The 1958 Indianapolis 500.

In the past, I have spoken harshly about the Indy 500.  However, I wish to clarify that I have immense respect for the driver’s who put their lives on the line at this historic American race.  In fact, as the subsequent video reveals, there was in fact a driver death in this race.  In fact, although there have not yet been any fatalities in Formula 1 this year (1958, as I sometimes forget that this is actually 2013), 1958 was a treacherous year for F1 as well.  I fully expect my discussions to bring back up my old theme of: What did it mean for these driver’s to put their lives on the line solely to prove that they were ultimately quickest.

The above video is worth watching, even if you only have a bit to see the presenter’s searing commentary on the danger’s of racing in the 1950’s.  Not only do I have immense respect for the driver’s, I also have respect for the Indy 500 as a great American institution.  Personally, I simply find turning both directions quite a bit more exciting than snaking around turning only left.  But, please do not confuse this for disrespect for this great institution.

For newer readers, I should mention that I am covering the Indy 500 because it was included in the Formula 1 championship from 1950 – 1960.  Sadly, the organizers could never agree on a common rule set, so few drivers from either world crossed over to race in the other.  But, it is my opinion that active participation in the Indy 500 by F1 drivers – at least in those days, would have only increased the credibility of both races.  For the winner of the F1 championship and even just the Indy 500 would have been able to say they beat a stronger field of participants.  It would have also evidenced a wider range of driving ability.  But, a history professor once told me that engaging in “what ifs,” when it comes to history, is a rather pointless exercise.  And so, I will leave my comments at that.

Stay tuned for the next true F1 race to be covered — the 1958 Belgian Grand Prix at the always intimidating Spa-Francorchamps race track.