Floyd Roberts, 1938 Indianapolis 500 Champ

This is David Story's rendering of 1938 Indianapolis 500 winner Floyd Roberts. His victory over second-place Wilbur Shaw was significant as  Shaw was the previous year's winner. Roberts was the first defending champion in the historic race to lose his life the year after his victory.
Below you can read David's margin notes. Note that there is a reference to Wilbur Shaw seeing the European Grand Prix cars of the age and encouraged team owner Mike Boyle to purchase one. Shaw competed against such cars at the Vanderbilt Cup Revival held on Long Island in 1936 and 1937. Tazio Nuvolari won for Alfa Romeo in '36, Bernd Rosemeyer for Auto Union in '37.
David's notes:
"1938 signaled the return to the single-seat racers and the engine size was reduced to 83 cubic inches for supercharged and 174 cubic inches for non-supercharged engines. Also, any type of fuel could be used and the quantity used was not limited. Floyd Roberts, driving a conventional four-cylinder, Miller 270, beat Wilbur Shaw and Chet Miller to the checkered flag. Wilbur, driving last year's car, calculated the speed at which he would need to drive to win the race. But he miscalculated the potential of Floyd Roberts and his Burd Piston Ring Special. Shaw drove according to his preconceived plan but was never able to catch Roberts. He had to settle for second place, finishing three laps behind Roberts.
After seeing the performance of European Grand Prix cars, Wilbur Shaw said he could guarantee a 500 win using one. Mike Boyle, team owner, took Shaw at his word and purchased a Maserati sight unseen. The car that arrived was not the powerful supercharged straight eight he expected but was the smaller Maserati 6cm. It had a 91 cubic inch supercharged six-cylinder that barely produced 155 horsepower. Disappointed with the car Shaw backed out. Mauri Rose agreed to drive the car and qualified it on the third row. It made a respectable showing by running with the leaders for 165 laps until its supercharger gave out."

1938 Indy 500 (1).jpg3.33 MB