1951 INDIANAPOLIS 500. - Robert H. WESTMORELAND (d. 1999, photographer).
A small group of original Kodachrome 5 x 4 inch photographs taken by Westmoreland during the time trials before 30 May 1951 running of the Indianapolis 500. [12-28 May 1951].
1.Joe James in car ‘26’. [Team: Bob Estes Lincoln-Mercury; chassis/engine: Watson / Offenhauser 4.5 L4]. Did not finish.
2.Bobby Ball in car ‘52’ [Team: Blakely Oil; chassis/engine: Schroeder / Offenhauser 4.5 L4]. Started 29th, finished 6th
3.J. Carlyle ’Duke’ Dinsmore in car ‘6’ [Team: Brown Motor Co.; chassis/engine: Schroeder / Offenhauser. 4.5 L4]. Did not finish.
4. a view of a section of the track, the stands in the background, the trophy visible ‘trackside’ lower right.
Stylish images from the start of a decade which saw the popularity of the race take a quantum leap: it is sobering to note that, within 4 years, two of the three drivers featured here would be dead. The photographer, Robert H. Westmoreland, can be said to have honed his craft during the 2nd World War when he served as an official Marine Corps photographer.
“The 35th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday, May 30, 1951. The event was part of the 1951 AAA National Championship Trail, and was also race 2 of 8 in the 1951 World Championship of Drivers. For the second year in a row, no European Formula One-based teams entered the race.
Duke Nalon, who had suffered serious burns in a crash in 1949, and who missed the 1950 race, made a comeback at Indy by winning the pole position in a Novi.
Heavy attrition saw only eight cars running at the finish. Winner Lee Wallard's car lost its brakes, suffered a damaged exhaust pipe, and broke a shock absorber mounting. In addition to the unbearably uncomfortable ride, Wallard had worn a fire retardant outfit, created by dipping his uniform in a mixture of borax crystals and water. Due to not wearing an undershirt, Wallard suffered serious chafing, and required treatment at the infield hospital after the victory lane celebration. It was estimated he lost 15 pounds during the race.
Wallard's winning car had the smallest displacement in the field. About a week after winning the race, Wallard suffered severe burns in a crash at Reading, which effectively ended his professional racing career.
Three-time winner Mauri Rose, in his 15th Indy start, crashed and flipped on lap 126. It was his final 500, as he retired from driving after the crash.” (Wikipedia)
“In the 1950s, cars were topping out at 150 mph (240 km/h), helping to draw more and more fans. The low-slung, sleek cars were known as roadsters and the Kurtis, Kuzma, and Watson chassis dominated the field. Nearly all were powered by the Offenhauser, or "Offy", engines. The crowd favorite Novi, with its unique sound and look, was the most powerful car of the decade that dominated time trials. However, they would never make the full 500 miles (800 km) in first place, often breaking down before the end or having to make too many pit stops because of the massive engine's thirst for fuel and the weight that went with the extra fuel.
The track's reputation improved so much that the 500-mile race became part of the Formula One World Championship for 10 years (1950–1960), even though none of the Indy drivers raced in Formula One and only Ferrari's Alberto Ascari of the F1 drivers at the time raced in the 500 in 1952. Five-time world champion Juan Fangio practiced at the speedway in 1958, but ultimately decided against racing there. The 1950s were also the most dangerous era of American racing. Of the 33 drivers to qualify for the 1953 race, nearly half, 16, were to eventually die in racing accidents.” (Wikipedia).