IRL: Indy500: Andy Granatelli Legends of Indy Racing press conference

Q: We're here in the Indy Trackside Press Conference Room at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This press conference is also live on the World Wide Web on With us today is a true Indianapolis Motor Speedway Indy 500 ...

Q: We're here in the Indy Trackside Press Conference Room at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This press conference is also live on the World Wide Web on With us today is a true Indianapolis Motor Speedway Indy 500 legend, Andy Granatelli. Andy, welcome.

Granatelli: Thank you for inviting me. It is an honor to be here. I'd like to say first that it's a real pleasure and brought tears to my eyes ... when you have as many memories as I have. But I remember the good ole' days and all the wonderful stories you all wrote about me. And my cars and all the controversy and everything. And then when I walk in here, there are kids here who weren't even born during all the time that I raced here. This is my 54th year here. And it's a real honor and I'm real pleased with the way that the Speedway is growing. And very pleased with the way Tony George is putting money back into the track and making improvements and whatnot. And I think he has to be congratulated for that. It's a far cry from when I came here the first time in 1946. And the track was all brick and the grass was growing up in the corners. Weeds were about so high and all throughout the entire track... and the grandstands were mostly wooden shambles. And it's a big change and I've seen it all. I've seen it all. As usual, I'm a little bit controversial. You weren't expecting anything different from me, would you? I think that this is still the world's greatest racing facility by far and away. And I think that it's about time that everybody, in particular the people in Indianapolis, including the press, do what they need to do to help this place to get back to the crowd we used to have here. I think that... I think that the splitting of IRL and CART have hurt both factions. And I think that we ought to bury the hatchet once and for all, not necessarily put CART back together with IRL, but I think we ought to forget it. There's more than one organization that... Mario was here yesterday and he made the statement that he believed that only half the drivers were here that had, that could win this race. Well, his point was that his son wasn't here. Of course, his son hasn't won this race. And I'd like to see Michael win the race, too. But his point also was, though he didn't realize it, that CART has only half the people that could win races, too. So pardon me when you say that, but you say that CART's not a whole body. You say that IRL's not a whole body. Well, that's just not true. Only two American-born drivers are in CART and I don't think you'll find two drivers here that are foreign-born. And this is the United States of America. And here's where we all got started, including me. I came here penniless, absolutely penniless in 1946. We came... a lot of times my brothers and I, brother Joe and brother Vince, had to drive our 11-year-old race car down here, put headlights on it. We had no money for a trailer. We had no money for a car. We'd put tools in the car. We drove it down here and we did it for the love of racing. Well, you can't do that today, can you? If you want to do CART, you've got to have like 7 or 8 million dollars just to get started. And if you wanted to do it period, you could get by with about half of that. They're only giving you about half of what they should be. But no matter what, it'll cost you half as much to race here as it does in CART. And that was all we could find in the first place. And I think that CART, I think that CART will do fine on it's own. I think IRL will do fine on its own. I have to agree 100% with what Tony did. And the obvious... to go out reason that nobody's ever been told, and I'm not going to change that today, as to why Tony did what he had to do, I believe that IRL is doing a great job here. Certainly making progression. You'll hear the engines out there now and they sound better different and better than they did last year. The hazards have been fine. I think the 222 miles an hour speed is plenty fast enough for the Speedway. I think the best races that were run here were at 150 miles an hour. I think that they're running faster than 225 here the same, or any racetrack for that matter. Back in my day, when a driver drove by, you knew who he was by the way he sat in the car. You could tell by the way he held his steering wheel who he was. You could tell by the way he bent over the wheel or how he relaxed he was. You didn't need to see the car number. You didn't need to see anything but the driver. Anybody who ever saw Ralph Hepburn drive ... and you could tell who the driver was by the way the guy held the steering wheel. Rex May sat upright in the car like a giant. He sat with his arms straight out and he drove like nobody else ever could drive, you know. But now you don't see that any more. Because the guys are way down in the car. Well, that's fine. We're going twice as fast as we should go, but that doesn't mean that that's a great show necessarily. You understand? But... I know what you're thinking right now. "What's this guy rambling on about?" And maybe I'm about the fact that the CART cars came here, they'd probably run 10 to 15, 20 miles faster, but so what? We've already run faster than a CART car here. Arie Luyendyk holds the record at 240-some miles an hour. If that doesn't prove anything, they could run 250 around here. But what good does that do, to run 250? If that's your goal, then less show you've got, as far as I'm concerned. And if you run fast enough, they run it more an hour, at 500 miles an hour, that's cutting the price of tickets in half, get it? My pet peeve is when the race driver says today, "All day long, the tires ran fine." Well, that came about 50, 60, 70, 80 years ago when they had to run all day long. Now it's only 3 hours. So you talk about all day long. There isn't a "all day long" anymore. Maybe it's "all afternoon long," or maybe it's part of the afternoon, but not "all day long." Every driver uses that expression, "all day long." Bologna! Okay. It's a matter... I get to go to a movie and spend 15 minutes at a movie for $7.00 you wouldn't like that, would you? But now you spend $150.00 for three hours. In the old days, you spent $10.00 for 7 hours. Well, point? I'm rambling, but I'm kind of giving you guys some things, bits and pieces you might throw them out to or write about if you're interested. Let's go back to me for a minute. I'm thrilled to be here. I'm honored to be here. I was asked by a local television station yesterday in Santa Barbara, did I feel that I've lived for a long time coming, and that I deserved to be here. And did I resent that fact that I wasn't invited sooner that this. And the answer to that is, "Hell, no. Hell, no." I never dreamt about being honored here. And if anybody has a big head, it's me. But I never dreamt about getting honored here. I'm thrilled to be here. I'm happy to be here. I'm particularly happy to see the older fellas here, and Dusty who's not older of course, but... (whew). Saved that one, didn't I, honey? I had a lot of good times together. We had a lot of good times together. We did. Just great times. I think... I think I'll open it up for questions for a little bit, okay? Q: Andy, we appreciate the opening remarks, but Robin is ready to ask you a question. Talk about how secretive you kept the first turbine car and the secret tests as what ... and, you know, how tough it is in racing to keep a secret.

