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Lew Welch

LEW WELCH financed and fielded the immensely powerful and crowd-pleasing V8 supercharged Novi racing cars immediately following World War II. An industrialist who manufactured standard equipment for Ford Motor Company, Welch had already entered several cars in Indianapolis 500 races when the Novi was born. Cliff Bergere finished third in 1939 with an Offenhauser-powered Welch entry. Accidents and mechanical trouble seemed to haunt the Novis, limiting them to a single third-place finish with Duke Nalon in 1948 and two fourth-place finishes. Nalon was the fastest qualifier in 1948, but was not on the pole for the race because he did not qualify on the first day of qualifications. He set new four-lap qualifying records to win the pole position in 1949 and 1951. Other veteran drivers who posted the fastest qualifying speeds with Novi entries were Ralph Hepburn (1946), Chet Miller (1952), and Paul Russo (1957). Hepburn, Bergere, Nalon, and Russo each led the Indianapolis 500 on one or more occasions before Welch finally sold the team in the spring of 1961 to Andy Granatelli.