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Black Noon: The Year They Stopped the Indy 500

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Winner of the 2014 Dean Batchelor Award, Motor Press Guild "Book of the Year" Before noon on May 30th, 1964, the Indy 500 was stopped for the first time in history by an accident. Seven cars had crashed in a fiery wreck, killing two drivers, and threatening the very future of the 500. Black Noon chronicles one of the darkest and most important days in auto-racing history. As Winner of the 2014 Dean Batchelor Award, Motor Press Guild "Book of the Year" Before noon on May 30th, 1964, the Indy 500 was stopped for the first time in history by an accident. Seven cars had crashed in a fiery wreck, killing two drivers, and threatening the very future of the 500. Black Noon chronicles one of the darkest and most important days in auto-racing history. As rookie Dave MacDonald came out of the fourth turn and onto the front stretch at the end of the second lap, he found his rear-engine car lifted by the turbulence kicked up from two cars he was attempting to pass. With limited steering input, MacDonald lost control of his car and careened off the inside wall of the track, exploding into a huge fireball and sliding back into oncoming traffic. Closing fast was affable fan favorite Eddie Sachs. "The Clown Prince of Racing" hit MacDonald's sliding car broadside, setting off a second explosion that killed Sachs instantly. MacDonald, pulled from the wreckage, died two hours later. After the track was cleared and the race restarted, it was legend A. J. Foyt who raced to a decisive, if hollow, victory. Torn between elation and horror, Foyt, along with others, championed stricter safety regulations, including mandatory pit stops, limiting the amount a fuel a car could carry, and minimum-weight standards. In this tight, fast-paced narrative, Art Garner brings to life the bygone era when drivers lived hard, raced hard, and at times died hard. Drawing from interviews, Garner expertly reconstructs the fateful events and decisions leading up to the sport's blackest day, and the incriminating aftermath that forever altered the sport. Black Noon remembers the race that changed everything and the men that paved the way for the Golden Age of Indy car racing.


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Winner of the 2014 Dean Batchelor Award, Motor Press Guild "Book of the Year" Before noon on May 30th, 1964, the Indy 500 was stopped for the first time in history by an accident. Seven cars had crashed in a fiery wreck, killing two drivers, and threatening the very future of the 500. Black Noon chronicles one of the darkest and most important days in auto-racing history. As Winner of the 2014 Dean Batchelor Award, Motor Press Guild "Book of the Year" Before noon on May 30th, 1964, the Indy 500 was stopped for the first time in history by an accident. Seven cars had crashed in a fiery wreck, killing two drivers, and threatening the very future of the 500. Black Noon chronicles one of the darkest and most important days in auto-racing history. As rookie Dave MacDonald came out of the fourth turn and onto the front stretch at the end of the second lap, he found his rear-engine car lifted by the turbulence kicked up from two cars he was attempting to pass. With limited steering input, MacDonald lost control of his car and careened off the inside wall of the track, exploding into a huge fireball and sliding back into oncoming traffic. Closing fast was affable fan favorite Eddie Sachs. "The Clown Prince of Racing" hit MacDonald's sliding car broadside, setting off a second explosion that killed Sachs instantly. MacDonald, pulled from the wreckage, died two hours later. After the track was cleared and the race restarted, it was legend A. J. Foyt who raced to a decisive, if hollow, victory. Torn between elation and horror, Foyt, along with others, championed stricter safety regulations, including mandatory pit stops, limiting the amount a fuel a car could carry, and minimum-weight standards. In this tight, fast-paced narrative, Art Garner brings to life the bygone era when drivers lived hard, raced hard, and at times died hard. Drawing from interviews, Garner expertly reconstructs the fateful events and decisions leading up to the sport's blackest day, and the incriminating aftermath that forever altered the sport. Black Noon remembers the race that changed everything and the men that paved the way for the Golden Age of Indy car racing.

