Indy journal: 1977

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.

The main attractions among the drivers at the Speedway this year were Tom Sneva, A.J. Foyt, and Janet Guthrie. Tom Sneva became the first driver in Speedway history to drive an official 200 mph lap. A.J. Foyt made Speedway history by becoming the first four-time winner of the big race. Janet Guthrie put her name into the record books by becoming the first woman to drive in the race.

On Friday morning, May 13th, I left for the Speedway in my 1973 Chevrolet Malibu. I stopped at the Holiday Inn motel in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and checked in. When that was taken care of, I drove on to the Speedway and visited the new Museum and Hall of Fame. It was my first visit to the museum and a most interesting one.

When I finished seeing the museum, I walked over to the Tower Terrace seats and watched the activity on the racetrack. There were several thousand fans in attendance and enjoying themselves.

I ran into a friend of mine from the Post Office, Ron Atkins, who was there with his wife and two children, and sat with them until the 6:00 closing time.

Before leaving for Crawfordsville, I stopped at the MCL Cafeteria in the Speedway Shopping Center and had a good supper and then walked through the shopping center and went in a couple of the stores. It was about 9:00 when I returned to the motel. I did some reading, watched the 10:00 news, and then retired for the night.

My alarm clock went off at 5:00 Saturday morning. The motel restaurant had opened at 4:00 to accommodate early-leaving race fans, so I took advantage of the good opportunity. The breakfast was buffet style and was quite popular with the motel customers. For $2.45, a customer received scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hashed brown potatoes, milk, and orange juice. I was well-pleased with the fast service and both the quantity and quality of the food.

The breakfast gave the day a good start for me, and it was about 6:00 when I left for the Speedway. It was shortly before 7:00 when I arrived at Bud Kramer’s house, our Indy home for so many years. I talked with Bud for a couple minutes and then walked to the Speedway.

My first stop, after paying the $3.00 admissions charge and getting into the grounds, was the gift shop. I wanted something for Mark and John but didn’t see anything that pleased me, so I went on to my seat.

Instead of sitting in the grandstand area as I had always done for the time trials, I sat in the Tower Terrace section. The section I sat in was the first one north of the tower, and it was 7:30 when I sat down for the beginning of a long, warm day.

A.J. Foyt and Tom Sneva were the main attractions of the day. Foyt was the first qualifier and had a 193 mph average, which was not spectacular when considering that he had run as high as 200 mph in practice.

An hour or so later, it was announced that, due to a malfunction on his car, Foyt was entitled to a second chance to qualify. A.J. decided to take the opportunity again, but this run was 194+, still a disappointment to him and everybody else.

When Tom Sneva went out to qualify, most people anticipated a good run, but they weren’t prepared for what happened. As track announcer Tom Carnegie announced the first lap at 200.401 mph, the fans went wild with joy. The 200 mph barrier had been broken. The second lap was even faster at 200.535 mph. His third and fourth laps were in the 197 range, and his four-lap average was 198.884, also a new record.

At 6:00, the Speedway closed for the day, and it had been a day to remember. I stopped at the MCL Cafeteria for supper and then drove back to the motel.

It was between 7:30 and 8:00 when I left the motel Sunday morning and started the trip home. I followed the route I used coming over, and it was a few minutes after 9:00 when I arrived at the Colonial Kitchen for breakfast. That was my first and last stop until I arrive home at 12:00 sharp.

On Saturday morning, May 28th, I packed my suitcase and gave the car a good cleaning with the vacuum cleaner. I took the 1975 Chevrolet Caprice Classic. Since Dixie, Mark, and John were in Missouri for the weekend, I checked everything in the house before I left, and at 12:30 I left to see my 23rd 500-mile race.

The traffic was rather heavy, and it was 1:30 when I entered Decatur. It was a warm afternoon, and there was a large crowd enjoying it. When I got out of the Decatur area the traffic diminished somewhat, but there were many farmers working in their fields. It was 2:54 when I reached the Colonial Kitchen and stopped for a while.

For a refreshment, I had a cup of coffee and a heated roll. When I finished my snack, I used the restroom, and at 3:15 I was on the road again. I went north on Routes 1 and 150, and it was 3:52 when I arrived at the Holiday Inn in Danville.

My room reservation had been made in January, so all I had to do was sign in and find out what room I had. The room was clean and cool, so I lay on the bed for a few minutes, did a little reading, and checked the TV set to see if it worked okay.

