April 10, 1991 - You may have forgotten that I promised to give you the card Ab gave me in Indianapolis in May 1938. Well, here it is. I worked in a Bar-B-Que stand and fed many of the racers and their associates in the weeks before the race. Three of them were the winner that year, Floyd Roberts, his car owner Lou [Moore] and his mechanic Lou Webb. Those three had to scratch for living money before that race but the owner had some top finishes, including at least one winner, in subsequent years. Floyd was not so lucky – he was killed in the 1939 race. Sorry it took so long to keep my promises. Love & best wishes to you both. Uncle Max
Because I was grateful to have the picture and the note and because his memory was so sharp, I didn't bother to do any fact checking to see if he was right. Plus, the internet wasn't exactly up and running full speed back in 1991.
But in looking at the contents of his letter and doing some research, he was dead on with all his details. Ab Jenkins was indeed a world-speed setter in his day. I found a couple of articles about his Bonneville speed runs in his Mormon Meteor.
- Barracuda magazine: Real Man Revisited: Ab Jenkins Son of the Salt
- Popular Mechanics: Jay Leno: Duesy Set Bonneville Records in 1930s that Stand Today
Floyd Roberts, he won the 1938 Indy 500 and was then killed in the subsequent year's race - just as my uncle noted. Brock Yates included an account of Roberts' tragic accident in his book Umbrella Mike. Roberts had swerved to miss another spinning car. In doing so, his car flipped over the fence, landed upside down, and his neck was broken killing him instantly.
The only discrepancy I found in Uncle Max's memory of the 1938 race was his reference to Lou Webb as the mechanic. From what I can tell, Lou Moore was the car owner as well as the chief mechanic.
Nonetheless, I'm glad I remembered I had this piece of history and actually knew where I had it stored!