My friend Galen has a real knack for finding interesting old movies and slides at tag sales and other similar piles of trash. He's even found footage of Hitler before, but I'm more excited about this find: a home movie of the 1946 Indy 500.
The footage is a bit shaky, and it's clear the cinematographer is figuring out how to shoot 100 MPH+ objects, but it's fascinating. There's also a great parade of vintage cars at the beginning, starting with what might have been a Curved-Dash Olds? It's strange to think that that car would only have been about as old in 1946 as a car from the '70s or so today.
This particular race is interesting for a number of reasons, including these two that Galen points out:
This was the first Indy race that drivers used a radio transmit ion communication device to talk to their pit crews. Two drivers — Louis Tomei and Emil Andres — were able to communicate with their pit crews with a mobile radio telephone system. Raytheon came out to the track with what was basically a radio station in a box truck. A little more info can be found here with a a picture of the drivers and the Raytheon “laboratory”. The radio communication didn’t help either driver win, but one did come in 4th and the other in 26th.
Rudolf Caracciola failed to qualify after he blacked out and wrecked during his trial. Most of the press said he had been hit by a bird in the temple. But another rumor out there is that he was shot. Rudolf was not only German, but also a member of the National Socialist Motor Corps during the war, and although he never joined the Nazi party it was close enough for a lot of Americans at the time. So did a want to be “nazi hunter” take a shot at him? There’s no proof that either a bird or a bullet hit him, he only felt a pain in the temple before he lost consciousness. but the gun theory is fascinating.
Good hunting, Galen!