|The Indianapolis Motor Speedway
|Art Pollard - driver
Swede Savage - driver (died later)
Armando Moreno Teran - STP pit crewman
Art Pollard lived in Medford Oregon during the 1960s and
early 70s and was killed during the Indianapolis 500 time
trials on May 12, 1973.
Kind, generous, friendly, outgoing, persistent, honest,
gentlemanly, optismistic, competitive, even-tempered,
vibrant - these words describe a few of the qualities of this
exceptional person who was also a great race driver. He
liked and understood people, and he gave of himself to his
fans and friends - some of whom called him "Roberto"
because of his dark heavy-bearded complexion. He made
speeches at schools and churches and visited the troops
in Vietnam, but his pet project was the LaRueCarter
Memorial Hospital for retarded children in Indianapolis.
Pollard raced at Indy seven times, finishing eighth in the
1967 race. The following year, while driving one of the
celebrated STP-Turbo cars, he qualified 11th and was
running fourth with just a few laps to go when a fuel pump
drive shaft broke and forced him from the competition.
That same year, 1968, he won the pole position at the
Milwaukee 200 and led the race for the first 135 miles,
when his brakes failed.
Art shook down a pushrod Plymouth V8 in one of last
year's wedge-shaped Loutus cars that wears new aero
features. The car was uncompetitive and Art switched to
a new Lotus Offy. He qualified 12th, but due to mechanical
trouble on lap 7, he finished 31st.
Art qualified in 6th spot in 1970. Car trouble ends his day
early on lap 28.
He qualified in 31st spot in 1971. Car trouble ends his day
early on lap 45.
He didn't get to race in 1972 although he qualfied his STP
Lola in 10th spot. During a subsequent practice lap, a
wheel came off in the NE corner and he crashed, breaking
his leg. Jim Malloy had crashed in this same turn 2 days
before and would die 2 days later.
For the 1973 race Art Pollard had a new Eagle, two good
mechanics, and a new sponsor. All during practice he
was saying that this might be his best year. The car was
running smoothly. In the Saturday morning practice
session on May 12th, Pollard was running 191.4 mph
when he lost control of his Dan Gurney Eagle car and
smashed into the outside retaining wall at the Indianapolis
Motor Speedway. The car careened off the wall, burst into
flames and spun into the infield, where it rolled several
times. He was unconscious until his death an hour later at
Methodist Hospital of flame inhalation. He had burns,
broken bones, and a severe spinal cord injury.
Art was buried in McMinnville Oregon. Survivors were his
widow, Patricia; a son Michael; a daughter, Judy Dipple
of Speedway; and his mother, Mrs. Artie Pollard of
Pollard dominated racing on the super modified circuit on
the West Coast in the late '50s and early '60s. During one
period in 1961, he won 22 of 28 main events.
A race in his name has been held in the Rogue Valley and
in Roseburg, where he lived for several years prior to
moving to Medford. He graduated from Roseburg High
School in 1945.
Pollard was born in Dragon, Utah, but spent much of his
youth in and around Los Angeles.
Swede Savage was a protege of Dan Gurney, who called
him a top-flight driver. He discovered him motorcycle
racing. Savage tried his hand at NASCAR and sports cars.
He competed in some IndyCar races, winning the 1970
Phoenix 200 race. In March 1971, he crashed while racing
in the Questor Grand Prix at the Ontario Motor Speedway
in California. He bruised his brain stem which occasionally
affected his memory. A petition from 20 USAC drivers had
him undergo an intensive physical exam before being
allowed to drive in the California 500. He passed it and
finished 4th in the race. He started the 1972 Indy 500, but
broke a connecting rod on the 6th lap.
Savage qualified 4th for the 1973 Indy 500.
Bobby Unser, Johnny Rutherford and Mark Donohue
started ahead of him on the front row.
Savage led laps 43 through 54. He made one pit stop.
He rejoined in second place, closely behind Al Unser and
just ahead of Bobby Unser. Savage emerged from his stop
with 70 gallons (nearly 500 lb.) of additional fuel and a new
(cold) right rear tire.
On lap 58 he lost control as he came out of turn 4. His car
twitched back and forth and then he smashed into the
inside retaining wall front-on. His car exploded and the
cockpit slid across to the other side of the track. People
were surprised he survived such a horrific accident.
