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Road & Track

Road & Track May 2016

Road & Track includes technical features on automotive subjects, wide-ranging feature stories, spectacular automotive art and standard-setting new-car photography, humor, fiction, travel stories, book reviews and the most comprehensive racing coverage offered by a monthly magazine.Bonus: iPad Interactive

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in this issue

4 min.

1. FLYING SOLO Ray Harroun won the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911 in his yellow Marmon “Wasp.” He was the only entrant to race without an onboard mechanic, in a single-seat car that he helped design. Harroun also installed a rearview mirror, the first on an automobile, to help him keep an eye on the competition. 2. FINISH STRONG The next year, with riding mechanics now required, driver Ralph de Palma dominated the race for 196 of 200 laps, building an 11-minute lead. But then the engine in his Mercedes began to fail. He nursed the dying car for several laps before it ground to a halt in Turn 4. He and his mechanic climbed from their car and began to push it toward the finish line. Legend says that de…

4 min.

Dear R&T, Your Performance Car of the Year test [“Kentucky Derby,” December 2015/January 2016] had all the makings of The Bachelor, albeit the Car Edition. All the pretty characters, drama, and unreality are there. Airborne Ferrari? Check. Bentley lifting a wheel like a CRX on coil-overs? Check. Gorgeous curvy roads beset by autumn leaves? Check. No wonder Webster thought he found the one in the Ferrari. Who wouldn’t in that setting? Good to see the least expensive car get the final rose this time. That’s romance some of us may actually believe in. ADAM SWANSON, DOUSMAN, WISCONSIN All of the cars were superb in their own right, but the winner tied for next to last in the 0–60-mph and quarter-mile times and was fourth out of eight on the track. I assume price…

3 min.
editor’s letter

THE MOST HORRIFYING CORNER IN ALL OF MOTORSPORT has to be Turn 1 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In overhead shots on TV, the curve looks effortless, a generous radius wide enough for a railroad. You wonder, what’s the big deal? Some 20 years ago, I found myself standing on the bricks at Indy’s start/finish line, looking down the track to the end of the straight. At ground level, the view into Turn 1 is absolutely sinister. It appears as if the pavement simply deadends into a concrete wall. You can roughly make out an escape route, but it’s a narrow, hard-to-see path to the left. We took a van ride around the track that day. The full bend didn’t come into view until we got to the start of the turn. I…

5 min.
wet behind the ears

PEOPLE WERE SELLING. Boats and nets and reels and titanium coolers, taglines like the business magazine for fishermen and listen to the sound of a broken fiberoptic cable. There was a man hawking something called an ice flaker, which sprays water on the inside of a refrigerated cylinder. The water flashfreezes, and then a rotary blade comes by to scrape it off. Boom, flaked ice to fill your cooler and keep a dead fish cold. My dad was with me. As we walked past the flaker, he detoured for a look. My father is not an easily distracted man. Also, he does not eat fish. Or have a fishing boat. “That is very cool,” he said, looking at the ice flaker, totally serious. Do not ruin the moment with a stupid pun, went…

4 min.
going in circles

I SPENT MY YOUTH DREAMING of the Indianapolis 500. The blurb under my senior picture in the yearbook read, “Look for me at Indy in 10 years.” I made it in nine, arriving in 1997. Alas, by that time, the 500 had ceased to be the event that originally drew me to central Indiana. I’m still bitter. The Indy 500 once served as auto racing’s frontier—a 2.5-mile supercollider of ideas. The 500 nurtured supercharging and front-wheel drive in its early days. The first mid-engine Indy car and the first diesel-powered car debuted in the 1930s. Turbocharging broke new ground in 1952. Everything from twin engines to turbines turned 1960s Indianapolis into the world’s wildest and most entertaining speed laboratory. The cars continued to evolve, and speeds kept climbing, until 20 years ago.…

2 min.

THE INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY opened to the public on June 5, 1909. Seventy-five days later, on August 19, the place hosted its first car race. It was a Thursday. And then people began to die. Picture the Speedway as it is now: 2.5 miles, four corners banked at just over nine degrees, concrete walls, and catch fencing. Now neuter the walls, nix the catch fence, and replace the asphalt with crushed rock and tar. That’s Indy, brand-new. On the 19th, a man named Wilfred “Billy” Bourque was driving in a 250-mile race when he spun in Turn 4. Bourque’s car hit a ditch in the infield and rolled, killing both him and his riding mechanic. Two days after that, during a 300-mile race, Charlie Merz blew a tire. He crashed his National…