Johnnie Woodrow Parsons was an American race car driver from Los Angeles, California who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1950. During his racing career, he drove for several seasons, including his AAA championship and Indianapolis 500 win, for Ed Walsh's team. Walsh was an owner of the leading constructor of AAA championship cars. Parsons was a charger, needing cars to race against moving from last on the grid to a win in spectacular displays of dirt track driving ability. Johnnie Parsons had the dubious distinction of being the only Indianapolis 500 winner to have his name misspelled on the Borg-Warner Trophy; the silversmith carved "Johnny" instead of "Johnnie." He had a son named Johnny. In 1991, during a trophy restoration project, it was proposed to correct the spelling, albeit posthumously. However, it was decided to keep the error intact, as part of the trophy's lore. Parsons first raced in open wheel cars on the West Coast of the United States in a midget car, he won the 1942 season championship in the United Midget Association.
He won 18 feature events in the abbreviated season. Parsons began racing in the AAA after World War II, he captured the third feature in the 1948 Night Before the 500 midget race at the 16th Street Speedway. Parsons finished second in his first Indy 500 in 1949, he won the season championship that season. He won the 1950 Indianapolis 500, he won the 1955 Turkey Night Grand Prix midget car race. After he retired, he became the Chief Steward for the USAC Midget division on the West Coast in the 1970s, he was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2004. He was inducted in the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1984. Parsons died before receiving notification. Parsons failed to qualify for the 1957 Indianapolis 500. However, Dick Rathmann was mugged the day before the race and therefore deemed unable to drive. Parsons was selected as replacement driver for the car and allowed to start from the position Dick Rathmann had qualified the car at; the Indianapolis 500 was part of the FIA World Championship from 1950 through 1960.
Drivers competing at Indy during those years were credited with World Championship points and participation. Johnnie Parsons participated in 9 World Championship races, he won 1 race, set 1 fastest leading lap, finished on the podium once. He accumulated a total of 12 championship points. Parsons is one of only three drivers to win on his world championship début; the other two are Giuseppe Farina, who won the first world championship grand prix, the 1950 British Grand Prix, Giancarlo Baghetti, who won the 1961 French Grand Prix
Bonneville Speedway is an area of the Bonneville Salt Flats northeast of Wendover, marked out for motor sports. It is noted as the venue for numerous land speed records; the Bonneville Salt Flats Race Track is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The salt flats were first used for motor sports in 1912, but did not become popular until the 1930s when Ab Jenkins and Sir Malcolm Campbell competed to set land speed records. A reduction of available racing surface and salt thickness has led to the cancellation of events at Bonneville, such as Speed Week in 2014 and 2015. Available racing surface is much reduced with just 2.5 miles available instead of the 9-mile courses traditionally used for Speed Week. The speedway was marked out by the Utah Department of Transportation at the start of each summer. Two tracks were prepared. Since at least the 1990s, track preparations have been the responsibility of the event organizers. Days or weeks in advance, the track preparers identify an area best suited for their track layouts and begin grading the tracks.
Surveyors are brought in to survey the timing trap distances. A day before racing begins, the track markers are added; the straightaway was marked with a broad black line down its center. This was changed to lines down either side, as the center line wore out too quickly; as the costs for painting the lines has gone up, organizations have switched to flags and cones as track markers. The last event to use black lines was Speed Week, August 2009; the number of tracks and the timed sections for each track are set according to what is most beneficial for each event. Large public meets such as Speed Week run as many as four tracks with several timed miles starting with the second mile and running to the fifth mile. Smaller meets that only run world record attempts will utilize a single track, with one timed mile and one timed kilometer in the middle of the track. Additional marks and cones indicate the position of timing equipment; the annual Speed Week was cancelled in both 2014 and 2015, as were many land-speed racing events, due to deteriorating track conditions.
