Death of a $100,000 Race Car (Oct, 1949)
Death of a $100,000 Race Car
THE best driver and the fastest car didn’t win the 1949 Indianapolis race. They broke records, set a blistering pace never equalled. But they didn’t win.
Iron-nerved Dennis (Duke) Nalon and his 550-horse-power Novi Mobil Special, designed by Bud Winfield, should have won that race. We wish they had, because that was the combination Mechanix Illustrated boldly predicted, away back in our May issue, would cop the 500-mile classic. But the Duke didn’t win because, on the 24th lap, after shattering every Speedway record for 55 miles and pounding down the straightaways at 200 mph, his great car suddenly died of a broken axle.
The stricken Novi rocketed against the northeast wall, then burst into flames. Duke somehow kept the Novi upright, somehow managed to unhook his safety belt and plunge free of the flaming inferno that had been, seconds before, the “car nobody could beat.”
On these pages we present the dramatic picture story of that car’s death and the miraculous escape of the finest, gamest driver in the race-car business. •