Welcome to Who? What? Where? When? Why? on the World Wide Web. Your comments, criticism and suggestions: editors#8w.forix.com (replace # with @).
8W is forix.autosport.com's motorsport history section and covers the drivers, cars, circuits, eras and technology that shaped the face, sounds and smells of motor racing.

1948: ..........


Related articles


Mauri Rose


Deidt-Offenhauser 'Blue Crown Special'




1948 Indianapolis 500

Clymer 1948 Indy yearbook

It's an unusually stormy evening in September 2017, at least for the time of the year. I’m working on my computer while listening to the radio. A song is playing and I recognize the instrumental intro. I listen to the familiar first lines of the lyrics before joining in, softly singing along:

Buiten huilt de wind om het huis,
Maar de kachel staat te snorren op vier.
Er hangt een lapje voor de brievenbus en in...

Yes dear reader, it is in Dutch. Now what have the lyrics of a Dutch song to do with an article on 8W, a website devoted to motor racing? The Dutch text is part of a lyric written in April 1972 by two legendary Dutch comedians named Kees van Kooten and Wim de Bie for a song that was used in a TV show to which they contributed. The song's melody existed already, taken from Alone again, naturally by Gilbert O’Sullivan. Among all of Gilbert's recordings it is unique as this is his only song that even made it to number 1 in the USA Billboard Hot 100. One of the most prestigious honors for any record to achieve, which it held for two periods of time, four and then two weeks, so a combined total of six weeks during the second half of the summer of 1972.

Van Kooten and De Bie didn't translate the English original into Dutch but wrote their own words based on two men looking back into the past, bringing up memories about the year 1948 as seen by Dutchmen.

Van Kooten and De Bie did record the song but they didn't release it on a 45rpm record. It was, however, recorded and released on a 45rpm single by another Dutch artist, comedian and singer Gerard Cox. The song was titled 1948 (but carried the subtitle Alone again, naturally) and Cox's version made the Dutch charts during the final part of 1972. It became one of the more iconic numbers in Cox's recording career.

So, the first word in the title of this article is partly explained by now, even if it still fails to be related to motor racing. The dots are still there, left to be explained. But I shall do that later on in this article.

Now, for what do we remember 1948 in motor racing?

At that particular evening in September 2017, 1948 was still the last year without a Le Mans 24 hours! (Having survived both the traumatic 1955 disaster as well as Bernie Ecclestone’s ill-disguised attempt to 'promote endurance racing` while killing off Le Mans in the early nineties to have his F1 circus unopposed as the world's leading racing series. And at the time of finalising this article in the spring of 2020, Le Mans was still on the agenda for September.)

Then there were Grand Prix races in 1948, open to Grand Prix cars (Formula One) but there was no World Championship for drivers or constructors yet. The rules for Formula One cars called for either 4.5-litre atmospheric engines or 1.5-litre supercharged engines. Over in the USA, the AAA organized its National Championship, and Indianapolis was the most important event of the season - and the entire year for that matter.


Yes, there is so much to tell about what happened at Indianapolis in 1948. It was in many ways a memorable year.

Earlier in 2017, I had been involved in a conversation about the most controversial race results at Indy, which then evolved into a talk about race finishes that saw major upsets in the dying laps. By then, 1948 got into the discussion as well. Given the fact that I was believed to be the one in our company with the most knowledge about that race I answered a few questions as good as I could. However, a few I couldn't answer.

Could they even be answered? And what would the consequences be? Because by answering the questions I could answer I had already got to a point that was quite surprising to me, and I hadn't even start to dig even deeper.

A few weeks later, on that stormy evening behind my computer, humming along with Gerard's singing in the background, by now in the final stages of the song, I decided it was time to give it a try and take up another research project.

Some days later, once I had finished all the research I was capable of, I decided to put it all down for 8W because I felt the results warranted it.

I had in mind to publish the article in 2018, 70 years after that particular race. But I missed that target because, among other reasons, I got second thoughts about the results. I felt that some of the research and data I presented was too weak to support the conclusions. Once in a while I did re-write parts and pieces, occasionally I was able to add an additional piece of proof or put in another theory based on newly unearthed information or found a new manner to process data or generate new data and the figures hidden within these data. A spreadsheet proved very useful to write this piece.

By now, a little over two years after starting all this, I think I have found enough proof and support for several theories, so it is time to come forward with this story after all.

Because one thing not quite known about the 1948 Indy 500 is that - had fate not intervened - it could easily have made it onto the shortlist of controversial finishes consisting of 1981, 2002 and to a lesser extent 1995. By the way, 1911 could also be added to that list as the final results of that race have also seen some debate about whether the man on the Borg-Warner Trophy is indeed the right one.

In the end it didn't happen, but 1948 could have been a controversial one too. So time to dive into some fairly well-known Indy history (although apparently not good enough yet) related to a myth that is in need of debunking, in case it hasn't been debunked well enough yet. Not I'm happy to debunk this myth even more solidly - anything but.

In order to do so, the piece is divided into two parts. The first part will deal with the men, cars and teams that are part of this story. It will also tell what did happen. The second part will deal with what could have happened and what would have been required to make 1948 the controversial year it could have been.


My sincere thanks to Patrick Nalon, the son of one of the two men in the spotlights in this piece. Also my sincere thanks to Dr. Tom Lucas. Their input and assistance with compiling this piece are most appreciated.

Also my sincerest thanks to Brad Edwards and John Darlingon of First Turn Productions LLC for their efforts, so we could at least incorporate some images of Race Day 1948 into this piece.


I have made use of information given by both 'Duke' Nalon and 'Radio' Gardner in personal conversations I had with these men in 1988.

I also made use of an episode of The Talk of Gasoline Alley, dated May 14, 2018 in which Speedway historian Donald Davidson reflected on car owner Lou Moore and his career at Indy.