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TerryB

Indy 500 Memories

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Posted (edited)

Before there was a “bucket list” name given to things to see and do in your lifetime, one of the things to see and do on my list was the Indy 500 Memorial Day race.  On May 24th 1981 I was able to achieve that goal.  Recently I found some pictures I took in the pits at practice leading up to race day.  My race photos are awful but the pit shots were fair so here are a few.  I think Mario Andretti was declared the eventual winner that year.  The #3 car Norton car is Bobby Unser.  Hard to believe these cars are now antiques.

 

 

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82C0B96B-2405-4C48-AB01-8517C2DCD296.jpeg

D25E3C18-E974-49EE-AFBF-39D5EB4E5E67.jpeg

D6231F0B-51D9-4B74-8B8B-E5C6B2128049.jpeg

Edited by TerryB (see edit history)
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Bobby Unser won in 1981. Mario Andretti only won it once and that was in 1969... 

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Thanks! I'll watch it Sunday, as I have for 40+ years. Sad thing is  I can't think of the names of three drivers. I miss the sounds of the Offy. Bob 

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4 minutes ago, Lebowski said:

Bobby Unser won in 1981. Mario Andretti only won it once and that was in 1969... 

Unser was penalized after finishing first, his victory was rescinded and given to Mario who had finished second.  Unser protested the penalty and won the protest and eventually was rewarded the win and Mario went back to second.  Had to check this out after seeing your post.  Yes, Mario only has one win to his credit.

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Bobby, Al and Al Unser Jr. have won a total of 9 times which is very impressive. Did you hear that Al Jr. got another DUI earlier this week? I guess he fell off the wagon again which was disappointing because I've always been a big fan of his....

 

https://www.indystar.com/story/news/crime/2019/05/20/al-unser-jr-arrested-owi-dui-avon-indiana-indy-500/3738991002/?bcmt=1

 

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On a lighter note, check out this quick interview from the 1971 Indy 500 after Mario Andretti wrecked his car and was unable to finish the race. The guy he's talking to is the weatherman from an Indianapolis TV station named David Letterman. Mario seems kind of annoyed by the stupid question that Dave asks him.... :D

 

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=letterman+at+1971+indy+500&&view=detail&mid=37E6793891D5EC47E8AD37E6793891D5EC47E8AD&rvsmid=543F4AD44FB0DA1C14D7543F4AD44FB0DA1C14D7&FORM=VDQVAP

 

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May be the only weatherman to later own or co-own an INDY 500 winning car. 

 

 

Bob 

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Posted (edited)

My best memory - and it's going to replay everytime I see that flower pot mounted in front of the camera on the fence in the corner of the 4th turn-

I was there in 1994 for Mario Andretti's last race, and had prime seats right behind that 4th turn camera, thanks to a Navy buddy who was free-lancing as a TV tech and got us unbelievable seats.  That year it was overcast, gray, humid, and although cars had practiced prior to the race on hot sunny days, race day itself was not good.  Cars were sliding all over the place, and it turned out to be one of Indy's longest races because of all the crashes and caution flags.

 

Nearing the end of the race, we had seen enough cars spin and bounce off the wall in that last turn to know when it was about to happen.  When a car was not in the right spot or coming out of that corner in the wrong position, the next thing we had come to expect was a "boom" off the wall right in front of us, and pieces flying while the car shot back across the track and into the path of others rounding the corner.  It happened so fast, and other racers coming around that corner in a big group never had much chance to react and slow their cars - they scattered everywhere!  It was a rough year in that corner.

 

That was exactly what happened to Mario - we saw it coming and cringed as he hit nose first into the wall.  Boom - and the next thing we saw was Lynn St.James coming right on his tail.  The scene was playing out in a split second but looking out of the left eye we saw her dip down headed straight for Mario as he bounced off the wall and shot tail-first towards the inside of the track.  I could just sense the disaster about to unfold as Lynn was driving straight into a T-bone wreck with Mario.  You just knew that Lynn's car would split Mario's car right in half as they came together.   Hearts literally stopped, and pieces of Mario's car were still raining down!

 

Our seats were so close to the action that we were able to look down into the cockpits of the cars as they went by - and we saw Lynn St. James - cool as could be, never let off the gas, and at the last second give a simple "jerk" on the steering wheel to send her car into a slight fish-tail, missing Mario's car by a mere inches.   It was the coolest most amazing move I've ever seen by a race car driver anywhere - before, during, or since.   That day she earned all the respect due her from that crowd.  Everyone there realized the bold gutsy move she made.  If she had slammed on the brakes, or even hesitated, she would have destroyed her car, cut Mario's car in half and taken the rest of the field along with her. 

