Today it feels like claims that racing was better in the “good old days” are a bit clichéd, but if anything hammers the point home, it’s reports of Freddie’s Indy qualifying runs. The then-revolutionary but still-primitive turbocharging technology meant that it was difficult to keep it on boost. That meant that Freddie had to keep it flat through the turns. The only way to keep on the pace and not run off was to pitch it sideways. Every turn Freddie would stand on the power and execute corner-long slides, controlling the car under the power he so needed to maintain. The result? Pole-position for the start of the race, a record Indy qualifying speed of 138mph and an utterly decimated set of quali’ run rubbers.
The race itself was a less successful affair from the get-go, with a botched race-start leaving the Cummins 12 cars back, though Freddie would quickly begin clawing it back with his unprecedented average race speed of 130mph. The Cummins was proving its chops but unbeknown to the team or Freddie, the car was slowly losing power due to tyre debris blocking the turbo inlet. Gradually, power was lost over a series of laps before it gave up completely come lap 72. A crying shame as the victory car and driver deserved slipped away but the prowess of the car and the innovations its development brought to bear were already proven. Thus, in spite of its loss, the car remains a legend of Indy history.
Today it spends most of its time in the foyer of Cummins’ global corporate headquarters in Columbus, Indiana. Can anyone say race on Sunday, sell on… the next five decades? It ventured out in public in 1999 at FOS and has since done one private corporate event. FOS 2017 is this car’s first public appearance this side of the millennium. What a pleasure it was to have it here and see it in action.
Photography by Tom Shaxson, Drew Gibson and Jochen Van Cauwenberge