Brian Boettcher developed his motorsports interest in the Milwaukee Mile’s south bleachers, and has a lifelong fascination with going fast, on two wheels or four. The History of the Indianapolis 500 series reflects his love of history and writing. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Brian graduated with a degree in Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His career has taken him to living in New Mexico, Germany, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Illinois.
The Fourth Volume covering the British Invasion era is now available.
Yes, it finally is. This was a more difficult book to write for a number of reasons. First off, there is much more diverse information available to review and evaluate. It is also more tricky because many of the stars "wrote" autobiographies, and legends were buffed a bit. I mistrust most of these, only using parts I can otherwise verify by other accounts.
These years marked the beginning of mass media, Newspapers, magazines, radio and television brought astronauts, stars and celebrities with their managed images into our homes. The era is the beginning of big corporate money flowing into the sport, for better and worse, and internationalization. Car sales were booming, and so was its advertising halo. Tires, additives, accessories, all vying for attention and sales. The country was full of optimism and prosperity.
It was common for the World Driving Champion and the cream of European racing try their hands at Indianapolis beginning really with Jim Clark in '63. Winning the 500-mile race was like being the heavyweight boxing champ. It was a pinnacle achievement, and everyone knew who you were, including mom. These legends, like Jones, Foyt and Andretti, are still common household names a half century later. You can even win a ride in an Indy car with Mario! How about that for longevity? And your spin will be many miles per hour faster than the legends drove in their hey-day. Amazing. And it all springs from the era Volume Four documents.
What is the allure of the Indianapolis 500?
Everyone has their own reasons for their interest in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. When I was a kid, it began hearing Sid Collins and his crew make the race come alive, with the great engine sounds and the electricity of the biggest single crowd at any sporting event. For me, today, it’s the history and the stories the event spins over the years. It’s nearly impossible to pick any one year and come up without a compelling story or two. People are drawn to the drama: Ralph Hepburn and the Novi, Bill Vukovich going for three in a row, or those space age turbines. And the rich cast of characters, some, like Foyt, Parnelli and Andretti, are still household names.
Volume Four: British Invasion (1963 – 1966) tells how Ford Motor Company and Team Lotus joined to conquer the Indianapolis 500, inaugurating the modern era of higher automotive technology supported by corporate money - especially the opening shots of the infamous tire wars between Firestone and Goodyear. Speeds climbed quickly until tragedy struck in turn four in 1964.
Volume Three: Watson's Wonders (1959 – 1962) tells the story of the how the racing creations of A.J. Watson came to dominate this era at the Speedway, to then be challenged by the rear engine creations of the Coopers and Mickey Thompson. Each year features an epic "500", with Speedway legends Jim Rathmann, A.J. Foyt and Rodger Ward (twice) the victors.
Second of five volumes closely examining the history of the Indianapolis 500 and American National Championship racing from 1946 to 1969. Volume Two: Roadsters, Laydowns and Another World includes the story of Bill Vukovich, USAC's formation, the growing genius of A.J. Watson, the "Race of Two Worlds" at Monza, Italy, plus details of each 500-mile race from 1954 through 1958.
REVISED EDITION - First of five book series examining the history of the Indianapolis 500 from 1946 to 1969. Volume One: Resurrection and Blue Crowns includes the story of the Speedway’s catastrophic opening, its 1945 sale to Tony Hulman, and each race from 1946 through 1953, examining events and people who shaped the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing" and its legend.