Eddie Sachs (1927-1964) was an American racing driver who was active in the 1950s and 1960s. His life ended in a fatal crash at 1964 Indianapolis 500. Previously, he participated seven times at Indianapolis 500, finishing best in the second place in 1961.
Sachs had a nickname The Clown Prince of Auto Racing because he earned a reputation of a showman on a race track, using a phrase 'If you can't win, be spectacular'.
Eddie Sachs (1927-1964)
Starting a career in sprint car and midget car competitions
Born in May 1927 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Edward Julius Sachs Jr started his racing career in the early 1950s, entering the AAA sprint car races and ARDC midget car races.
He was active in sprint car races for almost his entire career, scoring many good results and taking the USAC Midwest Sprint Car Championship in 1958. Sachs was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1999.
AAA National Championship debut in 1953
Sachs made his AAA National Championship debut in 1953, driving Lee Glessner's Clemons-Offenhauser at Sacramento. His race ended after just five laps. Next year, he expanded his racing programme to three AAA Championship races, with fifth place at Langhorne as his best result.
He didn't qualify for races in 1955 and then recorded five starts in the 1956 AAA Championship. He scored maiden victory at Atlanta in the #46 Hillegass-Offenhauser of Lee Glessner.
Eddie Sachs was a popular driver
Indianapolis 500 debut in 1957
In 1957, Eddie Sachs finally made a debut at Indianapolis 500. He was driving Peter Schmidt's #88 Kuzma-Offenhauser. He started from the front row but ended a race after 105 laps with broken engine. In the next race, at Langhorne, he finished second.
In the 1958 USAC Championship, Sachs expanded his schedule to eleven races with Peter Schmidt's Kuzma-Offy. He won two times, at Langhorne and Indiana State Fairgrounds, finishing seventh in the points. At Indianapolis 500, he was 22nd.
Two participations at Monza's 500-mile race
In 1957 and 1958, Sachs also travelled to Italy to participate at Monza 500-mile race, known as the Race of Two Worlds or Monzapolis.
He was driving Jim Robbins' Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser in both occasions. In 1957, he was fourth in Heat 1 and retired in Heat 2. In 1958, he was leading in the first race but retired with a broken engine.
Always smiling - Eddie Sachs
Two wins in the 1959 USAC Championship
In the 1959 USAC Championship, Sachs participated in twelve races and won two times, finishing sixth in the championship points.
He started a season in Peter Schmidt's Kuzma-Offy but later switched to Walter Meskowski's car, winning at Syracuse and Trenton. At Indianapolis 500, he was 17th in Schmidt's car.
Pole position at Indianapolis 500 in 1960 and 1961
In 1960, Sachs was in a pole position for the Indianapolis 500 race in the #6 Dean Van Lines Ewing-Offenhauser. He stayed the race for 132 laps. Later that season, he won at Trenton and finished 12th in championship points.
In 1961, Sachs was on a pole again in the #12 Dean Van Lines Ewing-Offenhauser. This time, he completed all 200 laps and finished in the second place, behind AJ Foyt. Sachs led for 44 laps during the race, making the last pit stop with three more laps to go because he had to change a delaminated tire. He stated that he would rather finish second than be dead.
He also finished second in the 1961 USAC Championship with two wins on his account, both at Trenton.
Eddie Sachs and his pole-winning car at 1961 Indianapolis 500
One more podium at Indianapolis in 1962
The victory at Trenton Speedway in September 1961 was the last USAC win for Sachs. In the following years, he scored several top 5 finishes. One of those was the third place at Indianapolis 500 in 1962, in Al Dean's #2 Ewing-Offy.
Sachs scored his last podium result in June 1963 at Milwaukee Mile, finishing second in the #9 Meskowski-Chevrolet.
Fatal accident at 1964 Indianapolis 500
In 1964, Sachs opened a season with a sixth-place finish at Phoenix, driving the #44 Meskowski-Chevrolet for Ina Mae McDermott. Then, in May, he came to Indianapolis 500 in the #25 American Red Ball Halibrand-Ford.
Seven cars were involved in a catastrophic crash during the second lap in which two drivers lost their lives – Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald. Eddie lost a life two days after his 37th birthday.