[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.
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.)
These are fascinating articles, Kevin, and I love the pictures.
I am confused about one thing, though — are these not mid- rather than rear-engined cars? Maybe there’s some Indy-specific terminology that I’m not familiar with, but my understanding is that rear-engined cars, like the 911, have the engine fully behind the rear axle, whereas all of these have the engine in front of it.
Anyway, this is a great series. Thanks!
Keith, strictly speaking, the “front-engined” roadsters were mid-engined too (“front-mid engined”), with the engines well behind the front axle. The terminology used in racing circles (ovals?) back then was more relative, rather than absolute. American racing cars had always had their engines in the “front” (with very few exceptions), and the new mid-rear engined cars had them in the “back”. And no one really used true “rear-engines” in all-out racing cars, not even Porsche, whose racing cars were “mid-rear engined” too.
Ah, I see. I grew up on Gran Turismo‘s FF, FR, MR, RR drivetrain classification, and I didn’t cotton on to the concept of front- vs. rear-mid engined layouts didn’t until recently. Ferrari et al seem to be pushing front-mounted engines closer and closer towards the firewall in an effort to improve weight distribution.
Thanks for the explanation!
By the way, to further your headache, back in the late 1930’s for came up with a RF drivetrain layout. It never went anywhere, for obvious reasons. Like, “why bother?”.
Indeed. I can’t think of a worse layout!
I thought that the driver who died in the 1955 crash went by Bill Vukovich, and that Billy was his son who raced later.
Great series and great pictures.
My bad. William Vukovich went by Bill, Vuky, and the Mad Russian although he was of Yugoslavian/Serbian descent.
I’ve amended the text.
@ Keith Houston – Same question came up with the manx powered cooper. Yes they are mid engined and vw old beetle is a rear engine. Doesn’t matter much when you get a bunch of old guys bandying terms around. Weight in the middle and low means you don’t flip as easily and handle better. It is, however, to the rear of the driver.
@ Kevin from the picture showing sexploitation I reckon you had discovered partners by then and were past driving around with your dads helper. I really like this series. Good job.
Great series, Kevin. I hope there are more Instamatic gems in our future.
Nope. That’s it. But there’s a lot more coming including the 1977 Indy 500.
By that time I had upgraded to an Olympus OM-1.
Fantastic photos Kevin, it must have been fantastic to wander around the pits and see the cars, drivers & teams up close. Too bad it has all changed now, and why I prefer to go to historic & lower level events. Looking forward to the next one!
I have enjoyed reading all three of these articles and in particular looking at the pix! I too had an Instamatic camera – a 104. Still have it, actually. I would have been 9 years old when the ’65 500 ran. My buddies and I were all into the 500 and Formula One and Lotus Fords and Jimmy Clark and Graham Hill, and on and on. You get the drift.
“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.” Those days are gone and have been for quite some time I’m sad to say. The “G.C. Murphy Stores Special” – how cool is that? Every car was a “special” in those days! All the different chassis and engine combinations, and the drivers building their own cars – Foyt’s Coyotes and Gurney’s Eagles to name two. The Lotus Turbine cars. And later on Penske, McClaren, March, Chaparral and others.
To me, no more innovation means no more excitement. I know much of that has to do with controlling costs but what is left is, IMHO, open wheel NASCAR racing. I look forward to the next Indy installment.
Just wanted to add my apreciation for this series.
+1. Well done!
I used to drive past Jim Rathman Chevy on my way to work. He also bought an old Builders Square store and converted it to a Chevy dealership. He displayed his old race cars there. It went belly up and is now a Bass Pro shop and now the old place has some other name. I did some work at his house in Melbourne beach and it was at 500 XXX street. Driving up the street, the numbers didn’t look right. The post office change his street number to 500 whereas it should have been in the 200’s. His pool had the crossed checkered flags in tile on the bottom.