The 1965 Indy 500, Part 3: The Rear Engine Explosion

[first posted 6/23/2012.  For those who missed the earlier parts, these photos were shot by the author on his Kodak Instamatic 100 using Kodachrome film. Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here. As always, click on an image to see it in full size]

Only six front-engine cars qualified and ran in the ’65 500. The rest of the field were all rear engine cars running a variety of chassis. 17 of the rear-engine cars ran the Ford Four Cam, 10 ran Offys.

John Zink, a Tulsa, OK oil magnate became a team owner in 1952, and won the 500 in 1955 and 1956. His first rear-engine car ran in 1964, driven by Jack Brabham in an Offy-powered Brabham chassis. In 1965, McElreath was also in an Offy-powered Brabham, qualified 13th, but finished 20th with a bum rear end. The next year, 1966, McElreath finished 3rd in the same car. That was the last year a naturally-aspirated Offy qualified for the 500.

 McElreath ran the 500 for a variety of owners between 1962 and 1980. His best finish came in 1966 driving for John Zink.

An A.J. Watson chassis had won the 500 seven times between 1955 (in a John Zink roadster driven by Pat Flaherty) and 1964 (in a roadster driven by A.J. Foyt). 1964 would be the last year a Watson chassis won the 500.
In 1965 Watson began building his first rear-engined cars. Although Branson qualified18th and finished 8th in a Leader Card car, Watson stated that he simply should have copied Rolla Volstedt’s chassis design to have been more successful.

 Wynn’s Friction Proofing was popular nostrum in the 1960s. The entrant for the #4 car was Bob Wilke, owner of Leader Cards (a printing company in Milwaukee, WI). Wilke and Leader Cards entered the 500 38 times between 1959 and 1980, winning his first time out and another two times.

 By 1965 Dan Gurney had established himself on the international stage as one of America’s preeminent drivers. He had won in Formula 1 in outclassed equipment, a Porsche. He had other wins in both the U.S. and Europe in sports cars. He would win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1967 with A.J. Foyt in a Ford Mk. IV.

 Johnny Rutherford ran 21 500s between 1963 and 1984. In 1965 he qualified 11th but finished  31st due to a failed transmission, a common malady for the early four-cam Ford-powered cars.

 Racing Associates had won the 1960 500 in 1960 with their Ken-Paul Special in the hands of  Jim Rathman, but their main impetus, aside from winning races, was to party hardy.

1960 would be Racing Associates only win in nine seasons of entering cars in the 500. Rathman, not to be confused with his brother Dick (best finish of  5th in 1956) retired to be a successful car dealer in Florida.

Rutherford would go on to win three 500s.

 Bud Tingelstad, an Indy regular, ran 10 500s between 1960 and 1971, with a best finish of 6th in 1964. In ’65 Bud qualified 24th but finished 16th in a Lindsey Hopkins rear-engine Ford.

 Lindsay Hopkins, entrant for the #5, competed in the 500 from 1951 through 1982, a total of 45 times (multiple cars in some years), with a best finish of 2nd in 1957 and 1959. In 1955, Hopkins’ driver, Bill Vukovich (“The Mad Russian”), who had won the 500 in ’53 and ’54, was once again leading when Roger Ward’s car broke an axle on the backstretch and all hell broke loose. Vukovich’s car hit another car and was catapulted outside the track. Vuky, as he was known, died as a result.

 Mickey Rupp drove the #81 G.C. Murphy Store’s Special to a 6th place finish after having qualified 15th. Rupp’s recreational products company, located in Mansfield, OH, built go karts, mini bikes, and snowmobiles. His snowmobiles were stupid fast and nicely styled. I had the opportunity to drive a Rupp snowmobile during a week-long test of Deere’s competition in 1972 in Rabbit Ears Pass, CO. As I recall, I snap-rolled the Rupp a number of times. Other than a few scrapes and scratches, the machine came through fine. I wore a helmet but the ringing in my head has yet to subside.

 I was shocked, shocked! to find sexploitation running rampant at the track, so I was compelled to take this picture. I would say that she was both front and rear-engined.

 Talk about a nice rear end. The Lotus 38 not only ran fast but looked good doing so.

 The 500 attracted celebrities. At the airport I saw Dan Blocker, otherwise known as “Hoss” on the TV show Bonanza. But Fred Lorenzen, the “Golden Boy” was my favorite NASCAR driver, winner of the 1963 Daytona 500 in the #28 Holman and Moody Ford Galaxie 427. Lorenzen, in 1963, was the first NASCAR driver to win more than $100,000 in a year.  (This year, Matt Kenseth won $1.6 M for winning the Daytona 500.)