Eddie Sachs "The Clown Prince of Racing"

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Edward Julius Sachs, Jr.

Birthdate: (37)
Birthplace: Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA
Death: May 30, 1964 (37)
Indianopolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, Indiana, USA (auto racing accident)
Immediate Family:

Son of Edward Sachs, Sr.
Husband of Nance Sachs
Father of <private> Sachs

Occupation: racer
Managed by: Eldon Clark (C)
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Eddie Sachs "The Clown Prince of Racing"

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eddie Sachs Born May 28, 1927

Died May 30, 1964 (aged 37)

Formula One World Championship career

Nationality United States American

Active years 1953–1954, 1956–1960

Teams Schroeder, Kurtis Kraft, Kuzma, Ewing Races 7 (4 starts)

Championships 0 Wins 0 Podiums 0 Career points 0 Pole positions 1 Fastest laps 0

First race 1953 Indianapolis 500

Last race 1960 Indianapolis 500

Edward Julius Sachs, Jr, born May 28, 1927 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, died May 30, 1964 in Speedway, Indiana was a United States Auto Club driver who was known as the "Clown Prince of Auto Racing." He coined the phrase "If you can't win, be spectacular."

His career included eight USAC Championship Trail wins, 25 top-five finishes in 65 career AAA and USAC starts, including the 1958 USAC Midwest Sprint Car Championship. He was an eight time starter of the Indianapolis 500, 1957–64, winning the pole position in 1960 and 1961, with his best finish being second in 1961. Leading the race with only three laps to go, he saw his right rear tire begin to delaminate and pitted, handing victory to A.J. Foyt. Sachs never regretted his decision not to gamble on the tire, saying, "I'd sooner finish second than be dead."

Death at Indianapolis

1964 Indianapolis 500

Sachs and sports car driver Dave MacDonald, a 500 rookie, were killed in a fiery crash involving seven cars on the second lap of the 1964 Indianapolis 500. MacDonald was driving a car owned and designed by Mickey Thompson, the #83 "Sears-Allstate Special". It was badly designed, poorly built and difficult to drive. In all fairness to Mickey Thompson, he requested USAC officials to visit his shop in California to inspect the car while it was under construction. Thompson had decided to have USAC inspect the car early so he would not invest money in the car if there was a chance that it would be disqualified at the Speedway. USAC accepted the request and passed the car with its ground effects package. By the time the car reached the Speedway in May USAC had changed their mind and failed it. Working in the cramped spaces of the garage area Thompson and crew practically rebuilt the car to meet the new USAC specs. These changes, removal of the fenders, changing to larger tires and increasing the height from two inches to four made the cars very unstable. Graham Hill tested the vehicle before Indy, but refused to drive it in 1963. Masten Gregory crashed earlier in the month due to aerodynamic lift. Other drivers took the advice of Gregory, and stayed away from the Thompson cars. Jim Clark told MacDonald on Carb Day, "Get out of that car mate, just walk away."

On the second lap, MacDonald lost control coming off the fourth turn. As the car began to slide, he came across the track and hit the inside wall, igniting the 80 gallon fuel load which erupted into a massive fire. His car then slid back across the track. Sachs, following Bob Veith aimed for an opening along the outside wall that was soon closed by MacDonald's burning car. Veith made it through by inches, but Sachs hit MacDonald's car broadside causing a second explosion. Johnny Rutherford, following Sachs had no place to go except into the inferno decided his only chance was to power his way through. Going at full throttle his Watson Roadster went up and over both Sachs and MacDonald taking the injectors off of MacDonald's engine. After clearing the weckage he was then broadsided by the NOVI of Bobby Unser. He then motored (on fire) down the main straight, through turns one, two, up the back straight, through turn three stopping at a fire truck station in turn four. Ronnie Duman, following Rutherford went to the left to avoid the crash. It looked as if he was going to make it through when he was rear ended by the out of control NOVI, which had lost its steering, splitting his fuel tank which also erupted. Duman then spun into the infield wall where he received serious burns. He was transported to the Methodist Hospital burn unit by helicopter to begin a lengthy recovery. Rutherford and Unser received minor burns and were released from the track hospital. MacDonald, whose lungs were scorched from inhaling the flames and burned over 75% of his body was awake and alert when he was removed from his car. He was taken to the track hospital then transferred to the Methodist Hospital burn unit by ambulance where he died two hours later. Chuck Stevenson and Norm Hall were also involved, but escaped injury. Despite being trapped in his car, Sachs' drivers suit was only scorched but he received critical burns on his face and hands. The car was covered with a tarp before being taken to the garage area for removal of his body. It has never been determined if he died of asphyxiation, burns or blunt force injury. One driver stated that he saw him struggling to get out of the car after the impact. A lemon that had been on a string around Sachs' neck was found inside of Rutherford's engine compartment after the crash.

The crash was well documented on film and shown worldwide. For the first time in its history, the Indianapolis 500 was stopped because of an accident. Partially in response to media pressure, USAC required that cars carry less fuel, and to make a mandatory minimum of two pit stops. The new pit stop rule negated any mileage advantage gasoline-powered cars would have had, so gasoline has not been used since. Every race from 1965 forward has been run using methanol or ethanol based fuels.

Indy 500 results

Year Car Start Qual Rank Finish Laps Led Retired

1957 88 2 143.872 3 23 105 0 Piston

1958 88 18 144.660 7 22 68 1 Universal joint

1959 44 2 145.425 2 17 182 0 Gear Tower Bolt

1960 6 1 146.592 2 21 132 21 Magneto

1961 12 1 147.481 1 2 200 44 Running

1962 2 27 146.431 27 3 200 0 Running

1963 9 10 149.570 10 17 181 0 Crash T3

1964 25 17 151.439 22 30 1 0 Crash FS - Died

Totals 1069 66 Starts 8

Poles 2

Front Row 4

Wins 0

Top 5 2

Top 10 2

Retired 6

World Championship career summary

The Indianapolis 500 was part of the FIA World Championship from 1950 through 1960. Drivers competing at Indy during those years were credited with World Championship points and participation. Eddie Sachs participated in 4 World Championship races. He started on the pole once, but scored no World Championship points.

He was inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1999.


Sachs married Nance McGarrity of Coopersburg, Pa on June 3, 1959 at the home of Harry Hamilton, a relative of his car owner, Peter Schmidt in Indianapolis, In. Their son, Edward Julius Sachs, III was born on February 6, 1962. Nance Sachs died on September 28, 2005 at her home in Clinton Township, Mi. She is survived by her son Edward III, and grandchildren, Edward IV and Meagan Sachs. After 41 years, she was buried next to her beloved Eddie in the Holy Savior Cemetery, Colesville, Pa.

Using the name "Eddie Sachs, Jr," Eddie III became a race car driver racing on the local dirt tracks in the Midwest, unlike his famous father, he never raced in the Indianapolis 500. He has become a successful businessman owning Sachs and Associates in Lake Orion, Mi. In recent years he has been a part-time car owner in NASCAR's Busch Series.

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Eddie Sachs "The Clown Prince of Racing"'s Timeline

May 28, 1927
Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA
May 30, 1964
Age 37
Speedway, Indiana, USA