The Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Fatalities - May 1935

Hartford W. Stubblefield - driver
Leo Whitaker - mechanic
Johnny Hannon - driver
Clay Weatherly - driver

The record for 500 miles falls for the fourth year in a row, with Petillo averaging 106.24 mph. Crash helmets are required for the first time, and green and yellow traffic lights are installed around the track. Under yellow, drivers must slow to 75 mph and hold their postions.

Despite these changes, four men die at the speedway. Rookie Johnny Hannon dies in a crash on his first practice lap at speed. Veteran Stubby Stubblefield and riding mechanic Leo Whittaker are killed on the 8th lap of a qualifying run. Rookie Clay Weatherly dies when he plows through the Turn 4 wall on the ninth lap of the race, ironically in the same car as Hannon.

Clay Weatherly 1935
Clay Weatherly in the Bowes Seal Fast/Leon Duray car


Stubby Stubblefield

Stubby came to the track without a car or even the promise of one. Phil Shafer had entered three Buick-engined cars (Victor Gasket Specials) in the race. He was pleased when Stubby asked to drive one because Stubby had driven a Shafer Special into 5th place in the 1933 race. Unassuming and well-likd by the racing clan, H.W. Stubblefield had a reputation for being a hard but confident driver and a safe one. Phil Shafer and Stubby were good friends. Stubblefield enjoyed a joke and particularly liked to tease Shafer about his age and "Slowing down."

Stubby had made his 7th lap of qualifying near sundown at 114.709 mph. He was going into his 8th lap when he lunged over the wall coming out of the southwest turn, fatally injuring himself and his mechanic, Leo Whitaker, of South Gate, California. Somthing apparently was wrong with his steering. He went over the outside wall, ripping away several rods of the wire fence on top of the wall, and then pitched down the other side to land 200 fee from the track. There were no skid marks on the track to help explain what happened. Both Stubblefield and Whitaker died of skull fractures before they reached the City Hospital. The accident had occurred at almost exactly the same spot as Preis's.

Stubby's wreck

Stubblefield and Leo Whitaker were both buried at Angelus Abbey in Los Angeles, side by side. Stubby was married and lived in L.A. He was likable and determined, "a dashing young driver of the Frank Lockhart type." Leo Whitaker, who had been racing for 12 years on the West Coast, was making his first ride at Indy. Both men were prominent in Califonria racing circles, though Stubblefield had driven only a few years on the Pacific Coast.

Before racing, Stubby had been a boxer. Proud of his strength, he liked to take a hand exerciser and hold it closed in his hand for eight minutes - at least five minutes longer than the average man.

Portrait of Stubby

In 1930 he won the AAA Pacific Coast championship. He also drove relief for Allen-Miller Products at this first Indy race. In 1931 he drove a Jones-Miller and finished 8th. Driving a streamlined car in 1932 nicknamed the "Catfish" Stubby set a mile record at 147.356 mph shortly before bringing the car to Indianapolis; but he failed to finish in the top ten at Indy.

In 1933 Stubby was a member of Phil Shafer's 2-car team; he averaged 100.762 mph and drove so well that he should have finished better than 5th. In 1934 he became a charter member of the 100-Mile-an-Hour Club, having set a new high average for diesels with a Clessie Cummins Diesel, the first time a 2-cycle diesel had been driven to the end of the race.

Stubby's Indy Record

Year Car No. Car Laps Completed Start Finish
1930 25 Allen-Miller Didn't Qualify
1931 36 Jones-Miller 200 9 8
1932 15 Gilmore Lion 178 25 14
1933 8 Shafer 8 200 10 5
1934 5 Cummins-Diesel 200 29 12
1935 15 Victor Gasket Special

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