Kelly Petillo - 1935

This is David Story's rendering of 1935 Indianapolis 500 winner Kelly Petillo. His victory was the high point of a sad, troubled life that ran afoul of the law. He was convicted of attempted murder and rape, which cost him several years in the Indiana State Prison. Petillo's win was also significant as it was the first by a former winner as a car owner - Peter DePaolo in 1925. Petillo's riding mechanic, Jimmy Dunham was the last surviving Indianapolis 500 riding mechanic until he passed away on July 26, 2008.
This is the text of David's margin notes for his art, where he cites safety enhancements new for 1935, appears below.
"The Speedway made many attempts to improve safety. Helmets were required and green and yellow lights were installed to inform the drivers about the track conditions. Even so, the race would be one of the worst in terms of facilities. During practice and qualifying three participants lost their lives: rookie John Hannon, Stubbie Stubblefield, and his riding mechanic Leo Whitacker. Clay Weatherly, Leon Duray's riding mechanic, lost his life during the race. Kelly Petillo, the eventual winner, initially qualified with a record-setting speed of 121.687 mph. But this was voided when his car exceeded the fuel limit by 10 ounces. After replacing a blown engine on his second attempt, he finally qualified on his third try 22nd in the field.
For the 1935 race, Preston Tucker formed a venture with race engine builder Harry Miller. Tucker talked Henry Ford into sponsoring a contingent of 10 Miller-Tucker cars using engines and parts furnished by Ford. Sadly, performance did not live up to the high powered names involved. Only four cars qualified and none of them finished - all due to identical steering gear failure."


1935 Indy 500.jpg2.65 MB