30 review for Black Noon: The Year They Stopped the Indy 500

  1. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    "There are few events with more pomp and pageantry than the running of the Indianapolis 500. It is part Memorial Day celebration, part three-ring circus, and part Shakespearean drama." -- page 213 Garner's Black Noon comprehensively recalls the most deadly and tragic day in the then 50+ year history of one of the most celebrated and traditional of the annual American automobile races -- specifically the Sunday May 30, 1964 competition, in which a multi-car chain-reaction collision-turned-inferno "There are few events with more pomp and pageantry than the running of the Indianapolis 500. It is part Memorial Day celebration, part three-ring circus, and part Shakespearean drama." -- page 213 Garner's Black Noon comprehensively recalls the most deadly and tragic day in the then 50+ year history of one of the most celebrated and traditional of the annual American automobile races -- specifically the Sunday May 30, 1964 competition, in which a multi-car chain-reaction collision-turned-inferno at the start of the second lap ultimately claimed the lives of rookie Dave MacDonald and veteran Eddie Sachs. The book details the weeks leading up to the race, along with the many personalities involved (not just the drivers - including a number of eventual legends like A.J. Foyt and Bobby Unser - but also the car designers / manufactures, pit crew mechanics, sponsors, and various other track and/or corporate executives who populated the track for the weeks leading up to the event), the emerging technological changes and/or advancements in race vehicle design, and the attitudes / politics of the racing subculture. Because the author was able to adeptly illustrate some descriptive portraits of the two men who lost their lives - MacDonald, nicknamed 'The Natural' due to his innate driving abilities, was a speed-loving but otherwise quiet family man from Southern California who was participating in said race for the first time; and Sachs, referred to as 'The Clown Prince of Racing' by some, was a seasoned driver from southeastern Pennsylvania (woot-woot!) who experienced only modest success but was much better known and occasionally admired for his very gregarious and attention-getting personality - this was an affecting examination of the incident.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Doug Gordon

    On an absolute basis this book would not rate 5 stars, but as a book about auto racing it is probably the best that I have read. It helped that I recall this race very well, as I listened to it while lying on the floor in front of my parents' console radio on that fateful day. Garner does an excellent job of pacing the narrative and of mixing drivers' biographies into the story at various points. He also covers the technical details quite well, as this was an era of almost unlimited innovation wi On an absolute basis this book would not rate 5 stars, but as a book about auto racing it is probably the best that I have read. It helped that I recall this race very well, as I listened to it while lying on the floor in front of my parents' console radio on that fateful day. Garner does an excellent job of pacing the narrative and of mixing drivers' biographies into the story at various points. He also covers the technical details quite well, as this was an era of almost unlimited innovation with few rules or restrictions, which probably was a factor in why the accident happened. It was a time when someone barely above the level of a "backyard mechanic" could put something together to try his ideas and have a chance of getting into the field. So as well as covering the drivers, he does a good job of covering the owners and inventors such as Mickey Thompson and Andy Granatelli. The best section of the book is the day by day coverage of the month of May, which in those days was entirely consumed by the Indy 500. All of the experimentation, controversies, drivers switching teams, etc. is covered very well while never becoming tedious. By the time the book gets to the race, there is a feeling of inevitability in what is about to happen. This book should be read by every fan of every type of auto racing.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    This is the second book on the history of racing that I've read (the other was Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans). It chronicles the events leading up to the disastrous wreck at the Indy 500 on May 30, 1964, which resulted in the deaths of two drivers. It was amazing that more people did not die. Garner does an excellent job of detailing the history of the Indy 500, the drivers, owners, mechanics, the fans, and their families, and their passion for the This is the second book on the history of racing that I've read (the other was Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans). It chronicles the events leading up to the disastrous wreck at the Indy 500 on May 30, 1964, which resulted in the deaths of two drivers. It was amazing that more people did not die. Garner does an excellent job of detailing the history of the Indy 500, the drivers, owners, mechanics, the fans, and their families, and their passion for the sport. Most drivers, even when faced with death, had no intention of quitting. After the fatal crash, the race WAS stopped, but then restarted - if a car was drivable, then it was driven. If a driver could drive, he got back behind the wheel. Like Betty Rutherford, wife of Johnny Rutherford (who was almost killed in the race) said, "I knew that I would never ask him to stop racing because of me. He was racing when I met him. I married him when he was racing. So I didn't have any right to tell him to quit." "Black Noon" made a much bigger impact on me than "Go Like Hell." The latter is an excellent book, but it covers a longer period of time and a not-very-sympathetic Enzo Ferrari, while "Black Noon" concentrates on the time leading up to the fateful 1964 Indy 500 and the racers competing in it. You learn their histories, but the emphasis is on the 1964 race. By the time the wreck happened, I had come to care for the racers and even though I knew from the start who died (it's on the dustjacket), the events of the race still packed a punch. I almost cried. Books seldom have that effect on me. Heck, movies seldom do. This isn't a book about a disaster. It's about the people who love the race - the drivers, the owners, the mechanics, their families, and the fans - and how they keep going no matter what happens. Very recommended.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John