Granatelli: Well, we had the Novi here in '65 and I had the regular car sitting up on the back row tandem, top of the corner of the car. And everybody thought I was crazy. The car looked ugly, but I was already testing out the side-by-side construction. I put all the weight on the left side of the car and people thought I was a fool. But I was already testing this concept with turbine car. We built the turbine car with my two brothers and our crew of course when the car was completely in-house. Every single thing on the car except the wheels and the SD6 Pratt & Whitney turbine engine was built in-house. Everything. And the reason we built everything in-house was because we didn't want to go to any outside vendor to have them know that we were building a special race car. And when we built the car, it was built completely in the rules, completely in specifications, and we unveiled the car at the Ambassador Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. And we ran the car the first time it was tested at Phoenix International Raceway. And of course, Parnelli Jones had already decided he wanted to retire. And when I let him drive the car, he said, "I'll only drive the car if it has a lock on the race. I won't drive it. See for yourself." And contrary to popular belief, the turbine car did not have a lot of power. It only had 480 horsepower while the cars had 750 horsepower. But what the car did have was it had the ability to go along the corner anywhere on the track you wanted to put it. Under the groove, in the groove, under the white line, out in the gray stuff, it made no difference. The car could go wherever you pointed it. For those of you who've seen films on the race or those of you who were here when someone was driving a car, on the main straightaway, he'd go down, right down the side. He was breaking the car in. He drove right down the wall. He didn't get out there in the groove at all. He drove it right down the wall. Well, that's the shortest way around the racetrack. The other poor guys wanted to go around the outside. We were driving all along the inside of the track, all along the track. 'Cause the car has scratches. And when we finally built the car at Phoenix, he immediately knew he had a lock on the race, so to speak, if the car'd run 500 miles 'cause he set a new track record in a matter of 7 or 8 laps. The amazing thing about the turbine car was, it was already side-by-side construction, but it had four-wheel drive, of course, and the turbine power plant in that we never, ever adjusted a spring, a push-bar, nothing. I mean, the way we set the car in Santa Monica, it went to Phoenix and then ran... it came here. We didn't change a thing on it. They didn't do a single thing to the car to make it handle it any better. They asked if the car was designed to handle it in the first place. It had equal weight distribution. It has center. It had the fuel tank down the center of the car forward, forward from front to rear. All the other cars since then and before then always had the fuel on one side or the other or on the back, but never all down the center. That's why I put the engine on one side and the driver on the other, because the weight would be equal all the time. The turbine engine of course, only weighed 260 pounds. It didn't have any fan belts. It didn't have any hoses. It didn't have any water. It didn't need a radiator core, so it obviously took a lot of weight off the car. But nobody knows this to this day, but the turbine car was very heavy. The first car was very, very heavy. And that's because the first time we built the car, when we built it, it was extremely heavy. I think the rules at that time were 15 to 1,600 pounds. We were 1,900 pounds with that car, in spite of the fact that, in spite of the fact that the engine only weighed 260 pounds and didn't take any water or anything. We didn't have to carry a dry swimsuit, either. We didn't have to carry the typical two gallons or three gallons of oil because we had only a few quarts of oil in the turbine engine itself. It ran fine. We were very pleased when we built the car secretly 'cause we didn't dare... if they'd have seen it, they probably would have banned it before it even got here. But after it got here, I might as well tell you a couple of things. We were told for example that the flap on the back of the car was distracting the other drivers. Bologna! It never distracted anybody. But they banned that first thing off the bat. But we needed that for brakes when... with a piston engine, you take your foot off the gas, it's still through the crankshaft, but the compression slows the car down. But with the turbine car, you take your foot off the gas, and it's like putting the car in neutral. You keep going. So we needed something more in brakes. So we built a flap on the back of the car. When you stepped on the brakes, the flap would go up like an aircraft and slow the car down. Well, the drivers complained about that, not because it was too distracting, but to complain. The drivers complained there was terrific heat behind the car, that their cars were overheating and it was blinding them. They could see. They were choking. They couldn't see where they were going from the heat. That's all bologna and I'll tell you why. I might do a temp, but I know especially one, Mario Andretti and Al... and Al, Bobby Unser, and I were following the car around when Johnny Carson was driving it here during testing. And we got right up behind it with the pace car convertible, standing up on the top. It was like a balmy summer's evening. I said to Mario and I said to Bobby, "What are you guys talking about?" "Well, we had to say something, ha ha ha." You know. There was no heat behind that car. There wasn't. Besides, just common sense would tell you that you can't heat up the whole atmosphere. You can't heat up the whole city of Indianapolis with one turbine engine, you know. That being the case, then every time a jet engine takes off with... from the Indianapolis airport, the traffic is boiling over there. The airport would be boiling there, constantly, everybody. So several things had happened, but you know something? I'm disappointed that we hadn't won the race... I get asked two questions all the time. "Were you disappointed when you didn't win that race or any other race?" And they also say to me, "What were the peaks to your career? What was the thing that made you feel better than anything else?" And there is no such thing. I always looked forward to my next job, my next show. I never, ever looked back. I never took the time to feel sorry for myself or to say, "Hey." I only learned from the past. I never ran a race here that I didn't looked back, during the race and say to myself "What's happening now that I can learn from next year." And I always took the time to watch other cars. When that race is over, and everybody else went home, I'd go through Gasoline Alley and I'd go through all the pits and all the fuel tanks out there. I'd check everybody's fuel and smell them all. The guys who ran fast and who was cheating and who wasn't cheating. And then I'd figure it all out what was happening in my own small way. Understand? But I couldn't compare. I didn't go home and get mad about it, you know. The... I'm talking too much. Next question.

