Louis Meyer

Louis Meyer

21/7/1904 - 11/10/1995

Low Meyer was the first three time winner of the Indy 500.

Lou Meyer's father had been a successful bicycle racer and his brother was a racing driver.

Lou first raced in 1924 at the Legion Ascot Speedway in Los Angeles.

In 1926, he started out as a riding mechanic for the Miller team on board tracks but, before the season was out, he was given the chance to drive one of the Millers at Charlotte, N.C.. Unfortunately he retired early in the race.

He first raced in the Indy 500 in 1927 driving relief for Wilbur Shaw. He drove 41 laps before handing back  to Shaw.

The following year Augie Duesenberg promised him a car for the race. However when Meyer showed up, the car was in a pieces. He proceeded to put it back together and it turned out to be one of the fastest. Augie promptly went out and sold the drive, leaving Lou without a seat. However Alden Sampson offered him a drive in a Miller 91 that had finished third the previous year. Meyer drove carefully and with 100 miles to go he found himself in third place behind Gulotta and Jimmy Gleason. Rain then began to fall and the yellow flags came out. When the race resumed, Gleason's magneto failed and Gulotta's car had fuel feed problems. Meyer took the lead and went on to win the first of his three Indy victories.

Apart from his win at Indianapolis, he also took the chequered flag at Detroit, Michigan, and Altoona, Pennsylvania. That year he won his first AAA National Championship.

In 1929, Lou was headed for victory again at Indy, when his engine stalled at his last pitstop. He ended up second to Ray Keech. He won the AAA National Championship for a second time.

He finished fourth in 1930, fourth in 1931 driving relief and in 1932 he went out with a broken crankshaft. He left the Sampson team at the end of the year.

In 1933, he beat Wilbur Shaw by almost four laps for his second "500" victory. He failed to finish in 1934 and was a dissapointing 12th in 1935.

In 1936 he established a new race record of 109.069 mph for the "500", becoming the first three time
winner of the event. A fourth place in 1937 and a failed oil pump in 1938 followed.

In 1939 he went all out for a fourth victory in the Bowes Seal Fast Special. He appeared in command late in the race but a blown tire saw him pit to replace it. He was now trailing Wilbur Shaw who then pitted for fuel, putting Meyer back in contention. Then with two laps to go, Meyer hit the fence which sent the car airborne, throwing Meyer out. He later said that when he hit the fence he though that was it. Following the race, he was quoted as saying “I’m probably the only driver who retired in mid–air”.

He never drove at Indianapolis again, but went on to develop the Offenhauser engine with fellow mechanic Dale Drake. Their engines dominated USAC championship racing for years. Later, Meyer headed up Ford's Indianapolis engine program in the late 1960's. He eventually retired to Nevada where he passed away in October of 1995 at the age of 91.

Leave a comment

Comments