15/1/1906 - 30/5/1933
Up and coming sprint car driver from Los Angeles California who was killed on his first appearance at the Indy 500 in 1933. Lester Spangler died 89 years ago, he was 27
Les Spangler was born in Los Angeles California and made a name for himself in California driving sprint cars between 1930 and 1933. He moved up to big cars on 13th of November 1932, entering the Oakland 150, a AAA Championship round. He qualified well in 5th place but in the race he crashed out after just 10 laps. I believe that he was injured in the crash as he was due to drive in an East v West race early in 1933 but pulled out because of a broken arm.
He qualified for the Indy 500 in 7th place driving for Harry Hartz in a front wheel drive Miller chassis using a 4 cylinder 255 cu. in. Miller engine. The 1933 Miller 255 was the only four-cylinder engine that Miller built between 1920 and 1936 and was actually a shorterned version of the 16-cylinder Miller 303 of 1931.
The day before the race Spangler went out behind his garage to look at a mother rabbit and six bunnies he was raising. Someone asked him if he was grooming them for their lucky left hind feet. "Naw," he said, "I don't need any charms. I'm just naturally a lucky man." 24 hours later he was dead.
On lap 132 Malcolm Fox's Studebaker lost a wheel and skidded into the center of the track. Spangler couldn't avoid him and his Miller smashed directly into Fox's stricken car. The Miller bounced off into the concrete retaining wall and Spangler and his mechanic, G. L. "Monk" Jordan, were thrown out. Crushed beyond recognition, Spangler died in a hospital while Jordan died at the scene.
1933 was a bad year at Indianapolis. There were five fatalities, three drivers, Mark Billman, William Denver, and Spangler, as well as two riding mechanics, Robert U. Hurst and Jordan. Louie Meyer took the win.