Kurtis Kraft

Kurtis Kraft was an American designer and builder of race cars. The company built midget cars, quartermidgets, sports cars, sprint cars, Bonneville cars, and USAC Championship cars. It was founded by Frank Kurtis when he built his own midget car chassis in the late 1930s.[1]

Kurtis built some very low fiberglass bodied two-seaters sports cars under his own name in Glendale, California between 1949 and 1955. Ford (US) running gear was used. About 36 cars had been made when the licence was sold to Earl "Madman" Muntz who built the Muntz Jet. In 1954 and 1955, road versions of their Indianapolis racers were offered.

Kurtis Kraft created over 550 ready-to-run midget cars, and 600 kits.[1] The Kurtis Kraft chassis midget car featured a smaller version of the Offenhauser motor. The National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame describes the combination as "virtually unbeatable for over twenty years." [1] Kurtis Kraft also created 120 Indianapolis 500 cars, including five winners.[1]

Kurtis sold the midget car portion of the business to Johnny Pawl in the late 1950s, and the quarter midget business to Ralph Potter in 1962.

Frank Kurtis was the first non-driver inducted in the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame (U.S.). Zeke Justice and Ed Justice of the Justice Brothers both worked at Kurtis-Kraft after World War II. Zeke Justice was the first employee at Kurtis-Kraft.

The FIA World Drivers' Championship included the Indianapolis 500 between 1950 and 1960, so many Kurtis Kraft cars are credited with competing in that championship. One Kurtis midget car was also entered in the 1959 Formula One United States Grand Prix driven by Rodger Ward. It was not designed for international-style road racing and with an undersized engine it circulated at the back of the field for 20 laps before retiring with clutch problems.[2]

Kurtis 500S Wheatcroft Straight
1955 Kurtis 500S
1953 Kurtis 500
1953 Kurtis 500S, Chrysler-powered
Kurtis500B
1955 Kurtis 500B Championship Car driven by Jimmy Davies to third place in the 1955 Indianapolis 500

World Championship results

From 1950 to 1960, the Indianapolis 500 was part of the FIA World Championship.

(Note: Race winners in bold)

