Sunday 29th July 1951
The AAA Sprint car Championship got underway at Winchester Speedway in Indiana. The first driver out for qualifying was Judge Cecil Holt, who raced under the name Cecil Green. The Texas born Green was a high school drop out that worked as a car mechanic. He served in the Army during World War II as a technician in the ordinance department where he reached the rank of Corporal.
Green had enjoyed a successful race career with 34 wins between 1948 through 1950 in Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas region. He won the Oklahoma City and Southwest AAA sprint car titles in 1949 driving seven different Offenhauser cars. Green placed fourth in his first Indianapolis 500 in 1950 and finished second in the 1951 Indianapolis 500. Green was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2003.
On this day in 1951, Green went out to establish a qualifying time and during the run he lost control of the J. C. Agajanian “98jr” car resulting in a crash where the sprinter went over the embankment between turns one and two. Green was declared dead on his way to the hospital.
The track officials immediately started cleaning the track and in a matter of minutes the track was ready for the next qualifying run. Bill Mackey was scheduled as the next driver for qualifying. Mackey, whose real name was William C. Gretsinger Jr., took to the track in a sprint car that was entered as the “John Langley Special.”
Mackey had also ran in the 1951 Indianapolis 500 finishing in 19th place.
Mackey began his run only to go over the wall in the exact same spot that Green had crashed. Tragically, Mackey also lost his life in the second crash of the day during qualifying.
At roughly the same time, across the country at Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania, driver Walt Brown was killed in an AAA Champ Car race when his car entered a slow tumbling accident in the second turn. Brown suffered critical injuries and died just after arriving at Carlisle Hospital. The car that Brown was driving was previously known as the “Noc-Out Hose Clamp Special,” had won the 1941 Indianapolis 500 with Mauri Rose at the wheel.
These three racing fatalities all happening on the same day at roughly the same time shocked the racing press of the day. The American motorsports media instantly began calling Sunday, July 29, 1951 as Racing’s Black Sunday.