Posted on: January 5, 2011
Gasoline Alley Unplugged
By: Donald Davidson
Pace Lap of the 1950 Indianapolis 500
Tagged as: Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy 500, Pace Car, pace lap, racing
There are 18 comments for this post.
I wish they would line up for the start better today than the do. The most all recent starts have the lead cars intering turn one before the last row is out of turn four. I realize they need space for a safe start but it kind of diminishes the excitement of the start when they are all strung out IMO.
Most of the drivers for the past several years don’t know how to do this. They don’t have the Open wheel midget, sprint background. Can you imagine having them do the salute lap with 4 or 5 abreast.
I think it was Kosuke Matsuura in 2004 or 2005 who was shocked to learn that the start was three abreast and had not had that particular experience before. I am sure with the aerodynamics involved, the cars could not get that close anymore and then add the launch that occurs out of turn 4 on the start…….but they look good on the pace lap though.
I too, wish we could have starts like this again. I do know that the minimum distance between rows was increased after the intial start of the 1973 debacle, and maybe it should be increased even more, but the start / finish line is on the frontstretch, not somewhere around turns three and four, with the pace car already in the pits! Let’s get back to a uniform three abreast start at the line!
Today’s cars may need more spacing, but that’s no excuse for the sloppy starts we often see. The pole sitter should still be THE MAN. (or woman) Bring the speed up on the backstretch and hold it constant until the green comes out.
I wish the American flag wasn’t blocking the cars. (I sound like a liberal!)
Jeff Ottinger has it right. The drivers dont know what close competition is as they dont have short track, open wheel expereince. If they had to do a 4 or 5 wide parade lap over half the cars would be destroyed in the first 10 seconds. Open wheel short track racing still has the most exciting racing in existence. HHHMMM Maybe we need some of our best open wheel short track racers instead of the premadonna s we have today. To those of you who thought it was sooo great Brabham and the cooper, Clark and the Lotus came to INDY…Thanks a lot for destroying real racing and eliminating American oval track racers chances to run Indy. In 1961 my dad, Jack Fox and i were sitting on the pit wall and I said…”Paving the front strtech was the biggest mistake ever.” Fox said..”But if they didnt pave it the Brabham and rear engine cars couldnt run here.” My reply…EXACTLY!!!!!! Remember when drivers had necks and arms like a gorilla? I do…and it was really good!
According to Russ Catlin in the 1950 Clymer Yearbook, this was “the most perfect start in all Indianapolis history”. What I miss in recent years is the picture postcard view of 11 rows of three coming down the mainstretch in formation behind the pace car at the start of the pace lap. Now they just parade single-file, scuffing their tires and don’t begin to form up the rows until the backstretch of the pace lap. As for safer starts, I’m not sure it has helped much because each of the last two years (and quite a few others) we’ve had accidents on the first lap anyway, despite the strung out nature of the field at the green flag. For 2011, I hope we get our “postcard” moment back.
well well well, finally have a photo of one of my favorite cars ever made……….the ’50 Mercury !! Also love all the trees on the inside of turn 4. on the infield I’m thinking that the wood structure is a “scoring stand”……??? the bricks don’t look in real good shape. I can only imagine how hard it would be to drive one of those cars under those conditions back in 1950…… but I’d sure be willing to give it a shot !!!
and RACENUTDON……let’s hope we always have the American Flag waving at the Speedway !!! ( unfortunately it does block views of the last few cars – lol )
forgot to mention the “guard rail” on the inside of the race track and the wall on the outside couldn’t hold anything back. the retaining fence doesn’t look all that safe either…
wonder how many stars are on that US Flag ???
Rick Wampler: 48 stars.
Does anyone remember the old Prestolite smokestack that visible from the front straightaway until the new grandstand was built for the 54? race??? After the construction the top was just barely visible. 56 years ago….
Wouldn’t you think that 33 of the best drivers in the world would be capable of lining up for the start as they did in past years?
Maybe they are not the best RACE CAR drivers in the world. Then again, maybe some of the best are running down the road west of the Speedway at a 5/8 mile paved race track the night before the 500….. But of course they arent foreigners and dont drive rear engine race cars so what makes anyone think they might be some of the best in the world. It would be fun to watch some of the premadonnas running at the SPEEDWAY come down forthe start of the midget main at ORP the night before the 500…..
Just a thought…What if??? In December of 1989, at the promoters workshop in Reno, I was asked to meet and have dinner with a man who had a request that USAC sanction a new racing series he wanted to start. Doug Powell had this crazy idea about some rear engine racing series for a car called F2000. Being a died in the wool oval track racer I first laughed when told to meet with him. THEN… as I listened to his story I started thinking. The reason oval track are now locked out of Indy is because they have no rear engine, winged race car experience. I talked USAC into sanctioning the series and we started running road courses in the west coast. THEN.. Tommy HUnt got us some races on the ovals and I could see the future of the short track driver. They would get rear engine winged race car experience and we could replace the 2 litre motor with the then midget motor, Cosworth , and run our USAC midget and sprint car drivers on Ovals in a rear engine race car AND run the on road courses and thereby open a whole new chance for them to get to INDY. Trouble was, ony a few midget giuys bought F 2000 s. Robbie Flock did very well in the road courses and ovals. Several more oval drivers did very well BUT.. when we ran midget and F 2000 races together for the first time at MESA Marin in Bakersfiled, it was like throwing gas on fire. The two sides did not get along well at all. What is sad the there have been some F2000 drivers who have done very well in INDY cars since then but only a few of the oval track guys supported it and it slowly went away and became an east coast series. And when did the last USAC driving champion win the Indianapolis 500 and who was it?? DAN WELDON USAC F2000 champion. Our idea was a good one. it simply did not have the support and the $$$$$ needed. What could have been……..Tom Hunt and I had the idea and the plans that would have changed the face of short track racing and the 500.
thanks Patrick………I thought it was 48 Stars !!!
and as far as the start……….I think the problem now is that the cars are so fast they are into turn one before they know it…….and add that all 33 of them want to be the first car to turn one…….of course we know that the first car in turn one on lap one isn’t always the race winner…. but I still think that in racing there is NOTHING that compares to me standing at my seat on the start line and have 33 of the fastest race cars in the world charging towards me………TEARS EVERY YEAR ! ! ! I look forward to this ONE DAY the entire year………
Did anyone notice a lot of drivers in the ’50s hardly wore regular uniforms but just T shirts? Geeezzz! When men were MEN!
I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your site. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often.
Did you hire out a designer to create your theme?
Let me know what you think?
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