I had decided earlier to have an early supper, so after I cleaned up a little bit, I walked over to the motel’s Boston Room for my supper. There were only a few scattered customers present, and the waitress gave me a menu when I was seated. I ordered fried liver and bacon with baked potato and corn. While I waited for the main course, I partook of some of the choices at the salad bar. I was just finishing my appetizer when the main course arrived. The chef was most generous in the portions of food he served me. Everything tasted fine. It was about 6:00 when I finished eating and left, and by now there were quite a few more customers than when I arrived.

Before returning to my room for the evening, I drove to a fried chicken establishment a couple blocks from the motel and bought a box of chicken to eat while I was at the race. It was about 7:00 when I returned to my room.

I was reading the Chicago Daily News newspaper about 7:45 when the telephone rang. I answered, and on the other end was Clyde Simpson. He and Judy had driven down from their home in Milford and were waiting to see me in the motel lobby. The three of us sat and talked for about an hour and then drove to a little drive-in restaurant a couple miles north of the motel where we had some light refreshments. It was 10:00 when they returned me to the motel and left for Milford. I enjoyed visiting with them since it had been nine months since I last saw them.

When I returned to my room, I watched part of the 10:00 news on TV, finished reading the Chicago Daily News, set the alarm clock, and retired for the night.

At 4:45, my alarm clock sounded and race day 1977 had started for me. I lay in bed for a couple minutes to try to awaken a little bit, and then I got up and got myself ready. Feeling ready to face the day now, I left my room about 5:15 and walked to the motel restaurant, which I hoped was open.

The restaurant was not only open but doing a good business. Most of the customers were race fans and were fueling up for a long day, just as I was. It was a buffet breakfast for $2.25, and I had scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, orange juice, milk, and coffee. I had a couple helpings of everything, and I was full when I left.

I returned to my room to check and see that I had everything I needed, and at 5:47 I left the motel parking lot for my ride to the race. Unlike last year when I drove through rain part of the way, the sky was clear all the way. The traffic was quite heavy, and almost every car and its passengers looked as if it had the same destination as I had. Just before I reached the I-465 interchange, the traffic became quite heavy and slowed considerably. It was bumper to bumper for several blocks, but the police kept it moving quite well.

For some time I had been thinking about parking farther from the Speedway than Kramer’s house. I thought that being farther away might reduce the cost, but in a few minutes I discovered I was wrong. I also thought I might avoid some of the heavy Crawfordsville Road traffic east of Lynhurst Drive. There is a bank on the northwest corner of the intersection, and it was here that I parked. The charge was the same as Kramer’s, $5.00, but I didn’t mind walking the extra blocks. It was 7:43 when I parked the car and turned off the power.

I checked to be sure I had all of my equipment and then started my walk to the Speedway. The scenery along the way looked the same as in other years, highlighted by cold drink containers, empty beer cars, people sleeping on the ground and in trunks along the road, and the long line of eastbound traffic waiting to get into the Speedway.

My watch read 8:05 when I walked through the turnstiles. A few steps further, I stopped and bought four souvenir race programs, which had increased to $3.00 in price. I had also planned to stop at the first gift shop, but the line of customers was already formed outside the building, so I decided to try another one. There were several souvenir stands along the way before I reached the tunnel, but none of them offered anything I didn’t already have or which I thought cost too much.

When I arrived on the infield, I turned right and walked toward the garage area. There was a gift shop along the way, so I went inside to see what they had. The only items I bought were a tote bag and a coloring book of race cars. The book was for Mark, and the tote bag was handy for carrying the race programs.

I walked around the infield for a few minutes, filled my Thermos bottle with water, and then walked to the far north end of the Tower Terrace section. It was 8:45 when I arrived at my customary seat of the past 10 years, section 43, row J, seat 5. It felt good to rest my feet for a few minutes and not to have my arms loaded with equipment. There was much activity both on the track and in the pit area. The pit area was busy with pit crews making final checks on their cars and hundreds of spectators walking through the area. On the track, several marching bands were doing their thing.

By 9:00, my feet felt okay again, so I took a walk along the pit area fence with the hope of seeing some famous persons and getting pictures of them. A few of the drivers had their racing uniforms on, some were still in street clothes, and some were somewhere other than the pit area.

