win races, Fred," says Hurtubise. "Cars do. We can compete."
"I want to
win," says Carrillo. "I don't want to just compete. I want to
A couple of days
later Carrillo calls the deal off, leaving the 1978 Daytona 500 for Bobby
Allison to win.
Back home in
Indianapolis, Hurtubise shows a visitor around his homestead, a comfortable,
rambling house set on nearly four acres of land out on Crawfordsville Road, the
road that runs near the Speedway. Scattered around the yard are a pickup, two
passenger cars, three tractors, an Airstream house trailer, a van that for
unexplained reasons has been sawed in half and two fishing boats. In
Hurtubise's work area in the basement, a thousand parts are scattered in
disarray. Duchess, a one-eyed Dalmatian-pointer—she lost an argument with a
horse—patrols the yard, while Clink, a miniature dachshund, circulates noisily
inside. Unlike the homes of most drivers, Herk's place has few racing trophies
on display. Hurtubise says he doesn't like them, and besides, most of his were
wrecked a few years ago when a friend mistakenly pulled down a barn on the
Hurtubise property in North Tonawanda, where they had been stored. One trophy
can be seen, however, gathering dust on a shelf in the basement. It is the
Ralph DePalma Award, given to Hurtubise at Milwaukee on June 2, 1967 for
"perseverance in the pursuit of the sport of auto racing."
The house is up
for sale. Hurtubise says he wants to move south to get away from the bitter
Midwestern winters; his wife Jane says they are looking for a smaller apartment
in Indianapolis now that their children are growing up and spending less time
at home. Karen, 20, lives away from home and trains quarter horses. Patty, 18,
is a freshman at Purdue, studying mechanical engineering. Andy, 16, is a
sophomore at Ben Davis High School, where he seems to be majoring in
Hurtubise gets in
his pickup and drives over to the Speedway to give a visitor a tour of the
museum. None of Hurtubise's cars is on public display, but in the storage room
in the basement he points out the Novi he drove, for one lap, in the 1965 race.
Then he waves himself past the track guards and takes a lap of the racing oval,
slip-sliding on a recently deposited layer of ice and snow. It is an eerie
tour, driving in the whiteness on the old Brickyard in a pickup truck in front
of 234,000 empty seats. The track looks bigger from this vantage point than it
does from the stands on race day, more manageable than when 33 cars and their
anxious drivers are vying for a place in the sun.
pulls into Gasoline Alley. He stops in front of sheds 42-43-44 and turns a key.
Inside there are three cars. One, No. 56—the racing number he has had ever
since his record lap of 149.056 mph at the Speedway in 1960—is the Mallard, the
fourth and last roadster Herk built with his own hands. It has never made the
500 starting field.
In another stall
is No. 52, the sleek McLaren that the late Mark Donohue drove to victory in
1972. Herk picked it up a couple of years ago and has tried to qualify it, but
even though it is a contemporary-looking car it has had no better luck than the
Mallard at making the field.
In the last stall
is a Dan Gurney Eagle, one of the long-wheelbase Eagles that A. J. Watson, the
brilliant mechanic whose cars have won at the Speedway four times, had prepared
for Mike Mosley to drive. It looks like a normal race car, except that the
massive rear wing has been modified somewhat—it is covered with highly
polished, laminated wood—so that it looks suspiciously like a bar. Indeed, very
substantial rumors have it that during the month of May a portion of
Hurtubise's garage area is, in fact, a secret watering hole where owners,
drivers and even Speedway officials—it is said that Tony Hulman, the owner of
the Speedway, who died last year, was an occasional visitor—can get away from
the crowds and enjoy a bit of privacy.
The visitor's eye
is quickly drawn to a picture of Hurtubise tacked on the wall. It shows Jim
smiling and waving from the seat of a roadster, and the date on the picture is
June 7, 1964. The visitor is puzzled by the presence of even a token reminder
of that awful Milwaukee afternoon.