    I came across this book quite by accident a few weeks ago. Recently at a local racing museum they had a display of 33 Indy cars from throughout the history of the race. In the gift shop I found a book by driver Len Sutton who was Portland, Oregon native who raced in the 500 back in the 50’s and 60’s. Since it was deeply discounted (only $2) I picked it up and read it immediately. In the book was an account of the tragic 1964 race and a picture of Dave MacDonald’s Mickey Thompson built “roller sk I came across this book quite by accident a few weeks ago. Recently at a local racing museum they had a display of 33 Indy cars from throughout the history of the race. In the gift shop I found a book by driver Len Sutton who was Portland, Oregon native who raced in the 500 back in the 50’s and 60’s. Since it was deeply discounted (only $2) I picked it up and read it immediately. In the book was an account of the tragic 1964 race and a picture of Dave MacDonald’s Mickey Thompson built “roller skate” who was directly in front of Sutton seconds before the tragic accident. In the picture MacDonald is followed by Sutton, Dick Rathmann and Eddie Sachs. Even though I had heard about the accident that killed MacDonald and Sachs many times, I had never read in detail about it. A couple of weeks prior to finding Sutton’s book, I came across “Black Noon” while browsing the shelves at Powell’s Books in Portland but I didn’t buy it at the time. Once I read Sutton’s book, I knew I had to have this one too, so I immediately bought it. I am glad that I did. The book is a very detailed examination of the event surrounding the month of May, 1964. The narrative begins with short biographies on Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald. To me it seemed like the author’s focus was more on MacDonald than on Eddie Sachs. Perhaps this was because MacDonald was a rookie and less well known in Indy circles than was Sachs, but I don’t really know for sure. Nevertheless, I found this to be just fine since I didn’t really know much about MacDonald or his racing pedigree, which it turns out was impressive. I found myself really liking MacDonald was sad for him and his family even 50 years after the fact. Following the short biographical sections, the book then begins with a rundown of the entire month of May at the speedway. Garner explains many of the day-to-day details of what was at the time a month long bonanza of speed and pageantry. The race today is nothing like it was back then when practice sessions and qualifying would attract tens of thousands of fans. Nowadays the proceedings are condensed to approximately two weeks with little of the drama that existed back then. This is not to say that he covers every single day, but he does cover when something of interest was happening such as during practice sessions or behind the doors of the garages in gasoline alley. The subject sometimes is Sachs or MacDonald, but it may also be one or more of the other competitors and their trials, tribulations or successes. One of the things that I really liked about this book is that Garner covers most of the favorites of the day and gives short backgrounds on their past histories before going into detail about what they were doing at the Speedway in 1964. Included are the men who would become involved in the big crash, Johnny Rutherford, Bobby Unser and Ronnie Duman, as well as the race favorites and others who played a part in the drama. Of course A.J. Foyt is a big part of the book as are Parnelli Jones, Rodger Ward, Jim Clark, Dan Gurney and Bobby Marshman. Also discussed are Len Sutton, Jim Hurtubise, Mario Andretti, Jack Brabham, Masten Gregory and many others. The author covers everything of importance in this time of radical change at the speedway. The front-engine cars were on their way out and the rear-engine cars were on their way in. There was the beginning of a tire war between Goodyear and Firestone. The Offenhauser engine was also being challenged for the first time in decades by a new Ford engine. Some thought all this change was for the better, while others felt that the old ways were best. All sought every advantage that they could, however, and the rules were practically nonexistent meaning that they could try anything they wanted in their quest for victory. Another big change that Garner covers is the influx of road racers, MacDonald included, into the mix. It wouldn’t be long before they would largely supplant the oval track drivers at the speedway. All these factors made 1964 a pivotal year of change, even without the big wreck. As an aside, I especially enjoyed reading about Jim Clark, who had a significant part in this book. Of course I have heard of Clark and knew he was one of the greatest ever, but beyond that I didn’t know much. I found myself fascinated by him despite not being a follower of Formula One or the European racing scene in general. I will be seeking out material on him in the future. One of the most important aspects of this book is the examination of MacDonald’s car owner, Mickey Thompson and his creations. Thompson’s cars were ahead of their time and were possibly the biggest factor leading up to the big crash. They and their creator are discussed at some length. I found Garner’s style enjoyable and easily read. The book was a very quick read, yet extremely informative. Even though I am an Indy 500 fanatic, I learned a great deal about the speedway in general and the 1964 race in particular. I only wish that the ramifications of the race had been discussed a little bit more than they were in relation to the changes wrought by the new cars, drivers and the tire wars since these things had major impacts for the future. That said, the author does deliver on the premise of his book, so this is just nit-picking on my part. The only other quibble was that I think there should have been more pictures. As it was there were no pictures of the Sachs or MacDonald cars at all. I would also have been interested in seeing the cars of Colin Chapman (Jim Clark and Dan Gurney), the A.J. Watson rear engine car of Rodger Ward and the Novi of Bobby Unser. Overall, I found this book to be an excellent and highly readable study of the 1964 Indy 500, a race that would usher in major changes at the speedway. I believe this book would be of interest to anyone, even people who are not necessarily auto racing fans. Racing fans of all types should love it and it is required reading for fans of the Indy 500.

