Monday, July 2, 2018

Swede Savage Dies From Indy Crash Complications - July 2, 1973

August 26, 1946 – July 2, 1973
David Earl Savage, Jr.
Born in San Bernardino, California, USA.
Nicknamed "Swede", Savage held the lead from laps 43-54, and then made his first pit stop. He rejoined in second place, closely behind Al Unser and just ahead of Bobby Unser. Savage emerged from his stop with 70 gallons of additional fuel and a new right rear tire. In his autobiography, Bobby Unser wrote that when Savage exited the pits, he became alarmed at how hard Savage was pushing, and dropped back slightly in anticipation of an incident. However, due to Savage’s reputation in the racing world as a highly skilled driver who didn’t take unnecessary chances, Unser’s comments have been attributed to his resentment of Savage’s rapid rise in the racing world as opposed to the “hard knocks” experiences of Unser’s career. On lap 58, just behind Al Unser, with Savage pushing hard in anticipation of a coming rainstorm, he lost control as he exited turn four. Savage's car twitched back and forth, then slid across to the inside of the track at nearly top speed, hitting the angled inside wall nearly head-on. The force of the impact, with the car carrying a full load of fuel, caused the car to explode in a 60-foot-high plume of flame. Savage, still strapped in his seat in a large piece of the car, was thrown back across the circuit. He came to rest adjacent to the outer retaining wall, fully conscious and completely exposed while he lay in a pool of flaming methanol fuel. Anchoring the event live for tape delay broadcast later in the day, ABC Sports broadcaster Jim McKay expressed disbelief upon seeing that Savage was actually moving in the post crash wreckage while he was engulfed in flames.

The exact cause of Savage's sudden turn across the race track and into the infield wall has not been settled. Television footage seems to show the right half of his rear wing had come loose, which would instantly change the downforce on the wheels and could explain the sudden back and forth twitching of the car. A second theory is provided by numerous drivers complaining over their radios about oil on the track, as pole sitter Johnny Rutherford had been given the black flag for dropping fluid, most likely oil. Among those that were complaining about oil on the track were Jerry Grant, who mentioned so in an interview with Dave Diles of ABC Sports while Savage's crash was being cleaned off the track. Diles later was filmed wiping oil off the front of Joe Leonard's car to prove the point.

A young crew member for Savage's Patrick Racing teammate Graham McRae, Armando Teran, ran out across the pit lane in an effort to come to Savage's aid and was struck by a fire truck rushing up pit road at 60 mph to the crash. Teran was killed instantly.

Savage joked with medical personnel after the wreck, and was expected to live when taken to Methodist Hospital Medical Center and for some time thereafter. However, he died in the hospital 33 days after the accident.......for more see; Remembering Swede Savage

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