Heavy rains caused a layer of mud from surrounding mountains to flow onto the flats, covering 6 mi of the track. Although another section of the flats would be used, nearby salt mining operations had reduced the size of the alternative track; the depth of the salt crust at Bonneville has been decreasing leaching into a saltwater aquifer. Measured at as much at 3 ft in the 1940s and 50s, it has been reduced to just 0.17 ft in 2015. Though recent studies have been made, the causes of this deterioration are not clear, although the evidence points toward both local climatic changes and salt mining; some strategies were devised to revert the decreasing salt surface, such as pumping back salt, though this had no effect. In August, the Southern California Timing Association and Bonneville Nationals Inc. organize Speed Week, the largest meet of the year, which attracts several hundred drivers who compete to set highest speed in a range of categories. In late August, the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials are held.
In September each year is the World of Speed, organized by the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association. The USFRA meet on the first Wednesday of each month throughout the summer. In October, the Southern California Timing Association puts on World Finals, a scaled-down version of Speed Week; each year, there are a few private meets that are not publicized scattered among the larger public meets. Numerous land speed records in various vehicle categories and classes have been set on the Bonneville speed way. In 1960, Mickey Thompson became the first American to break the 400 miles per hour barrier, hitting 406.60 miles per hour and surpassing John Cobb's 1947 one-way Land speed record of 403 miles per hour. Other notable examples of Bonneville speed records include: Several motor-paced racing speed records have been attempted at Bonneville. In 1985, British cyclist John Howard set a world record of 244 km/h. On 15 October 1995, Dutch cyclist Fred Rompelberg achieved the current record with 268.831 km/h, using a special bicycle behind a dragster with a large shield.
In 2016, Denise Mueller-Korenek claimed a women's bicycle land speed record at 147 mph. She was coached by Howard, it is not clear. In 2018, Mueller-Korenek broke her own women's record and the men's record at a speed of 183.9 miles per hour. In the series finale episode of Mad Men, Donald Draper drives a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS muscle car in the races at Bonneville Speedway. Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials Black Rock Desert Land speed record List of vehicle speed records The World's Fastest Indian - a biographical sports drama film involving the Bonneville Salt Flats. National Register of Historic Places listings in Tooele County, Utah Utah Salt FlatsRacing Association Southern California Timing Association/Bonneville Nationals, Inc. "One Out Of Three Smashes Up." Popular Mechanics, August 1954, pp. 65–70/240, see page 70. Speed Record Club Speed Week Travel Guide
National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame
The National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame is a Hall of Fame and museum for midget cars. The Hall of Fame is located at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie and can be accessed during weekly Sunday races during the summer. Inductees are honored with their award in January at the Chili Bowl at Tulsa. There were 236 inductees after the 2017 induction ceremony
1955 Indianapolis 500
The 39th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday, May 30, 1955. The event was part of the 1955 AAA National Championship Trail and was race 3 of 7 in the 1955 World Championship of Drivers; the race is notable to many as the race in which Bill Vukovich was killed in a crash while on his way to an unprecedented third consecutive Indy 500. Time trials was scheduled for four days. Gusty winds, as well as the threat of rain, was observed on pole day, therefore nearly all of the competitors stayed off the track. Around the garage area, the drivers and teams agreed amongst themselves to sit out time trials for the afternoon, instead qualify together in better conditions on Sunday. However, in the final 20 minutes, Jerry Hoyt, who had not been informed about the agreement put his car in line, pulled away for an unexpected qualifying attempt, his speed of 140.045 mph was not spectacular, but as the fastest car thus far of the day, he sat on the pole position.
Without hesitation, Tony Bettenhausen, Sr. took to the track moments later. After two fast laps, he was slowed by a gust of wind, qualified second. Sam Hanks and Pat O'Connor got their cars ready; the day closed with only two cars in the field, Hoyt the surprising pole winner – to the dismay of several in the garage area. Qualifying resumed in better conditions, most of the drivers who stayed off the track Saturday took to the track on Sunday. Jack McGrath was the fastest qualifier, lined up third. Hoyt's pole-winning speed from the day before ended up being only the 8th-fastest overall in the field – a record slowest ranked pole speed. Near the end of the day, Manny Ayulo crashed due to a possible steering fault and died the following day. Jack McGrath, starting from the outside despite the fastest qualifying time, grabbed the initial lead, but was challenged by Bill Vukovich, looking for his third consecutive win. Vukovich took the lead on lap four, surrendering it back to McGrath on lap 15 but regaining it on lap 16.
