Editor’s Note: This is the last of the series. I hope you’ve enjoyed these stories of past Bump Days.
Photo from 1970 Indianapolis 500 program.
Peter Revson sped down the backstretch at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on his final qualifying lap. On the other side of the track, the gun sounded to end qualifying for the 1969 Indianapolis 500. He just had to finish this lap and he would be in the field for his first 500.
Revson made it easily. His Repco-Brabham bumped Rick Muther from the field. The final run of the day ended a hectic last hour of qualifying and capped what had been one of the strangest qualifications in the history of the race.
The first weekend of qualifying was rained out except for one waved off attempt by Jigger Sirois. That is a tale for another day. Do NOT call Talk of Gasoline alley and ask Donald Davidson about it. Sirois’ attempt with about 15 minutes left on what was to be Pole Day was waved off. Before another car could get on track, the rains came again. Sunday was a complete washout. All 33 spots would need to be filled the following weekend.
A busy Saturday Pole Day saw 25 of the 33 spots filled. A. J. Foyt won the pole. Mario Andretti and defending race champion Bobby Unser completed the front row. Just five spots remained for Sunday.
It was a typical Bump Day afternoon. Teams waited until after 4 pm when the cooling shadow began to creep across the track. Then the scramble to get in the qualifying line began. The last hour produced several waved off runs. Jerry Grant lost the turbo of his Ford. It took 24 minutes to clean up the oil trail he left on the track. Losing that much time in the final hour could hurt several drivers chances.
Jigger Sirois and Al Miller each suffered a mechanical issue on their incomplete attempts. Their shortened runs allowed Revson to get on the track on time. Bob Veith turned out to be the victim of the Grant oil cleanup . He waited helplessly hoping Revson would pull off before the gun.
Revson would finish the race in fifth place from his 33rd starting position. The following year he joined Mclaren. He won the pole in 1971 and started second in 1972. His best finish was second in 1971. Revson only completed a combined 26 laps in his last two starts -1972 and ’73 due to mechanical failures.
In 1972 Revson also drove for McLaren in Formula 1. He won both the British and Canadian Grand Prix in 1973 and finished the season fifth in points. Revson is the last U.S. born driver to win an F1 race. Following the 1973 season he moved to the Shadow Formula 1 team.
His quick rise to prominence ended March 22, 1974. Shadow had retired from the first two Formula 1 races of the year. The team arranged a test session in Johannesburg, South Africa, the site of the next race. Revson’s car crashed violently into the Armco barrier. He was killed instantly.
My Indianapolis 500 preview will be on Wildfireradiosports.com tomorrow. I will have additional thought in this column Saturday along with some pictures from the IMS Roadster Tribute which follows the Public Drivers’ Meeting.
Thank you to the IMS Media Relations Staff. You al have been great to work with this May.
And thanks to all who have read this space and wildfireradiosports these last three weeks.