I arrived back at my seat about 9:40, and at 9:45 the order was given over the PA system for the crews to push their cars onto the track and into their starting positions.

By now, my two companions for the race had arrived. They were Malcolm McKean and his sister, Barbara, racing friends of mine from Central Baptist Church. They had purchased my two extra tickets a few months earlier, and they were fine race companions.

Shortly after 10:00, the long procession of celebrities drove north through the pit area and onto the racetrack for their trip around the track so that all the fans could see them. At 10:34, USAC officials started their inspection lap of the track and returned a few minutes later and said it was ready for racing.

Immediately after that, the PA announcer, Tom Carnegie, asked the huge crowd to stand for the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner by the Purdue University Band. The invocation was given by the famous minister Oral Roberts, and then a few moments of silence were observed by the crowd as Taps was played in honor of all the drivers who have lost their lives in racing over the years.

The excitement and tension were reaching their climax now as record and television star Jim Nabors sang Back Home Again in Indiana. While Jim was singing, the thousands of balloons behind the Tower Terrace section were released and made a beautiful spectacle as they rose toward the sky.

A few seconds after Jim finished his singing, Tom Carnegie introduced Speedway president Tony Hulman to give his famous order. This year, however, because of Janet Guthrie being in the race, Tony changed his order somewhat and said, “In company with the first lady ever to qualify at Indianapolis, Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!”

The air was immediately filled with that beautiful sound of racing engines as all 33 cars came to life. The fans responded with a huge roar of their own. About a minute later, the Oldsmobile Delta 88 pace car, driven by TV and movie star James Garner, slowly started moving towards the first turn.

One by one, the cars were pushed away by the pit crews to form the eleven rows of three each. A new procedure was started this year. There were two, instead of one, parade laps, making a total of three pre-race laps. The idea is to give the oil and tires more time to warm up to racing temperature. I like the idea very much because I get an extra chance to see the field in their starting positions, which is a beautiful sight to see. The thousands of other fans seemed to feel the same way as judged by their applause when the cars were on the front straightaway. At the end of the third lap, the official pace lap, Jim Garner drove through the pit area and the field stayed closely behind on the track. A couple seconds later, starter Pat Vidan waved the green flag and the 1977 500-mile race was on!

Al Unser, starting on the outside of the first row, took the lead into the first turn. He was followed by Sneva, Gordon Johncock, and Foyt. Al stayed in front for 17 laps when he was passed by Johncock. The first 10 positions at the end of the first 10 laps were held by Al Unser, Johncock, Foyt, Sneva, Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser, Pancho Carter, Johnny Rutherford, Danny Ongais, and Johnny Parsons.

A huge moan came from the crowd when Rutherford pitted on his 13th lap and was out of the race. His car wouldn’t stay in gear, and he decided to leave the race rather than destroy the engine.

Johnny was a disappointment to many fans during the time trials. His qualifying speed was 197.325, third fastest in the field, but he qualified on the second day and therefore started 17th instead of 3rd. He made a qualification attempt on the first day and was running well, but his pit crew wasn’t happy and brought him in.

Sheldon Kinser was out after 14 laps with a burned piston and was given 32nd position. Ten laps later, Dick Simon retired with overheating problems and was followed to the garage area on the next lap by rookie Clay Regazzoni with a split fuel cell.

Meanwhile, back on the racetrack, Johncock took the lead on his 18th lap and kept it through the 21st lap. By now, the first series of pit stops was taking place, and there were several lead changes. Foyt led laps 22-23, George Snider on 24-25, Bill Vukovich II on lap 26, and then Foyt regained the lead on lap 27. The first five drivers after 20 laps were Johncock, Foyt, Al Unser, Sneva, and Bobby Unser.

The next driver out of the race was Al Loquasto, who completed only 28 laps when he was forced out with a faulty magneto. His pit area was directly in front of me, and I was sorry I couldn’t see his pit crew at work anymore.

Janet Guthrie’s first race was a big disappointment. After having much trouble all month, she qualified with a fine average of 188.403 and started in 26th position. She competed 27 laps by which time she had spent 105 minutes in her pit. Her pit crew made several changes to the car, but none of them helped. It was a sad audience which heard Tom Carnegie announce her exodus from the race.