Fred Agabashian, who had finished in the top ten the previous two years spun on lap 39 and could not continue. McGrath chased Vukovich until lap 54. Despite getting out of the car and attempting to repair it himself, he was forced to drop out with a magneto issue. With Vukovich having a considerable lead on lap 56, Rodger Ward, several laps down, flipped over twice, either due to a problem with the wind, oil, or breaking an axle. Although he landed on his wheels, the car was facing the wrong way. Al Keller, attempting to avoid Ward, turned to the inside, going close to or on to the grass, before turning hard to the right and coming back up the track and contacting Johnny Boyd. Boyd's car careened into Vukovich, who appeared to be attempting to go to the left of Ward. Vukovich made a last second attempt to avoid Boyd to the right, but Boyd's car sent Vukovich hard into the outside barrier. Vukovich's front end lifted into the air, causing the front to clear the barrier and the car to contact it with the rear, sending the car into a cartwheel, during which it hit several vehicles parked outside the track, a pole.
The car burst into flames after it came to rest, Vukovich died either from the fire or from injuries from the crash. Boyd's car flipped but he and the other drivers escaped major injury. Driver Ed Elisian stopped his car on the infield and ran across the track in an attempt to help Vukovich. After 27 minutes of running under caution, Jimmy Bryan took over the lead of the race, but was forced to retire after ninety laps with a fuel pump issue, when the lead was taken over by Bob Sweikert; the only other driver to retire due to contact for the remainder of the race was Cal Niday on lap 170. Art Cross led the race from laps 133 to 156, but after surrendering the lead to Don Freeland was forced to retire due to mechanical trouble on lap 168. Freeland was passed by Sweikert on lap 160, retired on lap 178. Sweikert led the remainder of the race. Sweikert stated that the winds made racing difficult, led to a decision of racing cautiously and taking advantage of other's difficulty; the two deaths in the 500 were part of a deadly year for motorsports, which included four other Indy drivers dying in other races, Alberto Ascari being killed while testing a sports car, a horrific accident at the 24 Hours of Le Mans which saw nearly 100 spectators killed.
Following the year the American Automobile Association ceased sanctioning auto races and the United States Auto Club was formed to handle sanctioning duties. It would take until 1959 for fire suits to be made mandatory for all drivers and roll bars for all cars. Notes^1 – Points towards the 1955 World Drivers' Championship ^2 – 1 point for fastest lead lap First alternate: Len Duncan The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Sid Collins served as chief announcer; the broadcast was carried by 237 affiliates in all 48 states, as well as Armed Forces Radio. The broadcast was dedicated to the memory of Wilbur Shaw, killed in a plane crash in October. Luke Walton reported from the north pits for the third year. Charlie Brockman, in his fourth appearance on the network, conducted the winner's interview in victory lane. All five of the major radio stations in the Indianapolis area carried the broadcast; the broadcast was notable. Pole position: Jerry Hoyt – 1:04.27 Fastest Lead Lap: Bill Vukovich – 1:03.67 Shared Drives: Car #10: Tony Bettenhausen an
The Muntz Jet is a two-door hardtop convertible built by the Muntz Car Company in the United States between 1949 and 1954. It is sometimes credited as the first personal luxury car. Developed from the Kurtis Sport Car, designed by Frank Kurtis, it was produced and marketed by Earl "Madman" Muntz; the car was powered by one of two V8 engines, a 160 hp Cadillac engine or a 160 hp Lincoln motor, was equipped with either a General Motors Hydramatic transmission or a three-speed Borg-Warner manual transmission. The Jet was streamlined, featured numerous luxury appointments, was equipped with safety features that were not standard on most cars of its day, including seat belts and a padded dashboard. Production of the car occurred in California; the car cost $6,500 to produce. In total, Muntz lost $400,000 on the venture. Only 198 Jets were built, an estimated 50 to 130 of. By 2016 restored cars had sold for over $100,000 at auction. Author Matt Stone called the Jet "one of the fastest and best-performing American cars of the time" while "Madman" Muntz claimed that the 1958 Ford Thunderbird was inspired by his Jet.
