Johnny Baldwin, the legend whose dreams were cut short in Indianapolis



On March 30, 1922, Johnny Baldwin was born in Sonora, United States. The young American realizes he wants to become a driver by driving kart derivatives, midgets, adapted to race on different terrains and also on rings.


Just by taking part in these races, John is nicknamed legend. In fact, the American won 125 victories in the main events of the Bay Cities Racing Association, nine titles including four on indoor surfaces and five world championships, between 1952 and 1961.


Baldwin manages to achieve the same success when he moves on to Californian sprint races, climbing the top step of the podium thirty times. These performances hit Bardhal, which had closed a collaboration relationship with Ferrari a year ago for the Indianapolis 500.


Luigi Chinetti together with Drake, after the failures of previous editions, choose Baldwin to develop the Ferrari 375 Indy equipped with a six-cylinder engine and Kurtis Kraft chassis, in San Lazzaro in the Osca factories.


Johnny thinks the chance of his life has finally arrived, and wants to prove in one of the most important races in the world that he is a complete driver, confirming all the expectations around him, given the victories obtained in the other categories.


Instead, the American driver, and Giuseppe Farina, almost immediately see the hopes of being protagonists vanish, given that in Indianapolis during qualifying a storm strikes and floods the track, and forces the organizers to suspend the sessions.


After several postponements the official tests are canceled, and the two Ferrari drivers, not having set even a useful time, do not qualify for the race, which will be won by Pat Flaherty ahead of Sam Hanks and Dan Freedland.


If Johnny has the opportunity to attempt a new assault the following year, the same thing will not happen to Farina, who instead expressed his desire to return to America at the Gazzetta dello Sport.


"What I have learned and seen here, I will need next year, because I want to go back".


This will not be the case, and Ferrari will not return to Indianapolis for many years, while Baldwin will accept the offer of Kurtis Kraft to attempt redemption. Even with the 500 Kurtis, Johnny will not be able to be competitive, despite the track conditions being better than those known days before, and he will not qualify again.


This double disappointment will give an abrupt stop to Baldwin's career, who in recent years will participate in the United States Auto Club. Johnny retires from racing in 1966, but until 1990 he remained tied to the world of motors, going to various American circuits to see to tie.


Although he has not been able to realize his dream of competing in the Indianapolis 500, Baldwin has always been happy with his career, as he is convinced that he has served his country, and represented his sport in the best possible way.


Massimiliano Amato

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