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HIS  WAS NOT J  C. Agajanian's year
                                                                               T   at Indianapolis.  Last  year  was  his
                                                                                   year.  His and Parnelli Jones'. They
                                                                               were  sitting  on  top  of the  world  then,
                                                                               owner and driver with the fastest speeds
                                                                               and most money  won in the history  of
                                                                               the 500. This was A.  J  Foyt's year, and
                                                                               Shirley Murphy's and Bill Ansted's, who
                                                                               own  the  Sheraton-Thompson  roadster
                                                                               Foyt muscled  into victory lane.
                                                                                 Aggie  and  Parnelli  were  sitting sadly
                                                                               on their pit wall this year,  their pockets
                                                                               picked of all the speed and money marks,
                                                                               when  Foyt  rolled  home.  Aggie,  the
                                                                               millionaire  Southern  California  hog-
                                                                               rancher,  garbage-collector  and  racing-
                                                                               promoter, one of the sport's most contro-
                                                                               versial  and  colorful  figures,  who  hides
                                                                               the  light  of  his  balding  head  under  a
                                                                               10-gal.  Stetson,  had no complaints.
                                                                                 "We're lucky  to  be alive,"  he  said.
                                                                                  'Had we  been running gasoline,  and
                                                                               not  a  methanol  blend,  neither  I  nor
                                                                               Parnelli would  be around to  talk about
                                                                               it," claims  51-year-old Aggie,  his  olive-
                                                                               skinned, Armenian face sad and serious.
                                                                                 Jones,  driving  a  front-engine  heavy-
                                                                               weight,  his rear tank only half-full with
                                                                               methanol, ready to risk extra pit stops in
                                                                               quest  of more  track  speed,  was  in  the
                                                                               lead at 135  miles and pulling away from
                                                                               his first pit stop when his tank blew up.
                                                                               Parnelli  twisted  and  fell  free  as  aides
                                                                               rushed  up  to  slap  his  smoldering  uni-
                                                                               form,  halt his rolling car and douse the
                                                                               blaze with foam.
                                                                                  'We  didn't  think  the  rear  engines
                                                                               could  run  155  mph or more  on gas,  as
                                                                               they did. If we'd known, we'd have used
                                                                               gas.  We  were  wrong   luckily,"  J  C.
                                                                               explained.  'We  thought  we  could  run
                                                                               faster, if not as long, on methanol, especi-
                                                                               ally carrying only 55  gal.  in our 90-gal.
                                                                               tank,  lightening  our  load  some  200  lb.
                                                                                 "I  watched  our  mechanic,  Johnny
                                                                               Pouelson, as he very carefully twisted the
                                                                               nozzle out of the tank so there would be
                                                                               no  spillage.  Apparently,  with  the  tank
                                                                               only half-full,  fumes  built up.  When he
                                                                               slammed  the  cap  on,  as  the  car  was
                                                                               pushed away,  the cap,  the whole  top of
                                                                               the  tank,  about  a  foot  square,  secured
                                                                               by  30  bolts,  almost  instantly  exploded
                                                                               with  horrible  force  and  flew  past  my
                                                                               head  and  I  could  see  flames  inside  the
                                                                                 "I ran after Jones, who didn't know,
                                                                               yelling  at  him,  and  he  got  out  with
                                                                               second-degree burns on his left forearm.
                                                                               The  car  was  damaged,  but  that  didn't
                                                                               matter,  only  Parnelli  mattered.  Had  it
                                                                               been  gasoline,  the  explosion  and  fire
                                                                               would  have  been  so  much  worse,  I'm
                                                                               sure  none  of  us  would  have  survived,
                                                                               and,  being  in  the  pits  as  we  were,  I'm
                                                                               not  sure  what  other  terrible  damage
                                                                               might have been caused.
                                                                                 "In  the  early  years,  there  were  no
                                                                               safety  precautions,"  Agajanian  says.
                                                                               "Now, the 500, like most of racing, is as
                                                                               safe as man can make it.  In this case, I
                                                                               am one of the USAC Board of Directors
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