His sole attempt came in the 1926 Indianapolis 500. Eldridge drove both a Eldridge-Anzani and a Miller Special in the lead up to the race. He qualified in 23rd position in his own car.
During the race he was relieved, as was accustomed to the time, by Herschel McKee, a member of the Lafayette Flying Corps, returning to the car on lap 32 retiring from the race with carburettor problems on lap 45 (of 160 due to rain the race being shortened to 400 miles) with a finishing position of 19th.
The car, which Eldridge had built himself for the race (and also one for Douglas Hawkes), which the Indianapolis press doubted would finish, failed in his only attempt. It would not be the last time out on track though, he would act as a relief for Hawkes for 16 laps, but his car would later fail on lap 91.
One side note, Eldridge operated out of the same garage at the Speedway as the first British 500 winner Dario Resta had. It was said that the prize money was a huge draw to Eldridge to compete at the 500, he left with $558. For someone who once lost £60,000 gambling in Monte Carlo, did his attempt pay off?
Post Indianapolis, Eldridge would enter his cars into other races in the US before returning to Europe, where he continued to break records. He would die from pneumonia in 1937, he was survived by two wives...
A long period of recovery followed and Crawford would return to the 500 the following year in 1988, still showing obvious signs of pain and suffering with, in essence, still being bolted together after numerous operations. Despite a further crash, Crawford hobbled through and became the story of the 500 as he became the first non-Penske to lead the race during the year, he remained among the leading pack fighting a poor handling car as the race developed was running as high as second when a lengthy pit stop due to faulty wheel nut. This would leave him in sixth place by the end, which would be Crawfords career best finish at the 500. For all Crawfords' skill, speed and determination, his results, baring 1988, were not a fair reflection of what he brought to the Speedway. In his next five races, finishes of 19,15, 26, 25, 24 would see out his time in Indianapolis.
Two final attempts to make the field followed in 94 and 95 but failed to make the starting 33. He left the Speedway for Florida where he became a fishing boat captain and charter. Jim Crawford would die in 2002 suffering liver failure after battling health problems that had constantly arisen from all his accidents, despite advances in medicine, these came too late for 'Gentleman Jim'.
John Menard called him 'The bravest driver he ever knew'. The Speedway broke him, but Crawford never let it stop him. A vastly underrated British hero of the 500.
Results in his début year were lacking with a season high of 13th at Motegi, held for the final time on the road course following the earthquake in Japan. Jakes scored two top tens in 2012 before switching to RLL in 2013. Jakes achieved his first podium with second in Detroit. A year out was followed by signing for SPM in 2015 with a podium in the rain at NOLA and more top tens in Texas, Fontana and Pocono.
Jakes record at Indianapolis got off to a bad start, failing to qualify in 2011, the final time with the old IR-05 chassis where 40 cars attempted to qualify. In 2012, James made his first race, starting in 17th, finishing 15th. In 2013, starting and finishing in 20th, one lap down. His most recent 500, in 2015, again started 20th finishing in 18th.
Not having a deal in place for 2016, James Jakes signed for Manor WEC to race in their LMP2 programme, a return to his former Euro F3 and GP3 team.
Part One - 'Hughes, Hill & Taylor'