Year Team Driver No. of GPs
1950 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Cecil Green 1
1950 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Duke Dinsmore 1
1950 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Fred Agabashian 1
1950 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jack McGrath 1
1950 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jerry Hoyt 1
1950 Kurtis Kraft-Cummins Jimmy Jackson 1
1950 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnnie Parsons 1
1950 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnny McDowell 1
1950 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Joie Chitwood 1
1950 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Mack Hellings 1
1950 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Pat Flaherty 1
1950 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Sam Hanks 1
1950 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Walt Brown 1
1950 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Walt Faulkner 1
1951 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bill Schindler 1
1951 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Carl Forberg 1
1951 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Carl Scarborough 1
1951 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Cecil Green 1
1951 Kurtis Kraft-Novi Chet Miller 1
1951 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Cliff Griffith 1
1951 Kurtis Kraft-Novi Duke Nalon 1
1951 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Fred Agabashian 1
1951 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Gene Force 1
1951 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jack McGrath 1
1951 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnnie Parsons 1
1951 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Lee Wallard 1
1951 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Manny Ayulo 1
1951 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Mike Nazaruk 1
1951 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Sam Hanks 1
1951 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Troy Ruttman 1
1951 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Walt Brown 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Andy Linden 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Art Cross 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bill Vukovich 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bob Scott 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bob Sweikert 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Novi Chet Miller 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Chuck Stevenson 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Cliff Griffith 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Novi Duke Nalon 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Cummins Fred Agabashian 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Gene Hartley 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser George Connor 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jack McGrath 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jim Rathmann 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jimmy Bryan 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jimmy Reece 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Joe James 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnnie Parsons 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnny McDowell 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Rodger Ward 1
1952 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Sam Hanks 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Art Cross 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bill Holland 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bill Vukovich 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Cal Niday 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Carl Scarborough 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Novi Duke Nalon 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Fred Agabashian 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Gene Hartley 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jack McGrath 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jerry Hoyt 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jim Rathmann 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jimmy Davies 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jimmy Daywalt 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnnie Parsons 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Marshall Teague 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Paul Russo 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Rodger Ward 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Sam Hanks 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Spider Webb 1
1953 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Walt Faulkner 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Art Cross 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bill Homeier 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bill Vukovich 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bob Sweikert 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Duane Carter 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Ernie McCoy 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Frank Armi 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Fred Agabashian 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Gene Hartley 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jack McGrath 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jerry Hoyt 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jimmy Daywalt 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jimmy Jackson 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnnie Parsons 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Larry Crockett 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Mike Nazaruk 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Pat Flaherty 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Pat O'Connor 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Paul Russo 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Sam Hanks 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Tony Bettenhausen 1
1954 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Troy Ruttman 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Al Herman 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Al Keller 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Andy Linden 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Art Cross 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bill Homeier 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bill Vukovich 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bob Sweikert 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Cal Niday 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Chuck Weyant 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Ed Elisian 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Fred Agabashian 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jack McGrath 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jimmy Davies 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jimmy Daywalt 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnnie Parsons 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnny Boyd 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Pat Flaherty 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Pat O'Connor 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Paul Russo 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Ray Crawford 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Sam Hanks 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Tony Bettenhausen 1
1955 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Walt Faulkner 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Al Herman 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Al Keller 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Andy Linden 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bob Christie 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bob Veith 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Dick Rathmann 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Duke Dinsmore 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Ed Elisian 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Fred Agabashian 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jack Turner 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jim Rathmann 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jimmy Daywalt 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnnie Parsons 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnnie Tolan 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnny Boyd 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Keith Andrews 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Pat O'Connor 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Novi Paul Russo 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Ray Crawford 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Rodger Ward 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Sam Hanks 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Tony Bettenhausen 1
1956 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Troy Ruttman 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Al Keller 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Andy Linden 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bill Cheesbourg 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bob Christie 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Don Edmunds 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Don Freeland 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Ed Elisian 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Eddie Johnson 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Eddie Russo 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Elmer George 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Fred Agabashian 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jack Turner 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jimmy Daywalt 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jimmy Reece 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnnie Parsons 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnnie Tolan 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnny Boyd 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Marshall Teague 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Mike Magill 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Pat O'Connor 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Novi Paul Russo 1
1957 Kurtis Kraft-Novi Tony Bettenhausen 1
1958 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Al Keller 1
1958 Kurtis Kraft-Novi Bill Cheesbourg 1
1958 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Billy Garrett 1
1958 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bob Christie 1
1958 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bob Veith 1
1958 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Eddie Johnson 1
1958 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jerry Unser 1
1958 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnnie Parsons 1
1958 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnny Boyd 1
1958 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Johnny Thomson 1
1958 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Len Sutton 1
1958 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Mike Magill 1
1958 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Pat O'Connor 1
1958 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Paul Goldsmith 1
1958 Kurtis Kraft-Novi Paul Russo 1
1958 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Shorty Templeman 1
1959 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bob Christie 1
1959 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bobby Grim 1
1959 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Chuck Arnold 1
1959 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Chuck Weyant 1
1959 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Don Freeland 1
1959 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Duane Carter 1
1959 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Eddie Johnson 1
1959 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jim McWithey 1
1959 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jimmy Daywalt 1
1959 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Jud Larson 1
1959 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Paul Russo 1
1959 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Red Amick 1
1959 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Rodger Ward 2
1960 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser A J Foyt 1
1960 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Bob Christie 1
1960 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Dempsey Wilson 1
1960 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Don Freeland 1
1960 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Eddie Russo 1
1960 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Gene Force 1
1960 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Gene Hartley 1
1960 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser Shorty Templeman 1

References

  1. ^ a b c d Biography Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine at the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame
  2. ^ Hodges, David (1998). A-Z of Formula Racing Cars 1945–1990. Bay View books. p. 128. ISBN 1-901432-17-3.
1950 Indianapolis 500

The 34th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday, May 30, 1950. The event was part of the 1950 AAA National Championship Trail. It was also race 3 of 7 in the 1950 World Championship of Drivers and paid points towards the World Championship. The event, however, did not attract any European entries for 1950. Giuseppe Farina originally planned to enter, but his car never arrived. The Indianapolis 500 would be included on the World Championship calendar through 1960.

