|The Indianapolis Motor Speedway
George Bailey was born in Cleveland in 1902. His
parents moved to Detroit in 1908. George had three
brothers William, Clifford and Harold. He was not married.
George got a job as a test driver for the Hudson Motor
Co. This would eventually lead to his competing in the
In his first 500 in 1934, Bailey flew over the wall on lap 12
and was slightly injured.
He raced in five 500's altogether, but never finished a race.
In 1939, Bailey made history by qualifying the first
rear-engined car in the Indy 500! He qualified the
expensive Gulf-Miller on the 2nd row. This car, as shown
in the photos below, was ahead of its time. It featured
pannier fuel tanks, four-wheel drive and disc brakes on all
four wheels. The engine would throw a valve on lap 18.
Year Car No. Car Laps Completed Start Finish
1934 58 Scott 12-wrecked 16 32
1935 35 Ford V8 65-Steering 29 26
1936 51 Zauer-Martz Failed to qualify
1937 43 Duray-Sims 107-clutch 28 21
1938 25 Harry Miller failed to qualify
1938 12 Barbasol 166-clutch 29 12
1939 17 Miller 47-valve 6 26
1940 56 Miller wrecked in practice-died
|Forest Lawn Cemetery, Detroit MI
In 1940, Bailey brought the same four-wheel drive car
back to Indy.
On May 7th Bailey was out practicing. He ran 15 laps and
came in to the pits. He went back out and by lap 4 was up
to 128.5 mph.
However, as Bailey entered turn two, either he got up into
the marbles or maybe his crankshaft broke, freezing all
four wheels. In any case, the car started to slide sideways
and as he fought to bring it back into line, it shot into the
inside rail. A rail punctured his left side fuel tank causing it
to explode. The car spun and the right side fuel tank got hit
and exploded. Bailey was drenched in gas! As the car
came to a stop, Bailey jumped out on fire and ran. He fell
at least three times before he was reached by Eddie Hoff,
a speedway photographer, who tried his best to beat out
the flames. Bailey died 45 minutes later from third degree
burns. He had also suffered a fractured hip and injured leg.
Bailey was survived by his mother Harriet and his three