The yellow flag came out for the first time on the leader’s 36th lap when sentimental favorite Lloyd Ruby crashed in the second turn. This was Lloyd’s 18th race, and once again his sour luck raised its ugly head. He drove a Lindsay Hopkins car this year and started in 19th position with an average of 190.840 mph, which was the 11th fastest in the field. He was running in 15th place when he crashed and was credited with 34 laps. The cause of his crash is still not certain.

The caution light stayed on for 16 minutes, and then full speed resumed. At 30 laps, the top five were Foyt, Johncock, Sneva, Al Unser, and Bobby Unser. These positions were the same at 40 and 50 laps, also.

1969 winner Mario Andretti, who started in sixth position, made his exit from the race after 47 laps with a broken header. He had been running up front all day and was in ninth place when he was forced out. Mario’s departure was followed 10 laps later by rookie Bobby Olivero, whose day ended because of a faulty valve.

On the 52nd lap, Johncock regained the lead from Foyt as the two former winners continued to battle for the race lead. At 60 laps, the leaders were Johncock, Foyt, Bobby Unser, Al Unser, and Sneva. After 70 laps, Bobby and Al were first and third with Johncock, Foyt, and Sneva between them.

George Snider, driving in his 13th race, was finished after 65 laps with valve trouble, and then after 71 laps Jim McElreath was sidelined with wastegate problems.

The standings at both 80 and 90 laps were Johncock, Foyt, Bobby Unser, Sneva, and Al Unser. Johncock had a 3.6-second lead on Foyt, and A.J. seemed headed for trouble when he pitted on his 92nd lap with an empty fuel tank. His efficient crew went to work and had him running again after only 20 seconds. While Johncock and Foyt were making their fourth pit stops, Sneva led laps 94-96 before he also pitted.

Meanwhile, Cliff Hucul, Bubby Jones, and Danny Ongais, all rookies, had had mechanical problems serious enough to take them out of the race. They were soon joined by Mike Mosley, who left after 91 laps with a faulty timing gear.

The race was approaching the halfway mark, but before it got there, popular Bobby Unser, two-time winner and second-place starter this year, was forced out of the running with a broken oil line. At 100 laps, Johncock had a 28.7 second lead over Foyt. Positions three through ten were occupied by Sneva, Al Unser, Wally Dallenbach, Bill Vukovich II, Johnny Parsons, Pancho Carter, Roger McCluskey, and Lee Kunzman.

It was about now that Foyt began closing the gap between him and Johncock. At 120 laps, the distance had been reduced to 19.53 seconds and then to 18 seconds when Foyt pitted on his 138th lap.

The standings at 110, 120, and 130 laps were still Johncock, Foyt, Sneva, Al Unser, and Dallenbach. After Bobby Unser made his exit, the next driver out of action was Foyt’s teammate, Bill Vukovich, after 110 laps, and then Gary Bettenhausen, driving for J.C. Agajanian, was out after 138 laps with clutch trouble.

Meanwhile, Foyt continued to decrease Johncock’s lead. He made a pit stop on the 156th lap and lost time, of course, but he expected to make it up a few laps later when Gordie pitted. On the 156th lap, Pancho Carter’s engine blew, and this brought out the yellow flag. Foyt, but not Johncock, pitted, and many people thought Gordie may have lost the race at this time. A few laps later, however, the yellow came out again when Johnny Parsons had to be towed to his pit, and this time the race leader made his pit stop. He left with a 15-second lead.

A.J. was still decreasing the lead, and the excitement among the fans increased as track announcer Tom Carnegie did his usual fine job of keeping them informed of the action. The first five positions at 140, 150, and 160 laps were still held by the same drivers, but the exact position sometimes changed because of the pit stops. In the meantime, John Mahler, Eldon Rasmussen, and Bill Puterbaugh joined those drivers on the sidelines with various mechanicals ills.

Foyt was now turning laps at 191 mph and was only eight seconds from the lead when Gordon made his final pit stop on his 180th lap. He had his fuel tanked filled and was on his way again. Three laps later, A.J. made his final stop for fuel and two right tires, which took only 15 seconds. The excitement was at a fever pitch now as the fans speculated among themselves what would happen. It should be a royal battle to the finish.

Just as the excitement was accelerating, Johncock came down the straightaway slowly with smoke pouring from his engine. The crowd gasped in disbelief as Gordie pulled over to the side and into the first turn infield a most disappointed fellow. A broken valve spring was the culprit. Hot and almost exhausted, he got out of his car and stepped into the water to cool off.