The race was originally scheduled for 200 laps (500 miles), but was stopped after 138 laps (345 miles) due to rain.

A rumor circulated in racing circles during and after this race that Johnnie Parsons's team discovered an irreparable crack in the engine block on race morning. The discovery supposedly precipitated Parsons to charge for the lap leader prizes. Presumably, he set his sights on leading as many laps as possible before the engine inevitably was to fail. Furthermore, the race ending early due to rain supposedly saved Parsons's day allowing him to secure the victory before the engine let go. However, the engine block crack was proved to be an urban myth, and it was said to be a very minor but acceptable level of porosity, which did not significantly affect the performance.

Parsons's win saw him score 9 points move to equal first in the first ever World Drivers' Championship alongside Giuseppe Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio, and also saw him become the first American to win a World Championship race. Despite the 500 being his only race in the 1950 World Championship, it would be enough to see him finish 6th in points.

During the month, Clark Gable and Barbara Stanwyck were at the track to film scenes for the film To Please a Lady. Stanwyck was on hand in victory lane after the race for the traditional celebratory kiss to the winner.

1951 Indianapolis 500

The 35th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday, May 30, 1951. The event was part of the 1951 AAA National Championship Trail, and was also race 2 of 8 in the 1951 World Championship of Drivers. For the second year in a row, no European Formula One-based teams entered the race.

Duke Nalon, who had suffered serious burns in a crash in 1949, and who missed the 1950 race, made a comeback at Indy by winning the pole position in a Novi.

Heavy attrition saw only eight cars running at the finish. Winner Lee Wallard's car lost its brakes, suffered a damaged exhaust pipe, and broke a shock absorber mounting. In addition to the unbearably uncomfortable ride, Wallard had worn a fire retardant outfit, created by dipping his uniform in a mixture of borax crystals and water. Due to not wearing an undershirt, Wallard suffered serious chafing, and required treatment at the infield hospital after the victory lane celebration. It was estimated he lost 15 pounds during the race.Wallard's winning car had the smallest displacement in the field. About a week after winning the race, Wallard suffered severe burns in a crash at Reading, which effectively ended his professional racing career.

Three-time winner Mauri Rose, in his 15th Indy start, crashed and flipped on lap 126. It was his final 500, as he retired from driving after the crash.

1952 Indianapolis 500

The 36th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, May 30, 1952. The event was part of the 1952 AAA National Championship Trail and was also race 2 of 8 in the 1952 World Championship of Drivers.

Troy Ruttman won the race for car owner J. C. Agajanian. Ruttman, aged 22 years and 80 days, set the record for the youngest 500 winner in history. It was also the last dirt track car to win at Indy. Ruttman's win also saw him become the youngest winner of a World Drivers' Championship race, a record he would hold for 51 years until the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix when Spanish driver Fernando Alonso won at the age of 22 years and 26 days.

Bill Vukovich led 150 laps, but with 9 laps to go, he broke a steering linkage while leading. He nursed his car to a stop against the outside wall, preventing other cars from getting involved in the incident.

In the third year that the 500 was included in the World Championship, Ferrari entered the race with Alberto Ascari on Ferrari 375 Indianapolis. The effort gained considerable attention, but Ascari spun out and finished 31st. It was the only World Championship race in 1952 that Ascari entered and did not win.

Fifth place finisher Art Cross was voted the Rookie of the Year. Though at least one rookie starter was in the field every year dating back to 1911, this was the first time the now-popular award was officially designated.

1953 Indianapolis 500

The 37th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 30, 1953. The event was part of the 1953 AAA National Championship Trail, and was race 2 of 9 in the 1953 World Championship of Drivers.

Bill Vukovich, after falling short a year before, earned the first of two consecutive Indy 500 victories. With the temperature in the high 90s (°F), and the track temperature exceeding 130 °F (54 °C), this race is often known as the "Hottest 500." Driver Carl Scarborough dropped out the race, and later died at the infield hospital due to heat prostration.Due to the extreme heat conditions, several drivers in the field required relief drivers, and some relief drivers even required additional relief. Vukovich, however, as well as second-place finisher Art Cross, both ran the full 500 miles solo.

