STP Turbine Cars Were Indy Innovation at Its Finest
There was a time when the Indy 500 was the greatest technological hotbed in racing. In the early days of the 500, experimental cars and technical advancements came hot and heavy, from the very first race in 1911 marking the invention of the rear view mirror and the first true single-seat race car. For decades, Indianapolis was the proving ground for the newest and most advanced technologies in motorsports. Seatbelts, superchargers, magnesium wheels, low profile tires, and the legendary Offenhauser 4-cylinder all made their racing debut at the Brickyard, and for a while it seemed like Indy would be the center for new racing tech forever.
By the late 1960s, however, the golden age was long over. Racing’s cutting edge was being honed in places like Monaco, Spa-Francorchamps, and the Nürburgring, far from the Great American Raceway, and it showed in the racing of the time. After decades of evolutionary advancement, Indy was turned on its head by a wave of imports from Formula 1—rear engines and European drivers suddenly took over, with Jim Clark winning for Lotus in 1965 with a dominant performance.
However, there was still one more innovation to come out of the Brickyard: one last glimmer of hope for Indy’s innovation in a changing landscape. It came in 1967, and it came almost silently. When it first lined up for practice, it attracted everything from astonished stares to grandiose declarations of the future to actual threats against the team and its drivers. The STP Paxton Turbocar was radical, unlike anything the 500 had seen before or since.