Q: (DID NOT USE MIKE) Half the drivers were (inaudible) given their reaction the first time.

Granatelli: Well, first off, I was advised by Bill Dredge, God rest his soul, that PR guy was on the line. That I shouldn't run the turbine car, shouldn't build the turbine car. My PR guy obsessed STP. He couldn't and he tried twice. And I said, "Well, I don't care. The treble and pitch is right. I know what I want to do." And when I got here, everyone was flabbergasted. The USAC officials... I received the all-time award, Mechanics Award, for building the car and designing it. USAC officials went on paper and said it was 'the best engineered car' that ever went on the test and then within a couple of weeks, they banned it. So that's the way it goes, you know? But I want to ask... let me tell you this. I'll tell you Saturday morning, for the press conference I've got to give with Tony, okay? I'll save it for then. But everybody was shocked about the car, especially when it ran. They thought I was a fool to start with, but with it running, they were shocked.

Q: Andy, as someone who has brought some innovative cars here and with this racetrack having the history of innovation here, how do you feel about the generally spec'd cars and spec'd engines of today and pretty rigid rules... just the spec-set cars and engines?

Granatelli: You're asking me, I believe... I would compare today's cars to yesteryear's cars?

Q: How do you feel about that? Do you like it as well now? Do you expect it to be more competitive?

Granatelli: I wish there was more innovation. One of the reasons, one of the reasons why the grandstands not full right now is 'cause there's no innovation. They built 181,000 Oldsmobiles last year and if you ask... is there people in this room that are going to have difficulty telling me what an Aurora is, okay? And if you go out on the street and ask people, "What's an Aurora?" They don't know it's an Oldsmobile. If it said "Oldsmobile" on every car instead of "Aurora"... they only sold 181,000 of them last year and about the same amount the year before and the year before. If they were Ford and Chevy engines in those cars like there is in NASCAR, then people could pull for those cars. But who's going to pull for an Aurora, when only say 5% or 1% of the Aurora fans are... that people are driving Auroras are caring about, care about the... you know, pulling for their own car. People have to have something to pull for. In the old days, they could pull for the driver because they knew who he was by the way he looked. They pulled for the car because it was either an Audi, a Maserati, an Alpha Romeo, a Lincoln, a Novi, a Duesenberg and I could go on and on. Every car was different. There were 4-cylinders, 6-cylinders, 8-cylinders, 12-cylinders, 16-cylinders. There were supercharged and unsupercharged. So everybody had something to look forward to and came here with their mouths hanging open like I did when I came here. Looking at the Novis, they completely mesmerized. If anybody did. They'd just watch the Novis and you thought you were hypnotized. You could listen to the thing idle there, just watch it and watch it. But this was different. You can't have all the same engines. Don't talk about Infiniti now, because who owns an Infiniti? Six people? You know, it doesn't make any difference. You need to have variety. And we don't have that variety anymore. Q: Do you think that variety can be achieved?

Granatelli: Of course it can be achieved. Of course it can be achieved. It can be achieved simply by just making the rules, opening the rules, you know. I mean, don't disrespect them, believe you're just going to come here... my son's coming here a few years back with BMW, but was told that he would have to wait two years before they could put the BMW in here. So BMW's not Ford or Chevrolet, but it's another type of car, so to speak, another couple of engines. You need to have more variety, not just run all one car.

Q: Andy, you were partnered with Colin Chapman between '66 and '69. Could you talk a little bit about the relationship you had with Chapman during that time?