1954 Indianapolis 500

The 38th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday, May 31, 1954. The event was part of the 1954 AAA National Championship Trail, and was also race 2 of 9 in the 1954 World Championship of Drivers.

Bill Vukovich won his second consecutive 500. Vukovich died the following year attempting to win his third consecutive Indy 500. The race reportedly went 110 laps before the first yellow light.

1955 Indianapolis 500

The 39th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday, May 30, 1955. The event was part of the 1955 AAA National Championship Trail and was race 3 of 7 in the 1955 World Championship of Drivers.

The race is notable to many as the race in which Bill Vukovich was killed in a crash while seemingly on his way to an unprecedented third consecutive Indy 500.

1956 Indianapolis 500

The 40th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday, May 30, 1956. The event was part of the 1956 USAC National Championship Trail and was also race 3 of 8 in the 1956 World Championship of Drivers.

The 1956 race was the first to be governed by the United States Automobile Club. AAA withdrew from auto racing the previous August. Another change would have a more immediate effect on the current race. The track had been paved over with asphalt with only about 600 yards of the main stretch still remaining brick.

The 1956 race is also known in Indy 500 lore as "Cagle's Miracle." Torrential rains pummeled the Speedway in the days leading up to the race. The track was full of standing water, access tunnels were completely flooded, and the infield was a muddy quagmire. The conditions threatened to postpone or outright cancel the race. Speedway superintendent Clarence Cagle supervised a massive cleanup effort, in which hundreds of thousands of gallons of water were pumped out of the tunnels and the infield. Cagle and his crew worked non-stop for 48 hours straight, some without sleep, and had the track ready just in time for race morning.

1957 Indianapolis 500

The 41st International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday, May 30, 1957. The event was part of the 1957 USAC National Championship Trail and it was race 3 of 8 in the 1957 World Championship of Drivers.

Sam Hanks won the Indianapolis 500 in his thirteenth attempt (the most such by any 500 winner). He retired from competition at Indy in victory lane. Contrary to popular belief, Hanks did not completely retire from racing until the end of the year. He skipped the Race of Two Worlds when his entrant withdrew, but competed in USAC Stock Car events later in the year, winning the event at Trenton, and finished third in points championships for 1957.

Hanks received a record $103,844 purse, the first driver to win a $100,000 single-race payday. The total race purse was also a record, over $300,000 for the first time.

Hanks won the race in George Salih's "Lay-down Offy". The Offenhauser engine was mounted on its side and shifted off-center. This was done in order to lower the center of gravity, reduce frontal area, and counterbalance the body roll in the turns. The car that Hanks drove for the win in 1957 would win back-to-back Indy 500s, with Jimmy Bryan piloting the very same chassis to victory again in 1958.

1958 Indianapolis 500

The 42nd International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, May 30, 1958. The event was part of the 1958 USAC National Championship Trail, and was also race 4 of 11 in the 1958 World Championship of Drivers.

The race is best known for a massive first-lap, 15-car pileup that resulted in the death of fan-favorite driver Pat O'Connor.

Jimmy Bryan was the race winner. This marked the first time that one car would carry two drivers to separate wins at the race, in back-to-back years, with Sam Hanks winning the previous year's race in the same car.

The race featured young rookie A. J. Foyt's debut at Indy. On lap 148, he spun in an oil slick, blew out the tires, and dropped out of the race.

Juan Manuel Fangio arrived at Indy under much fanfare as he attempted to qualify for the Indy 500 and score points towards the World Championship. He practiced early in the month, but withdrew when he could not get up to speed.

1959 Indianapolis 500

The 43rd International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 30, 1959. The event was part of the 1959 USAC National Championship Trail and was also race 2 of 9 in the 1959 World Championship of Drivers.

Rodger Ward earned the first of two career Indy 500 victories. A record sixteen cars completed the full 500 miles.

All cars were required to have roll bars for the first time.

