Feb 12 2009

Lou Meyer’s Crash During the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup Race Practice

Rupert, this photo shows the Type 59 Bugatti after it crashed in practice one day before the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup Race held on October 12, 1936 at Roosevelt Raceway in Westbury. Louis Meyer (wearing the helmet) was one of the leading racers of the era and the first three-time winner of the Indy 500.


Meyer's crash was elegantly described by James Cannon in the New York American

"Coming out of the second loop and into the short back stretch, on his warm-up qualifying lap, Lou's foot was jounced off the brake and onto the accelerator as his car bounded into the big sweep."

The blue-and-white bullet of wheels wabbled foolishly for a fleeting moment, and then dragged skinny furrows into the track as it spun completely around. As the crowd of 8,000 sat as silent as a funeral congregation-and they almost were- Lou's dust ship bucked like a broncho and then jumped high into the air, it wheels spinning and it motor snarling.

Finally, its speed cut by Meyer's fast-thinking in the clutch, it reared up to dangle over the three-foot high guard rail of steel-enforced ash. It bounced there gently, the way a little boy does when he straddles a fence and is frightened by the height, and can't make up his mind which way he will clamber down. Lou dragged himself out of the depths of the cockpit as the ambulance started it moaning wail, and the fire wagon's engine bell clattered. "

Boy, they don't write like that anymore!!

Rupert, the Buggati Trust website has the specifications for the Type 59 3.3-litre GP and over 400 images of the Type 59 including, the Type 59 Bugatti driven by Jean-Pierre Wimille. (#294 to 299).

Wimille's Bugatti can be seen in this newsreel placing second in the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup Race.


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