The 1957 Indianapolis 500 | A Sideways Step into the Unknown of Auto Racing History


Pit action at the 1957 Indianapolis 500– the Belond Exhaust racecar represented a new dawn in auto racing engine design.

After 12 years of chasing victory at the Indianapolis 500, Sam Hanks finally realized his elusive dream in a screamin’ roadster sporting a near horizontal engine designed by George Salih, chief mechanic on the winning #99 Belanger car of 1951. The world was introduced to the “lay-down” style with this history-making roadster chassis design– fitted with an Offenhauser engine that was tilted 72-degrees to the right, giving the racer a very low profile of just 21 inches off the ground. Advantages of this design were a lower center of gravity, a reduced frontal area, and improved counter-balance in the turns.

Salih found no financial backers for the revolutionary design, so he went it alone and built the innovative engine at his California home. Sandy Belond (legendary for his line of performance exhaust systems) was the racing sponsor, and now all that was needed was the perfect driver– 42 year old veteran Sam Hanks, the legendary driver who’d come very close to winning the Indy 500 several times joined-on to take a shot at history. As it turns out, this would be Hanks’ last chance to leave his mark in history. The vintage video is rich with amazing sights, sounds, and insider detail that make you feel like you were there– definitely not to be missed.

Sam Hanks at work behind the wheel of the horizontally mounted engine roadster in 1957's Indy 500.

Sam Hanks at work behind the wheel of the horizontally mounted engine roadster in 1957’s Indy 500.

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