Ground(ed) Effects

Indycar and general autosport opinion

Sometimes, I believe we’ve all been That Kid. The one that seems a bit out of place and time.


Did you feel like maybe people didn’t understand you fully? Did close friends laugh at something you said while others were left scratching their heads? Deep down you knew you were just as typical and shared common ideals with most everyone else, yet the world and you were a bit out of step. Indycars are no different and this post is to start a series of the funkiest, off-beat, head-scratch-inducing forms to ever enter the Speedway. 

There are several that come to mind quickly and I’ve enjoyed wondering what would’ve happened if that car would’ve won Indy? How would the racing/automotive world have changed? Just a quirk of fate may have opened our eyes to a new kind of way (to quote Gregg Rolie). 

My first offering comes from the early days of racing revolution that swept the Speedway in the 1960s on through the 1970s, Smokey Yunick’s 1964 Hurst Floor-shifter Special:



Definitely a head-turner, Yunick was famous for producing some very ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions to engines and general racing problems. Often his ideas lead to rules changes due to the effectiveness of his solutions. After several years in NASCAR and at Indianapolis, 1964 saw what may have been, at the time, the most unusual chassis to debut. His sidecar-type chassis with Offenhauser power certainly didn’t look like anything before it. 


Bobby Johns was the driver/pilot of this wacky machine whose offset certainly promoted left-turning. The car reportedly spun and made contact getting ready for qualifications in May of 1964 but never re-emerged. Possibly this very car or another chassis has been maintained to this day, in Yunick’s trademark gloss black and metallic gold color scheme, which makes the tours of the Goodwood Festival and various automotive museums around the country. I saw the current one at the IMS museum within the last two years, not fully realizing the story of the machine and man behind it.

When seeing these funky creations, it takes little imagination to feel the anticipation and excitement of each May when creativity and innovation was truly the hallmark of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


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