The Sports Archives Greatest Moments – 1937 Indianapolis 500

There was an old commercial that stated that a particular brand of coffee was ‘good to the last drop’.  This might have been the slogan Wilbur Shaw could have used for his Maserati 8CTF after winning the 1937 Indianapolis 500.

Wilbur Shaw was a racing namesake back in the 1930s and 40s.  He won the Indy 500 three times and finished seven times in the top 5.  He had a 3 mile lead in the 1937 Indy with 35 laps to go when his engine began leaking oil at a serious rate.  His pit crew said that he was 1 minute and fourteen seconds ahead of second place driver Ralph Hepburn.  Shaw immediately calculated the speed he needed to finish first and still retain enough oil so as to complete the race.  When Shaw cut his speed in his effort to conserve oil, Hepburn quickly closed the gap.   Hepburn starting inching ahead of Shaw in the final lap and Shaw was wondering if he would make to the finish line.  In one last desperate attempt, Shaw pushed on the accelerator and the Maserati responded by edging out Hepburn’s car by 2.16 seconds.  The engine died just after it crossed the line and there was but a few drops of oil left in the tank!

Wilbur Shaw became president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1945 but died tragically and ironically in a plane crash in 1954.  He would have agreed that the engine in his Maserati that day in 1937 was ‘good to the last drop’.

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1 Response to The Sports Archives Greatest Moments – 1937 Indianapolis 500

  1. Pingback: The Sports Archives – More Indianapolis 500 Memories and Fun Facts | The Sports Archives Forum

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