With the crowd cheering and waving wildly, Foyt went back into the lead. Now the big question was, “Can his car last 17 more laps?” He had almost a 40-second lead on new second-place driver Tom Sneva and drove slightly slower to save his car.

As 190 laps went into the record books, the first five positions were held by Foyt, Sneva, Unser, Dallenbach, and Johnny Parsons.

Foyt’s good luck continued as one by one the last few laps went by, and then, with starter Pat Vidan holding the checkered flag, he came out of the fourth turn on his last lap and sped towards the start-finish line as Pat waved the black and white flag. The crowd, estimated at more than 350,000, gave a tremendous ovation to the first four-time winner of the race. A.J. took an extra insurance lap and then slowly drove his last lap, waving all the time to his thousands of admirers all around the track. Although I didn’t want him to win, I too became engulfed in the euphoria of the moment and cheered and waved at him as he came through the pit area on his way to Victory Lane. The big smile on his face indicated that he was a most happy fellow.

Twenty-eight seconds after A.J. finished the race, Tom Sneva competed his 200 laps for second place, and then the red flag was displayed because some overzealous race fans had gotten onto the racetrack. It was the end of one of the most memorable races in Speedway history.

A large part of the fans were leaving by now, but I stayed for several minutes and watched some of the drivers and pit crews gather up their equipment and walk to their garages. When the pits were empty, I took one last look at the length of the straightaway and started my walk to Gate 1.

I shopped in one of the gift shops for a few minutes and then walked through the tunnel and south to Gate 1. I was hungry and thirsty and wanted to stop at the White Castle restaurant but the customers waiting in line weren’t moving very fast, so I decided to move on and stopped at the Standard Service Station and bought a bottle of Coca-Cola. It wasn’t just what I wanted, but it greatly relieved my dry throat and made me feel better. The automobile traffic was bumper to bumper and going nowhere as usual but the pedestrian traffic was moving okay, and it was a few minutes before 4:00 when I arrived at the bank parking lot. I opened the windows to cool the inside a little bit and to get some air circulating. The soft car seat felt good after sitting on a wooden seat during the race.

Traffic was moving fairly well on Lynhurst Drive, so at 4:10 I left the parking lot and started my drive back to Danville. When I reached the intersection, the State Police wouldn’t let me turn right, so I kept going south until I came to the first side street and then turned right. The traffic on this street moved real well, and within a few minutes I was back on Crawfordsville Road and then onto I-74. Within a few miles the traffic diminished considerably, and I had no trouble the rest of the way. I think this was the easiest time I ever had getting out of the post-race traffic congestion. When I arrived at the motel, I looked at the clock in my car and was pleasantly surprised when I saw it was 5:55.

The cool temperature and soft chairs in my room felt good as I watched TV and relaxed for a few minutes. Little by little a feeling of hunger was coming over me, so I walked to a grocery store a block from the motel and bought a quart of milk for supper. I had not eaten any of the fried chicken I had taken to the race, so that and the milk made a good, tasty supper for me. While I was eating supper, I also had pleasant entertainment in the form of a television musical variety program which co-starred Robert Goulet and Julie Andrews. It was a fine program with little advertising and was most pleasing to me.

When the musical show ended, I tuned in ABC-TV’s same-day telecast of the big race. It was a fine program with good commentary by the announcers and excellent camera work. The cameras were located all around the Speedway and picked up several scenes I missed seeing, including fine coverage of Lloyd Ruby’s crash and Gordon Johncock leaving the race. There was also an interview with A.J. Foyt at the end of the program.

After the race program, I took a refreshing bath and then retired for the night. It had been a real pleasant day.

When I awoke in the morning, I cleaned up somewhat, got everything packed and put into the car, checked out of the motel, and at 8:40 headed south for the Colonial Kitchen and breakfast. It was about 9:15 when I stopped for breakfast, which was eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast, orange juice, and coffee. Most of the customers were farmers having their morning coffee, although there were a few late eaters like me having a full meal.

The full meal made me feel better, and it was a few minutes before 10:00 when I left the restaurant and started the last part of my trip home. It was a quiet holiday morning with little traffic on the highway but several farmers working in their fields. When I arrived in Decatur about 11:30, there were a lot of people watching the boat races as I went by the lake. About an hour later, I arrived home to complete another safe and enjoyable trip to the big race.


