But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security
There is a wealth of information in the Advocate article, but there are also some caveats.
Bob Falcone asserts in his article that Sachs' and MacDonald's cars were welded together after the impact by the intense heat of the fire that followed the impact of them crashing together. Images taken by photographers and readily available on the internet clearly show that the two cars were several feet apart after the initial impact. Both cars were hit by other cars during the accident as well, and ended up a sizeable distance from each other, facing opposite directions.
The estimation of the G-forces generated by the two cars striking each other has to be a guess, there was no way to accurately measure such forces in 1964; no black boxes existed then.
The severity of the drivers' injuries is also open to speculation. I have read eyewitness accounts that both Sachs and MacDonald tried to extricate themselves from their burning cars; Sachs was known to have been pinned in his car, and MacDonald's car had to be hacked apart to extricate him...photos of his empty car clearly show where some cockpit structural members have been cut and bent away from the car to aid in his removal. There is no record in print of any internal injuries suffered by either Sachs or MacDonald, save the pulmonary edema that was the cause of the pink liquid Johnny Rutherford saw running down the side of Dave's face in the infield care center. It is known that Eddie Sachs suffered a broken leg in the accident, and the official cause of his death according to Dr Thomas Hanna was the burns he suffered in the crash. Dave MacDonald was unconscious when safety crews reached him. His hands were also severely burned in addition to his face, according to Dr Bob Raber, who administered a tracheotomy...a standard procedure in cases of pulmonary edema.
Sachs' condition was not readily available to the media, but it was established very early that Dave MacDonald would not survive his injuries. Some media personnel were shocked when Sachs' death was announced, because it wasn't expected.
As for the sum total of 155 gallons of gasoline carried by the two cars that has been readily accepted for many years as fact- in truth, Sachs' car was constructed with a total of 8 fuel tanks that carried a total of only 52 gallons. The trouble was that 3 of the tanks were situated directly above his knees, and one 5 gallon tank "hydrauliced" upon impact, the lid separated from the tank and the fuel spewed out all over Sachs in roughly the same manner that fuel sprayed over MacDonald when his fuel bladder tore open as he hit the inside wall. MacDonald's car carried a 44 gallon rubber bladder mounted to the frame at the flange for the filler nozzle and tethered by a series of nylon straps...state-of-the-art commercial helicopter technology; flimsy today, but perfectly legal in 1964. The capacity of MacDonald's fuel bladder appeared in print, in Sports Illustrated Magazine just a few weeks after the crash. Mickey Thompson and Ray McMahon, an official for Mobil Oil both verified the tank's capacity in the article.
35 gallons of fuel were pumped out of Sachs' car in the garage area after the accident by his mechanic, according to the Denny Miller book, Eddie Sachs:The Clown Prince. So, in reality...only about 60 gallons maximum were involved in the wreck...it is unknown just how much fuel, if any was left in MacDonald's car.
Johnny Rutherford had evidently raced only once against MacDonald, at Daytona, where Dave finished 10th before seeing him race at Indianapolis. MacDonald's car was set up to oversteer, and he was drifting through the turns, a foreign concept to the status quo at Indy. It may have looked foolhardy and reckless to Rutherford, as probably did Dave's driving style. Dave was noted for his charges to the front in sports car racing soon after the start of a race. He was doing just that at Indianapolis, in a car that was set up to his preferences. He knew what he was doing. The world's most famous racing accident was just that, a racing accident...Dave dove low under Walt Hansgen coming off the 4th turn on the second lap of the race; but Hansgen couldn't see him in his mirrors. Hansgen was trying to pass Jim Hurtibise, and arced to the left to make the pass. Dave had no place to go, swerved back to the right, and the rear end broke loose. What followed was a lazy spin that triggered a firestorm.
Sachs' policy for dealing with a spinning car in front of him was to aim straight for it, because the spinning car would keep on spinning away from him when he reached the spot where he'd first seen it. He was used to the characteristics of a 1600 pound roadster, but not an 1150 pound rear-engine car. He evidently aimed at the spot MacDonald's car was occupying when he first noticed it crossing the track, not fully realizing that it didn't have enough mass to follow the expected trajectory. MacDonald's car was grinding to a halt as Sachs approached it, ans he T-boned it. Rutherford, Ronnie Duman and Bobby Unser's cars breathing down his back didn't help Eddie either. It was a perfect storm situation, the final link in a chain of coincidences, well-intentioned but poorly thought-out edicts from sponsors and inadequate safety regulations that ended in a conflagration unmatched in the history of American motorsports.