Granatelli: You really want to hear it? I'll tell you about Colin Chapman. If he was sitting in the room, I'd talk no different. So the fact that he's dead makes no difference. Colin Chapman, when I made my first year with only one Grand Prix race in Mexico City and I had the presidential suite in the El Presidente Hotel, which has the biggest and best hotel and the best suites there. And I called him up, "We're going to talk about making a deal." And he walked into the suite and I said, "What do you want to have?" I'm ordering breakfast. I said, "What do you want to eat?" He says, "Nothing. Maybe just a cup of coffee." So I ordered my breakfast. "Well, maybe a little orange juice." And then a little bit later he says, "Well, make it some ham and eggs." And then, "Make that an English muffin," and then, "Well, maybe some chippers." And on and on. And before he got done, you thought he was too heavy to eat everything he ordered. You understand? So we got all through and I didn't say anything. But it ended up dealing with him... I said, "Colin, you know dealing with you is like you ordering breakfast. First you don't want nothing. You just want a cup of coffee. Then you want orange juice. Then you want chippers. Then you want, you want this. You want that. You're never in what you want." Colin never was satisfied, no matter how much you gave him. If he asked you for one thing, and you gave him double of that, he'd want to quadruple it. No matter what happened. But I do have one beef with Colin Chapman that I'll never forget. When he was building the Lotus cars, we had to move the fuel pump an inch because of the steering gear. And we had to extend the fuel pump away from the turbine engine that far. When I went to England, he showed me the housing he'd built for the shaft he'd built to extend the fuel pump. I looked at the shaft. It was made of (inaudible) metal. And I said, "Colin, this shaft will break. You can't use the shaft as is." He said, "Well, Andy, I ought to know better. Our engineers have stressed it, tested it. It worked. We've tested it in the lab and whatnot. It will work." I said, "Well, the only way it will work, Colin, is if you cut some little grooves in it. So that it'll have some torque twisting to it. Otherwise, it'll be so rigid it'll break." He said, "No, it won't." He said, "Don't worry about that, it won't break." I said, "Well, it's up to you. If you know better, go ahead and do that. From my point, I think it'll break." Well, we came here in April of that year and we tested the cars. And lo and behold, Jimmy (Clark's) car dies in the backstretch. So I said, "What happened?" He said, "We ran out of fuel." Well, it's hard for me to believe that Colin Chapman would let Jimmy run out of fuel in practice on the backstretch, so I didn't say nothing about it. Well, come time for the race, we're in the race. Of course, what happens? At 197 laps as I recall, 200 leading the race and the fuel pump shaft fails, the very same shaft that I said would fail. And then a little bit later Art Pollard's shaft fails. So both my cars were out of the race. Meantime, Graham Hill's car is in the wall. The paper recorded that he broke a hub, that he lost a wheel. He broke a hub and Graham's out of the race. It was Colin's intention for my two cars to drop out of the race. I owned them all, but for the cars I was running to drop out of the race and for him to win with the Graham Hill. He was quite unhappy when Joe Leonard sat on the pole and Graham was second, you understand. He wanted our cars to drop out of the race. Now then, the race is over and we get his car. And we check out the shaft, right? What do you think? His shaft's got the grooves in it, that he didn't put in my car. He put the grooves in his car. So he was playing dirty pool. You got it? Clear? He was playing dirty pool. He gave me two shafts he knew would fail, that I predicted would fail but he corrected them in his own car. Is that sour grapes? I don't think so. Just the facts, okay? Anything else you want to know about Colin Chapman?

Q: Andy, describe who you think is the greatest driver since you've been here, since '46, the greatest driver who's been here?

Granatelli: For the Indianapolis Speedway or for the whole world? Well, there's two different stories. If you take the greatest driver in the world, you have to take Mario Andretti although I'm not happy with him right now because of what he said yesterday, but he's the greatest driver because he's won Formula One. He's won the Daytona 500. He's won here 3 times as you know. And he's driven everything's there is to drive. Okay? So you have to give Mario the credit for it. Not to take anything away from Foyt, but he's done it all. When you take the best roadster driver for the Indianapolis Speedway, which was a truck. They were not race cars, they were trucks. Parnelli Jones without a shadow of doubt. I mean, he had the track down pat. I mean, he knew what the track was about. He's got a diamond shaped groove here that nobody here's ever seen. When you take the coolest driver that ever came down that pike, the guy that could hop in the turbine car and just tell him once what switch and gauges to throw and then he'd hop in the car and just B-LL-L-L-LL. And it was like he'd been driving it for 10 years. He could drive around the track and give you a complete and total report on how the car ran. Jimmy Clark, he was the smoothest. He was the best. He was the best, no question about that. But I don't think that Jimmy was the world's best driver because he never drove a sprint car, never drove a midget, never drove a stock car. He never won Daytona. Not to say he couldn't, but he didn't. But Jimmy was great.

Q: Andy, you always seem to have a passion for the Novi. Talk a little bit about the Novis and how you got involved in the project and so on.

