Posted on: January 11, 2011
Gasoline Alley Unplugged
By: Donald Davidson
Parnelli Jones' STP Turbine in the 1967 Indianapolis 500
Parnelli Jones’ STP Turbine in the 1967 Indianapolis 500
Tagged as: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy 500, Parnelli Jones, race cars, STP Turbine
There are 11 comments for this post.
I remember this car well, especially the whoosing sound, or lack of sound, it made. Later in the 80′s I knew an Indy bearing salesman and I asked him one race day if he was the guy who sold the Granatelli team that $6 ball bearing that failed. He answered that he was in fact that guy. He serviced most of the teams during the month of May and recieved a lot of kidding over it failing.
my 1st ‘in person’ 500.. hated the machine.. you heard the tires on tarmac more than any noise of the engine tho i wasn’t a Foyt fan (Dan was my man) the finish of this race was story book.
My first race was in 1979 as an 11 year old boy and recall my favorite driver Al Unser having a similar race to Parnelli that day in the debut of the ‘ground effects’ Chaparral by Jim Hall. At that race we sat in the front row of L-South, a wooden grandstand at the end of the backstretch on the outside, and Al seemed to be able to drive the car anywhere he wanted relative to the others on the track. Similarly he also had a small part fail (transmission oil seal) causing the end to his dominant day up front. Both cars revolutionary at their time, both ended prematurely with minor part failures. Funny over the years how the old Speedway seems to level the playing field on her own…
Donald is correct in that Parnelli Jones is the only driver to lead 400 miles or more in 2 different Indy 500′s. Others have come very close. Emerson Fittipaldi in ’89 and ’94 is one of the more recent near-misses. The A-OK sign that Jones gave his crew at the end of lap#1 was the SECOND hand signal of the still very young 1967 race. Mario Andretti flipped Parnelli the bird as the turbine car took the lead on the backstretch! When people talk about innovation at Indy this car is always a part of the discussion. Everyone loved the Novi, but the turbine car may be the most popular (and unpopular) to have ever raced at Indianapolis.
An engineering masterpiece!
This might be one of the most famous Indy cars, but it’s sure not one of my favorites! What’s the sense of silent race car? Listening to the throaty sounds of racing engines is half the fun! I loved the way AJ Foyt had to come through a pile up at the checkered flag—the DVD of it still gives me a thrill (I bet AJ got a thrill too!)
In 1967 I listened to the 500 in a tent in Pleiku, South Vietnam. I was in the lst Battalion, 92nd Artillery at the time. I remember telling my buddies I was really surprised that the guys could drive so fast in the dark and without headlights. The Armed forces Network helps more than they know when they send the race to our troops overseas.
“I remember telling my buddies I was really surprised that the guys could drive so fast in the dark and without headlights”
Amazing…they never have…
Watching Indy classics on ESPN and the 1967 race is today’s race. Wow, talk about memories.I have to say I miss the drivers of iChat era. What characters.
Watching Parnelli Jones smoking in the car on the start grid was incredible!
[...] What are your favorite cars and why? BB: 1967 STP Turbine racer, 1966 Lamborghini Miura, 1937 Tatra 77, 1971 Buick Riviera, Chevy SSR Concept: All of these [...]
The day that Indy “died”. I grew up in Indianapolis from 1947 to 1967, and went to many qualification days. In those days, you could find hundreds of empty seats on any turn you wanted to watch from. Was in the infield when the 149 mph lap record was broken. Loved the Novi. There were many driver deaths. The standard line was that they died in “the interest of advancing automobile improvements”. In 1967, the superior design of both the suspension and especially the engine proved that to be a lie. Jones ran most of the race with his left tires on the white line. It was apparent auto technology had made a huge leap in effeciency. So, The Indianapolis Motor Speedway outlawed the car and technology. The two turbine powered Ford Thunderbirds that were driving around Indy disappeared. Those whistling turbines could have revolutionized what we drove. And, Indy outlawed them. So much for “advancing automobile” design. I quit watching the 500 that year, went to Vietnam, and have always remembered the lie that Vucovich, Sachs, and so many others died for.
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