Savage was taken to Methodist Hospital Medical Center
and it appeared possible that he woudl survive. However,
he died in the hospital 33 days after the accident. He
suffered burns, pneumonia and kidney failure.
There are varying opinions of exactly what he died of and
of what caused the accident.
He was survived by his pregnant wife, a 6-year-old
daughter and his parents
|David Earl "Swede" Savage, Jr.
|Mountain View Cemetery, San Bernadino CA
By Dave Kallmann
of the Journal Sentinel staff
Indianapolis -- Twenty-five years later, some of the
memories return like yesterday, many have faded like
dusty photographs and still others evoke unimaginable
The 1973 Indianapolis 500 remains one of the lowest
points in American motor sports history.
"It was just a race that everybody wanted to get over
with and go home and forget about it," winner Gordon
It was as if a message were being sent with the relentless
rain that delayed, interrupted and shortened the race.
The message was stressed in the costliest of terms with
crashes that killed drivers Art Pollard and Swede
Savage and crewman Armando Teran while injuring a
Were it not for the lessons taught by tragedy, the race
would be better forgotten.
May 1973 arrived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
with even more hype than usual, because the 200 mph
barrier was within the sights of drivers and on the
minds of trackside observers.
Reality set in quickly when, in a windy practice before
pole qualifying, Pollard crashed in the first turn. His car
rolled over and was engulfed in a fireball. Pollard was
pronounced dead an hour later.
The death drew notice, but the loss of one more driver
wasn't all that unexpected.
"We used to average a death a year out here," recalled
track announcer Tom Carnegie, who will call his 53rd
Indy 500 today.
Johnny Rutherford, who had been one of the first
drivers on the scene of Pollard's crash, ended up on the
pole at 198.413 mph, including one lap in the 199s.
Rutherford admitted that seeing an old friend's accident
kept him on the safe side of 200.
With Memorial Day came gloomy skies and intermittent
showers that interrupted preparations four times. Finally
the green flag waved at 3 p.m.
Antsy drivers made for a haphazard field, with four cars
across the narrow track in what should have been the
sixth row. Only a couple of hundred yards past the flag
stand, the blue McLaren-Offy of rookie David "Salt"
Walther drifted to the right, squeezing Jerry Grant
against the wall.
Walther clipped Grant's left front tire, and the car jumped
violently into the fence, catching its nose and twirling like
a propeller a half-dozen times while also overturning.
More than 70 gallons of burning fuel sprayed into the
grandstand and puddled on the track as cars scattered
down the front stretch.
"I was down by the pit wall, steering left, and . . .
remember very vividly driving through a river of flaming
methanol," recalled David Hobbs, now a
Milwaukee-area auto dealer.
"I pulled up right at the end of pit road and remember
telling the radio announcer, 'We're supposed to have 33
of the best drivers in the world and they can't even get
down the bloody straightaway.' "
Walther's fate might have been worse; had the tank
stayed with the car he surely would have been
incinerated. Instead, he survived with multiple burns,
particularly to his hands.
Wally Dallenbach, who started behind Walther in the
middle of the seventh row, was momentarily blinded by
the fuel spray and ended up in the infield grass.
Walther's overturned, flaming car came to rest right in
front of Dallenbach, who helped firefighters rescue
"I had the gloves on, so I grabbed the hottest thing, the
turbocharger, which was one of the corners that was
grabable," said Dallenbach, who is now the chief
steward for Championship Auto Racing Teams.
"We flipped it over and I didn't want to see him because
I knew I had to race. So I just walked away."
Reports on the number of spectators injured ranged from
11 to 13. As they were being placed in ambulances,
driving rain hit again.
Not a single lap was complete when the race was halted.
Tuesday was wet, as well, and the drivers saw the red
flag while on their parade lap.
Meanwhile, the infield continued its metamorphosis into
a bog of mud and stinking garbage, and half the 350,000
fans went home.
Again on Wednesday, after another rain delay, the teams
tried again. The start was clean this time, with Bobby
Unser getting a jump on Rutherford, who missed a gear
Early attrition knocked out Mario Andretti, stock-car
regular Bobby Allison and A.J. Foyt, although Foyt
then took to teammate George Snider's car.
By Lap 42, Savage, the 26-year-old charger from
California, had taken the lead, a position he would hold
Savage was moving toward the front again on Lap 59
when he lost control of his STP red Eagle-Offy.
The rear of the car slipped out in Turn 4, and when
Savage caught the car it was pointed for the inside wall.