 

A couple of years ago we had he pleasure of meeting Lynn at the Montoursville AGN where she was a guest speaker.  I waited in line to get my book signed, and casually mentioned to her while she was autographing the book, that I was in that turn and saw her slide around Mario that day.  She stopped what she was doing and vividly recalled that moment in exacting detail.  She actually accelerated at the point where she realized she was headed straight for Mario, and had mentally calculated how to react.  She pulled it off and continued to race on into history as one of the best of the ladies to ever race at Indy.  It was a thrill to relive that moment and an honor to share it with her again.

 

I'll be watching - especially turn 4.

 

Terry

Edited by Terry Bond (see edit history)
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Thanks Terry! Here is an INDY photo from my collection. The H.D.Carpenter 122 MILLER in the garage at INDY in 1925

DSCF1184.JPG

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Had a lot of fun at the Indy 500 weekends during the 80's. We would drive down from Ontario Canada and stay in the bowling alley parking lot on 16th ave in a motorhome.

Those were the wildest weekends I ever had! No event I ever attended in Canada could compare to the party at Indy, and no race has come close, including the Daytona 500.

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Yes, there was a time when Indy was a big party-all week long.  I remember seeing some custom-built rigs that were strictly for Indy viewing and partying.  Remember the old infield parties, and the "snakepit" very well.   Even though it's been cleaned up a lot, it's still one heck of an adventure.  It need to be on every car lovers bucket list.  Seeing it in person is vastly different than watching on TV.  Nothing can describe the velocity of those cars going by you at over 200 MPH like being there in person.

Terry

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16 hours ago, Terry Bond said:

Yes, there was a time when Indy was a big party-all week long.  I remember seeing some custom-built rigs that were strictly for Indy viewing and partying.  Remember the old infield parties, and the "snakepit" very well.   Even though it's been cleaned up a lot, it's still one heck of an adventure.  It need to be on every car lovers bucket list.  Seeing it in person is vastly different than watching on TV.  Nothing can describe the velocity of those cars going by you at over 200 MPH like being there in person.

Terry

 

I agree with this aspect.

I have not been to the Indy 500 but have been to several Nascar races. Bristol, Daytona, Sonoma, Phoenix, Atlanta, probably a couple others that escape me at the moment.

I find that the parties are great but the actual race I would rather watch on TV. Reason being the information being passed on by the commentators.

Makes it easier to know what is going on.

 

Memorial thoughts today !!!

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, Terry Bond said:

Yes, there was a time when Indy was a big party-all week long.  I remember seeing some custom-built rigs that were strictly for Indy viewing and partying.  Remember the old infield parties, and the "snakepit" very well.   Even though it's been cleaned up a lot, it's still one heck of an adventure.  It need to be on every car lovers bucket list.  Seeing it in person is vastly different than watching on TV.  Nothing can describe the velocity of those cars going by you at over 200 MPH like being there in person.

Terry

 Indeed.  I’ve been to both NASCAR and Indy car races (they used to run here too) at Kentucky Speedway.  I prefer the Indy cars in person.  They are way faster, quieter, and (probably why they don’t race here anymore) the crowds were easier to manage.  It is neat seeing the differences between the 2 motor sports at the same track.

 

That said, nothing compares to NHRA  Top Fuel and Funny Car nitro drag racing in person.  It’s indescribable.  For one, the pits are always open, and watching them tear an engine down and rebuild it is an experience in and of itself.  The races themself are mind-blowing.

Edited by 39BuickEight (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

I had the pleasure of participating with my PC-7 in the Historic Racing Exposition this year at Indy sponsored by the IMS Museum.  I had a blast, and this was certainly my best week ever at Indy.  Attached are photos of me headed out to the track, Tom Bigelow ( who drove my car in the 1981 500) and Bobby Unser with me, Merle Bettenhausen signing the wing on my car on behalf of his Dad and brothers ( Gary Bettenhausen drove my car in 4 races in 1982), and Ray Evernham with Bobby Unser. My wife and I stayed for the race on Sunday. I was proud to display my AACA ( class 24A car) sign in front of the car during the show portion of the Exposition.