The Muntz Jet was built by the Muntz Car Company, founded by Elgin, native Earl "Madman" Muntz. Muntz, born in 1914 and attended Elgin High School for three semesters before dropping out, had established a prominent reputation selling television sets, car stereos, other commercial and consumer electronics. Before founding the Muntz Car Company, "Madman" Muntz had worked as a used-car salesman and at Kaiser-Frazer dealerships in both Los Angeles and New York City earning the sobriquet of "world's largest car dealer". According to automotive journalist Turk Smith, he "made and lost several fortunes" during his lifetime, he was married to seven different women. According to an uncredited 1969 article that appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Muntz was inspired by the Jaguar XK120 when he conceived of the Jet; the Muntz Jet was developed from the Kurtis Sport Car, a two-seat, aluminum-body sports car designed by Frank Kurtis. Muntz bought the rights to the KSC, along with its parts and tooling, from Kurtis Kraft for $200,000.
Sam Hanks, who would win the 1957 Indianapolis 500, contributed to the redesign and re-engineering necessary to create the Muntz. Like its predecessor, the Jet was a two-door convertible, although it was built with a solid hardtop. Two different V8 engines were used in the Jet: a 160 hp Cadillac engine, a 160 hp Lincoln motor; the first Jets to be constructed, in Glendale, had the Cadillac engine and aluminum bodies, while those built in Illinois instead had the Lincoln engine and steel bodies. The cars were equipped with General Motors Hydramatic transmissions. Compared to its Kurtis predecessor, the Jet was heavier but more agile and capable of a higher top speed, due to its lower drive ratio, its wheelbase was 113 inches, 10 inches longer in both overall length and wheelbase than the Kurtis, which gave it enough room to include a back seat and accommodate four occupants. The Jet stood 54 inches in height, it featured body-on-chassis construction, independent front suspension and a live rear axle with leaf springs, power steering, four wheel hydraulic brakes, dual exhausts, a dual coil ignition.
In April 1951, Norman Nicholson described the Jet as having "the appearance of a streamlined, scaled-down limousine". Similar in appearance to the KSC, the Muntz was more luxuriously appointed than its sports car predecessor; some of these appointments included an all-leather "tuck-and-roll" interior, racing-style Stewart-Warner gauges, a center console with a Muntz radio. A liquor cabinet and ice chest placed under the rear seat armrests was available as an option; the Jet was equipped with safety features that were not standard on most cars of its day, including seat belts and a padded dashboard. The first 26 to 40 Muntz Jets were built in California; the near cross-country move was necessitated by difficulties related to materials and transportation that plagued the original plant in Glendale. In April 1951, the Muntz Car Company was employing 40 people in its Evanston factory and producing a car a day; the company moved plants once more, the car was built at 2901 North Sheffield Avenue in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood beginning in 1952.
Production ceased in 1954. In January 1951, the projected cost of a Jet was $5,000; that year, "Madman" Muntz planned to sell the car out of factory-run showrooms in Houston, Los Angeles, New York City. With no network of dealers, Muntz Jets were sold to customers directly from the factory; the car sold for $5,500 in 1953, about $51,500 in 2017. The Jet cost $6,500 to produce, $1,000 more than its sticker price. Muntz himself estimated that labor costs alone for each Jet produced totaled $2,000. In total, he lost $400,000 on the venture, after four years gave up on it. Six Jets were fitted with a factory-installed "hop up" kit
1950 Formula One season
The 1950 Formula One season was the fourth season of the FIA's Formula One motor racing. It featured the inaugural FIA World Championship of Drivers which commenced on 13 May and ended on 3 September, as well as a number of non-championship races; the championship consisted of six Grand Prix races, each held in Europe and open to Formula One cars, plus the Indianapolis 500, run to AAA National Championship regulations. Giuseppe Farina won the championship from Juan Manuel Luigi Fagioli; the inaugural World Championship of Drivers saw Alfa Romeo dominate with their supercharged 158, a well-developed pre-war design which debuted in 1938. All of the Formula One regulated races in the championship were run in Europe; the Indianapolis 500 was run to American AAA regulations, not to FIA Formula One regulations and none of the regular drivers who competed in Europe competed in the 500, vice versa. Alfa Romeo drivers dominated the championship with Italian Giuseppe "Nino" Farina edging out Argentine teammate Juan Manuel Fangio by virtue of his fourth place in Belgium.
