If you joined us for 30 Days in May earlier this year, you’ll see some familiar faces from that countdown. We’ve also added some new entries for 23 Days in August. So let’s celebrate some notable drivers and cars from the glorious past of the Indianapolis 500!
mechanics adding wings to an older car to try to keep up with the state-of-the-art
Eagles and McLarens.
23 Days in August: No. 23, Mel Kenyon, 1972 Gilmore Racing Coyote/Ford. Considered one of the true gentlemen in the sport, Mel Kenyon had several top finishes at Indianapolis and is considered the best USAC Midget driver in history. His longevity is particularly amazing. Some 30 years after his last start in the 500, Kenyon was still racing at age 70! Even more incredible, Kenyon was severely burned in a crash in 1965 and raced with a special glove with a device that fit in the steering wheel – incredible determination and will.
For 1972, Kenyon drove one of the Gilmore Racing entries, with Wally Dallenbach in the other Gilmore car. While Kenyon qualified safely in 12th, Dallenbach was bumped.
Dallenbach did, however, get to start the race as he replaced Art Pollard, who broke a leg in practice after qualifying the No. 40 STP Oil Treatment Lola/Foyt. Race Day was rather difficult for Dallenbach as his car caught fire several times during pit stops. He pressed on, finishing 15th, 18 laps down to winner Mark Donohue.
For his determination, Dallenbach won the “Extra Mile” award from the St. Piux X Council of Knights of Columbus. (I haven’t been able to watch the Victory Banquet for many years; does this award still exist?)
Kenyon’s race was far less eventful. He ended up 18th, going out after 126 laps with fuel injection woes. Later that season, Kenyon almost won at Michigan. He ran out of fuel while leading with just two laps to go.