When a group of Indianapolis businessmen built a 2 1/2-mile track and decided to stage a 500-mile race in 1911 it was an epic undertaking with a huge purse for the times that drew racers from Europe as well as America. Delage, Peugeot, Ballot and Mercedes cars came to win dollars and inspire America's racing-car builders, Harry Miller and the Duesenberg brothers. Soon these native talents came to dominate the 500-mile race, introducing supercharging and front-wheel drive with great success in the 1920s and 16-cylinder engines in the 1930s. This new book in the Ludvigsen Library Series covers racers through the 1930s, completing the Series' sweeping panorama of the cars that raced in the '500' from 1911 to the end of the 1970s. Many rare photos from the earliest days of Indy bring the cars, engines and personalities of these pioneering years to life. The drama of their achievements made the Indianapolis 500 the world's greatest auto race.
For the Old World caught up in the traumas of a bitter conflict, Americas Indianapolis 500-mile race was a New-World beacon of auto-racing speed and excitement during the 1940s. While racing stopped in Europe in 1939, the Indy 500 raced on in 1940 and 41, bringing victories in both years for Wilbur Shaws Maserati. Racing resumed in 1946 with Shaw in charge of the Speedway, now owned by Tony Hulman. The post-war fields were full of exotic machinery from Fageols twin-engined four-wheel-drive car and the front-drive Blue Crowns-1947-48-49 winners-to the rear-engined Tucker Millers and Rounds Rocket plus the imported 1939 Mercedes-Benz of Don Lee and numerous Alfa Romeos and Maseratis. The first Kurtis racers made their debut, as did the awesome Novi. The six-cylinder Thorne Special won in 1946 and Indys only six-wheeled car competed as well.
Journey into Gasoline Alley during one of the most evocative and exciting eras in the history of the great Speedway - the years of the Kurtis Roadsters, the lay-downs, the first Watsons, the formidable Novis, the V-12 Ferrari, the Bardahl-Ferrari, the Blue Crowns and the invincible Offys. Stunning photographs feature the cars, their engines, and their designs in amazing detail.
Featured are fantastic photos of the last Novis, the wild racers of Mickey Thompson, Brabhams and the successful Halk copies, the astonishing STP turbine cars of 1967 and 1968, Dan Gurneys Eagles from 1966, Lotuses, the battle between Fords, and the turbo-Offys.
The 1970s was the last creative decade at the great Speedway. The spirit of innovation was still strong in the 1970s, which Ludvigsen calls "The Last Creative Decade" at the great Speedway.The turbocharged decade witnessed the extinction of the venerable four-banger Offy and the rise of the Cosworth V-8, which took Indy racing into the 1980s. A tire war and advanced aerodynamics saw speeds rise so sensationally that, as Ludvigsen says in his insightful Introduction, "The 1971 pole-winning speed wouldn't have qualified a driver for the 1972 race!" Revealing intimate details of the last progressive and experimental decade at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, this book is a must for fans of the world's greatest motor race.