Falcon's article is a treasure trove of info regarding the construction of the cars involved in the accident, and he clearly documents the fact that MacDonald wasn't carrying nearly as much fuel as folklore has claimed.
Johnny Rutherford's account of the accident and events leading to it is rather full of holes, as might be expected since it is an account of a terrified and admittedly lucky individual who barely lived through it all. Films of the race to that point do not show MacDonald being nearly out of control at any point in the race up to his near contact with Hansgen, and they do not show MacDonald's car ever occupying some of the track positions that Rutherford claimed that it did.
For more information regarding this incident, please visit the Nostalgia Forum at www.autosport.com and search for the topic The Sears Allstate Cars Of 1964.
Dan, your opinion of things is supposition as is the other article. Back fitting data to support a position happens all the time. MacDonald lost it. That is a fact. You believe MacDonald did nothing wild. I'd maintain that is not so. I saw macDonald in the ambulance and his face was burned gray in color. There was no one "working" on him in it either. I also believe Eddie was removed from the car in gasoline alley. He was declared dead and to remove him in front of the crowd would have been too gruesome. The car was loaded on a flatbed and covered with a tarp as it passed down pit lane.
Whether it was 40 gallons or more, the outcome would have been the same. Not a good day at the speedway.
"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!"
I can't imagine how everyone felt knowing Eddie was still in the car.
"You just don't know what Indy Means" Al Unser Jr.
I have read numerous articles that MacDonald's car was clearly unsafe. He was told by some of the drivers to not drive the car. In fact one observer said the car was unstable in the turns and would actually lift a little and lose traction. MacDonald was a well-respected driver in sports car circles but it seemed like he was not suited to the Indy Motor Speedway especially with a car like his Sears Allstate car. Mickey Thompson was a master mechanic and true motor sports legend...however it surprises me his cars were not very safe.
I have spent a lot of time on the Atlas F1 thread about the accident (refferenced above) and have been amaized at what that group has been able to come up with as reguards the accident. It's a long thread but VERY thorough and interesting.
Mickey had had a problem with the cars because the speedway would not allow him to continue to use the small tires designed for the car. The use of larger tires changed the aero and suspension geometry.
The conclusions point to a car that was considdered safe by the time the race started.
I was over in turn three at the time and all I saw was the black smoke pall...
It was sure a bad day in Indy history.
"Doc, just set them fingers sose I can hold the wheel"
James Hurtubise, June, 1964
I think there is confusion on tires here. I believe without checking, the tire issue was 1963. 1964 with Allstate/Sears tires they were 15 inchers like Firestone had. The issue was the covered wheelwell. They were chopped for the race.
Chip Todd worked for Thompson at the time and told me the '64 was both stable and safe and became a scapegoat after the crash because its design was extremely unconventional.
MT hired him after Chip bought one of Thompson's early salt cars.
Chip's living down in Corpus now.
"You people worry too much. Strive for change. Root for your favorites. Enjoy the racing. Drop the flag." rev-ed, 3/04
Dr Raber performed the tracheotomy on Dave MacDonald at the infield care center, as per his quote in Denny Miller's book EDDIE SACHS:THE CLOWN PRINCE. My posting that Dave came out of the 4th turn below Walt Hansgen and out of walt's field of vision is taken from Len Sutton's autobiography. MacDonald was driving at Indy like he did every place else...why would he change his style? That could cause more problems than it would solve. My evidence of this comes from www.davemacdonald.net . The supposed quote from Jim Clark to Dave to "Just walk away, Mate..." can't be proven to have actually been said...Sally Stokes Swart, who was Jim's girlfriend is the most likely source for this anecdote. The problem is that she also said that Jim and Dave were close friends...but Jim and Dave were barely acquaintances. More likely, Sally was confusing Dave MacDonald for Masten Gregory, who also drove one of the Thompson cars at Indy and was a former teammate to Clark. This is a postulation of Doug Nye, who was a good friend of Clark.
I've also read passages from Peter Bryant's book CAN AM CHALLENGER that state that the car Dave drove was sorted out by Raceday, and that Dave MacDonald was one of the fastest cars on the track on Carb Day. Bryant was hired as a consultant to sort out the Thompson cars after it was discovered that the 15 inch tires were causing severe handling problems. Bryant said that MacDonald was obsessed with winning Rookie-Of-The-Year honors, and that he was rather impatient to lead the race. But the car was sorted out, and Dave was happy with it. Dave was driving in his element. The car got away from him as he swerved to avoid Walt Hansgen.
