Jack McGrath (racing driver)

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Jack McGrath
Born (1919-10-08)October 8, 1919
Died November 6, 1955(1955-11-06) (aged 36)
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality United States American
Active years 19501955
Teams Kurtis Kraft
Races 6
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 2
Career points 9
Pole positions 1
Fastest laps 1
First race 1950 Indianapolis 500
Last race 1955 Indianapolis 500

John James "Jack" McGrath (October 8, 1919 – November 6, 1955) was an American racecar driver.

A major player in the "mighty midgets" at Los Angeles' Gilmore Speedway in the late 1940s, McGrath won the first CRA (California Roadster Association) championship in 1946 and was dubbed "King of the Hot Rods." His efforts, along with those of friend and teammate Manuel Ayulo, helped establish track roadsters as viable race cars. The west coast roadsters evolved into sprint cars in the early 1950s.

Major wins at the AAA national level included the 1951 Syracuse and Langhorne 100 mile races, the 1952 Syracuse 100, and the 1953 Milwaukee 200. He finished the 1952 and 1953 AAA championship seasons in second place, and led the first 44 laps of the 1954 Indianapolis 500.

McGrath's storied 26-lap duel with Bill Vukovich in the ill-fated 1955 Indianapolis 500 ended when the magneto on his Hinckle Special Kurtis 500C's Offenhauser (Meyer-Drake) engine failed on lap 54. Fellow Californian and two-time Indy winner Vukovich died three laps later in a chain-reaction crash while in the lead.

"The Splendid Splinter" himself was killed in the final AAA dirt track race of the 1955 season at the one-mile dirt oval at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix, Arizona.

He was born in Los Angeles, California and grew up in South Pasadena, California.

Indy 500 results[edit]

Year[1] Car Start Qual Rank Finish Laps Led Retired
1948 52 13 124.580 16 21 70 0 Stalled
1949 33 3 128.884 8 26 39 0 Oil pump
1950 49 6 131.868 10 14 131 0 Spun T2
1951 9 3 134.303 8 3 200 11 Running
1952 4 3 136.664 5 11 200 6 Running
1953 5 3 136.602 13 5 200 0 Running
1954 2 1 141.033 1 3 200 47 Running
1955 3 3 142.580 1 26 54 6 Magneto
Totals 1094 70
Starts 8
Poles 1
Front Row 6
Wins 0
Top 5 3
Top 10 3
Retired 4
  • McGrath's starting positions from 1951 to 1955 represent the best 5-year starting position streak in the Roadster Era.
  • McGrath was the fastest overall qualifier of the Roadster Era.
  • Although McGrath twice posted the fastest qualifying speed, he started from the pole only once when he was the first driver ever to crack the 140-mile-per-hour mark. That was in 1954, with Jimmy Daywalt and 1958 Indy 500 winner Jimmy Bryan to his right. In 1955, he started on the outside of the first row behind pole-day qualifiers Jerry Hoyt and Tony Bettenhausen.

World Championship career summary[edit]

The Indianapolis 500 was part of the FIA World Championship from 1950 through 1960. Drivers competing at Indy during those years were credited with World Championship points and participation. Jack McGrath participated in 6 World Championship races. He started on the pole once, set 1 fastest lap, and finished on the podium twice. He accumulated a total of 9 championship points.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jack McGrath Indy 500 Race Stats
  • Ludvigsen, K.: Indy Cars of the 1950s; Hudson, Wisconsin: Iconografix, 2000.
  • Popely, R.; Riggs, L. S.: Indianapolis 500 Chronicles; Lincolnwood, Illinois: Publications International, 1998.
  • Scalzo, J.: City of Speed: Los Angeles and the Rise of American Racing; St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing, 2007.
  • Vintage section of the Open Wheel Racers 3 website.

External links[edit]