Rick headed for track at Indy 1.PNG

Rick headed for track at Indy 2.PNG

Tom Bigelow & bobby Unser with Rick 2019.PNG

Merle Bettenhausen signing wing at Indy 2019.JPG

Ray Evernham with B. Unser.JPG

Rick at Indy 1.jpg

Rick at Indy 2.jpg

Rick at Indy 3.jpg

 

Edited by Penske PC-7 (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)
On 5/26/2019 at 10:52 AM, Terry Bond said:

My best memory - and it's going to replay everytime I see that flower pot mounted in front of the camera on the fence in the corner of the 4th turn-

I was there in 1994 for Mario Andretti's last race, and had prime seats right behind that 4th turn camera, thanks to a Navy buddy who was free-lancing as a TV tech and got us unbelievable seats.  That year it was overcast, gray, humid, and although cars had practiced prior to the race on hot sunny days, race day itself was not good.  Cars were sliding all over the place, and it turned out to be one of Indy's longest races because of all the crashes and caution flags.

 

Nearing the end of the race, we had seen enough cars spin and bounce off the wall in that last turn to know when it was about to happen.  When a car was not in the right spot or coming out of that corner in the wrong position, the next thing we had come to expect was a "boom" off the wall right in front of us, and pieces flying while the car shot back across the track and into the path of others rounding the corner.  It happened so fast, and other racers coming around that corner in a big group never had much chance to react and slow their cars - they scattered everywhere!  It was a rough year in that corner.

 

That was exactly what happened to Mario - we saw it coming and cringed as he hit nose first into the wall.  Boom - and the next thing we saw was Lynn St.James coming right on his tail.  The scene was playing out in a split second but looking out of the left eye we saw her dip down headed straight for Mario as he bounced off the wall and shot tail-first towards the inside of the track.  I could just sense the disaster about to unfold as Lynn was driving straight into a T-bone wreck with Mario.  You just knew that Lynn's car would split Mario's car right in half as they came together.   Hearts literally stopped, and pieces of Mario's car were still raining down!

 

Our seats were so close to the action that we were able to look down into the cockpits of the cars as they went by - and we saw Lynn St. James - cool as could be, never let off the gas, and at the last second give a simple "jerk" on the steering wheel to send her car into a slight fish-tail, missing Mario's car by a mere inches.   It was the coolest most amazing move I've ever seen by a race car driver anywhere - before, during, or since.   That day she earned all the respect due her from that crowd.  Everyone there realized the bold gutsy move she made.  If she had slammed on the brakes, or even hesitated, she would have destroyed her car, cut Mario's car in half and taken the rest of the field along with her. 

 

A couple of years ago we had he pleasure of meeting Lynn at the Montoursville AGN where she was a guest speaker.  I waited in line to get my book signed, and casually mentioned to her while she was autographing the book, that I was in that turn and saw her slide around Mario that day.  She stopped what she was doing and vividly recalled that moment in exacting detail.  She actually accelerated at the point where she realized she was headed straight for Mario, and had mentally calculated how to react.  She pulled it off and continued to race on into history as one of the best of the ladies to ever race at Indy.  It was a thrill to relive that moment and an honor to share it with her again.

 

I'll be watching - especially turn 4.

 

Terry

 

Great story about Lynn St. James. A great driver, and still a lovely person. Attached is a photo of Lynn with my wife Brenda at Indy this year.

Lynn St James with Brenda at Indy.PNG

Edited by Penske PC-7 (see edit history)
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Not sure what year but major memory is tires bouncing all over the place near the yard of bricks.

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Was at Indy for the swan song of the roadster and witnessed both of these cars ripping around the speedway making unique, unforgettable sounds and memories.

 

The 1964 and 1967 AJ Foyt driven Indy winners were on display at the Gilmore Museum, July 2018.

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69400D5F-BB4A-4FB2-9AD9-6EF2D2F2D0ED.jpeg

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Went to college in Indy 65-69.  Athletic Dir of college (Cleon Reynolds) was also the Fire Chief at the track.

 

At practice was on pit row in 1968.  Watched as driver came into the pits.  It appeared he was not slowing down, and headed right for me. 

 

Fact of the matter, he was.  I jumped out of the way.  Unbeknowst to me, I was standing smack-dab in the middle of the pit row fire station and his car was on fire!  The burning fuel produced no visible flame as it was not gasoline but ethanol, alcohol or some such?

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Alcohol I think it was that burned with almost no visible flame.

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I remember seeing Jim Clark spin, just recover, and keep on going. Think he may have been the first to do that at Indy. (no promises from memory).

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