out of the race.

    Foyt and Bignotti went to a couple of more races together but broke up for good soon after that.

  3. #3
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    Thank you so much for sharing that information. When I read that line in the letter, I was perplexed as I had never heard such a thing. It's interesting that my grandfather would have picked up on that rumor and included it in the letter. For as much as he and my dad LOVE(D) the 500, neither of them were or are particularly in tune with the up-to-the-minute news and rumors. That lead me to believe that the rumor must have been somewhat widely circulated and at least thought to, at the time, have some legs.

  4. #4
    Very cool Thanks for the update
    Vive la Republique.

  5. #5
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    If you remember, AJ and Bignotti split shortly after the 1962 500. Foyt went to Lindsey Hopkins and Bobby Marshman to Bignotti. That held until the last two races of 1962, then they swapped rides.

    In 1963, I was in Gasoline alley the day after the race. Foyt was harping to George, about only being the second fastest on the track. Foyt totally discounted Clark being second. And by harping I mean "GD George, second fastest doesn't GD work!"
    "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved
    body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting
    "...holy $^!+...what a ride!"
    >

  6. #6
    500 History Buff! Pelican Joe's Avatar
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    Awesome to hear that you will be posting more of your dad's 500 journals. I've really enjoyed reading them over the years. The journals - and your grandpa's letter - are such great pieces of 500 history - first hand accounts of what it was like to attend the race. The history of the race itself is documented well enough - but I relate to the personal history so much more because that has always been my perspective as a fan. Thank you so much for doing this!
    Real drivers don't need fenders!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pelican Joe View Post
    Awesome to hear that you will be posting more of your dad's 500 journals. I've really enjoyed reading them over the years. The journals - and your grandpa's letter - are such great pieces of 500 history - first hand accounts of what it was like to attend the race. The history of the race itself is documented well enough - but I relate to the personal history so much more because that has always been my perspective as a fan. Thank you so much for doing this!
    Thanks, Joe! It means a lot that you have and continue to enjoy them. I’ll pass along the message to my dad and be sure to let folks know when the 1994 journal is up and ready.

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