Posted on: January 31, 2011
Gasoline Alley Unplugged
By: Donald Davidson
Mario Andretti and the 1967 Indianapolis 500 Front Row Qualifiers
Tagged as: Dan Gurney, Gordon Johncock, Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mario Andretti, Qualifiers, racing
There are 7 comments for this post.
Of course, the real story that year (which Donald alludes to) was back on Row 2.
I took a lot of pictures as a young boy of Gurney and Mario’s cars that year both at Indy qualifying and at the Hoosier Grand Prix. I snuck under the fence at the HGP while everybody was at the drivers meeting and got a couple of rolls of film shot on the starting grid with nobody around the cars. As the drivers meeting concluded and everybody convened to their cars I got several drivers up real close. Then I got thrown out, nicely.
I also remember Gurney
years after, commenting that this car was the most beautiful of his Indy cars. I agree.
The other funny thing that comes to mind about this year is that when Parnelli passed everybody on the first turn of the first lap, Mario was susposed to have held his hand up at the passing turbine and gave Parnelli the FINGER. They all figured he had been sandbagging all month!
Three different cars, a Brawner Hawk, Eagle and Gerhardt. And of course the STP turbine car, Coyote, Lola and Lotus chassis were among others in the race. And Offenhauser (turbocharged) and Ford engines. Those were the days when innovation, not spec cars made the Indianapolis 500 and Indy car racing so exciting.
The Gerhardts were built in Fresno, CA. by Fred Gerhardt. His son Rick is the Hoosier Tire dealer in Calif., his grandsons Kevin and kent build race car haulers in the Fresno area, Fred also owned the famous 45 Gerhardt offy that Bill Vukovich won the 1950 Natl midget campionship in. I worked for Fred when we built so many Indy cars from 1965 to 1970. Was aso on his crew at Inbdy when i was 15 in 1960. Fred had built great Indy cars but the days of the innovatoers are gone.
The Gerhardt cars were really good race cars and their record of fast times, top ten finishes (3rd in 1968, Kenyon)was impressive. I remember Johncocks chief mechanic Duane Glasgow (?) and how he d be at the shop from 6 A.M. till 2 A.M. measuring, staring at and working on his chassis. Fresno, CA. was major hot bed of auto racing from 1938 to the mid 1980 s. The area produced so many great race drivers from Bill Vukovich Sr., Jr, and Billy III. The contribution to the 500 by San Joaquin Valley racers include Johnny Boyd, George Snider, Phil Casey, Myron Caves, Fred DeOrian, George Harm, Ed Armi, Don Meachum, Harry Salwasser, Earl Johansen and many more. When Gerhardt was building rear engine cars for the 500 the racing people visiting and working on the Indy cars was like a whos who of racing. Many many nights at my house my mom had to step between giuys sleeping on the floor, because all 4 bedrooms were already full of guys in fresno to help build their cars. Drivers, mechanics, stooges etc. One week my mon went thru 10 dozen eggs and pounds of bacon as she would also feed, do the laundry including ironing of her adopted “children” while we all went and played racers. Whether they d come home at 7 PM or midnight or 2 A.M, she d be there to fix them something to eat. Can you imagine that happeneing today with the wine and cheese group? My days of growing up was/is filled with racing memories. I miss those days and especially those people. I lived a dream! Donalds blog has stirred memories I had forgotten , some good some, well…not so good but all memories of those days when racing people were all family and the garage doors were all wide open for anyone one to wonder in and BS. Thx Donald.
I just love the cars of this time—especially the Eagles! They look so sexy and fast even when standing still!
Great series Mr. Davidson. Appreciate your insight and memory. Take a look at the difference in tire height between Mario’s rt. front and Gurneys l.front. Its called stagger and its an oval racers best friend!
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