Sport: The 500

The checkered flag dropped. Thirty-three low-slung, supercharged autos growled and pushed for position. On the straightaway, 50-year-old Ralph Hepburn got the pace up to a deafening 168 m.p.h. On the 16th lap, a Fageol Special bucked on the northwest turn, sailed over the wall. During the first hour, 14 cars had to stop at the pits for repairs.

The 500-mile Indianapolis Memorial Day race is famed as a testing ground for new auto gadgets. But this race, the first since 1941, was mostly a contest between patched-up prewar jobs. Only nine of the 33 starters finished. The largest crowd ever to watch...

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