At an Indianapolis restaurant a few weeks ago Joe leaned back from the ruins of a gigantic porterhouse steak and looked up serenely at the waiter.
"Dessert, sir?" the man asked.
"Well, yeah," said Joe. "I'll have another one of these steaks."
"You gonna give me a bite of that other steak?" said Andy.
"I'm gonna give you a hit in the head," said Joe. But he later carefully cut out a section of it and passed it over.
Andy, Joe, Vince—everybody in that rough old Chicago circle—dropped out of school to scramble through life, a fact that occasionally disturbs Andy now that he is an executive whose coat and pants match. And like a few businessmen left in this mold, he dreams of retiring—not to Miami, but to go back to school. What worries Granatelli most is that those unpasteurized, early-dropout speech patterns still cling to him. He has a fiery, colorful tongue, full of starchy items that hang there in the air, crackling with static.
What Andy likes to talk about most is Indianapolis. "Listen," he will say excitedly, "in 1946 we spent $5,000 for an 11-year-old race car. Jeez, it was beautiful. An open-cockpit two-seater. Then we borrowed $150 from my secretary and went racing. I mean, we dropped a 1934 Ford V-8 hot-rod engine into the thing. Trailer? Are you kiddin' me? We put in a battery and a starter, slapped on a pair of headlights and we drove it to Indianapolis."
By day the Granatellis would practice and by night they would drive the car out of Gasoline Alley and downtown to the movies. Danny Kladis finally qualified the car and raced it very inconspicuously.
For attack No. 2, Andy bought another oldtime chassis, and Joe designed a new body for it. The brave Pete Romcevich drove it, and the Granatellis added to the lore of the 500 by dumping water into the crankcase when the car blew out all its oil, it being illegal to replenish oil once the race begins. Andy tells the story with a wonderfully straight face: how the car ran for 400 miles more on that ol' water—only to blow the engine on the last lap.
Well, sir, in 1948 Granatelli brought five cars to town in the first of his big-time Indy attacks. There was no way he could lose, he thought. He had all new engines, which he had jazzed up to 198 horsepower. He had employed a fearsome lineup of drivers: Pat Flaherty, Johnnie Parsons, Jim Rathmann and Spider (natch) Webb.