McLaren’s involvement in the Indy 500 has been interesting over the last few years. In 2019 they had an awful re-launch at the race but things really came around in 2020 and 2021. We mention all of this because the video you were going to see shows the Gulf McLaren team competing at the Indy 500 in 1973. While McLaren’s life has been dominated by Formula One racing through the decades, the company has good history and legacy at the Speedway, which is forgotten by many.
Johnny Rutherford was the driver for the team in 1973 and this film shows the good, the bad, and the ugly of the race. It even shows, in shocking detail the crash that killed Swede Savage. The horrendous wreck did not take Savage’s life at the moment of impact, rather it gravely injured the 26-year old from California and he lingered in the hospital for some five weeks before passing. It’s tough to watch.
The 1973 race was also marked by awful weather, days of delays, and ultimately it took three days to get the thing finished. It was also remembered for its body count. Not only Swede Savage, but also Art Pollard and a team mechanic were killed. Fans were injured in an opening lap wreck, and the whole thing just seemed like bloodsport.
What’s funny is that the crowd was understandably decimated but you’d never know it by watching this film. It looks as fully on Tuesday as it did on Sunday, right? Yeah, they just used old footage. Johnny Rutherford almost became the first man to break the 200-mph barrier at this event and we can see his heroic qualifying effort early in the film. This is a great look at one of the toughest Indy 500 events ever completed.