  5. 4 out of 5

    William

    The 48th edition of the 500 was a watershed event on many levels. Firstly for the technological revolution which turned the status quo upside down, then for the lap 2 accident that stunned in its sheer violence. Such a poignant mix of triumph and tragedy, that indeed forced positive changes in the sport. By far the best account of the Indianapolis 500 of 1964. It took *me* back in time as well. This 10 year old was listening to his very first race in real time (no Wide World of Sports tape delay) The 48th edition of the 500 was a watershed event on many levels. Firstly for the technological revolution which turned the status quo upside down, then for the lap 2 accident that stunned in its sheer violence. Such a poignant mix of triumph and tragedy, that indeed forced positive changes in the sport. By far the best account of the Indianapolis 500 of 1964. It took *me* back in time as well. This 10 year old was listening to his very first race in real time (no Wide World of Sports tape delay). I remember very clearly Sid Collins' radio broadcast- all of it, including Collins' eulogy for Eddie Sachs, as I tried to understand the dark side of this sport I was so drawn to. My reference reading for this race was the August 1964 edition of Motor Trend magazine. Art Garner filled in more blanks in the narrative than I can count, and gave dimension to two doomed humans. While I will quibble with the proofreaders (a couple of drivers' names mispelled), this *is* a book I will recommend if you wish to understand what Paul Pfanner of RACER magazine called the "dark beauty" of motorsport, and why *this* race matters. Still. P.S. There is *still* magic in the name "LOTUS Powered By FORD".

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gwen

    I’m interested in racing, primarily (though not only) bc my partner has restored and raced open wheel vintage cars. Black Noon firstly is an excellent accounting of a fateful crash in 1964–you meet the drivers, understand what went wrong and the story is told excellently. It was a page turner for someone that didn’t know who would be in the crash or how it happened. Secondly, it’s a story of how technological advancement without regulation can cost lives. The crash takes place when there was compe I’m interested in racing, primarily (though not only) bc my partner has restored and raced open wheel vintage cars. Black Noon firstly is an excellent accounting of a fateful crash in 1964–you meet the drivers, understand what went wrong and the story is told excellently. It was a page turner for someone that didn’t know who would be in the crash or how it happened. Secondly, it’s a story of how technological advancement without regulation can cost lives. The crash takes place when there was competition between rear engine and front engine cars, tire manufacturers were experimenting with compounds, there were different fuel mixes people tried, and the shape and design of cars were all the time changing. It’s incredible how many men died in in the 60’s from auto racing in the pursuit of greatness and how different the sport is now. Highly recommend.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Malcolm Havard

    As a writer of historical fiction I appreciate a great story, well told and this hits the mark in both respects. Even if you are not a fan of motor racing this book has to appeal. It has so much in it that's compelling; an aging every-man (Eddie Sachs) who had dragged himself up from nowhere to be a front runner but whose time to succeed was running out, the young prospect (Davy MacDonald) who'd been tempted into America's biggest race by an innovative but, perhaps, impetuous designer (Mickey Th As a writer of historical fiction I appreciate a great story, well told and this hits the mark in both respects. Even if you are not a fan of motor racing this book has to appeal. It has so much in it that's compelling; an aging every-man (Eddie Sachs) who had dragged himself up from nowhere to be a front runner but whose time to succeed was running out, the young prospect (Davy MacDonald) who'd been tempted into America's biggest race by an innovative but, perhaps, impetuous designer (Mickey Thompson), all competing at a time when technology was moving on but safety was a secondary consideration. Moving, dramatic, yet never melodramatic, Art Garner's impeccably researched book is heartily recommended.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Johnny Brown

