Indy: The Race and Ritual of the Indianapolis 500

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Potomac Books, Inc., 2005 - Sports & Recreation - 255 pages
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In a nation that worships the automobile for the freedom, style, and status that it confers, the Indianapolis 500, run on or near Memorial Day eighty-seven times, is an annual rite of passage celebrating Americans’ love affair with speed. Indy recounts the drivers (677 men and 3 women) who have gone to Indianapolis in the past ninety-five years to live their dreams, staking their lives on the outcome. It highlights the faces in the crowd: hardworking Americans, tinhorn celebrities, hookers, movie stars, gate-crashers, and five American presidents. Terry Reed focuses his narrative on the track’s four quarter-mile-long turns, each the site of triumphs (including those of such multiple winners as Billy Vukovich, A. J. Foyt, and Helio Castroneves); grisly deaths (at least sixty-six, including three unrelated men of the same unusual last name who died in the same turn but in different decades); and bizarre heroics (like the sans souci French driver who downed champagne throughout the 1913 Indy 500 and still won). Reed also examines Indy’s confluence of racing and aeronautics (World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker once owned the track) and the impact upon the event of such forces as segregation, gender politics, food, fads, publicity stunts, world-class partying, and tasteless pop culture. Indy takes readers on an entertaining, full-throttle ride through the history of one of the world’s most famous races and one of America’s most hallowed rituals. It is the definitive account of the crown jewel of American motorsports.
 

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Contents

Preface
ix
Behind the scenes with the balloon platoon 1978
9
ENCOUNTERING INDY
14
Ray Harroun circa 1910
19
THE SOUTHWEST
31
Chet Gardners light blue and red Duesenberg 1936
33
Threetime Indianapolis winner Wilbur Shaw greets well wishers
39
The remarkable Anton Tony Hulman bought the Speedway
46
The illfated George Metzler
67
Phil Krueger caught the Indianapolis cement in this 1981 incident
89
Rex Mays Joie Chitwood and Emil Andres
115
Joie Chitwood poses in Fred Peterss Wetteroth chassis in 1946
123
Five Indianapolis champions pose with Dodge president Bill
132
THE NORTHWEST
207
Appendix
237
About the Author
255

THE SOUTHEAST
51
Waiting for the track to dry in 1974
54

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Page 7 - is to afford to the builders of automobiles, at Indianapolis, and in the vicinity, a place to try out new models before they are turned over to purchasers.

About the author (2005)

Terry Reed has written numerous articles in automotive publications, including Stock Car Racing, Vintage Auto Racing, On Track, and Indy Car Racing, with best-of-year winners in the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association-refereed competition. He has also published books on Truman Capote and playwright and New Yorker essayist S. N. Behrman. He holds a doctorate in Anglo-American literature and lives near Cincinnati, Ohio.

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