(first posted 1/7/2013) I bought a bunch of postcards, probably when I attended the Indy 500 in 1964. Many of my heroes were shown still driving Offy dinosaurs. That would change within a couple of years, forever. The postcards depict cars than ran from 1962-64.
AJ qualified 5th for the ’62 500 in the Bignotti-Bowes Racing Associates Offy with a speed of 149.074 mph. On the 69th lap he lost a wheel and finished 23rd. The number one on his car indicates that he finished first in the 1961 USAC Championship. This year Bignotti ran a Trevis chassis. Notice the skinny Firestones that are on his car. Foyt was pissed off that Firestone had built low-profile wide tires for Mickey Thompson but wouldn’t supply the same to him. In 1964 Foyt ran fat Goodyears, thus initiating the tire wars. Bignotti’s cars were always immaculately prepared with pearlescent paint jobs and chrome accents. The Formula One guys thought that this level of detail was ridiculous and typically ran chipped paint and rusted exhaust systems. Times have changed.
Parnelli was the first driver to qualify for the 500 with a speed in excess of 150 mph, 151.153 to be precise, and won with an average speed of 143.137 mph in a Watson chassis. His win was controversial as it was alleged that a crack in his oil tank made it difficult for Jimmy Clark to see, if not handle the corners with speed. Clark finished second although it was clear that he had the faster car.
Ward was a two-time winner of the 500 (’59 & ’62, both with Leader Cards). In 1963 he qualified fourth and finished fourth in a Watson chassis.
Gurney qualified 12th and finished 7th on the lead lap. Other sources indicate that Gurney was driving a white and blue Lotus, not the BRG and yellow car shown in this photo. This photo was probably taken early in May before Ford decided that Gurney should be more patriotic and drive a car with USA racing colors.
Sachs was one of the most popular drivers at Indy, and was naturally intuitive when it came to driving. But he was the consummate “shoe”. He couldn’t tell you if the car was pushing (understeering) or loose (oversteering), but regardless, was able to get the most out of a car no matter how it was behaving. In 1962 Sachs drove a Ewing chassis and finished third. In 1964 he drove a new-fangled rear-engine Halibrand chassis with a 4-cam Ford and died when he ran into Dave McDonald’s car, which had crashed in turn four on the first lap. McDonald died as well.
Sutton qualified fourth and finished second in his Offy dinosaur, his best finish in the 500. Sutton was from Portland, Oregon and died at the age of 81 in 2006. Sutton also won midget championships in the Pacific Northwest for fellow Portland owner/builder Rolla Volstedt.
Herk, as he was known, qualified second but dropped out after 122 laps with an oil leak. He finished 22nd. Nothing else at Indy sounded like the Novis. High pitched screamers. Fan favorites. Never won a USAC race.