    The 1964 Indy 500 and events leading up to it are covered in great detail. The tragedy that struck and the aftermath is touched on as well. Garner does fantastic work to keep the book interesting but possibly a little too detailed for those who aren’t race fans. Outside of a few chapters that I felt drug on a little it’s a classic book especially for Indy fans.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    A very detailed account of the events leading up to and the crash that took the lives of Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald and stopped the Indianapolis 500 in 1964.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    This book was given to me by a friend who knows I enjoy auto racing, but whether she knew of the local connection I have to this book I am unsure. 'Black Noon' tells the story of the 1964 Indy 500, a full 20 years before I was born, but still remembered to this day because of the tragic crash that occurred on the very first lap of the race, which caused the deaths of drivers Dave MacDonald and Eddie Sachs, the latter from Allentown, PA, the city I've called home my whole life. I would watch the This book was given to me by a friend who knows I enjoy auto racing, but whether she knew of the local connection I have to this book I am unsure. 'Black Noon' tells the story of the 1964 Indy 500, a full 20 years before I was born, but still remembered to this day because of the tragic crash that occurred on the very first lap of the race, which caused the deaths of drivers Dave MacDonald and Eddie Sachs, the latter from Allentown, PA, the city I've called home my whole life. I would watch the Indy 500 at my grandparents' home during our annual Memorial Day family picnic, and often my grandmother would recall that race and how many tributes there were in the local papers to Sachs, at the time one of the biggest celebrities from Allentown. I had read a few blurbs about the race and the accident, but none were near as comprehensive as this book. Most of the book actually focused on the lead-up to the race, going back to the beginnings of the Indy 500 all the way through to the green flag in '64. While all the history and background may seem boring to the non-race fan or non-mechanically inclined individual, of which I am definitely in the latter group, it proved absolutely necessary to explain the how and why of the accident. Back in the 1960s, Indy Car racing wasn't as streamlined as it is today where there are 2 or 3 car manufacturers, and everyone uses the same tires and fuel. Instead, there were vehicles from practically every domestic and some foreign manufacturers trying to qualify, some being cars and styles run in years past, others new and experimental models being fine tuned with every lap of practice. Some had engines in the front, others in the back. Multiple tire makers were trying to get teams to use their race tires, with varying degree of success. Owners were debating whether to use an alcohol-based fuel or gasoline, one giving faster speeds while the other burned slower, potentially negating the need for pit stops. There was even variability in who would be driving each car, with owners and crew chiefs trying to form the ideal team and drivers trying out various rides in hopes of finding a fast car that they felt safe driving. This was the stuff they didn't mention in the blurbs. Naturally, a lot of focus was on the two drivers, who seemed like polar opposites. MacDonald was a newcomer to Indy Car racing, having tried his hand at other kinds of racing and finding success, primarily on the West Coast. Sachs was a veteran of the Indy 500, coming close to winning in years past, who told his family that he would retire with a victory, which he would view as reaching the peak of his driving career. MacDonald was very serious and focused on the task at hand, but perhaps a bit bold and aggressive when it came to racing. Sachs was known as the 'Clown Prince' of racing, and a fan favorite, but his experience taught him how best to handle the challenges of Indy, as indicated by his previous near-victories at the track. Yet thanks to the craziness that was the month of May in Indianapolis, with multiple days of practice and qualifying that enabled the frequent swapping of drivers and cars and parts for each of the 33 entries, the brash rookie and the seasoned veteran found their cars (Eddie's) nose-to-tail (Dave's) in the starting lineup. Unfortunately, something went wrong and MacDonald's car ended up crashing, with Sachs immediately hitting him, directly in the fuel tank, at full speed, sending up a black cloud that obscured the vision of both the other drivers on the track and the spectators in the stands and on pit road. Going into the book, readers know this is going to happen, that the 2 drivers will not survive, but after Garner spends so much time developing their story and the events that preceded the race, it still feels like a punch in the gut when he writes about the accident, and the remainder of the race, which continued to completion despite the tragedy. I also liked that Garner followed up on the other drivers and notable figures in the 1964 race, some of whom went on to be legends of the sport, others faded into obscurity, and, sadly, more than a few lost their lives in future racing accidents. Also, he covered what safety changes occurred as a result of this crash, as well as those resulting from other incidents, much the same as it took Dale Earnhardt's death to prompt big changes in stock car racing, with smaller changes coming each time a driver was seriously hurt. Overall, a very comprehensive book detailing one of the most significant events in racing history, and a worthwhile read for those interested in the first 50 years of Indy Car racing, specifically the early 1960s, and this particular accident.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mac McCormick III

