The Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Fatalities - May 1940

George Bailey - driver

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 Indy 500.

In his first 500 in 1934, Bailey flew over the wall on lap 12 and was slighty 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.

1939 Gulf-Miller
1939 Gulf-Miller
1939 Gulf-Miller
Harry Miller, the engineer who designed the car, talks to George Bailey in the 1939 Gulf-Miller

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's Indy Record

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

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