- Rodger Ward
Rodger Ward (
January 10, 1921– July 5, 2004) was an American racecar driverwho won the 1959 and 1962 Indianapolis 500. He also was the 1959 and 1962 USAC Championship Car champion. Ward was born in Beloit, Kansas, and died in Anaheim, California.
Ward's father owned an auto wrecking business in
Los Angeles. He was 14 years old when he built a Ford hot rod. He was a P-38 Lightningfighter pilot in World War II. He enjoyed flying so much he thought of making it his career. He began to fly B-17 Flying Fortressand was so good he was retained as an instructor. After the war he was stationed in Wichita Falls, Texaswhen a quarter mile dirt track was built. [http://www.stockcarreunion.com/inductees/2003inductees.html Biography] at the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, written in 2003, Retrieved November 13 2007]
Midget car racing
He began racing midget cars in 1946 after he was discharged from the Army. He finished poorly. His skills improved in 1947 and by 1948 he won the San Diego Grand Prix. He raced in an
Offenhauserin 1949 and won several races.
Ward shocked the
midget car racingworld when he broke Offenhauser motor's long winning streak by using Vic Edelbrock's Ford 60 "shaker" motor at Gilmore Stadiumon August 10 1950. [http://worthyofhonor.com/Inductees/Edelbrock_Vic.htm Vic Edelbrock's Biography] at the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame, Retrieved January 11 2007] The motor was one of the first to feature nitromethane. Ward and Edelbrock went to the Orange Show Stadiumthe following night and won again. Ward used his midget car in 1959 to beat the top expensive and exotic sports cars in a Formula Librerace at Lime Rock Park. [http://worthyofhonor.com/Inductees/Roger_Ward.htm Biography] at the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame(name is spelled incorrectly), Retrieved January 11 2007] Midget cars were normally considered competitive for oval tracks only before that time.
He won the 1951 AAA Stock Car championship. The championship gave him an opportunity for a rookie test at the
1951 Indianapolis 500. He passed the test and qualified for the race. He finished 34 laps before his car suffered a broken oil line. He finished 130 laps in the 1952 Indianapolis 500before the oil pressure failed. His 1953 Indianapolis 500ended after 170 laps, and his 1954 Indianapolis 500ended after his car stalled on the backstretch. He completed all of the laps for the first time in 1956, finishing eighth.
In 1959 he joined the
Triple Wteam with owner Bob Wilkeand mechanic A. J. Watson. Ward won his first Indianapolis 500. He won the AAA National Championship with victories at Milwaukee, DeQuoin and the Indy Fairgrounds. His 1959 season ended by competing in the only United States Grand Prixheld at Sebring Raceway.
Jim Rathmannfor the lead in the 1960 Indianapolis 500. Ward took the lead on lap 183 (of 200). The lead switched back and forth between Ward and Rathmann until Rathmann pulled ahead on lap 197 and won the race.
Ward took the lead at the
1962 Indianapolis 500at lap 126 and lead the rest of the race. He won the season championship that year, which had changed to USAC sanction in the interim.
He had his last start in the Indianapolis 500 in 1966 and he finished fifteenth. He had 26 victories in his 150 starts between 1950 and 1964, and he finished in the top ten in more than half of his starts. He retired in
Tustin, California. He died on July 5, 2004.
*In 1992, he was inducted into the
International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
*He was inducted in the
Motorsports Hall of Fame of Americain 1995.
*Ward was inducted in the
National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Famein 1995.
*Ward is a member of the
Auto Racing Hall of Famein Indianapolis.
*He was inducted in the
West Coast Stock Car Hall of Famein 2003.
Indy 500 results
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