On Memorial Day weekend, as over 400,000 spectators and millions of viewers hear those famous words “gentleman start your engines,” alongside the brickyard at the Indianapolis 500 racetrack will be the familiar Giuffre Brothers Cranes’ colors, as the “official recovery vehicle” prepares to make the afternoon go smoothly and safely for America’s elite race car drivers.
For the tenth year in a row, Milwaukee based Giuffre Brothers Cranes has designed and constructed the “Official Indy 500 Recovery Vehicle,” a specialized, articulating boom truck to assure a fast, clean, and safe response to incidents and accidents that occur during one of the world’s most watched sporting events.
“In racing, a few seconds can mean the difference between winning and losing,” said Dominic Giuffre, president of Giuffre Brothers Cranes. “More importantly, however, is the safety of the drivers and the public, and our specialized truck, unlike a conventional tow truck, provides the safest and most efficient way to deal with disabled vehicles during a race.”
Giuffre brothers Dominic and Frank are no strangers to the racing community. They have been actively involved in Indy style racing for decades, both as team owners and race promoters at Wisconsin’s famous Milwaukee Mile racetrack. “Racing flows in our blood, and can be traced back to the 1950’s when our Dad would work at racetracks,” said Dominic. “In 2009, when managers at Indy mentioned they wanted to develop a new high-tech recovery vehicle, one able to quickly reach out and safely evacuate a damaged car, it was only natural our team would be the one to design it, given our experience in the racing industry and our knowledge of cranes. The first year our crane didn’t see any action on the track. But since then it’s been an important addition to the recovery team.”
Historically, Giuffre said, most United States racetracks used old-fashioned tow trucks to remove damaged and disabled vehicles from the track. Since Indy style cars are towed by lifting them by a hook mounted near the center of the vehicle, the auto could easily bounce around, potentially creating a human safety hazard, create more damage the disabled vehicle, or allow the dangling car to spill fluids like oil onto the track, creating a dangerous situation for the remaining drivers. Europe’s Formula One racetracks were already using a specialized truck to remove cars, and Indy 500 management wanted to create something even better.
“The Giuffre vehicle brings the old-fashioned wrecker into the 21st century,” said Dominic. “Our plan was to design and build a special crane attached to a flatbed truck that could lift, recover and clear a car from the track quicker and safer than the old version.”
Giuffre also noted another valuable trait. When the truck reaches the team’s garage it can reach out and deposit the car directly on the floor inside the garage, rather than dropping it outside by the door.
The Giuffre design team’s vehicle of choice was a combination Fassi hydraulic knuckle boom crane, mounted on a Freightliner M2 106 chassis with a 20-foot flat bed. The articulating crane allows it to reach out over other vehicles, lift the disabled car up, and place it directly on the flat bed. As a precaution the flat bed is covered with a fabric “diaper” to prevent and collect any fluids from spilling on the track. The truck also features special tie downs, riggings and emergency lighting to safely speed the operation along.
“Seconds can mean a lot in racing,” said Giuffre. “We designed this vehicle to operate efficiently, quickly and safely, so drivers and viewers can return to the business of racing as fast of possible.”
Giuffre said since the recovery vehicle’s inauguration, similar Giuffre Brothers trucks have been used at several tracks, including the Gateway Motor Sports Park and Race Track in St. Louis, MO, and Road America and the Milwaukee Mile in Wisconsin. “It’s such an honor to work with the great teams who put these events on,” said Giuffre. “And we get to be involved in a sport we are truly passionate about.”
Giuffre Brothers Cranes (www.giuffre.com) was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1963, by Dominic and Frank Giuffre, is the country’s largest supplier of boom trucks for the construction and roofing industry. The company has locations in Milwaukee, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Palm Beach.
You can view all of Giuffre Brothers’ Inventory online at Rock & Dirt.