Thursday, May 30, 2024

1946 – Robson Surprise Winner of ‘500’

George Robson, his wife Marjorie, and chief mechanic Chickie Hirashima enjoy the laurels of winning the first post-war Indianapolis 500.

Indianapolis, Ind. (May 30, 1946) – George Robson of Hollywood, Calif., crowned his racing career with a surprise victory in the first post-war Indianapolis 500.

The 36-year-old Californian pocketed $20,000 first prize plus another $13,000 in lap money.

It was Robson’s first major triumph in more than 15 years of racing. He had taken a crack at the “500” three times previously, once being crowded out of the field by a slow qualifying time and twice being forced to the sidelines with mechanical issues.

More than 150,000 fans – the largest in the 500-mile classic’s history – watched Robson tool his six-cylinder, rear-drive Thorn Engineering Special past the finish line in 4 hours, 21 minutes, and 16.70 seconds. His average speed was 114.820 miles per hour.

Robson came home ahead of nine entries, the smallest finishing field since the 1929 race.

Finishing 1 minute and 24 seconds behind the winner was Jimmy Jackson of Whitewater, Calif. Ted Horn of Patterson, N.J., driving an Italian-built Maserati was third.

Emil Andres of Chicago, driving an eight-cylinder Maserati, finished fourth and Sam Hanks of Alhambra, Calif., driving in relief for Joie Chitwood of Reading, Penn., finished fifth.

The race resolved around Robson and Jackson, the two-man duel holding the vast crowd spellbound as the two cars sped around the 2.5-mile oval almost as one. At the halfway mark, Robson’s lead over Jackson was only 3/5 of a second. With 150 miles to go, Robson would speed to a two-lap margin after Jackson was forced to make two pit stops.

Robson said the only trouble he encountered was his goggles kept slipping down.

The high number of mechanical failures were expected before the race, in view of the scarcity of wartime high-priority metals usually used in auto parts.

Results –

1. George Robson
2. Jimmy Jackson
3. Ted Horn
4. Emil Andres
5. Sam Hanks/Joie Chitwood
6. Lewis Durant
7. Luigi Villoresi
8. Frank Wearne
9. Bill Sheffler
10.Billy DeVore
11.Mel Hansen
12.Russ Snowberger/Duke Nalon
13.Harry McQuinn/Jimmy Wilburn
14.Ralph Hepburn
15.George Conner/Al Putnam
16.Rex Mays/Cliff Bergere
17.Duke Dinsmore
18.Chet Miller/Louis Tomei
19.Jimmy Wilburn
20.Tony Bettenhausen
21.Danny Kladis
22.Duke Nalon
23.Mauri Rose
24.George Conner
25.Hal Robson
26.Louis Tomei
27.Henry Banks
28.Short Cantlon
29.George Barringer
30.Rex Mays
31.Sam Hanks
32.Hal Cole
33.Paul Russo

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