Close To The 1964 Fire
by DT from Rochester IL
I was very excited to hear we had tickets for the 1964 race. I was
there in '62 as a 12-year old for the first time with my dad and
brother. I couldn't wait to go back!!!
We live 200 miles west of the track in central Illinois, we left at
4:00 am and I remember for some reason sitting in traffic on
I-465 waiting to get to 16th street , May 30, 1964. )
The sun was shinning, it was warm and a beautiful day. Our
seats were about 150 yards north of the entrance to the pits.
(the pits then were not near as long as they are now) We were
on the outside of the straight-away about row 12.
As they dropped the green flag, Jimmy Clark jumped into the
lead and was flying off turn 4 to complete the first lap. I had
never seen or heard anything like the Lotus Ford.
On lap 2 he was pulling away as he screamed by. I looked to
the left and saw 2 roadsters bounce off the inside wall. There
was a fireball sliding to the middle of the track. In a split second,
it was hit by oncoming traffic and the entire fireball slid down the
track stopping in front of us. Actually, about 6 or 8 feet to our left.
The fire raging, people in front of us started backing up toward
us to get away from it. I, for a second, thought about the entire
stand collapsing from the weight, if everyone went to the top row.
Someone behind us yelled for them to calm down and go right.
Most did and they were able to head south and get out of the
The fire raged for minutes and when finally fully extinguished we
could see the 2 drivers still sitting in their cars.
It was sometime later during the 1hr 42 minute delay that Tom
Carnegie made the sad announcement. Once the race restarted
we stayed for about 300 miles of it then headed home.
My dad never went back, I have been going almost every year
either to the race or qualifying and have been to all the Brickyard
400's except one.
I will never forget the day in 64.
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