Was the '73 race the reason Fengler was not brought back in '74? Was he fired or "encouraged" to retire? Did fans and media blame Fengler for the crash on the start and other safety failures?
I don't know the specifics of how or why he left IMS but I certainly remember all the heat he got in '73 from the press and the fans.
I remember seeing pics of signs saying "Give Harlan the Fengler". Whether it was due primarily to safety issues or him cracking down on the debauchery of the Snake Pit (or a combination), I don't recall.
"Charging a man with murder here was like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500."- Capt. Willard, Apocolypse Now
"Ain't nuthin' like a piece of p***y, 'cept maybe the Indy 500."- Bunny, Platoon
"To alcohol! The cause of- and solution to- all of life's problems."- Homer J. Simpson
I have always believed Harlan had been Chief Steward long enough---and I think those in power thought so too. The 1972 start was screwed up--Pat Vidan held up his index finger as the pace lap was being completed and then all of a sudden the pace car swerved into the pits and was almost dinged by pole sitter Bobby Unser, and Vidan waved the green flag at the last second. Revson said the course lights were still yellow going into the first turn despite Vidan's green flag. In 1973 only the front row was aligned coming down for the green flag...Fengler was in charge and in my opinion was past his prime at that time. The best thing USAC/Speedway did was to put the flagman high and outside the track for a much better view---even though Vidan would rather have been at ground level.
In Jim McKay's book, My Wide World, he had a very negative view of Fengler, comparing him to the pompous, bombastic Olympic boss, Avery Brundage. Two guys that never made a mistake, in their minds.
Happiness is Friday morning, Road America, first session, rolling down pit lane, course is clear, we are green!
That scene were the pit reporter wipes the frontal area of the Samsonite car and holds up his dirty palm to the camera and says "this is oil" is idiotic.
If you rubbed your plam across the nose of any race car in the middle of a race its going to be dirty.
Faster than a bullet from a gun
He is faster than everyone
Quicker than the blinking of an eye
Like a flash you could miss him going by
No one knows quite how he does it but it's true they say
He's the master of going faster. -George Harrison
The '73 Race was the only incident leading to Fengler's removal. He was not the most capable or popular Chief Steward. (and this was before the internet)
Have a very blessed day!
That's a good analogy in a sense. Brundage was somebody stuck about three generations in the past, with a mindset that was about as far removed from the reality of the modern Olympics as it was possible to be, but who exercised dictatorial, unappealable and often unfairly displayed power. He was a thoroughly nasty character. I know there are tales of Fengler being that way ... the way people talked about him in hushed tones on the old radio broadcasts, it sometimes seemed like he was someone who inspired genuflection and ring kissing. Although some people still thought highly of him ... Mark Donohue for one, even after 1973, as quoted in M. Argetsinger's biography ... and I don't know if I'd totally lump him in with Brundage, who honestly by the 1960s and '70s had zero redeeming qualities, but it was time for a change. Ron Dorson's critique of Indy that was written post-'73 includes the transcript of an interview with what he described as a very "rude" Fengler which is interesting reading. I think it's available in the Google Books preview of that book. He may have been rude, probably because someone had dared to ask him to explain himself, but what he said seemed to me to be a quite sensible attitude toward doing things. I guess it may have reached the point where he wasn't able to impose that vision anymore.
The video of that start is jaw-dropping. But on the radio broadcast, Freddie Agabashian says he'd never seen such a fine start. Which makes me wonder about the state of Freddie Agabashian's eyesight that day, or brings up ... and I don my Nomex here ... the one negative thing about the old IMS broadcasts, amid a plethora of positives: never a negative word about anything that might make the place look bad.
I forgot to add that I was surprised at how many people were still there on the last day. I had always heard how almost everyone had to go home by the time they finally completed the race, but it was still a decent audience there considering how long they had to stick around
Just finished listening to the 1973 broadcast...Sid said there was a few thousand die-hard fans in the stands on the third day at 9am (scheduled start)...and then I understand they Speedway announced the race would begin early afternoon (forgot exactly when)...and local residents left their jobs and headed to the track in the middle of the day. This created a traffic jam out of nowhere. Needless to say 1973 was a race we'd all like to forget.
Wonder why the officials did not move the race to the following weekend after the second day rain out? Remember 1986? Or was Milwaukee set on the schedule and they wanted to get it over with....just wondering.
Moving it to next Saturday like they did in 1986 may never happen again. That's asking a lot in the year 2012....the world's just too busy to push it back a whole week.
I think 1986 being the first live flag to flag coverage had a lot to do with pushing it to the next weekend.
I'll see YOU at the races!