He hit it head-on with enough force to rip the machine in
two and trigger another explosion of fuel and car parts.
Year Car# Car Laps completed Start Finish
1967 16 Thermo-King 195 13 8
1968 20 STP 188 - fuel shaft 11 13
1969 40 STP 7 - driveline 12 31
1970 10 Car Wash Systems 28 - piston 6 30
1971 64 Gilmore 45 - valve 31 26
|Pollard's Indy 500 Record
Year Car# Car Laps completed Start Finish
1972 42 Michner 5 - rod 9 32
1973 40 STP 57 - wreck 4 22
|Armando Moreno Teran - crewman
Armando Moreno Teran, 22, was from Santa Monica, CA.
He was a truck driver who was elated when asked to
become an STP crewman for Graham McRae and the
Patrick Racing team.
He was in the pits heading toward the terrible Swede
Savage accident and was near the finish line when he was
struck from behind by a fire truck which traveling 60 mph in
the opposite direction of normal traffic. The truck knocked
him more than 50 feet through the air.
He died in the hospital from a fractured skull, arm,
shoulder, hip and pelvis, and internal injuries.
|Teran was running the pit boards.
|Looking back: Tragedy of '73 burns in Indy history
"They had everybody stopped there in Turn 4,"
Johncock said. "I think Foyt had already went up that
way and had walked back and grabbed a hold of me
and said, 'You don't want to go up there.' "
Meanwhile in the pits, Armando Teran, an STP
crewman, headed toward the accident scene.
A safety truck, speeding up pit road in the opposite
direction of normal traffic, hit Teran from behind at 60
mph and killed him.
After the delay, Johncock moved into the lead and
dominated until the race was interrupted again by rain,
which, mercifully, caused it to be stopped at Lap 133 of
the scheduled 200 laps.
"Seldom have so many things that potentially could go
wrong actually gone wrong," said Dan Gurney, himself
a driver until 1970 and later an owner and car builder
who was credited with discovering Savage.
Johncock's celebration wasn't much of a party. The
traditional post-race banquet was canceled and he and
many others on the team went instead to Methodist
Hospital to check on the condition of Savage.
A month later, after Savage's kidneys had failed, he
died of pneumonia.
Dallenbach also talked to Savage in the hospital,
because he was hired to replace him.
"He was kind of cheering me on and was happy I was
in a car, because we were friends . . . as good of
friends as you can be when you race against each
other," Dallenbach said.
"I tried to keep an upbeat conversation: 'The seat's here
for you, Swede, I'm just keeping it warm.' Just didn't
go that way."
Johncock's victory gave owner Pat Patrick the first of
his three triumphs at Indy, and he also had the rookie
of the year, Graham McRae, who finished 16th.
But Patrick also lost a crewman, Teran, and a driver,
Savage. To this day, he respectfully declines requests to
talk about the race.
"It's probably the lowest point in my life," said Patrick,
who continues as a car owner in Champ car.
"I think it was because of things like that that I really
never got that close to another driver," Johncock said.
"I would do my racing, get in an airplane and go
If there is anything good that came about from the 1973
Indianapolis, it was a new emphasis on safety.
Before the next race, significant changes were made to
the cars to keep speeds in check and reduce the
possibility of fire.
On-board fuel capacity was cut from 75 gallons to 40,
turbocharger boost pressure limits were instituted and
the rear wings were clipped from 64 inches in width to
At Indy, the closest grandstand seats were moved back
from the fence, and the wall Savage hit was moved.
(Just last week, the wall was fitted with an innovative
series of plastic cylinders and covering plates designed to
minimize the force of impact.)
"If you really stop and think about it and you follow
racing, it seems like before they take serious or drastic
measures, somebody always has to get hurt or killed,"
Johncock said. "It's a sad thing to say, but it is."
Over the course of time, speeds have continued to
increase but safety measures have improved even more.
Now engineers design and redesign cars and seats and
helmets to minimize the effect on a driver's body of
accidents, some of which have a force of 70 or 100
times that of gravity.
Drivers who survived an earlier era now openly wonder
how they did.
"Back then, it was like me sitting on this stool with a
seat belt," Foyt said. "Well, you were running 150 mph,
you're not running 250. But, hell, that 150 was a hell
of a lot harder than that 250, you know what I mean?
"Probably after me and you are dead and gone, that
stuff they'll be racing will be that much more safe."
