Bloody May at Indy began on this day in 1973 when American racecar driver Art Lee Pollard, Jr dies while running practice laps for the Indianapolis 500. Pollard drove in the USAC Championship Car Series from 1965 to 1973, including racing in the Indy 500 from 1967 to 1971. His career included 30 top ten finishes and two first place finishes.While practicing for the 1973 race Pollard’s car clipped a wall which sent him skidding into the grass. When he hit the turf his car dug in and began to flip then slid upside down before flipping again. His vehicle was absolutely demolished and caught on fire. His injuries included pulmonary damage from smoke inhalation, burns to his hands, neck and face and a broken arm. He was pronounced dead at Methodist Hospital as a result of his injuries.May 1973 was a particularly deadly one at Indy Speedway. Aside from Pollard’s accident driver Salt Walther suffered disfiguring burns in a fiery first-lap crash at Indy that injured 13 spectators. Swede Savage, driver of a Patrick Racing and an STP-sponsored car died of injuries sustained following a restart of the race the following week due to rain delays. Armando Teran, a mechanic for Patrick Racing, was sprinting towards the Savage accident when he was hit by a fire truck in the pits. He too died of his injuries. The 1972-1973 racing seasons had seen the introduction of higher octane fuel and cars carried larger quantities in order to stay on the track longer. The cars also featured bigger wings and more horsepower. Qualifying times were upwards of 15 miles per hour more than the year before. In 1974 serious safety cautions were taken to reduce the chances of similar accidents, which included reducing fuel capacity from 75 gallons to 40 and raising retaining walls.
Pictures are Art Pollard, Swede Savage and Salt Walther. A photo of Armando Teran could not be located, aside from those showing him after being hit by the truck. Art Pollard’s crash. Salt Walther’s crash. Swede Savage’s crash.