Art Pollard -- STP Lotus Mk.56-Pratt & Whitney Turbine

All I know about this photo is that it's from the "Rex Mays 300".  This was an Indy car race held at Riverside in 1967-69.  These "wedgier" cars indicate that this photo and the next were probably shot at the 1969 event.

I know nothing about the "Rex Mays 300" events.  If you could ID the car and driver shown here and maybe educate me (and this website's audience) on these races:  Please email me!

(8-11-11)   Ron Falk  STP Racing Team, Assistant Crew Chief,  1963-1973

"The picture shown here is the STP Lotus Turbine Car Nr. 20.  The chassis is a Lotus Type 56, powered by a Pratt and Whitney ST6 Gas Turbine engine.  The car has 4 wheel drive, inboard brakes (Girling) and a chain drive “transfer” case with a center differential, splitting output to the front and rear differentials.  This photo was taken at the “Rex Mays 300”, Riverside Race track, November 1968, the last race of that season for Indy Cars.  The driver was the late Art Pollard.

Also in that race, was the team car, STP Lotus Turbine Nr. 60, driven by Joe Leonard until late in the race when Firestone wanted Mario Andretti to get in the car to gain points for the USAC Championship..  Three laps later, Mario crashed into Pollard in turn 9, taking both STP Lotus Turbines out of the race.   

Both of these STP Turbines, along with STP Lotus Turbine Nr. 70, driven by Graham Hill qualified and ran the Indy 500 in 1968, with Leonard sitting on the Pole and leading with 10 laps to go, when the engine “flamed out”.

Following Indy, Leonard and Pollard ran the rest of the USAC Indy series with their STP Turbines.   On your web page, you noted the “brake problem”.  When it became apparent that the brakes were insufficient for short tracks and road courses, we fitted the car with a 2nd set of brakes, mounted outboard on the uprights, resulting in 8 calipers and discs.  Even with this set-up, it was difficult to finish with any pad wear remaining.   Riverside was the last race, and the last time any turbine powered Indy Cars raced. 

The photo shown below, was taken in March, 1968 at Indianapolis, where Jim Clark was testing the car.  In the photo, left to right is Andy Granatelli, Jim Clark, and Parnelli Jones.  Clark was scheduled to race the car at Indy 500, but was killed in a Formula 2 race at Hokenheim, Germany in April."

1-20-10)   From historic racer Eric Bernhard:

"Isn't this the Granatelli/STP turbine car? If so, driven by Parnelli Jones?"

(1-20-10)   From your webmaster:

"Did they run the turbine cars on road courses?"

(1-21-10)   From Eric Bernhard:

"I didn't know they did, but all the publicity was about dominating and then losing at Indy. The the shape got my attention, and then there is what seems to be the "jet" exhaust on the rear deck. I cannot imagine that the car in the picture could be anything else."

"Tested by Jim Clark, who would have guessed? This sure looks like the car." 
(1-21-10)   From website visitor John Slater:

"The Lotus Turbines were raced only in 1968,  after which USAC essentially banned them. 

Art Pollard used the number 20

'In the final race of the 1968 season and of the turbine era, Art qualified the STP Lotus Turbine 10th but crashed after he was hit by teammate Mario Andretti in Joe Leonard's #60 STP Turbine on the 63rd lap, eliminating both cars.' 

The results for the race.

I bet the picture of #60 was taken during practice, with Joe shaking down the car.  Mario usually sat pretty low in his cockpits,  not so in this picture.  Pictures of Joe in this car at other 1968 races look similar to this one. 

Note:  Mario's original car retired and he took over Leonard's car and pretty much immediately crashed with Pollard!  It would be a rare photo that caught Mario at the wheel of this car!

'At Riverside, Leonard qualified 3rd and was running a steady 5th before handing the car over to Andretti, who then crashed it'.  (Lotus Mk.56 thread from the "Nostalgia Forum".) 

Mario used a light colored helmet: Tremblant 1967, and Labatt Indy 200 1968.

The Pratt&Whitney turbine in the Lotus 56 was used in helicopters and stationary power supplies.  As an engineer,  I always wonder how they dealt with turbine lag.  And Indy, and on ovals,  this might be controllable.  But on road courses I imagine you needed to use the brakes in corners to 'wind-up' the engine.

I saw these cars race in Milwaukee.  They qualified well,  but got jumped at the start.  In the 200 mile race, early domination disappeared,  and retirement was from 'brake failure'.

Cutaway of Lotus 56."

More comments?    Please email me

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