Bob Christie (racing driver)

Bob Christie (April 4, 1924 – June 1, 2009) was an American racecar driver.

Christie raced in the USAC Championship Car series in the 1956-1963 seasons, with 15 career starts, including every Indianapolis 500 race in that span. He finished in the top ten 5 times, with his best finish in 3rd position in 1959 at Daytona. He died in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Duane Carter

Duane Carter (May 5, 1913 – March 7, 1993) was an American racecar driver. He raced midget cars, sprint cars, and IndyCars. Carter was born in Fresno, California, and he died in Indianapolis, Indiana. His son Pancho raced in Indy cars, along with Johnny Parsons (who he helped raise).

Duke Nalon

Dennis "Duke" Nalon (March 2, 1913 – February 26, 2001) was an American midget car, sprint car, and Indy 500 driver from Chicago, Illinois, United States.

Frank Kurtis

Frank Kurtis, born Frank Peter Kuretich (January 25, 1908 – February 17, 1987), was an American racing car designer. He designed and built midget cars, quarter-midgets, sports cars, sprint cars, Indy cars, and Formula One cars. He was the founder of Kurtis Kraft.

Fred Agabashian

Levon "Fred" Agabashian (August 21, 1913 – October 13, 1989) was an American racer of midget cars and Indy cars.

Jimmy Davies

James Richard Davies (August 8, 1929 – June 11, 1966) was an American racecar driver in Champ cars and midgets. He was the second man to win three USAC National Midget Championships. When Davies won the 100-mile (160 km) AAA Championship race at Del Mar, California on November 6, 1949 – aged 20 years, 2 months, 29 days, he became the youngest driver to win a race in a major U.S. open wheel series, a record not broken until Marco Andretti won the IRL race at Sonoma, California in 2006. Davies raced AAA on a false birth certificate showing him older (as did Troy Ruttman and Jim Rathmann), and was racing illegally.

Jimmy Daywalt

Jimmy Daywalt (August 28, 1924 – April 4, 1966) was an American racecar driver.

Born in Wabash, Indiana, he drove in the AAA and USAC Championship Car series, racing in the 1950, 1953–1957, 1959, and 1961–1962 seasons with 20 starts. He finished in the top ten 3 times. His best finish was in the 1953 Indianapolis 500, where he finished 6th and was named Rookie of the Year.

Daywalt died of cancer in Indianapolis, Indiana, aged 41. He is interred at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.

Johnnie Parsons

Johnnie Woodrow Parsons (July 4, 1918 – September 8, 1984) was an American race car driver from Los Angeles, California who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1950.

During his racing career, he drove for several seasons, including his AAA championship and Indianapolis 500 win, for Ed Walsh's team. Walsh was an owner of Kurtis Kraft, the leading constructor of AAA championship cars. Parsons was a charger, needing cars to race against, frequently moving from last on the grid to a win in spectacular displays of dirt track driving ability.

Johnnie Parsons had the dubious distinction of being the only Indianapolis 500 winner to have his name misspelled on the Borg-Warner Trophy. The silversmith carved "Johnny" instead of "Johnnie." He had a son named Johnny who competed at Indy a dozen times. In 1991, during a trophy restoration project, it was proposed to correct the spelling, albeit posthumously. However, it was decided to keep the error intact, as part of the trophy's lore.

Race of Two Worlds

The Race of Two Worlds, also known as the 500 Miglia di Monza (500 Miles of Monza), was an automobile race held at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Italy in 1957 and again in 1958. It was intended as an exhibition event, allowing American teams from the United States Auto Club (USAC) National Championship to compete directly against teams from the Formula One World Championship based in Europe. The two types of cars competed on the banked oval at Monza which had been completed in 1955. Due to the similarity to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the USAC teams ran the Indianapolis 500, the event earned the nickname Monzanapolis.

American drivers and teams won the event in both the years in which it was run. Jimmy Bryan won the 1957 event, while Jim Rathmann swept the 1958 race. Although some Formula One teams did participate and even built special cars specifically for the event, several withdrew over safety concerns. Continued concern over the speeds on the track and the cost of the event led to the race being canceled after the 1958 running.

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