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.
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.
What motivated you to write this series?
Well, I didn’t start out to write a book, actually, let alone a series. I was minding my own business, out to find the answer to a question that had nagged me – Why did the 1968 STP turbines both suddenly stop almost simultaneously so close to the finish? I looked at various accounts that mentioned "flame out" but never explained, and then ran across the name of the Canadian Pratt and Whitney engineer who was with the STP team in both ’67 and ’68. We had a very nice phone conversation and he explained what happened, and allowed me a few anecdotes that led to other questions, which led to all sorts of interesting stuff I never knew before. The result was a cascade back from 1968 to 1946, and my eventual decision to write this history because none of this was in a single source. I’ve got two more volumes to go, by the way. The fourth, which covers the Lotus-Ford era, will be published soon.
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.
Free offering by new author. First of five volumes 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.