By George Thomas, Plain Dealer Sports Editor
Caption of Photo: THE SUMAR COMBO – The new Sumar Special and its driver Jimmy Daywalt pictured above will carry the hopes of Sumar Enterprises and the city of Wabash in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 500-Mile race classic Monday. The local auto driver finished sixth in the 1953’500’ and was named “Rookie of the Year”
Only a few minor preliminaries remained on the docket as the temp for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 500-Mile race reached fever pitch Friday for Monday’s annual speed classic, an endurance test for car and man, at the Hoosier’s capital’s West Sixteenth street 2 ½ mile oval.
The eyes of local racing enthusiasts will be focused on the middle position of the first row of the 33-car starting field when it roars by the starting line around 10 a.m. Monday. In that particular spot driving the blue and white new Sumar Special will be Wabash’s own Jimmy Daywalt, a boyish looking individual of 28 years.
Handsome Jim is making his second appearance in the famous racing show. Last year Daywalt gained “Rookie of the Year” honors when he drove to a sixth place finish in the Memorial Day race.
Veteran race observers will tell you that Daywalt has a better than average chance of cracking the coveted winner’s circle for the first time. His average qualification speed of 139.789 miles per hour posted on the first day of time trials is the third fastes (sic) in the field.
Jack McGrath, Inglewood, Calif., grabbed the pole position for the race with a record smashing 141.033 while Cal Niday of Tacolma, Calf., qualified with a 139.838. The latter is back in the first spot on the fifth row due to the fact he didn’t qualify on the opening day of trials.
The old qualification mark of 139.034 set by the late Chet Miller in 1952 was broken by McGrath and nine others, which included Daywalt.
DAYWALT has the courage, the car, and is determined to take the checkered flag first Monday. He has been in training all through the winter months and is at the peak of condition. Both he and Chapman S. Root, Terre Haute multi-millonaire who owns the new Sumar Special, feels that Jimmy can turn the trick, providing he gets the usual breaks it takes to win.
Talk around the garages, pits, hotels, bars, etc., is that the winner will be forced to break the present race record by almost two miles per hour. Individual predictions of the 17 pilots who voiced their opinions ranged from 129 o 132.5 miles an hour and their forecasts averaged 130.535. Sixteen of the drivers declined to make a definite prediction.
The present record, set by Troy Ruttman in 1952, is 128.922. Bill Vukovich won last year’s race with an average speed of 128.740, easing up during the last 70 pals after gaining a commanding lead with an average of 130.548 for the first 130 laps.
ROOTS NEW Sumar __ $35,000 investment, is one of the brand new Kurtis-Kraft 500C series “roadsters.” It is rear-drive powered by a 270 cubic inch Meyer-drake engine which is tilted at 30 degrees. The drive shaft runs to the left of the driver and Daywalt’s cockpit is offset to the right.
Jimmy was on the track Wednesday for a practice run as was his close friend Duane Carter. Both hit speeds up to and between 136 and 137 miles per hour.
The guess is, Daywalt will hard and fast right from the beginning. He has indicated that he hopes to drive about 136 miles per hour and with time chopped off for pit stops and yellow flags, hopes to average around 131 miles per hour for the 500 miles.
PRE-RACE activity ended Thursday and most of the driver’s attention (although their minds are still on the race) have been turned to the banquets, shin-digs, etc. Daywalt will attend the annual meeting of the Champion 100-Mile-an-Hour-club Friday evening at the Indianapolis athletic club and the Borg-Warner reception and buffet at the Columbia club Saturday.
Final instructions will be given to all contestants by Speedway AAA officials at the drivers’ meeting at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Pagoda yard near the starting line and the Firestone party will follow at the Speedway Country club.
The annual victory dinner will be held Tuesday night at the Claypool hotel, when a purse of approximately $250,000 will be divided among the 33 contestants.
All gates to the grounds on race day will open at 4 a.m. (CST) to enable the Speedway’s Safety Patrol to have ample time to get the record crowd of over 175,000 inside the speedway fences by race time. Officials stated the race will start promptly at 10 a.m.
GOOD LUCK JIMMY