Louis Meyer at Indianapolis, 1929

This is a photo fo Louis Meyer in the car he drove in the 1929 Indianapolis 500. He was the defending champion in this race. Meyer was the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 three times, in 1928, 1933 and 1936. He was technically a rookie in his first win although he had driven relief for Wilbur Shaw the year prior in 1927. Meyer not only won the Indianapolis 500, but  also the AAA national championship. However, the national championship in those days was far less sought after than in subsequent decades as the Great Depression sucked all the life out of motor sport. In fact, the 1933 season only included three races.
Although he ran a light racing schedule throughout the 1930's, Meyer remained a factor until his final Indianapolis 500 in 1939. While battling for the lead in that race, he lost control in an oil slick and crashed into the guardrail. The accident was spectacular and captured on film. The clip was incorporated into racing movies, including the Mickey Rooney lightweight movie, "The Big Wheel" (YouTube).  At about 1:21.00 in the movie. You'll see a spectacular shot of Meyer being ejected from his car. As the story goes, the force of the impact knocked his shoes of his feet. Barefoot, Meyer decided to retire on the spot. Take a look at the film, it's not hard to imagine a guy might take that as a message.
After his driving career Meyer demonstrated great business savvy, taking over the engine shop business own by Fred Offenhauser with this partner Dale Drake. Their engines dominated the Indianapolis 500 winning every race from 1947 through 1964, and then continuing to battle Ford into the 1980s. Meyer became a part of the Ford effort in the 1960's becoming the sole distributor for the Detroit company. When Ford withdrew from racing in 1969 Meyer refused an option to purchase the existing equipment. He continued to work with his son until eventually retiring.
Perhaps the most amazing story of all is Lou Meyer's participation in an electric vehicle race - the Electric and Solar 100 at Phoenix International Raceway - in April 1992 at age 87. The event featured cars prepared by Phoenix area high schools and Meyer raced for the students of Paradise Valley High. The machines achieved speeds of 65 miles per hour and Louis Meyer, not surprisingly, won his class.

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