“Silent Sam” falls truly silent when, with less than four laps to go in the 1967 Indianapolis 500, the transmission fails, denying Parnelli Jones a second Brickyard triumph.
The Dodge Charger Daytona was
Mopar’s answer to David Pearson and
his Holman-Moody Ford Torino. The
“stock” Charger had not been cutting
it aerodynamically, and so a 23in.
nose extension, a rear window that
was flush with the C-pillars (the road
car’s are inset) and a huge rear wing
were all added. Ironically, the latter’s
extreme height was only so the road-going version’s trunk lid could clear it
when opened! The car was a success
and although Pearson was again the
champion in ’ 69, the Mopar cars’ pace
lured Richard Petty back from Ford.
Equipped with the Plymouth Superbird
(BELOW), Petty scored 18 wins in
1970, although this was only enough
for fourth in the championship.
The title went to Bobby Isaac…driving
a Dodge Charger Daytona!
MOPAR’S AERO LEGENDS
stp paxton turbocar
ISC Archives/Getty Images
USAC hurt the
turbine engines for
1968 by reducing
the size of the air
intakes. But in the
Lotus 56, the
turbine was still
crazy fast, qualifying
first and second for
that year’s “500.”
leading with 10 laps
to go when a fuel
pump shaft failed.
THE TURBINE CAME
“The STP Paxton Turbocar was
the kind of innovative machine
that used to be encouraged by
USAC’s fairly open rulebook”
the winner of the ’ 63 Indy 500, focused
on race setup work and familiarizing
himself with the car’s odd power delivery.
Over 50 percent of its power came at
idling speed (thus an airbrake was fitted
to ease the strain on its conventional
brakes) and there was also a three-second lag in throttle response.
Come raceday, Jones was into the lead
coming out of Turn 2 on the opening lap
and he pulled away before the race was
halted at lap 18 for rain. Battle resumed
the following day, and Jones put on a demo,
leaving his rivals trailing in the shimmering
haze of burnt Avgas…until lap 197. With
almost a full lap on Foyt’s second-placed
Coyote, a $6 transmission bearing failed
on the orange car, and Jones coasted into
the pits, leaving Foyt with his third win.
The car returned in ‘ 68 with future
Indy car champion Joe Leonard at the
wheel but, following a crash in practice,
this magnificent car was retired.
Without any disrespect intended
toward its rivals, the concept of the
Chaparral 2K rendered all rival Indy
cars obsolete. Designer John Barnard
was asked by Jim Hall for an Indy car
that emulated what the Lotus 79 had
done in Formula 1 – use ground
effects to create a major advantage.
The 2K’s potential was seen in the
1979 Indy 500, when Al Unser
dominated until transmission failure
at half-distance. He scored the car’s
first win in the season finale, but a
personal fallout drove Unser and Hall
apart at season’s end. That left the
best seat in Indy car racing available,
and Johnny Rutherford (BELOW), left
without a ride by McLaren’s exit,
snatched it and won the ’ 80 Indy car
title with five wins, including his third
and final victory in the Indy 500.
FAME oF hALL