#87 1960 Indy 500

2021-10-13 00:00

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#1960, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Carola Buzio,

#87 1960 Indy 500

The day after the Monaco Grand Prix, the third Grand Prix of the season is scheduled to take place on Monday, May 30, 1960. For the last time in the h


The day after the Monaco Grand Prix, the third Grand Prix of the season is scheduled to take place on Monday 30th May 1960. For the last time in Formula 1 history, the Indy 500 is on the calendar, but once again the American sporting event won’t see the participation of European teams. In addition to the approaching Monaco Grand Prix and the next Dutch Grand Prix to be held on Sunday 7th June 1960, European teams won’t attend this sporting event because of the excessive cost of transporting the material and the excessive difference in the means available, compared to the technical regulation adopted in the United States. Thirty-three competitors participate in the Indy 500. The old Jim Rathmann, who manages to overtake Rodger Ward, winner of the last edition of the Indy 500, in a thrilling finish, wins the competition. Ward slows down slightly in the final laps due to some problems with a tire and it’s easy for Rathmann to beat him across the finish line, although with a slight margin. Third was Goldmlsch, then, respectively, Eddie Johnson, Lloyd Ruby, Bob Veith, Shorty Templeman and Bud Tingelstad. The average speed set by the winner over the 500 miles is 223.280 km/h, a new record for the race. A serious and unexpected accident occurs while the traditional race, which is held every year on the track in Indianapolis on Memorial Day, an American federal holiday, is taking place. The Indy 500, a race valid for the World Drivers' Championship although, practically, European drivers rarely participate, is about to start when a thirteen-meter-high aluminum framework literally breaks in two under the weight of the spectators. The top of the grandstand collapses onto a bus. According to initial reports, there are two victims and the fifty people are injured, some of them in a serious way. Hospitals in the city of Indiana are trying to get more information on the status of the injured people but doctors are maintaining strict confidentiality. The torpedo, on which the grandstand crashes, cushions the impact, making the disaster less dangerous and preventing its pieces from crushing more spectators; however, the toll is beyond sad. A young man attending the race under the tragic grandstand, who miraculously escaped the accident, says:


"I suddenly heard a crash and at first I thought it was a thunder. Then I heard a thud, people screaming and found myself in the midst of people calling for help, while a large dust cloud hid the scene from the rescuers".


The injured were immediately taken to health centers by ambulance. Unfortunately, for two of them who were crushed by the beams, there is nothing that can be done. While for the rest of the injured, doctors are doing their best to help them, speculation is already taking place about the possible causes of the disaster. A commission of inquiry will be appointed for this purpose. It is certain, however, that the collapsed grandstand isn’t part of the equipment coming from the circuit but was built by a group of private citizens who gave access to it for a price that varied according to the location. The Indianapolis circuit is no stranger to misfortunes, but usually these involve the drivers and not the audience. The track consists of two long straights joined by long moderately elevated turns: the very high speeds reached in the straights could always cause accidents. From 1911, the year of the first competition, until now, there have been 521 fatalities in Indianapolis, including both the drivers and the audience. In the race, drivers don’t complain about fatal misfortunes even though some of them had a few scary adventures. Tony Bettenhausen, for example, is in fourth position when he is forced to stop in the pits because his car on fire. Only the special fireproof suit (mandatory in Indianapolis) prevents the driver from suffering severe burns. Eddie Russo, the son of a competitor who died in a previous race, suffers very serious head injuries going off the track at the southeast corner. Doctors find he has a concussion.


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