Granatelli: Well, when I came here in 1946 the first time, and Ralph Hepburn qualified the first time and he set a new track record of 133-plus miles an hour. You might say, "133? That's no speed." Let me tell you something. The first time the guys drove this track in 1908 or whenever it was. The first guy, he was the greatest driver that ever occurred here. Every year since the first year, since the first race here, you had to be less brave to drive a car. The bravest driver was day one, race one, year one and down the line in other words. Because cars are so sophisticated these days that I could get into a car today and run over 200 miles an hour. No strain. Because the cars support you as long as you some driving ability at all. It goes where you point 'em. But in those days, they didn't do that. So when I saw Hepburn qualify at 133.9 miles an hour... I can still see him right now coming out of turn four, and the front of the car... all blue-white smoke and the front tires smoking. And he stepped on the gas in the Novi with a big blue-white cloud coming off of the car. I can never forget it. And the sound of the car was unbelievable. Now, you might not be the type to take what I'm going to tell you now, but when I used to own Novis, people would tell me... They'd write to me and say to me that they would literally get a furious headache from the car going by, not that they didn't love the sound. But it would give them a terrible headache. Some people told me that they'd actually climax from the sound. Print that. Write that down. This sound was something else, okay? Something else. Not when I owned the cars. I ruined the sound. I'll tell you why. Before I owned the cars, they sounded like nothing else you could ever hope to imagine. With this one Novi on the track, you'd be overheard over all cities, all other cities and cars. The only car you could hear on the track, all around the track, when it qualified. Or when it was racing. You'd hear the Novi all the time. It didn't sound like nothing else, nothing else you could hope to hear. Anyway, I loved the Novi. Everything else was nothing. When Novi used to park in the garage area, and the tech would start it up, the crowd would get around it and get totally mesmerized. Just mouths open, hanging out looking at the car. That was me. That was me. I wanted to drive the Novi so bad I could taste it. And I told Ralph Hepburn that I thought I could drive the car, he said, "You could get 140 out of this. I'm an old man." He must have been at least 50 years old at the time he broke the track record. And, of course, I didn't. If I'd have drove the car, I'd be dead right now. I would be sitting here right now because I'd have been going 150 for one lap, for half a lap, for one corner. But it was a fantastic sounding vehicle. Now, the real story behind the Novi and all. In '57, '8 and '9 the car didn't qualify. And it didn't qualify... I'm sorry '58 and '9. It didn't qualify because it used to blow the hood off the car. The engine manifold would explode and blow the hood off the car. Nobody knew what was wrong with it. Well, what was wrong with it, was in 1957 when the car was at Monza and set a new track record at Monza. It had a new track record at Monza, 166 miles an hour in Monza. The car misfired, the first time that the car could ever run with the engine running wide open. So Gene Martin, our chief mechanic on the car before I owned it, said to the box people, "What do I need to make this car stop missing?" Well, they said, "You need magnetos." So he installed twin magnetos with twin sparkplugs. We had to design a new cylinder block and put in new magnetos. Now, this is the all-time classic. I order... I buy the cars because they haven't qualified in several years and I've always liked the underdog. I always wanted to take something nobody else can do and say, "Hell with them." And even though I love the Novis, I think they're immortal. I'm even afraid of them. But I love them. And it's running the dynamometer at about 3,000 rpm. And I said to myself, "What's wrong with this engine. It's