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Conversations with famous people

Posted 01-29-2011 at 06:46 by Bill Powell

Whether they're famous to you would be determined by how old you are and your field of interest.

Dateline, Amelia Island, Fla-awhile ago.
Bobby Unser: I attended a meeting with several retired Indy drivers, all past winners of the race. It was kind of like a Trekky convention, with better mingling.

After the official program was over and the mingling started, I wound up with Unser. He was talking about how they used to build the old Indy Roadsters, and in retrospect, how they must have been insane to drive those things at speed.

He told how they would pack a pipe full of sand and heat it with a torch to bend it. When you do it that way it bends like solid bar, with no wall collapse.

I told him about showing my cousin how to do that, and the next day my cousin came to me, madder than hell, looking like he'd been shot in the face by a shotgun. I told my cousin that I assumed he would use dry sand and not wet river bottom sand. As soon as he heated that pipe, and it got red, the moisture in the sand turned to steam and blew right out through the wall of the pipe, right in his face. It's a wonder he wasn't blinded.

Unser said that up to that point he thought they were the only dummies around.

Dateline, Pebble Beach, awhiler ago that the first story.

Andy Granatelli. A group of car collectors, my boss, Andy Granatelli, and I were standing in a group talking important car stuff, when my boss and Granatelli started to go look at a car and my boss was going to drive.

Before they left I told by boss he shoud not do a good driving job. Do not excel, and all them other negatives. When he asked me why not I told him that if he did really good this guy, I tapped Granatelli on the shoulder, will kiss you square on the mouth.

You know the old story about the strength of the fat man. Well, Granatelli proved it when he roared and slapped me on the back, almost knocking me off my feet.
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