While going through our archives, I found this amazing piece of history. The photo above is a small excerpt from a full page spread in a magazine that we believe to be Life Magazine (unfortunately all we have are these pages). The story was likely published the week after the infamouos 1952 Watkins Glen Grand Prix in late September. In addition to the photo above, the story features a large, disturbing photo of the post-crash scene. To my knowledge, these photos have never been seen outside of this article. Click here or any of the photos to view the large (7MB) image. If you have any more info on this magazine, please let us know.
As you know, this accident had a dramatic effect on sports car racing in America. It highlighted how vulnerable spectators actually were and that their safety was critical. The aftermath of this unfortunate accident led to the creation of dedicated road courses and airport tracks that kept spectators at a safer distance.
Note: The story and photos have been posted without permission and will be removed upon request.
From Lindsey Parsons...
Those photos and article on the Wacker accident were indeed from page 34 and 35 of the Oct. 6, 1952 edition of LIFE magazine. If you look carefully at the picture, you will notice that Wacker's left door had been opened by the contact. At the time I was a spectator standing with friends about a quarter mile up the course on Old Corning Hill Road when the race leaders passed at full chat. Wacker's "Eight Ball" was surrounded by a bevy of Cunninghams but they all were definitely at full throttle climbing the hill. I am absolutely certain that Fred Wacker was totally unaware of the tragedy his "flick of the fender" caused back on Franklin Street. Although he appeared to be concentrating on his driving he was reaching out with his left hand on the left door trying to secure it closed when he passed us. When the cars passed from our view, he was still struggling with the door but was keeping up his position in the very rapid procession. Although I was intently watching Wacker specifically as he was a contending leader in a car I was about to order, I didn't notice any damage to the left side of the the car except for the door being unsecured. We were on the south side of the hill road so we had a a good view although a very short one of the left side of the Allard when it passed. I did wonder about that later but figured that I was so interested in Wacker's efforts to secure the door, I simply didn't notice what damage was done to the left rear fender. It couldn't have been much however as it clearly was not effecting the car's performance as it would have been if it was contacting the tire. As I recall, it was some time before we actually heard the reason the race so abruptly ended. One of the nearby flagmen heard it on the race radio he had with him.