Although the Indianapolis 500, which ran to different regulations, was included in the World Championship each year from 1950 to 1960, it attracted little European participation and, conversely few American Indianapolis drivers entered any Grands Prix. Championship points were awarded to the top five finishers in each race on 6, 4, 3, 2 basis. 1 point was awarded for the fastest lap of each race. Points for shared drives were divided between the drivers, regardless of how many laps each driver completed during the race. Only the best four results from the seven races could be retained by each driver for World Championship classification; the Alfa Romeo team dominated the British Grand Prix at the fast Silverstone circuit in England, locking out the four-car front row of the grid. With King George VI in attendance, Giuseppe Farina won the race from pole position setting the fastest lap; the podium was completed by his teammates Luigi Fagioli and Reg Parnell, while the remaining Alfa driver, Juan Manuel Fangio, was forced to retire after experiencing problems with his engine.
The final points scorers were the works Talbot-Lagos of Yves Giraud-Cabantous and Louis Rosier, both two laps behind the leaders. Scuderia Ferrari made their World Championship debut around the streets of Monaco, their leading drivers, Luigi Villoresi and Alberto Ascari had to settle for the third row of the grid, while the Alfa Romeos of Fangio and Farina again started from the front row, alongside the privateer Maserati of José Froilán González. Polesitter Fangio took a comfortable victory setting the race's fastest lap, a whole lap ahead of Ascari, with the third-placed Louis Chiron a further lap back in the works Maserati. A first-lap accident, caused by the damp track, had eliminated nine of the nineteen starters—including Farina and Fagioli—while González, who had incurred damage in the pile-up, retired on the following lap. Villoresi, although delayed by the accident, had made his way through the field to second place, but was forced to retire with an axle problem. Fangio's win brought.
The Indianapolis 500, the third round of the inaugural World Championship of Drivers held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana in the United States was won by the Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser of Johnnie Parsons, ahead of the Deidt-Offenhausers of Bill Holland and Mauri Rose. The race was stopped after 138 of the scheduled 200 laps due to rain. Alfa Romeo's dominance continued when the World Championship returned to Europe for the Swiss Grand Prix at the tree-lined Bremgarten circuit just outside Bern. Fangio and Fagioli locked out the front row of the grid for Alfa, while the Ferraris of Villoresi and Ascari started from the second row. Fangio was the initial leader, starting from pole position, but he was passed by Farina on lap seven. Ascari and Villoresi were both able to compete with the third Alfa of Fagioli in the early stages, although both had retired by the ten-lap mark. Farina took the win and the fastest lap, finishing just ahead of Fagioli, while Rosier, in third place as a result of Fangio's retirement, took Talbot-Lago's first podium.
Farina's second win of the season put him six points clear of the consistent Fagioli, while Fangio was a further three points behind, having only scored points in one race. Alfa Romeo took their third front row lockout of the season at the Belgian Grand Prix at the fast 8.7 mile Spa-Francorchamps circuit, while the Ferrari of Villoresi shared the second row with the privateer Talbot-Lago of Raymond Sommer. The Alfas were once again untouchable at the start of the race, but when they stopped for fuel, Sommer emerged as an unlikely race leader, his lead, was short-lived and he was forced to retire when his engine blew up. Fangio took the victory, ahead of Fagioli, who again finished second. Rosier again made the podium in his Talbot-Lago, he had been able to pass the polesitter Farina when the Italian picked up transmission problems towards the end of the race. It was not all bad for Farina, however. Both Fagioli and Fangio closed the gap to Farina in the points standings—Fagioli was just four points adrift, while Fangio was a further point behind.
