Dad's 1947 Indy Trip
|Several years ago,
while moving things in the attic at my house, (which was my grandfather's farm house), I
found some old negatives. My grandfather had always been involved with photography and had
put together some dark room equipment in one corner of the attic. As I flipped through the
negatives I found an envelope with these shots that my father had taken at those midget
races in Indiana. He didn't remember any of the drivers but it brought back memories of
that great, race fan adventure and the day and night before the 500.
Unfortunately it looks like they had a light leak in the camera and it streaked most of the shots. Notice the full stands in the back stretch. My father and Norm and a friend pose next to the pace car.
My father talked about it often when the subject of midgets came up.
After he got out of the Army, after WWII, he and his brother, Norm,
went to the Indy 500. In the days before interstates, it was a trip on roads
that passed through large cities, small towns and corn fields to the center of the
Midwest. Indy was the biggest race in the 'states' and maybe the world. It was
the post war 40's and this event WAS...
The pair arrived a day or so before the big race and soon found the dirt track across the road from the speedway. Midgets were on the card... in fact they were racing midgets all day and into the night. The first race got off at noon and when that was done, they emptied the stands and sent everyone out to get in line for tickets for the next race at three in the afternoon. When that show was complete, they emptied the stands again for the six o'clock show and then again for the big race at nine o'clock that ran into the night.
Midget teams were there from all over. Beautiful cars, big names. There were double decker trailers that had one midget loaded on a second level above another. Some trailers with four cars loaded double decker. That impressed my father. He remembered identical cars, glossy black with gold leaf lettering.
This race was an exciting time for a race fan and a time for some of the '500' drivers to take their minds off the big race at The Speedway the next day. As the sun went down and the fans filled the stands for the last event, some of the big name drivers from the speedway were there to race midgets on dirt on this night before the 500. Dad didn't remember much about the actual races but he did remember the variety of engines. There were Offys and Ford 60s and some outboards that smoked and loaded up on restarts with their two cycle oil mix. It was a fun time that he never forgot and stories that I will always remember.