|The Indianapolis Motor Speedway
|Fatalities - May 26, 1931
|Clarence Grove - mechanic
Joseph Caccia - driver
Joe Caccia and his mechanic, Clarence Grove, died in
one of the most admired cars ever seen at the Speedway.
Joe, who had built the Miller-motored , rear-drive car
himself, arrived early in Indianapolis to prepare the car at
the Jones-Maley Company, DeSoto distributors. Joe was
a handsome, dapper type and was well-liked at the
Speedway,. He and Grove had successfully proved the
car in practice on the morning of May 26th, but wanted to
try it again.
The car handled perfectly until it skidded on the southeast
turn for about 150 feet and crashed into the retaining wall,
tearing down 24 fee of concrete rails. It shot about 100
feet through the air and burst into flames as it fell outside
the track, almost in the backyard of T.E. Myers, vice-
president and general manager of the Speedway. Both
men were thrown out, hit a tree, and landed near the car.
It was a few minutes before the crew of another car
reached them. Nobody actually saw the crash.
Parts of the car were found on the track. Tire marks
showed that Caccia applied the brakes when the car went
out of control. Just before the accident, he had safely
driven the course at about 105 mph. The accident may
have been caused by Caccia's losing control as the car
went into a natural skid in a slight depression in the track,
or by a mechanical failure which tore the piston housing .
Some drivers believed that Caccia tended to "overdrive"
the turns. He was, however, an expereienced driver and
was familiar with the Indy track.
Joe Caccia, an American-born Italian, lived in Byrne
Haverford. Joe had raced for 10 years on speedway and
dirt tracks, after abandoning his part in a taxicab business
operated by his mother, Mrs. Sophie Caccia. He
became a mechanic shortly after leaving high school and
soon went in for racing. In 1930 he failed to finish the 500
in an Alberti Special.
The Caccias had suffered a series of tragedies, Joe's
death was the fifth in his family within a few years (father,
two brothers, and one sister). Survivors were his mother,
two brothers, one sister, and his widow.
Both Grove and Caccia followed the racing game against
the wishes of their mothers. Interested in racing since
childhood, Grove had raced for three years on dirt tracks
and had been Zeke Meyers' mechanic in 1930. He had
recently been out of work for three months and had told his
parents he was going to Indianapolis to pick up a little
money as a "helper." Mrs Grove siad that she and her
husband worried constantly about Clarence and had tried
to convince him to stop racing.
A bizarre accident occurred during the race itself. Billy
Arnold broke an axle while running first and went over the
northwest wall in flames. The wheel of the car struck and
killed Wilbur Brink, an 11-year-old boy playing in his front
yard on Georgetown Road.
|Joe Caccia and Clarence Grove
Year Car No. Car Laps Completed Start Finish
1930 29 Alberti Special 43-wrecked 14 24
1931 38 Jones & Maley Turn 2 Practice Crash - died
A record 70 entries fill Gasoline Alley for practice and qualifying.
40 cars start the race, tying the record in 1911.
|Saint Denis Cemetery, Havertown PA
|Joe Caccia's Duesenburg for the 1930 Indy 500
with mechanic Bob Patterson
|Odd Fellows Cemetery, Gladwyne, PA