Jim Rathmann

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Jim Rathmann
Born (1928-07-16)July 16, 1928
Alhambra, California
Died November 23, 2011(2011-11-23) (aged 83)
Melbourne, Florida
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality United States American
Active years 1950, 19521960
Teams Kurtis Kraft, Epperly, Watson, Wetteroth, Moore
Races 10
Championships 0
Wins 1
Podiums 4
Career points 29
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 2
First race 1950 Indianapolis 500
First win 1960 Indianapolis 500
Last win 1960 Indianapolis 500
Last race 1960 Indianapolis 500

Jim Rathmann (July 16, 1928 – November 23, 2011), born Royal Richard Rathmann, was an American race car driver who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1960.

He drove in the AAA and USAC Championship Car series in the 1949–1950 and 1952–1963 seasons with 42 starts, including the Indianapolis 500 in each of those seasons. Rathmann also participated in the two runnings of the Race of Two Worlds at Monza, Italy, winning the 1958 event. He had 6 victories in addition to his Indy 500 win. He also drove in 3 races in the NASCAR series from 1949 to 1951.

Rathmann and his older brother notably swapped names while teenagers. As a 16-year old going by the name of "Dick Rathmann," he wanted to start racing. In order to enter races, he borrowed his older brother's I.D. and assumed the identity of "Jim Rathmann."[1] The name change stuck for life in public circles.

On August 15, 2007, Rathmann was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. The ceremony took place in Detroit.[2] He died in 2011 after a seizure.[3]

NASCAR career[edit]

Rathmann drove in 3 NASCAR Strictly Stock/Grand National races from 1949 to 1951, competing in one race in each of those years. He debuted in 1949 at Langhorne. Starting 13th in the race, Rathmann slid to 32nd by the end of the race. In 1950, Rathmann raced at the prestigious Daytona Beach Road Course. Starting 17th in this event, Rathmann finished a career-best 12th, two laps down. In his final race in 1951, Rathmann started a career-best 9th at Detroit. He finished 52nd in this race.[4]

Indy 500 Win[edit]

After starting in the middle of the first row, Rathmann ran in the front the entire race. From the midway point on, Rathmann and fellow driver Rodger Ward were locked in a neck and neck duel for first. Tire wear became an issue as the race wore on and Rathmann was able to keep his wheels fresh long enough to outrace Ward to the finish. The race featured the most recorded lead changes in 500 history.

Indy 500 results[edit]

Complete Formula One World Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 WDC Points
1950 Pioneer Auto Repair Wetteroth Offenhauser L4 GBR
MON
500
24
SUI
BEL
FRA
ITA
NC 0
1952 Grancor-Wynn's Oil Kurtis Kraft 3000 Offenhauser L4 SUI
500
2
BEL
FRA
GBR
GER
NED
ITA
10th 6
1953 Travelon Trailer Kurtis Kraft 500B Offenhauser L4 ARG
500
7
NED
BEL
FRA
GBR
GER
SUI
ITA
NC 0
1954 Bardahl Kurtis Kraft 500C Offenhauser L4 ARG
500
28
BEL
FRA
GBR
GER
SUI
ITA
ESP
NC 0
1955 Belond Miracle Power Epperly Offenhauser L4 ARG
MON
500
14
BEL
NED
GBR
ITA
NC 0
1956 Hopkins Kurtis Kraft 500C Offenhauser L4 ARG
MON
500
20
BEL
FRA
GBR
GER
ITA
NC 0
1957 Chiropractic Epperly Indy Roadster Offenhauser L4 ARG
MON
500
2
FRA
GBR
GER
PES
ITA
10th 7
1958 Leader Card 500 Roadster Epperly Indy Roadster Offenhauser L4 ARG
MON
NED
500
5
BEL
FRA
GBR
GER
POR
ITA
MOR
21st 2
1959 Simoniz Watson Indy Roadster Offenhauser L4 MON
500
2
NED
FRA
GBR
GER
POR
ITA
USA
11th 6
1960 Ken-Paul Watson Indy Roadster Offenhauser L4 ARG
MON
500
1
NED
BEL
FRA
GBR
POR
ITA
USA
8th 8

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. Jim Rathmann participated in 10 World Championship races. He won 1 race, set 2 fastest lead laps, and finished on the podium 4 times. He accumulated a total of 29 championship points. This total is the largest number of World Championship points earned by a driver in the Indianapolis 500.

After racing[edit]

Astronaut Alan Shepard's Corvette on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Rathmann later owned a Chevrolet-Cadillac dealership in Melbourne, Florida, where he befriended astronauts Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, and Gordon Cooper. Rathmann convinced GM President Ed Cole to set up a program which supplied each astronaut with a pair of new cars each year. Most chose a family car for their wives and a Corvette for themselves.[6] Alan Bean recalls Corvettes lined up in the parking lot outside the astronaut offices at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, and friendly races between Shepard and Grissom along the Florida beach roads. [7]

After retiring from the car business, Rathmann lived with his wife, Mary Kay, in Indian Harbour Beach, Florida.[8]

Death[edit]

Rathmann died on November 23, 2011. He had reportedly suffered a seizure at his home days earlier and died at a hospice center in Melbourne, Florida.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Talk of Gasoline Alley - May 11, 2011
  2. ^ "Rathmann, Elliott lead way". The Indianapolis Star. February 20, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b "1960 Indy 500 winner Rathmann dead at 83". Sports Illustrated. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  4. ^ NASCAR Stats from Racing-Reference.info
  5. ^ Jim Rathmann Indy 500 Race Stats
  6. ^ Bean, Alan. "Training". 
  7. ^ Nelson, John (June 2009). "The AstroVette an astronaut's Corvette from the beginning of the Space Age". Vette. 
  8. ^ Aumann, Mark (21 July 2010). "Rathmanns crisscross NASCAR, Indianapolis". NASCAR.COM. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
Preceded by
Rodger Ward
Indianapolis 500 Winner
1960
Succeeded by
A. J. Foyt

External links[edit]