    Black Noon: They Year They Stopped the Indy 500 by Art Garner is a book that is extraordinarily hard to put down, so much so that I read it in just a few days. Garner has done a wonderful job describing the 1964 Indianapolis 500, a watershed race in IndyCar racing history. Garner tells two intertwining stories: one about the tragic crash that took the lives of two racers and one about a change in the sport. It very much reminded me of one of my other favorite motor sports history books - Go Like Black Noon: They Year They Stopped the Indy 500 by Art Garner is a book that is extraordinarily hard to put down, so much so that I read it in just a few days. Garner has done a wonderful job describing the 1964 Indianapolis 500, a watershed race in IndyCar racing history. Garner tells two intertwining stories: one about the tragic crash that took the lives of two racers and one about a change in the sport. It very much reminded me of one of my other favorite motor sports history books - Go Like Hell by A.J. Baime (given that the two books cover a similar time and include some of the same personalities I would suggest Go Like Hell as an excellent companion read to Black Noon). Black Noon doesn't just focus on Dave McDonald and Eddie Sachs, the two racers killed in the crash that is the climax of the book. He also includes other racers such as A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Dan Gurney, Jim Clark, and Bobby Unser and tells the story from their perspective. Owners such as Agajanian, Chapman, Granatelli, and Thompson are pivotal as well. The race is also described from the perspective of wives and family members. Two other perspectives worth mentioning are those of Humpy Wheeler, then doing PR work for Firestone and Donald Davidson, the fan who would become the official historian of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. One of the things I enjoyed the most was how the author didn't just drop these personalities into the narrative; he took the time to develop their personalities and backgrounds. Ultimately, the book doesn't attempt to pin blame for the crash on a driver, car or owner. The facts are presented and perspectives are offered but it never tries to blame it one person or thing; as a matter of fact after reading the book it's easy to come to the conclusion that the crash was caused by a confluence of multiple factors. Garner didn't just develop personalities, he also developed the transition from the front engine race car to the rear engine race car, which is the book's second plot line. While not being overly technical, he describes the advantages and disadvantages of the two types of cars in a way that non racing fans or casual racing fans would understand. He also tells the story of the competing types of fuel and the tire competition between Firestone, Goodyear, and Dunlop. Garner develops the race as a pivotal point in Indianapolis 500 history, he shows how things were stagnant in the years leading up to the 1964 race and how rapid change in not just performance technology but safety as well began after the 1964 race. I come away from reading Black Noon with better knowledge of what happened in the Indianapolis 500 and better insights into the personalities involved. It also reinforced my belief that controversy in motor sport is nothing new under the sun, be it real or perceived impartiality on the part of officials, resistance to change, or slow reaction to safety issues. It was an excellent read and a great motor sports history book. Whether you're a fan of the racers or a fan of the cars (or even, like me, a fan of both), this is a book for you. I'd highly recommend it to any motor sports fan, especially IndyCar and Indianapolis 500 fans.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    “Black Noon” is ultimately about the death of two racing drivers during the 1964 Indianapolis 500, Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald. While on the surface the subject matter may seem dark and tragic (and it is), it is what’s going on behind the scenes where I find this book truly fascinating. Before I continue I should tell you that I saw my very first Indianapolis 500 this year (2016) before I read this book. It was the 100th running and I was fortunate enough to have tickets and went with my aunt “Black Noon” is ultimately about the death of two racing drivers during the 1964 Indianapolis 500, Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald. While on the surface the subject matter may seem dark and tragic (and it is), it is what’s going on behind the scenes where I find this book truly fascinating. Before I continue I should tell you that I saw my very first Indianapolis 500 this year (2016) before I read this book. It was the 100th running and I was fortunate enough to have tickets and went with my aunt to see the “greatest spectacle in racing.” The second I walked into the Speedway, I knew I was hooked. The sounds, the smells, the speed! So when the author describes to you what it is like to be at the track for the month of May for practice, qualifying and race day, his descriptions are spot on! This book does an excellent job of looking at the Indianapolis 500 through the eyes of all those who participated in it. Art Garner takes you inside what it was like to be a driver during that era in stunning detail since he interviewed the surviving drivers. He also chronicles what it is like to be a car owner, a spouse of a driver, a family member, and a fan of auto racing in 1964. The author does such a great job at telling the back story of each group of people that I was truly blown away. So many things are going on simultaneously and the tension is so high that you as a reader have no choice but to keep turning the pages to find out what’s going to happen next! All of this leading up to the big day itself; RACE DAY! To me this book represents not only the pinnacle of man’s quest for speed, but also what happens when that quest reaches the limit of our knowledge. That fusion of technology and thirst to go faster pushed us past the boundaries of control. While auto racing is clearly a dangerous sport, when you read this book you learn that at that time (1964) there were no rules regarding weight of the car, fuel limit amounts (maximum amount a car could carry), that you could use gasoline or other fuel blend, your mind starts to spin. Even before you know the outcome of what happens I said to myself: “Hell No!” to the lack of safety at the time. But that is in hindsight. That is what we know NOW. I’m sure someone saw what was going on and said “Uh…” But mankind demands that we push things as far as we can go, and this almost always results in tragedy. But after a tragedy of this magnitude there is always what I like to call a “learning opportunity.” From engineers, to car owners, to fans. People go back and analyze what happened so we can find out what went wrong and not only fix it, but make sure that incidents like this don’t happen in the future. Lessons were learned, things were fixed and racing went on. And through this learning, we realize what it means to be truly human. We are explorers. We are learners. Mankind was meant to keep pushing the boundaries of our knowledge so we can see how far and how fast we can actually go. There is true beauty in that. I highly recommend this book to the casual sports fan and to the hard core racing enthusiast.