At Reims-Gueux, Alfa Romeo were unchallenged at the French Grand Prix at the fast Reims-Gueux circuit, due to the withdrawal of the works Ferraris of Ascari and Villoresi. The Alfas produced yet another lockout of the front row of the grid, with Fangio taking pole for the third time in six races; the powe
The Offenhauser Racing Engine, or Offy, is a racing engine design that dominated American open wheel racing for more than 50 years and is still popular among vintage sprint and midget car racers. The Offenhauser engine, familiarly known as the "Offy", was developed by Fred Offenhauser and his employer Harry Arminius Miller, it was sold as a marine engine. In 1930, a four-cylinder 151 cu in Miller engine installed in a race car set a new international land speed record of 144.895 mph. Miller developed this engine into a twin overhead cam, four-cylinder, four-valve-per-cylinder 220 cu in racing engine. Variations of this design would be used in midgets and sprints into the 1960s, with a choice of carburetion or Hilborn fuel injection; when both Miller and the company to whom he had sold much of the equipment and rights went bankrupt in 1933, Offenhauser opened a shop a block away and bought rights to engines, special tooling and drawings at the bankruptcy auction, he and other former Miller employees took over production.
They and former Miller employee, draftsman Leo Goossen, further developed the Miller engines into the Offenhauser engines. In 1946 the name and engine designs were sold to Louis Meyer and Dale Drake. Meyer was bought out by Drake, his wife Eve and their son John in 1965. From until Drake's son John sold the shop to Stewart Van Dyne, the Drake family designed and refined the engine until its final race days, it was under Meyer and Drake that the engine dominated the Indy 500 and midget racing in the United States. One of the keys to the Offenhauser engine's success and popularity was its power. A 251.92 cubic inch DOHC four-cylinder racing Offy with a 15:1 compression ratio and a 4.28125-by-4.375-inch bore and stroke, could produce 420 hp at 6,600 rpm. Other variants of the engine produced higher outputs of 3 hp per cubic inch. Another reason for the engine's success was its reliability. From 1934 through the 1970s, the Offenhauser engine dominated American open wheel racing, winning the Indianapolis 500 27 times.
By the company had been sold, right after World War II, to Meyer and Drake, who continued to build the engines. From 1950 through 1960, Offenhauser-powered cars won the Indy 500 and achieved all three podium positions, winning the pole position in 10 of the 11 years. In 1959 Lime Rock Park held a famous Formula Libre race, where Rodger Ward shocked the expensive and exotic sports car contingent by beating them on the road course in an Offenhauser powered midget car, considered competitive on oval tracks only; when Ford came onto the scene in 1963, the Offy began to lose its domination over Indy car racing, although it remained a competitive winner through the mid-1970s with the advent of turbocharging. Outputs over 1,000 bhp could be attained; the final 2.65-litre four-cylinder Offy, restricted to 24.6 psi boost, produced 770 bhp at 9,000 rpm. The Offy's final victory came at Trenton in Gordon Johncock's Wildcat; the last time an Offy-powered car raced was at Pocono in 1982 for the Domino's Pizza Pocono 500, in an Eagle chassis driven by Jim McElreath, although two Vollstedt chassis with Offenhauser engines failed to qualify for the 1983 Indianapolis 500.
The Offenhauser shop began to do machine work for Lockheed in 1940, as the arms build-up for anticipated war began. The last prewar engine was shipped on July 17, 1941. After the Pearl Harbor attack, the plant worked overtime on hydraulic systems, getting Fred Offenhauser the money and the fatigue to retire. In 1944, Leo Goossen became a full-time Offenhauser employee. Offenhauser produced engine blocks in several sizes; these blocks could be bored out or sleeved to vary the cylinder bore, could be used with crankshafts of various strokes, resulting in a wide variety of engine displacements. Offenhauser made blocks, pistons and crankshafts to specific customer requests. However, certain engine sizes were common, could be considered the "standard" Offenhauser engines: 97 cu in - to meet the displacement rule in many midget series 220 cu in - displacement rule in AAA sprint cars 270 cu in - displacement rule for the Indianapolis 500 under AAA rules 255 cu in - for Indianapolis 252 cu in - displacement rule for Indianapolis under USAC rules 168 cu in - displacement rule for turbocharged engines at Indianapolis 159 cu in - displacement rule for turbocharged engines at Indianapolis See Indianapolis Motor Speedway race results for a more complete list.
In their 11 world championship years, the Meyer-Drake Offenhauser engine partnered for at least one race with the following 35 constructors