"God! The noise was fantastic. That's the worst thing about a crash—that terrible noise. I was upside down, ripping 300 yards along the wall, and all I could hear was clanging and metal tearing away and steel hammering and pounding. I had a lot of time to listen to it and think.
"I wanted to tell my brothers that I was all right, and I knew that the traditional signal was for a driver to get out of his car and hold up both arms. So I held up my arms. Which was dandy, except that I was still crashing at the time. I got my arms against the wall, breaking my shoulders, and suddenly the whole elbow popped out of my right arm. And I looked up at the wall coming by and got one quick blast that took out 11 teeth just like that. Finally the car stopped.
"Some people came over and helped me out of the car and I was standing there looking at the thing, trying to figure out a way to fix it in time to qualify, and then blood began pumping out of my left ear and I knew I was a cinch to have a fractured skull.
"But I didn't want to lie down in the ambulance because I knew that Joe and Vince would be chasing it in their car and they might get into a crash themselves. So I sat up on the way to the hospital and, sure enough, they came roaring up alongside the ambulance there on 16th Street and looked in at me, not even looking where they were going. So I waved at them and smiled that big, red, toothless smile and they settled down a little so I could finally lie down."
The doctors at the hospital would not let Andy go back on Memorial Day to watch the race. It was just as well. Out of the five cars, only one had qualified. Spider Webb climbed into it, and came that historic moment when Wilbur Shaw said, "Gentlemen, start your engines." Spider's wouldn't.
It got worse. Worse. The Granatellis tried in 1949; they tried in 1950, in 1951, in 1952 when Jim Rathmann drove their car to second place; they tried in 1953 and again in 1954 when Rathmann turned one of the first official 140-mph laps at the Speedway (in fact, he did another 140 in the race, and the engine seized and that was that).
One would think that anyone with Andy's luck would check the family background for old Sicilian curses and maybe quit trying. Granatelli talked of quitting, but the race kept coming back to haunt him. Besides, he had discovered the Novi, the one car that had to win Indy—except that it had already become notorious for luck even worse than Andy's—and he came back with it in 1961.
It had been love at first sound, from the time he heard the cry of a Novi engine at full blast. It was a shattering, marvelous, God-awful slamming thing that you felt in your intestines, and true mechanics and engineers vibrated like professional tuning forks whenever that engine wailed.
What Granatelli bought in April 1961 consisted of two rear-engine Novis, one smashed front-drive car, some blueprints and a vanload of broken dreams. Over the next five years he spent a million dollars or so trying to win Indy with the Novi, and he talked Studebaker, his parent company, into putting another million into a four-wheel-drive model.
Those expensive sounds thrilled Indy sentimentalists. Granatelli fed them more meat by adding a supercharger and jumping the horsepower to 800. Exhaust pressure running through the car produced an overwhine that agitated dogs just outside Terre Haute.