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By all accounts Jimmy and Danny, younger by five years, were as different as two brothers can be. At 5'8" Danny was only an inch taller than his older brother, but he had a slim build, straight almost slick hair and a penchant for painting and good books. The few formal portraits of him could be right out of a Brooks Brothers advertisement.
"We were 180 degrees opposite," said Jimmy. "I love to fly, for instance [he has a commercial rating for both airplanes and helicopters], but the first time I took Danny flying he threw up. Danny didn't know how to handle the Old Man, either. When the Old Man jumped on him he'd go to his room and paint or something. I tend to give it right back to him until it blows over. We would do anything for each other, but we were more like good friends, really, than like brothers."
Danny's official rookie season in any kind of racing was 1971 (although he, like Jimmy before him, had done a little outlaw running), and at the beginning of the year he said bluntly he was out to make a run for the USAC midget title. "I told him he was foolish to think he could win it the first time around," Jimmy said, "but he had no fear at all. no respect for cars or tracks. He had lightning reflexes and would go into a turn much deeper than he knew he could and still get around. He simply had the attitude, 'Well, I'll worry about that problem when I get there.' "
Danny, the charger, and Jimmy, the more conservative of the two, battled for the point lead most of the year. By October, however, Danny had the title all but locked up.
But tensions were developing, At a race in West Sacramento, Danny told his brother, "I can't stand the Old Man anymore. What am I gonna do?"
"If you can't drive for him," said Jimmy, "quit and get a ride with someone else "
Danny did. He picked up his racing uniform and adjourned to the grandstand on the spot.
Three weeks later, in another car. Danny did clinch the championship, and became the youngest driver as well as the first rookie in the history of USAC to win any of its driving titles. Eight days later he crashed on a half-mile dirt bullring at Corona, Calif.
"He was taking his practice laps," said Jimmy, "but I don't think he had any intention of cutting a hot one because the car wasn't handling too well. He hadn't even fastened his shoulder harness tightly. But apparently the car got to working because he finally let loose and on the first hot lap he slammed into the wall. I drove past and the first thing I noticed was a small fire under the car. I didn't think too much about it. I figured he had had an oil fire or something and had stopped the car himself. Then I saw he was slumped over."
Danny's throttle had stuck and his car hit the wall a tremendous blow. He was flung out the right side of the car and his head had slammed into the guardrail.