  13. 5 out of 5

    R.J. Murphy

    Thank you for the book Goodreads. Wow! I didn’t know anything about the Indy 500 until I read this book. Now I feel like I know a lot. Black Noon tells the story of the 1964 Indy 500. One of the things I learned is that the Indy 500 is not just a car race, it is an event- a very large event that is supported by an army of professionals and volunteers. The author gives a brief history of the Indy 500 followed by a detailed description of everyone involved in this particular race. The accident at Thank you for the book Goodreads. Wow! I didn’t know anything about the Indy 500 until I read this book. Now I feel like I know a lot. Black Noon tells the story of the 1964 Indy 500. One of the things I learned is that the Indy 500 is not just a car race, it is an event- a very large event that is supported by an army of professionals and volunteers. The author gives a brief history of the Indy 500 followed by a detailed description of everyone involved in this particular race. The accident at the start of the race is told in such a clear way that it allowed me to understand the many factors involved and the reasoning behind subsequent actions and decisions. I especially liked the way the author explained what happened immediately after the race and then gave a current update on all of the people involved. I was surprised how many died in the pursuit of their sport. I am sure that readers who follow racing will recognize all of the people in this story and be delighted at this glimpse into their personal and professional lives. Even readers who know nothing about racing will be intrigued by this story of people chasing a dream.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kenadi Moore

    The Indy 500 has been part of my Memorial Day weekend for many years; sometimes on TV and often on the radio while driving back from a weekend trip. I heard about this book a few years ago and thought it would be interesting to learn more about the history of the race. The book is packed full of information There are back stories as well as detail about the May leading up to the 1964 race, the race itself, and the aftermath. While interesting, I struggled some with this book due to the jumping ar The Indy 500 has been part of my Memorial Day weekend for many years; sometimes on TV and often on the radio while driving back from a weekend trip. I heard about this book a few years ago and thought it would be interesting to learn more about the history of the race. The book is packed full of information There are back stories as well as detail about the May leading up to the 1964 race, the race itself, and the aftermath. While interesting, I struggled some with this book due to the jumping around between so many names of drivers, car owners, tire and engine manufacturers, etc. I definitely learned a lot. It is quite amazing how common place auto racing deaths were during the era, yet racing was still extremely popular. Outside the safety concerns, it seems like even the mechanical aspects were much more challenging with way more cars not able to physically finish a race even without any crashing. Definitely a good read for anyone interested in the history of auto racing and Indy in particular.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Robert Rich

    An amazing account of the tragic 1964 Indianapolis 500, which saw an early crash that killed two drivers and marked the first time the red flag was displayed and the race stopped because of an accident (there had previously been delays due to rain). The author does a phenomenal job painting the picture of the politics and context surrounding the event, as well as a respectful detailing of the lives of Dave Macdonald and Eddie Sachs, the drivers that were killed in the accident, as well as many o An amazing account of the tragic 1964 Indianapolis 500, which saw an early crash that killed two drivers and marked the first time the red flag was displayed and the race stopped because of an accident (there had previously been delays due to rain). The author does a phenomenal job painting the picture of the politics and context surrounding the event, as well as a respectful detailing of the lives of Dave Macdonald and Eddie Sachs, the drivers that were killed in the accident, as well as many others. This book is in many ways a love letter to the sport of auto racing and a grim reminder of its dangers.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bob Crawford