Please go to Autosport.com and search for the Mickey Thompson Sears-Allstate Cars Of 1964 topic in the racing nostalgia section. That's where I obtained most of my evidence to back up the statements that I've made in this topic. I have studied this accident for several years, and have personally corresponded with the moderator at historicmustang many times. The MacDonald family has been the subject of verbal abuse and ridicule for many, many years. Some of that abuse has been quite vitriolic and hateful. Dave's widow has had to endure many people calling her late husband a murderer to her face, and I'm not kidding.
The truth is out there, it's in bits and pieces gathered from articles and passages of eyewitness accounts in autobiographies that are scattered all over the place.
It's very odd that in sports car circles, Dave MacDonald is almost deified, and in Indycar circles, he's almost the Devil. He was just a racer, doing his job to the best of his ability under trying conditions.
.....'Bottom line is; Almost 48 years later and we really don't know anything more about a racing accident than we did back then. Mickey was heavily criticized after the accident and said back then in an interview that the rollerskate only carried approx. 45 gals. of gasoline. (As mentioned previously.)
The way the '64 catastrophe started seems very similar to Swede's wreck in '73 and Swede had just topped off with 75 gals. of fuel. 'But for fate and luck, this accident could have had similar circumstances?
They both came off of 4 and lost it.
I think I've posted this article out of my scrapbook in previous posts on this topic.
The major problem I have with taking this piece as gospel truth is that there is no real concrete timeframe to make any reference to. There is no way to accurately date the conversation that Mr. MacDonald mentions. Did it happen before Carb Day, when Dave was apparently satisfied with the car's handling, as both Thompson and Bryant have said in print? Did it occur after that day? If so, then there are serious questions and concerns about both Thompson's and Bryant's statements, and neither can be contacted for clarification, as they're both deceased. There is no way to tell...
For me, this article was really a bit of sensationalist fluff...Mr MacDonald probably meant to tell the complete truth, but either his words got twisted, or he didn't recall all the details of his conversation, and some that were omitted were crucial if this statement is to be taken seriously. It really isn't a reliable quote. And, it was made after the fact, which also casts some doubt as to total authenticity.
Earlier in the month, according to published reports, Dave had sought legal advice to possibly pursue severance of his contract with Thompson over the poor handling of the # 83. He was told there was an exclusivity clause in his contract and that it was ironclad. If he didn't drive the car, it could have serious consequences for his driving career. Unfortunately, there is also no mention of when this conversation took place, either.
That was the headline of an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on June 2, 1964, two days after the above UPI wire article. Times auto editor Bob Thomas talked with George MacDonald and Mickey Thompson. There are only a few quotes, but they are worth noting:
"Dave was just tickled with it." "He was really happy with it by race time" said George MacDonald, who was quoted shortly after his son's death that the car, built in Long Beach by Mickey Thompson, was not in proper condition and that Dave was "apprehensive about driving it."
"I don't want to malign the fellows who worked until 4, 5 or even 6 in the morning to get that car ready." said MacDonald. Sherry, Dave's widow, confirmed he was satisfied with the car.
I have some more points to address, but right now, I'm too busy and too tired.
Thanks for posting this, Jim.
I'm of the inclination to believe that the car was taken to an empty garage or a private area at the track to remove Sach's and then the car was being returned to the team garage. -OR- After the removal of the corpse, the car was being taken away from the team garage by USAC for the investigation of the accident.
Eddie also deserves to be in the top ten of anyones list of who should have won the 500.
I don't believe these photos have ever been seen online.
These images put to rest some enduring myths...in my mind particularly the one about Sachs standing and waving his arms while his car burned. As can be seen the Shrike was burning ferociously, with just the front transverse bulkhead showing through the flames. The cockpit is fully engulfed, and it stays that way even as fire trucks arrive. The elapsed time for the trucks to get there has been estimated to be as much as a minute, and I see no way a driver could survive the inferno conscious for even half that time.
It is a wonder that MacDonald lived through the incident at all.
Wow, incredible pictures. Who is the driver that slips by MacDonald in picture #1 before he comes all the way across the track. I'm guessing it's Don Branson.
Again, fire seems to be only on the left side of MacDonalds car, indicating that the car carried fuel only on the left side.
Incredable pictures. Can we post them over on the TNF website?
zoom, MacDonald hit right side to the inside wall. That bag burst on impact. The left side was what was left to burn in the middle of the track.
