Bill Vukovich fatal crash at Indy 500 (May 30, 1955) THE MOST COMPLETE FOOTAGE
Bill Vukovich, came in to the 1955 Indianapolis 500 as the clear favorite to become the first ever driver to win three 500s in a row after dominating the 1953 and 1954 races. In fact, were it not for a steering failure in 1952 on the 192nd lap, he would have been gunning for his 4th win in a row at the world’s most famous speedway. Unfortunately, it was not to be. While holding a 17 second lead over 2nd place on lap 57 of the 1955 Indianapolis 500, Vukovich was unable to avoid a crash taking place in front of him as he came out of turn two. Vuky’s car struck Al Boyd’s spinning machine, went airborne, somersaulted over the backstretch wall, flipping multiple times before bursting into flames. The two-time 500 champion was dead at age 36. Rodger Ward came out of the southeast turn sideways, "on ice," and flipped twice, miraculously landing back on his wheels. "Suddenly," he said, "the front end washed out on me." Following him were John Boyd and Al Keller, bombing down the straight with Keller a little ahead. They veered to avoid Ward, collided, and Boyd overturned. Vukovich, hard on Boyd's tail at 140 mph, tried to side-step the mess by swerving right. Vukovich didn’t have a chance. His Hopkins Special bumped Boyd's car, struck the heavy wooden beams of the outside guard rail, straddled the rail, then went end over end, hit a safety patrol car, a truck and a jeep and stopped upside down, in flames. Ed Elisian old school friend of Vuky, skidded his car into the infield and ran across the track in an effort to help. But the swarthy, nerveless little man was dead — probably before the car came to rest. Vukovich, 36, turned to the big cars, and the big money, after winning the national midget racing championship in 1950. He led in 486 of the last 800 laps raced at the speedway. Ward escaped with a scraped nose. Injuries of Keller and Boyd also were relatively minor. Richard Wolfe suffered a fractured collarbone and Charles D Mallender a broken ankle in the patrol car his by one of Vukovich’s wheels. He left behind an amazing legacy on several fronts. In the five 500s he competed in, he led an astonishing 71.7% of the laps he drove in competition on the 2.5mi oval and to this day is the only driver to lead the most laps in three consecutive years. His son, Bill II, went on to drive in the 500 12 times, was named Rookie of the Year in 1968, and had a best finish of 3rd in 1974. His grandson Bill III also competed at Indy, earning Rookie of the Year honors in 1988, and scoring a best finish of 12th in 1989 before tragically being killed in a sprint car race in California in 1990. Track officials investigated the crash. They found that Bill had died before the flames reached him. The cause of his death was a skull fracture. He was 36 years old. Bill's son and grandson would go on to compete in future Indy 500's. Fire and ice - Bill Vukovich shunned adoring crowds, yet had an unquenchable desire to excel for them. His life ended as it had been lived - going for it all. Bill Vukovich, Sr. (December 13, 1918 – May 30, 1955) was a American Serbian car race driver. His full name was William John "Bill" Vukovich, Sr. and he was known variously "The Mad Russian" because of his aggresive driving style, the "Silent Serb" for his cool demeanor, ro simple "Vuky" and also as the "Fresno Flash" in Floyd Clymer: Indy yearbooks. Vukovich grew up on a farm in California. He tried his hand at racing when whe was 18. Right off, he placed second in a stock car event. Then he headed for the midget tracks. In his first Midget race in 1938, Vukovich flipped and suffered broken ribs and a broken collarbone. Seven weeks later he was back in a race car. Then it was 1955. It was time for a third straight win. It was time to face the Indy Jinx. Though he was a tough driver, Bill was a quiet man. This year, he seemed especially quiet. Vukovich acted as if he didn't want to be in the race. One day he told a friend he had the feeling that he wouldn't finish. On the night before the race, he turned to his wife. Vukovich said they ought to forget the 500 and go home. The next morning, he stopped alongside a fellow driver and looked at the crowd. He said that the fans thought the drivers were "freaks." He added that they were right. Perhaps he sensed the tragedy that was to come...
Patrick Bedard almost fatal crash at Indy 500 (May 27, 1984) ALL ANGLES & PICS
In the 1984 Indianapolis 500 Patrick Bedard was coming through the third turn when his car plowed violently into the inside wall and split into pieces with Bedard still in the cockpit. The car flipped end over end several times before stopping in the grassy infield. Track workers eventually got Bedard into an ambulance. He remarkably survived the crash. He was diagnosed him with a concussion and a broken jaw. Bedard later said he didn't remember the crash, returned to his day job, as a writer in Car and Driver, and never competed again at the Indianapolis 500. Patrick Bedard (born August 20, 1941, La Porte City, Iowa) is an American racing car driver and journalist. In the early 1970s, Car and Driver magazine challenged its readers to a series of Sports Car Club of America (SCCA)-sanctioned, 25-lap "showroom stock sedan" races. In the Car and Driver SS/Sedan Challenge II, Bedard finished first, driving Car & Driver's own Opel 1900 sedan. In the Car and Driver SS/Sedan Challenge III in 1974, Bedard drove a 1973 Chevy Vega GT No. 0, winning the tie-breaker race. This lone Vega beat 31 other well-driven showroom stocks. The first racing victory by a Wankel-engined car in the United States was in 1973, when Bedard won an IMSA RS race at Lime Rock Park in a Mazda RX-2. Bedard drove for Jaguar Cars in endurance racing, and later drove in the Indianapolis 500 in 1983 and 1984. He finished 30th both times, the second time retiring through a colossal accident where his car flipped several times. Bedard then retired from motor racing but continued to write for Car and Driver magazine, where he had been employed since March, 1968. After nearly 42 consecutive years of employment with Car and Driver, Bedard announced he was leaving the magazine in his regular column after the August 2009 issue.
1976 Indy 500 The Classics