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Indy 500

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  • Indy 500

    Riding mechanic Jim Dunham, in winning 1935 race car. Dunham was our neighbor, we shared KFC and race days, early 2004-05. He scored the one trip to Indy, since he was a regular visitor at the shop in LA where the Gilmore car was fabricated. The shop was on his milk delivery route. The Indianapolis Speedway people interviewed him: YouTube. Fine gentleman, RIP.
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  • #2
    What exactly did the riding mechanic do? I think some old race cars had a pump, air pressurized fuel tank??


    • #3
      Among other duties, the riding mechanic kept the fuel tank pressurized with a hand pump, added oil to the engine, kept his eyes open for problems with the tires, and generally allowed the driver to better concentrate on his task.

      "Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself"


      • #4
        I love the 1930-1937 Indy cars. They changed the rules to encourage more auto manufacturers to participate, and the result was more production car parts being used. The Studebaker racers are probably my favorite. Unfortunately, critics derisively called this era the "Junk formula".

        Location: Northern WI


        • #5
          Originally posted by DR View Post
          What exactly did the riding mechanic do? I think some old race cars had a pump, air pressurized fuel tank??
          The 1935 "Gilmore Speedway Special" car was Offy's first Indy win (Offenhauser took over bankrupt Miller in 1933). According to Gordon White's book on Offenhauser, Jim Dunham had to shut down the idle jets while the car was on the track, then open them when entering the pits. This because there was a 37.5 gallon fuel tank limit at the time and Petillo's car was using too much fuel. 260-cubic inch, four cylinder engine.


          That must have been a great experience listening to Jim Dunham - what a story he would have had to tell.


          • #6
            Indy speedway was established by local auto dealers as an indurance/test circuit to showcase the qualities of their wares. According to Dunham, the riding mechanic was to communicate with driver regarding which side to block approaching traffic. The rear view mirror was invented at Indy to help, and the rough brick race surface would so fatigue a drivers arms, relief drivers became popular.
            Dunham spoke about meeting and visiting with Amelia Earhart, at a dinner after his 1935 race win. He had gone to work for Lockheed Aircraft, manufacturer of Earhart’s Electra, as an inspector. During WW2 at the Burbank facility, it was customary for signatures inside the nose wheel well on all P38 fighters.