Life Archives: GP Drivers at the Indy 500
Google Books’ archive of Life Magazine has turned up another wonderful bit of racing history in this ominously titled article about the arrival of Grand Prix cars and drivers at the Brickyard.
“Invasion at Full Throttle” may have been a year or two early, but the prediction about the impending dominance of the rear-engined menace from across the pond was fairly accurate. It wouldn’t be long before Jim Clark would indeed be enjoying a bottle of milk at the end of the Indianapolis 500. Of course the author of this particular article would have been in a good position to know a thing or two about the funny little cars heading to the 500; Stirling Moss penned this piece. I’m sure Mr. Moss wasn’t to worried about ruffling a feather or two when he wrote, “I have a hunch that the U.S. will be shocked by what happens. In effect, the race will be an international showdown between our all-purpose, all-weather cars and drivers and your closed-circuit specialists who steer only to the left in beautifully built, overdeveloped, unsophisticated cars that belong to the past.” Overdeveloped AND unsophisticated? Ok, Stirling.
I can just imagine a midwestern race fan not finishing the article once he reached that passage and throwing the crumpled magazine across the living room. But Moss does backtrack a bit, describing his own experience behind an Indy Roadster at the Monza-napolis 500 several years earlier. It’s a wonderful read, especially with the knowledge of hindsight of the Indy at the front/rear engine transition and the impact of the European GP drivers on this most American of races.