Since 1973, three competitors have been killed at Indy
-- Gordon Smiley in '82, Jovy Marcelo in '92 and
Scott Brayton in '96 -- along with two spectators and a
trespasser driving on the track.
Although the tragic '73 race left the whole sport in a sour
mood, nobody recalls having doubts about going back in
Qualifying speeds were down nearly 10 mph, with Foyt
winning the pole and Rutherford collecting the first of his
"I thought, my goodness, we're never going to recover
from this," said the speedway's Carnegie.
"It was amazing to come back the next year and it was as
if people had not forgotten about it, but cleansed it from
their minds and were ready for another 500-mile race."
|Salt Walther's version of his wreck at the start of the race.
"What happened - what people saw - was my car hit a tire
on Jerry Grant's Eagle and flip high into the air. For a
moment it was up in the air and then it spun sideways and
came down on fire. It was like a blanket of fire on the track.
Other cars were losing parts. Some of the pieces flew up
in the stands. My car hit another and then spun down the
track with the wheels off it.
"That's what people saw. A lot of fans - and drivers too -
said that Walther blew it. They said it was my fault. I
remember, though,that when they pulled me out of the car
right after it happened, they asked me first, what was my
name? Second, where was I? And third, what happened?
I told 'em I was at the Indy 500. My name was Salt Walther.
I was a helluva mess at the time but still conscious. And I
told 'em: "Goddammit, somebody hit me from behind."
"I've seen the movies of that start hundreds of times since.
Andy Granatelli gave me the film of the race. It came out in
the papers that i said that maybe I didn't get bumped. Plain
and simple. You slow down the film and there's no other
conclusion you can come to.
"In that crash forty percent of my body was burned. Parts
of my kneecap were smashed. My left hand was burned
so bad that the tips of all the fingers were amputated. My
other hand - the fingers are at different angles to each
other, which you don't really notice most of the time 'cause
the hand's not spread open in ordinary circumstances.
Over the left hand I wear a glove, a black glove.
"When I finally did come back to racing, the other drivers
didn't coddle me about what I'd been through. One driver,
when he saw me, made a claw of his hand and with that
warped fist, waved and said, "Hi, how are you?" Billy
Vukovich called me after I'd been out of the hospital a
while and said "We just want to tell you we just inducted
you into the Crispy Critter Club."
"By then, I could laugh about it. For a while though, it was
touch and go. I was in the Michigan Burn Center for two
and a half months. They were going to cut off the left hand
at first, but the doctor felt he could save it. I had a lot of
skin grafts on it.
"When somebody's hurt, he goes through a helluva
rehabilitation process. I had to learn to walk again. When
they got me up to walk, I'd get dizzy and go sit back down.
Then they had two big fellas, two great big fellas, come in
and lift me up and hold me up in the air and let me try and
move my legs. But I didn't have enough muscles to do
anything. I couldn't walk at all.
"I remember the first time I saw what I looked like. This
was after I'd begun to walk on my own. There was a mirror
over the sink in the bathroom. And I looked in it. And I saw
myself and , honest to God, didn't believe it was me. I
couldn't believe it was that bad. I had no brows and almost
like a burr haircut. And I was wasted. I'd lost fifty pounds or
"I was astounded. I didn't cry 'til I got back to the bed. I
think I cried for about two minutes. Then I thought: Well,
shit. This isn't going to do any good either. But for a while
I was very depressed.
"When I finally got out, I was still weak. And I set to work to
build myself up. For my hands I got a box of sand. I'd
splash on the alcohol and take a handful of sand and
squeeze and squeese it. Then I progressed to hand grips.
"When I first got out, I remember I put on my nice-looking
crepe slacks and my good-looking shirts. And I looked like
a skeleton walking in them because they didn't come close
to fitting. I mean, I was skinny. Eventually I began to work
with the weights.
"See, that's where I was so fortunate. I've been lifting
weights since I was sixteen years old. And you know, hell,
I was a damn good athlete. One of the top athletes
probably in the country. But after the wreck, I looked like I
was fifteen years old again. A scarecrow."
Salt miraculously made it back the next year,
qualifying in 14th position for the 1974 Indy 500.
He made every race from then on until 1979 with a
best finish of 9th in 1976.
The Henry Ford museum owns the wrecked remains
of David "Salt" Walther's 1972 McLaren M16A