A few days ago I received link to a photo discovered by John C, who’s been know to leave a comment or two at My Name Is IRL. The picture linked below is of Bobby Unser at IMS in 1971, and for some reason there’s a bird on the front of his car. A very dead bird, at that.
Neither of us knew the story here, so of course when you need to know something - anything! - about the goings on at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the first guy you should ask is the track historian, Mr Donald Davidson. If you’re around Indy at any time during The Month of May you’ll likely find Davidson and his pleasant lilt on local radio or TV, answering all sorts of questions about Indy racing just as he has since 1965.
With that voice, he really should read children’s stories. “Once upon a time there was a little man named Mario...”
Anyhow, I fired off an email to the esteemed Mr Davidson hoping that he might not only know the deal behind the dead bird, but that he might also answer a question outside of May. It took him all of 15 minutes to respond.
I remember this like it was yesterday. He hit the bird on a qualifying run and it damaged the brake line. The officials did not charge him with an attempt, and after some minor repairs were made, he went back out for a successful run. Wags started calling him "The Birdman of Albuquerque." The bird was either lodged in the suspension or else had gone in through an opening in the bodywork.OK, I’m impressed. It's definitely time to give a plug to Mr Davidson’s “Official Illustrated History of the Indianapolis 500”. Buy it for that special someone on your Christmas List. Like yourself. Or Arni.