Note from Paul: In 1954, my father, David Dalbey, attended his first Indianapolis 500 with his father and aunt. Several years later, he started recording his experiences in detailed, handwritten journals. He has continued this practice all the way through the current year. Several of the earliest years were written many years later and may contain some errors in information. He was not a wordsmith, but nonetheless, I am pleased to present these journals in their original form without attempt to edit or correct any mistakes.
May 30th fell on Monday. We left Sunday about 1:00, stayed at Chrisman about 15 minutes, and got to Indianapolis a little after 5:00. Between the state line and Indy, they were fixing the highway, so we had to take a long detour. The road was long and rough with very few road signs. We went in Lyle Coy’s station wagon.
At Indy, we stayed in a parking lot about two blocks from the Speedway. It was a cold, windy, dreary night. It also rained a little bit. After walking around and seeing all the sights, we got back to the car about 11:30. We talked and read newspapers until 12:00.
As usual, we didn’t get much sleep. The military bomb awakened us at 5:00. We did the same things as last year – went down to the track and watched the cars go in and then came back and ate breakfast. We left for the track about 8:00. We went in Gate 1. I bought a program and then we walked around the infield, saw the crowd, etc. It was very dark and cloudy until about 10:40.
Bill Vukovich, winner in ’53 and ’54, was killed on the 57th lap. He was leading the race. The accident occurred at almost exactly 12:00. Bob Sweikert won the race.
We left for home about 4:00. We had to go on the same detour coming back. We stopped at Chrisman and had a good, hot, full-course meal. We got home about 8:30.
Aunt Bobby said I never looked sadder than when I got out of the car right then. I was sad because of the death of Bill Vukovich. It had thrown a damper on the whole crowd. The following day, Tuesday, at school was a sad one for me. Vukovich’s death brought about a great deal of criticism of auto racing. Many people wanted to outlaw it because there were many drivers killed in 1955. The AAA withdrew its sanction at the end of the season. Auto racing was going through some of its darkest times.
Pace Car — Chevrolet
Queen — Dinah Shore