Wednesday, April 23, 2014

04/14 Dragon Run, Post 2 (Indy Museum)

From (or to) Chicagoland, one can drive straight through to the Dragon in 10 hours.  But it requires matching rest stops to gas stops, skipping a meal, and running hard.  Hotshoe and I have done this in the past, to save a motel bill.  This time, we decided to take two days for the trip down and stop at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

It was a good thing we did.  An ice storm closed the northern end of I-65.  After misadventures on detours, we rolled into Indianapolis 3 hours behind our bogey time.  By day's end, in Lexington, we'd taken 11 hours to drive a distance that normally takes 6.  (The return run was "nominal" on a light-traffic Saturday before Easter.)

Anyway.  On to the Speedway Museum.  It's a convenient stop, just off the Beltway.  The collection of Indianapolis cars is, as one would expect, second to none.  The cars are thoughtfully preserved or restored, and accessibly displayed in good light.  Hotshoe was amused that I blew past 100 years of Indy 500 history to the Museum's small collection of road racing cars.  Which, of course, was what I went to see.

Above and below: a Lotus 38, which instantly obsoleted the Indy Roadster in 1965.  The 38 was essentially a Lotus 33
Grand Prix car, upsized to take the Ford 4-cam Indy engine and with the then-customary offset suspension which
moved the chassis closer to the left wheels.  I love the aesthetics of these "cigar cars".

Above and below: the original, "streamliner," version of the Mercedes-Benz W-196 Grand Prix car of 1954-1955.
When Juan Fangio complained that the front fenders obscured his vision into corners, causing him to miss
apexes (and hit haybales), Mercedes already had a short wheelbase, open wheel version, of the car in
the works.  Mercedes went on to crush the opposition in '54 and '55, including the lighter, more
innovative and clever, but less reliable, Lancia D-50.

The 1965 LeMans-winning Ferrari 250 LM (with a 275 engine), entered by Luigi Chinetti's North American Racing
Team and driven by American Masten Gregory and Austrian Jochen Rindt.  It won after the factory-entered Ford
Mark II's, Ferrari 365 P-2's, and Shelby Cobra coupes retired or were delayed by overheating or brake problems.

Above and below: 1966 Ford GT 40 Mark II B LeMans entry.  In a year completely dominated by the 7 liter Fords,
this car, entered by Holman & Moody and driven by Paul Hawkins and Mark Donohue, was DNF with gearbox
failure.  Another H & M car came 3rd (Ronnie Bucknum/Dick Hutcherson) and the third one was also DNF
with engine failure (Lucien Bianchi/Mario Andretti).  The Shelby American entires came 1st (Bruce
McLaren/Chris Amon), 2nd (Ken Miles/Denny Hulme) and NRF (water leak, Dan Gurney/Jerry Grant.)

A docent at the Museum told us a story that ought to be true if it isn't.  (All the docents at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum are old men or very young men--go figure...)  It concerns the Mark Donohue-driven 1972 winner, entered by Roger Penske.  This was the first of Penske's many Indianapolis wins.  The car is owned by the Museum--the only Penske Indy winner not owned by Roger.  According to the docent, the car was owned by Sunoco in 1972.  Roger wanted to keep it, but Sunoco said "We own the car and it's going to the museum."  Roger has offered to buy it many times in the forty years since.  No sale.

The One That Got Away: the only Indy-winning Penske entry not personally owned by Roger.  (This picture was taken
by me on a previous visit to the Museum, before I heard the story recounted above).

1 comment:

Wannabe Hotshoe said...

Sometimes all you can do is stare. The stellar amount of history contained within these walls makes me awe-struck. Muttering "wow" and "amazing" under my breath, I just walked and stared. Colors, Driver Envy, Technology, Cool Tires, Giant-in-their-own-right Sponsors......Stares, accompanied by goosebumps.

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