On Monday night, May 30th, a record purse of $1,116,870 was divided among the 33 drivers who participated in the race with Foyt receiving $259,791 for first place and Sneva $109,946 for second place.

Foyt, of course, wrote his name into Speedway history by becoming the first four-time winner of the race. This was his 20th race and his first victory since 1967. He had now achieved his main goal in racing and because of this many people expected him to announce his retirement in victory lane, but A.J. says he had no intention of retiring now and will be back next year to try for number five. His winning speed of 161.331 mph is about 1.6 mph slower than that of record-holder Mark Donohue’s 1972 average.

By starting first, setting one- and four-lap qualification records, driving the first official 200 mph lap in Speedway history, and finishing second in the race, Tom Sneva came within 29 seconds of having a perfect year.

Al Unser also had a fine year. He started and finished third and was never lower than fifth position.

Wally Dallenbach finished fourth for the second year in a row and again drove the STP Oil Treatment car.

Johnny Parsons had his best finish in four starts by finishing fifth in another STP car.

Tom Bigelow also had his best finish in four starts by placing sixth in the Thermo-King machine.

Lee Kunzman made a fine comeback by placing seventh. This was his first Indy race since 1973 when he was seriously injured in a race later that year.

Roger McCluskey finished eighth in his 16th Speedway race. He was a teammate of Lloyd Ruby and drove for veteran owner Lindsay Hopkins.

Steve Krisiloff had the slowest qualifying speed this year but completely 191 laps and was awarded ninth position.

Jerry Sneva, brother of Tom, finished in 10th place and was given the Rookie of the Year award for his good work.

Gordon Johncock finished 11th but collected the fourth-highest prize money because of his large lap prize winnings.

A happy feature for everybody this year was the fact that a full 500-mile race was completed this year. Rain had shortened the race three out of the last four years, and it was certainly a pleasure to see a full race again. In fact, it was unusually warm and dry almost all month with rainfall almost non-existent and race day temperatures in the low- and mid-eighties.

The records established by Tom Sneva, Janet Guthrie, and A.J. Foyt certainly made this year’s race a pleasant one to remember. There was also considerable sorrow at the Speedway this year caused by the loss of three of its most devoted and long-standing figures.

On May 3rd, The Voice of the 500 for 25 years, Sid Collins, took his life. Sid had been in poor physical and emotional health for several months. A few weeks earlier, he had gone to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where it was discovered he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a steady degeneration of the spinal cord. With this knowledge and knowing that he would be unable to broadcast the race, it apparently was too much for him to endure and resulted in his suicide. It was a great shock to racing fans everywhere. The new anchorman for the broadcast of the race will be Paul Page.

On July 31st, the Speedway lost the man who for 32 years had been its Superintendent of Grounds, Clarence Cagle, by retirement. Under his guidance and direction since 1945, the Speedway had gone from weeds and shambles to one of the most outstanding structures in the world. He was in charge of all maintenance and construction work, and it was a job to which he devoted his life.

The biggest shock of the year occurred on October 27th when the entire racing world was stunned by the death of Speedway president Tony Hulman. I gasped in disbelief when I saw the article in the newspaper the following morning. He had entered an Indianapolis hospital about noon on October 27th and died on the operating table that night of an aneurysm of the aorta. Tony was a multi-millionaire but also had put millions of dollars of improvements into the Speedway. It was his money that turned the Speedway from a ramshackle mess in 1945 into what it is today. To millions of fans around the world, he was associated with those four famous words, “GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES.”

Two weeks later, it was announced that Speedway vice-president Joe Cloutier was the new president. I hope Joe will be able to continue the operation of the Speedway in the future just as Tony did for 32 years and that the race will continue to live up to its reputation as the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Another year had come and gone, one to be remembered for a long time. Come next May, I plan to be there again to see the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Pace Car — Oldsmobile Delta Royal
500 Festival Queen — Kathy Hegg

2 thoughts on “Indy journal: 1977

  1. Bruce

    First of your father’s journals I have read and I plan on reading all of them. It is not only a great recap of the race but a glimpse of a time past. Times may change the 500 is still The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Thanks for sharing.


    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Bruce. To me, they are a fascinating look not only into the times of my dad (and eventually me), but, as you mention, simply to times gone by. I love reading about many of the landmarks that are no longer there – the Standard Station that was later replaced by the White Castle at Crawfordsville and Georgetown – the old train tracks, the old museum, etc.


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