Note: I originally wrote this blog on May 27, 2012. It has been floating around in cyberspace since then. Earlier this week I got an email regarding the original blog with a very interesting development. Here is the original blog. I will continue this story with a fascinating update very soon.
First, the original blog:
Sunday, May 27, 2012 will be a big day for racing fans. The Indy 500 kicks off at 11 AM in Indianapolis, followed by the Coca Cola 600 at 6 PM in Charlotte. Though I have never been a huge racing fan, my wife uncovered some family history tied to the Indy 500. One of my grandfather’s cousins was a race car driver back in the 1950’s. Here is what she found:
“Jimmy Reece was a 6 time veteran of the Indianapolis 500, with Top Ten finishes in 1952, 1956 and 1958. While operating a home video camera, Reece captured 1955 Indianapolis 500 winner Bob Sweikert’s fatal accident at the Salem (IN) Speedway on June 17. 1956. During a multi-car accident in turn three on the first lap of the 1958 500-mile classic, Reece was struck by Bob Veith, causing his car to spin in front of popular Pat O’Connor, who catapulted over Reece, flipped and was killed. Jimmy Reece reportedly held himself responsible for O’Connor’s death due to his braking maneuver during the accident. This may have played a role in his death later that year during a championship car race at the Trenton (NJ) Speedway. Reece was dueling Johnny Thomson for second place on the last lap and got into an awkward position in a turn. Some feel that rather than braking and possibly putting Thomson at risk, Reece did not hit his brakes hard enough, if at all. As a result, he plowed through a barrier and flew through the air to his death, landing over 50 feet from his badly damaged car.”
He was 29.
Based on the picture above, it’s not hard to see how a driver could die in an accident driving 145 mph in an “open wheel” car with virtually no safety devices. In fact, of the 33 drivers in the 1955 Indy 500, 17 subsequently died behind the wheel of a race car. Jimmy Reece was among that number.
I found it interesting that Jimmy Reece had a movie camera back in the 50’s. And that he operated it behind the wheel of his race car. I can only imagine what his race movies must be like, filming cars traveling 145 miles per hour from behind the wheel of a car going 145 mph. As proficient as my wife is becoming at genealogical detective work, I expect to be seeing those movies before too long.
I wonder if Dramamine comes in Industrial strength?
TO BE CONTINUED: