Indy 500 Winner
1969 was the final year for the Brawner Hawk and it was a season with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
The team was sold to Andy Granatelli after Clint started working on the MK III, again incorporating every
painful lesson learned from the year before and powered by a better developed turbo Ford V8. The new
Hawk was still on the leading edge of aerodynamic and mechanical engineering, and still as safe as the breed
allowed while maintaining Clint's commitment to race car strength and integrity.
Unfortunately, Granatelli and Andretti had tasted the Colin Chapman Kool Aid. New, four-wheel-drive Lotus
Fords had been ordered for Indy and Clint couldn't convince his team owner or driver that the Hawk gave
them all the best chance to finally win the 500.
Chapman's Lotus 56s were essentially the same cars Granatelli ran with turbines in 1968 -- but configured
with the comparatively rough, hot and heavy turbocharged DOHC Ford V8 behind the driver. Chapman's
reputation was that of a ‘less is more' designer/builder who would sacrifice strength for outright speed; some
say he thought a race car should cross the finish line and then fall apart, being built to last only as long as it took
to win the race.
At Indy it didn't last through practice. The Lotus was fast all right, but the car's hubs were faulty and Andretti
crashed hard before qualifying, suffering burns to his face and completely destroying his new Lotus. There was
a backup Lotus available but Chapman's cars were withdrawn for safety reasons and the Hawk was pressed
back into service.
Clint knew the Lotus cars couldn't take the strains and stresses of Indy so he had the Hawk as ready as he could.
The bright red STP car qualified second behind A.J. Foyt, took the lead in the first turn after the green flag fell and
then dropped back when engine temperatures started to rise. After A.J Foyt's Coyote/Ford and Wally
Dallenbach's Eagle/Offy both broke and hard luck Lloyd Ruby ruptured his fuel tank while leaving the pits with the
hose still attached, Andretti cruised on to lead 116 of 200 laps, including the last one. Despite keeping his speed
reduced in order to make it to the end – the Hawk was getting horrible fuel mileage, the clutch was going and the
engine was overheating terribly -- Mario finished two full laps ahead of second place Dan Gurney.
The MK III Brawner Hawk gave Clint his first and only Indy 500 victory after trying every year since 1953. At
season's end the Hawk had again carried Mario Andretti to the USAC National Championship with wins at the
Hanford 200, Trenton 200, Trenton 300, Kent 100 and Riverside 300; Brawner had also prepared the team's
dirt cars that won at Pikes Peak, Nazareth and Springfield.
When the season was over Brawner split with Andretti and Granatelli to start a new team with Arizona driver
Roger McClusky. His new car was called the Scorpion and in 1970 it qualified fourth at Indy but DNF'd with a
suspension failure. Two years later Arizona rookie Jimmy Caruthers finished 11th in Brawner's Scorpion after
But by then an era was over. The chapter on one of the most successful Indy cars in history during its five year
run, as wrenched by Brawner and Jim McGee and driven by Mario Andretti, was forever closed.