tearing itself apart inside." I couldn't stand it. It was going, "M-M-M-M-R-R-R-R" and I thought, "Jesus, this is not the Novae. Something is wrong with the engine." It was coming apart. I said, "Gene, what's wrong with the engine?" He said, "Nothing." I said, "Something is wrong with it. It's tearing itself apart right now." He said, "Well, I put the timing in the engine. It says 20-25 degrees." That's 25. I said, "Show me." So good old Gene, and there's nothing wrong with Gene Martin by the way. The man has my undying respect forever, okay? Gene took the motor off, took the cellophane paper from a cigarette. Back then a cigarette were in a point but everybody didn't know then. Turns it over the flywheel. And the paper comes out at 25 degrees. So he says, "Gee, it's 25 degrees, Andy." That's when it's point is open. So it fires at that point, 25 degrees advance. I said, "Well, do you have a timing light?" I didn't believe that. I said, "Do you have a timing light?" You point the light and it flashes and the silver scopes in other words. He said, "No, I don't have one of those." I said, "Well." I sent Ronny Faulk who's here by the way, I sent him back to Pat at product in Santa Monica to get a timing light. And Ronny went back and got a light and came back. Put the timing light on it. Put the timing light on it and it was 50 degrees. 50, not 25. Well, for your information, if you run a racer or a passenger 2 or 3 degrees more than it's supposed to have in it, it's going to burn it up. It'll burn up pistons, it'll burn up the manifold. But to put in double the timing, 50 degrees, it's the greatest thing I could ever say about the Novi engine. It didn't burn it. It just exploded the intake manifold because the intake value was still open when it fired the first time. So it fired not only into the combustion chamber, it fired into the intake manifold. So you had 120 pounds of pressure in the manifold. And it explodes the whole thing. The combustion chamber was in fact the intake manifold and it exploded the whole engine. So I said to Gene, "Set the timing to 0." Zero? I said, "Yeah, set it to 0." He sat it at 0 and he started it up and let it run. It had 25 degrees in it. It was a simple mistake that Gene made. In all history in Indianapolis, every magnetos that ever had gears, all the box makers, they also make it. It has no set timing in them, meaning they didn't advance. No triple action in the magneto. So what happened was when you put the engine on, when you start the engine up, we used to have a lever on the car. We'd pull out the lever and when you pulled it out, it would tighten the timing. Then you'd crank the starter or hand-crank it in those days or use an electric start. And after it started, you couldn't prime the moving start. And it would put a spark in the back like a little Model T Ford, spark on the rail. If it sparked on a Model T Ford, when you cranked it, it would break your arm because it was too fast. You had to take the spark out of it. So what happened was the Germans asked, "How much timing do you run?" He says, "25 degrees." So they put 25 degrees advance in it. So it took it in advance so it starts out with 0 and as you change and accelerate you've got 25 degrees. All previous manufacturers in the United States, including Bosch, didn't have a centrifugal advance in them. So if you understand what I'm saying now, he got double-timing by doing that. And then of course, at that point the engine started to hum. We changed her in '61 and I drove the car personally in 1961, 149.9 miles an hour. Dick Rathmann worked every day on it: 149.7, 149.8, 149.9. The car ran like the champ it is. Sounded beautiful and everything else, but that's all because the timing was double advance. All a simple mistake that was done by the Germans not telling them that they'd... he knew the centrifugal action in the ignition. But thank God for that. He didn't do that, I'd have never owned the cars. Q: We have time for one more question. Andy, can you tell us a little something about the making of Grancor? And what became of Grancor?

