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The Curse of the Indy 500


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On May 30, 1958, thousands of racing fans poured into the infield at dawn to claim the best seats of the Indianapolis 500, unaware that they were going to witness one of the most notorious wrecks in racing history. Seconds after the green flag, a game of chicken spiraled out of control into a fiery 16-car pile-up that claimed the life of 29-year-old Indiana native and rising star Pat O'Connor. The other drivers escaped death, but the tragic 1958 Indy 500 seemed to leave its mark on them: the surviving drivers were hounded by accidents and terrible crashes, and most would die at tracks around the country. But the tragedy also prompted new regulations and safety precautions like roll bars that would ultimately save hundreds of lives. In The Curse of Indy 500: 1958's Tragic Legacy, veteran sportswriter Stan Sutton profiles the ill-fated race and the careers of the drivers involved, highlighting their lives in the dangerous world of auto racing.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments1. A Convoluted Account of the Crash2. A Race-Day Shootout3. May was Busting Out All Over4. O'Connor's Eternal Home5. The City of Railroads6. Deadly Summer of `587. Safety Wasn't First8. Daytona Enters the Picture9. No Average Day at the Teach10. Champion of the Dirt11. How Fast is Too Fast12. O'Connor Victim of Jinx13. Jerry Unser Unlucky Trend Setter14. The Good and Bad of Ed Elisian15. Journeymen Drivers Also Victimized16. Death Common at Langhorne17. The Short Career of Bobby Ball18. Speedway Claims Bettenhausen19. Tony's Legacy Continues20. Check Out Those Helmets21. Keller in Vukovich Crash22. Thomson Known for Bravery23. Among All Else, Foyt is Survivor24. Sachs Almost Won in `6125. The Little Car that Could26. Everyone Loved the Novi27. Innocent Victims28. Sport Loses Two Good Men29. He Was a Wonderful Gentleman30. Fire and Fear are Synonymous31. Just Get Over It32. Danger Highest on Short Tracks33. '58 Drivers Can't Escape Fate34. Dodge Loses in Photo Finish35. Phrase Almost Prophetic36. Later that Night he was Gone37. Jud Larson, A Breed Apart38. A New Rival for Indy39. Ward's Time Finally Arrives40. Dick is Jim and Jim is Dick41. Ward Walks Away42. Major Celebrities Missed Race43. Dick, the Other Rathmann44. Hollywood Comes to Indy45. Fans Fall to Their Death46. Goldsmith was Multi-dimensional47. The Lady Lost her Life48. Indy Among Top 10 Dangerous Tracks49. The Former Winner's Last Race50. Death Wasn't Only Bad Result51. Most Great Indy Drivers Survived52. Mario Survives Spectacular Flip53. The Most Deadly Sport?54. The Trials of Cal Niday55. Weyant the Oldest Survivor56. Stewart Pushes for Safety57. He was Still Alive58. Lower Leg Injuries were Prevalent59. Flying Starts Can Be Frightening60. Getting Out While Getting's Good61. Major Survivable Crashes62. No Chance of Survival63. Bill Cheesbourg, One of a Kind64. Sutton Retired After Seeing Kenyon Wreck65. Turner Did a Turnover66. Boyd Saw A Lot of Action67. Speed and Safety May Not Mix

About the Author

Stan Sutton is a member of the Indiana Sports Writers and Sportscasters Hall of Fame. During his career, Sutton worked for six newspapers in the Midwest, including 25-years with the Courier-Journal. He is author of Tales from the Indiana Hoosiers Locker Room (with John Laskowski) and Tales from the 1980-81 Indiana Hoosiers (with Landon Turner).

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