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 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
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 crank-
shaft 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
Bailey was survived by his mother Harriet and
his three brothers.
|The Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Copyright © 2015 IndySpeedway.com All Rights Reserved