Branson is the guy first to pass The fireball.
Hello, I am Dave MacDonald’s son Rich.
Over the years I’ve seen many online forums run ‘64 Indy threads, most notably the recent Autosport thread, which contains an overall body of work unmatched to date. They studied and debated the crash, and the preceding months, from every angle imaginable. No detail was ignored. I’ve read every post; some stuff was hard to hear while some of the facts brought to light were music to my family’s ears. Through a frame-by-frame breakdown of available race footage, members there were able to debunk a statement made by Johnny Rutherford immediately following the crash. Rutherford had reportedly said that when my father passed him on the back straight his car was loose and so far below the white line that he was kicking up infield grass and gravel. Overhead footage of the race has proved this to be completely untrue. But unfortunately that quote has reverberated for nearly 5 decades and has done considerable harm to my father’s legacy. I don’t fault Johnny though, he was in the thick of this horrifying experience and emotions were high, his words just failed to accurately describe what his mind saw.
Sometimes there were things posted on that thread that were declared as “fact”, but I knew it was anything but. My first instinct would be to jump in and set the record straight but I felt my presence on the board might stifle creativity or cause people to be reserved and thus change the overall dynamics of the vetting process, so I stayed silent.
But now, this time, a comment made by a contributor is so blatantly wrong I feel compelled to respond. The statement by tifositoo that over the years people have verbally attacked my mother, even calling my father a murderer, is completely false. Man, that just did not happen - any of it – ever. No disrespect toward you tifositoo, you seem knowledgeable and credible, but whoever gave you that information just flat out made it up … in its entirety. Thankfully I guess, to this day no one has ever approached my mother and confronted her in a negative way. She and I and my sister and all other family member as far as I know, have always been treated fairly and respectfully. Even Eddie’s wife Nancy, God rest her soul, telegrammed my mother the morning of my father’s funeral to offer her condolences. The telegram reads, “Dear Sherry, We know death is never easy to accept no matter what the circumstances. I want you to know that my prayers, love and understanding be with you this morning as I know you are with me most respectively”. An incredibly kind gesture by a very classy woman. You can imagine how much that meant to my mother. She still has the telegram.
Let me add some insight to the Jimmy Clark quote as well. My mother cannot say that Jim and my father were “great friends”, but they did know and like each other. They first met while practicing at Riverside for the Oct 1963 LA Times Grand Prix. They talked often before the race and built a mutual respect for one another. After the race Clark was one of the first drivers to come to the winner’s circle and congratulate my father - and when the celebration ended they, along with my mother, drove off together in the pace car (There are one or two pictures of this on my father’s tribute site http://www.davemacdonald.net/gallery...a63timesgp.htm). The two furthered their friendship the following week when they both ran the Monterey Pacific Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. My father won that race as well and according to my mother, Jim again made a point to come over and give him a pat on the back. They met again a few months later at the 12hrs of Sebring. Jim Clark & Chuck Parsons co-piloted a Lotus while my father teamed with Bob Holbert to win the GT class in the Daytona Cobra Coupe. My mother did not attend this race but it’s easy to assume that the two racers continued to build their friendship during the week long event. They met again two months later at Indy. There is downtime for the drivers during the month of May and ample opportunity to interact with other drivers and I do have a couple photos of Jim & my father together before the race.
So did Jim actually say to my father “Get out of that car mate, just walk away”? Who knows .. but it’s certainly possible considering the friendship they had struck. But if you think about it, is a great friendship really required for one professional driver to say something like that to another? Probably not.
I apologize if anyone on this thread is taken aback by me posting here, I just felt I needed to correct this bit of misinformation before it spreads like wildfire across the internet – and becomes fact for the next 5 decades.
Last edited by DSRV12; 03-23-2012 at 10:31 PM.
Anybody know about this rumor. I have heard that MacDonald planned to race the Indy 500 nonstop. Which means the car would have had to have a lot more fuel than the other race cars. Any views on this?
Thanks for posting, Rich. Very much appreciated.
Wow... Never thought we would have a post like that. Thanks Rich, so much.
We all have spent a lot of time on the AtlasF1 site disecting the crash. I learned a LOT.
I was on the backstretch that day and so I never had the experience of witnessing the accident.
I always thought of your dad as a great drived who just got cought up in a bad situation.
Your tribute site is very neet and I have enjoyed it several times.
Just keep the memory of a great driver going...
Thank you for posting that. Your father was a hero and will never be forgotten.
"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.