    I’ve been an Indy 500 fan since I learned to walk, listened to every race on the radio growing up and was 13 and glued to the radio in my suburban Los Angeles home on the day in 1964 when my youthful dreams of Indy turned to horror. I thought I knew all there was to know about the crash and fire that killed fellow Southern Californian Dave MacDonald and racing’s “Clown Prince” Eddie Sachs. But after reading this fine journalistic effort, I know now I was wrong. This book provides clarity, backgrou I’ve been an Indy 500 fan since I learned to walk, listened to every race on the radio growing up and was 13 and glued to the radio in my suburban Los Angeles home on the day in 1964 when my youthful dreams of Indy turned to horror. I thought I knew all there was to know about the crash and fire that killed fellow Southern Californian Dave MacDonald and racing’s “Clown Prince” Eddie Sachs. But after reading this fine journalistic effort, I know now I was wrong. This book provides clarity, background and context for Indy’s most sad day, and should be a must-read for any racing fan. The loss of those drivers in such a shocking way ultimately changed racing and the 500 much for the better.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    I read this after reading a review on Jalopnik. It is an excellent work of motorsports journalism, capturing a year in which much changed for Indycar racing and two men died as part of that change. It also turned out to be a good reminder, particularly in these times when a number of people seem alarmingly determined to suggest that facing death was just "part of the good old days," that, in fact, it's far better to live in a world in which safety-- even for race car drivers-- is actually import I read this after reading a review on Jalopnik. It is an excellent work of motorsports journalism, capturing a year in which much changed for Indycar racing and two men died as part of that change. It also turned out to be a good reminder, particularly in these times when a number of people seem alarmingly determined to suggest that facing death was just "part of the good old days," that, in fact, it's far better to live in a world in which safety-- even for race car drivers-- is actually important to everyone. Good read, and was a fun lead-up to the pandemic-rescheduled Indy 500, which I ended up watching (and enjoying) for the first time in years!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    I'm not sure how I missed this book when it first came out. I was a huge fan of the 60s era Indy Car racing. I was about 16 in 1964 when this race was run, and listened to it on the radio. The book really held my interests, well written and a lot of small previously unknown details. I really enjoyed the book. I just wish the events that resulted in the book hadn't occurred. If you are a race fan, you should read this book. I'm not sure how I missed this book when it first came out. I was a huge fan of the 60s era Indy Car racing. I was about 16 in 1964 when this race was run, and listened to it on the radio. The book really held my interests, well written and a lot of small previously unknown details. I really enjoyed the book. I just wish the events that resulted in the book hadn't occurred. If you are a race fan, you should read this book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Crandall

    There is not enough good things to say about "Black Noon." Brilliantly written and researched, this was a fascinating story that I could not read fast enough. Not only does Art take you inside the '64 Indy race and the accident, he does a tremendous job of building to it and sharing the stories of the drivers, teams and all others involved before and afterward. There is not enough good things to say about "Black Noon." Brilliantly written and researched, this was a fascinating story that I could not read fast enough. Not only does Art take you inside the '64 Indy race and the accident, he does a tremendous job of building to it and sharing the stories of the drivers, teams and all others involved before and afterward.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alden

    Equal parts funny, poignant, and tear jerking, this book is the perfect read for anyone with an interest in sports or auto racing. Art Garner does a fantastic job of crafting an engaging read about one of the fateful 1964 Indy 500. You will not be disappointed by this book, only in how fast you blow through it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nate Hawthorne

    As a fan of auto racing, this was a great book. I liked the details of all the drivers and the cars. It was truly a turning point for the 500 and for Indy car racing. I think it is even more poignant because of the recent death of Bobby Unser and the meeting of the 4 time winners including AJ Foyt. I recognized a lot of names from the stories my dad would tell about going to the track.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    History of the greatest race A good read about the lack of regulations at the time. I recommend this if you are a true open wheel fan. Shows how much of a change in attitudes towards safety there has been over the years.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    The 1964 Indy 500 was way before my time but being a Hoosier and big 500 fan, I always love reading stuff about the history of the race. If you are a Indy fan or a racing fan in general I'd highly recommend this book. The 1964 Indy 500 was way before my time but being a Hoosier and big 500 fan, I always love reading stuff about the history of the race. If you are a Indy fan or a racing fan in general I'd highly recommend this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Trevor Christy

    Excellently written. Author does a good job taking complex technical and social issues in racing and breaking them down in how they related to Indycar in the early 60s. Also paints an excellent picture of the the heroism and tragedy in racing.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Vic

    Great read for race fans, especially those of us old enough to remember the drivers, owners and other characters of the era

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Incredible events.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dan Hiner

    A must read for any race enthusiast. I grew up hearing about Eddie Sachs as my family's business sponsored him in 1964. Tragic loss of many drivers in the 60's. A must read for any race enthusiast. I grew up hearing about Eddie Sachs as my family's business sponsored him in 1964. Tragic loss of many drivers in the 60's.

  28. 4 out of 5

    James Reyome

    Totally gripping, if horrific, account of the events and individuals concerned with the tragic 1964 Indy 500. Brilliantly researched and reported; best racing book I'm liable to read any time soon. Totally gripping, if horrific, account of the events and individuals concerned with the tragic 1964 Indy 500. Brilliantly researched and reported; best racing book I'm liable to read any time soon.

  29. 4 out of 5

    William Misko

    A well written book of the events that lead up to the worst crash in Indy 500 history. It captures how primitive safety was in racing in 1964

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mark Dill

    Excellent record of history wrapped in an entertaining writing style. This is essential for Indy 500 race fans.

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