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Only 8 drivers finished the 1951 Indy 500

Only 8 drivers finished the 1951 Indy 500
Only 8 drivers finished the 1951 Indy 500
Only 8 drivers finished the 1951 Indy 500
Posted at 5:13 PM, Mar 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-24 17:13:40-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- In 1951, the world had become a more colorful place after the  US Supreme Court approved CBS's request to broadcast in color for the first time.

In a colorful manner, Indianapolis's first NBA team, the Olympians, set an NBA record that still stands today: It took six overtimes for the Olympians to beat the Rochester Royals. It remains the longest game in NBA history.

And in May, a 14-year-old boy named Roger Penske attended his very first Indianapolis 500 with his father.

The future legendary car owner and the thousands of other fans witnessed the fastest starting grid in race history in 1951. 

Thirty-three drivers qualified at an average speed of 133 miles per hour.

On race day, the hot weather took its toll. At the end, only eight cars remained in the field.

Likeable 40-year-old Lee Wallard, running in only his fourth race, qualified in the middle of the front row, and despite leading 159 laps, was plagued with mechanical troubles, running the last twelve laps without brakes.

But eventually, he took the checkered flag, followed by an additional victory lap.

On his ride to victory lane, he shut the engine down and drove past the start-finish line standing jockey-style on the back of his race car.

Wallard hugged his wife and actress Loretta Young.

He would later say, "I got the lipstick and they got the grease."

Unfortunately for Wallard, it was his last racing triumph - He would be burned one week later when his car caught fire, forcing more than two dozen skin grafts and he never raced again.

 

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