Granatelli: What was the first part of the question?

Q: The making of Grancor? How it happened to be?

Granatelli: Grancor stands for "Granite W. Corporation" G-R-A-N-C-O-R. And my brothers and I started Grancor in 1946 and a simply... we had a gas company we called "Added Super Service." And we went into the power and speed business selling high compression heads and manifolds and champ shafts and ignitions and dual exhaust parts in 1947. We opened up Grancor on a motor (inaudible). By 1957, I was 36, I was $14 million in sales in Grancor and doing $12 million in sales in calibrating muffler sales. And I decided at that time I wanted to retire. At 34 years old. Ha ha, right? So I decided... I would give the business, or half of it, 51% of it to the employees and sell 49%. So I found someone who wanted to buy 49% of the business and I gave 51% of company to the employees. And they got mad at me. They said, "What are you doing? You're abandoning us." I said, "I'm giving you half the business for nothing. You owned 51%. If you don't like the new boss, tell him to get out." I said, "It's not costing you a penny." "No, no. We don't know." These are guys that for years and years moaned and groaned about everything and as soon as I gave them half the business, they didn't want to run it by themselves. But I said, "Look, if you don't want the business, just call the auction in tomorrow. Tell them to auction bid it off here and you'll make hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that's your severance pay." Well, they stayed in business for a year or two after that, and then sold it. But I went to California and met Dolly and married Dolly. Forty-three and a half years ago.

Q: (DID NOT USE MIKE) I have one other question. If STP isn't associated with racing, how do you feel? Do you feel bad that the most famous 3 initials in the world for advertising are going?

Granatelli: Well, unfortunately the people that bought STP... it's been sold several times since it was sold. Never did anything after I sold it. Followed my advertising schedule I'd set up years in advance. They sort of followed the same thing, but never followed through on anything. But still it's a household word. If its sales are not what they were or could be, they're... the unit sales are down, but their dollar volume is up because they've raised the price double what I used to sell it for. But just for your information, STP was a great product. It really was. And what STP did was take the yesteryear's motor oil into today's motor oil. It took motor oil I made four years ago and then introduced it as today's motor oil. That's what it did. No more, no less. Okay? Anything else?

Q: Andy, thank you for your time. We appreciate it.

Granatelli: Okay.


Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Arie Luyendyk , Mario Andretti , Bobby Unser , Parnelli Jones , Tony George , Graham Hill , Colin Chapman