Wilbur Shaw was the top name in Indianapolis-type car racing in 1940 and 1941. In 1940 Shaw, driving a Maserati, won his third Indianapolis 500 and became the first driver to win the race two years in a row. He was a favorite to repeat in 1941, and with sixty-two laps to go he pulled in for a pit stop more than two minutes ahead of the second-place car. As he exited the pit, the race began to slip away. During his stop, he had damaged the spokes on his right rear wheel, and the tire began to tear loose. Before he could return to the pit, he lost control of the car, bounced off the wall, and came to rest against a concrete barrier, with a fuel-tank brace wedged against his spine. His career as a race driver was over. The race was won by the man who inherited Shaw's mantle as the track's premier driver—Mauri Rose, driving in relief for Floyd Davis.
Indianapolis was idle from 1942 to 1945,...
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