1940: (Winner: Wilbur Shaw)
Wilbur Shaw became the first back-to-back winner, clinching his third win in four years. Shaw took home $US31,875, plus the pace car and a refrigerator.
Fourth place finisher Ted Horn was flagged due to a rain shower after completing only 199 laps – one lap short of the full distance. This marked the only blemish on his noteworthy record of nine consecutive races completing every lap. He would eventually complete 1,799 out of a possible 1,800 laps from 1936 to 1948 – an unbelievable record in anyone’s language! Even more incredible: His nine consecutive finishes of fourth or better is the best such streak in the race’s history. He never won it.
1941: (Winner: Mauri Rose & Floyd Davis)
Cliff Bergere became the first driver to go 500 miles in a gasoline-powered car without a fuel stop – just the second driver to do the whole race without filling up – but he was using gasoline, not diesel. His Miller-powered Wetteroth finished fifth. Floyd Davis was the starting driver for the #16 car.
On lap 72, Davis came in for a pit stop, and was ordered out of the car by owner Lou Moore. He was relieved by pole sitter Mauri Rose, who had dropped out of the race on lap 60. Rose charged up the standings, took the lead and went on to win. Both drivers were credited as “co-winners,” similar to what occurred in the 1924 race. This marked the last time that one car would carry two drivers to victory at Indy.
The race was suspended for the duration of World War II.
The Speedway was in disrepair by war’s end and Eddie Rickenbacker considered its sale to real-estate developers. In November, three-time 500 winner Wilbur Shaw brokered a $US750,000 deal that transferred ownership to Tony Hulman, of nearby Terre Haute. Thus beginning the long relationship between the Hulman family and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Shaw was rewarded with the Speedway Presidency.
1946: (Winner: George Robson)
Again after the ravages of war, massive crowds swamped Indy for the Memorial Day Weekend tradition, with 57 entries. George Robson edges Jimmy Jackson to win, but would be killed at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta later that year. One of the more interesting entries is Paul Russo’s twin-engined Fageol roadster.
With one Offenhauser midget engine powering the front wheels and another powering the rears, Russo qualifies second-fastest, but crashes after 16 laps. Preston Tucker entered a Tucker Torpedo for the ’46 race. The car – a Miller chassis and engine – lasted just 27 laps.
1947: (Winner: Mauri Rose)
Teammates Mauri Rose and Bill Holland finished 1-2 for Lou Moore’s team. The team’s pit board was shown with the letters “EZY” to ensure they reduced their pace to get to the end. Rose (clearly a racer!) ignored the board and roared past Holland to lead the last eight laps and take the win (yep, definitely a racer!). A crash on lap 41 claimed the life of Shorty Cantlon.
1948: (Winner: Mauri Rose)
The race hosts the only six-wheeler ever to run Indy. Bill Devore’s six-wheeled (four driving) Kurtis-Offy roadster silences pundits by qualifying 20th and finishing 12th, albeit 10 laps off the pace of back-to-back winner Mauri Rose, who became a three-time champion. It was also the second consecutive 1-2 finish for Moore’s Blue Crown Spark Plugs team, but this time there was no controversy. With his co-win in 1941, Rose also became the third three-time winner.
1949: (Winner: Bill Holland)
After being second to his team mate Mauri Rose the two previous years, it was finally Bill Holland’s turn for victory! Ironically, Rose was fired from the team after the race for ignoring orders not to pass Holland. Rose’s car failed with eight laps to go, otherwise he would have become the first four-time champion.