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I can't believe it's been 49 years!

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  • I can't believe it's been 49 years!

    Wow! I can’t believe it’s been 49 years since this happened. It’s still as vivid as it happened yesterday.

    The night before Pole Day 1971

    My best friend “Schaef” stayed over at my house so we could leave early for the track. We stole a “few” beers from my Dad’s beer refrigerator and stayed up after watching the news interviewing the drivers and speculation on how fast Mark Donohue would go to win the pole.

    I remember watching “In Concert” and the next thing it was 4 AM and packing and loading into the car to go to the track. Next door neighbor Bob had a 71 Ford LTD and had been hit in the rear and knocked out his right tail light. So, enterprising people (me and Bob) fabricated a system where a keg of Stroh’s beer, a CO2 tank and a tap that went out the broken right tail light provided liquid refreshment. After the "adults" got lit, so did us teenagers!

    All the neighbors left home in formation and made the 15 miles to IMS quickly and we waited in line in the North 40. 6:00 came, the cannon blast went off and the “Oklahoma land rush” run to your favorite spot began. We were able to get row 1 in T4 apex.

    Then we were drafted to cook breakfast for 20 neighbors. Bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs and fried potatoes on 3 grills with Dutch ovens. After that, the adults, enjoyed Bloody Mary’s, while us teenagers took turns riding the Honda Mini Trail 50 (which was brought for taking the inebriated “adults” to the restrooms) into every wet spot, puddle and soft spot as fast and as slideways as we could. Surprisingly, none of us crashed, even after we had access to the Stroh's!.

    Practice started and poor Mike Mosley was having a bad day. He managed to stuff both the #4 and #80 G.C Murphy Spls. Both 68’ Eagles (one of which was Uncle Bobby’s 500 winner, the other the Gurney 2nd place car) into the T4 wall. During the lengthy yellow’s Mose caused, Schaef and I went “sticker hunting”. We hit the trailers South of Gasoline Alley. It was warm, very sunny and Mark Donohue set the fastest time during the practice.
    But the best and most memorable occurrence was yet to come. At one trailer, we knocked on the door and it opened and I got a face full of Linda Vaughn cleavage!

    Didn’t get a Hurst sticker, but a live long memory!

    An hour or two later, Mark put in a hot set of laps that everyone thought would get him the pole. AJ white sidewalled the tires of his Coyote coming off of T4. Then Revson went out.

    In an M16 McLaren in papaya orange, Revie, beat Mark’s time and the huge crowd erupted. I’ve never heard a audience cheer for an underdog the way the Indy crowd did that day.

    Our hearts went out to Mark. He was the big dog all month and got knocked off his pedestal. But on the other hand, Peter Revson had busted his ass for the two previous years in Indy car racing. He won the 69’ Indy GP at IRP and damn near won the inaugural California 500 at Ontario!

    Our hearts were both broken and happy. I’ve never experienced a feeling like that before or since.

    Now, it’s etched in my memory. A favorite that only those who where there can appreciate.

  • #2
    Wow. Great story.

    I was almost 11 in May of 71. Discovered Indy Car racing in 1969. Loved the Johnny Lightning car in 1970! Then I saw pics of Mark Donohue’s McLaren in 1971 and I was hooked! Low slung and wedge shaped. Looked awesome! I remember listening to quals on a small transistor radio that day in 71. Donohue went fast, but didn’t break 180. Then Revson went out and “stole the pole”! WTH?? From what I’ve read, he got some setup advise from Donohue while in the qualifying line. One of the many stories that makes Indy!

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    • #3
      A lot of good memories in that post, right down to the Honda 50 Minitrail . Mine had an American flag decal on that short stubby chrome front fender. Haven't thought about that since then.
      "Each day well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well therefore to this one day for it, and it alone, is life"
      ~ Sanskrit poem attributed to Kalidasa, "Salutation to the Dawn"


      Brian's Wish

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      • #4
        Love reading stories like this.

        thanks for posting

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