The Indianapolis 500 run in 1964 will be for ever remembered as one of those days where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, not just in front of the 250,000 spectators at the track , including the late Ed Arnaudin who took took today’s photos from the exit of turn 4, but also on live close circuit cinema broadcasts through out the United States.
The out come of everything going wrong was a fireball and the instant death of Eddie Sachs and a couple of hours later, as a result of his injuries, the death of Dave MacDonald.
Eddie Sachs was known as the ‘Clown Prince of Auto Racing’. Born May 28th 1927 in Allentown, PA, Eddie won the 1958 USAC Midwest Sprint Car Championship.
From 65 AAA and USAC starts Eddie won 8 USAC Championship races, he started twice from pole at Indianapolis in 1960 and ’61. With three laps to go in ’61 Eddie made a pit stop from the lead to replace a delaminating tyre finishing second saying afterwards “I’d sooner finish second than be dead.” This was to be his best career result in the ‘Indy 500’.
In 1963 Eddie was running 4th behind Parnelli Jones and Jim Clark in the Indy 500, when Parnelli’s oil tank split spilling oil on the track allegedly causing Eddie to spin into retirement with 9 laps to go. After the race Eddie got into a fist fight with Parnelli over the issue and earned himself a year on probation from USAC.
Dick Sommers Eddie’s team owner at the race has been quoted since as saying “I’ve often regretted not having yelled and screamed at the USAC board that day in the hope that Eddie would follow suit. He probably would have been suspended for a year and might be still around.”
Dave MacDonald known as the ‘Master of Oversteer’ was born in July 23rd 1936 in El Monte, CA, Dave’s start in motor sport was on the Drag Strips of California and proceeded on to road courses with Don Steven’s Corvettes usually numbered ’00’. Scoring a remarkable 26 wins from 57 races in three seasons brought Dave to the attention of Carroll Shelby in 1963.
Shelby’s faith in Dave was rewarded with 17 further outright and class wins including the first wins recorded in the 260, 289 and Shelby Daytona Cobra’s. Daves last victory was at the wheel of a King Cobra at the USRCC event at Kent Washington on May 10th 1964. From 101 races Dave managed a remarkable 44 victories.
Also severely injured in the aftermath of the 2nd lap incident at Indy in 1964 was Ronnie Duman who’s car caught fire after a secondary collision causing injuries from which it took two and a half months to recover.
As if to emphasis just how difficult it was to learn the lessons of the fireball at Indy in 1964 Bobby Marshmam, who started in the middle of the front row at Indy that year, went tire testing at Phoenix at the end of the season, he was wearing jeans and a T-shirt when his fuel tank ruptured in an accident. A week later Bobby died of the burns sustained in the accident.
My thanks to Steve Arnaudin for the scans of his Dad’s photographs.
Join me again tomorrow for another edition of ‘Getting a lil’ psycho on tyres’. Don’t forget to come back now !