Ray Crawford

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Ray Crawford
Born (1915-10-26)26 October 1915
Died 1 February 1996(1996-02-01) (aged 80)
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality United States American
Active years 19551959
Teams Elder, Kurtis Kraft
Races 5 (3 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 0
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First race 1955 Indianapolis 500
Last race 1959 Indianapolis 500

Ray Crawford (October 26, 1915 - February 1, 1996) was an American fighter ace, test pilot, race-car driver and businessman.

Biography[edit]

Crawford was one of the first pilots certified on the P-80 Shooting Star.

Born in Roswell, New Mexico, Crawford served as a U.S. Army Air Corps fighter pilot and flew the P-38 Lightning in combat over North Africa in 1943. He was tied as the top-ranking fighter ace of the 97th Fighter Squadron with six enemy aircraft confirmed destroyed and one probably destroyed. Rotated home, he eventually became an early jet pilot. At war's end Crawford was evaluating the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star at Burbank, California and was to have flown the very aircraft that fighter ace Richard Bong was eventually killed in. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with fourteen Oak Leaf Clusters before separating from active duty as a Captain in February, 1946. Crawford remained active in the Air Force Reserves until April 1953.

A P-38 Lightning, similar to Crawford's.

Crawford was introduced to racing by Sam Hanks, a former high school classmate, and competed notably with unlimited hydroplanes and automobiles. He drove in the AAA and USAC Championship Car series, racing in the 1954-59 seasons with 9 starts, including the Indianapolis 500 races in 1955-56, and 1959. In 1954, he won the stock-car class of the Carrera Panamericana (a nine-stage, five-day race across Mexico) in a Lincoln. He also finished 7th and 4th in the invitational "Race of Two Worlds" events held at Monza Autodrome, Italy in 1957 and 1958, respectively.

In 1955, Crawford drove a Lincoln-Kurtis sports car at the 12 Hours of Sebring and finished the race in thirteenth position after running the entire length without a co-driver. To date, he is the only driver to have completed the race without relief of any kind.

Crawford's family owned a successful supermarket chain based in El Monte, California which led to his nickname, "The Flying Grocer." Crawford was one of the first owner-drivers of the post-war era at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and raced his own privately funded cars throughout his career. The only exception came in 1956, when Crawford raced the 12 Hours of Sebring for Chevrolet's inaugural Corvette team. He was also the driver of Corvette's experimental SR-2 at the Bahamas Speedweeks event that December. Cars owned by Crawford also qualified for the Indianapolis 500 with other drivers in 1953, 1954 and 1962.

Serious injuries received during a crash at the 1959 Indianapolis 500 curtailed Crawford's driving career.

Speed legend Mickey Thompson cites Crawford as an early influence in his autobiography, Challenger. Crawford provided Thompson with his first exposure to the Indianapolis 500 as a member of his pit crew.

Crawford died in Los Angeles, California on February 1, 1996 after battling Alzheimer's disease and is buried at Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside California.

World War II Aerial Victory credits[edit]

Date Kills Location/Comment
March 1, 1943 2 Messerschmitt ME-109s; On bomber escort
March 22, 1943 1 Messerschmitt ME-109 (Probably destroyed)
April 5, 1943 1 Messerschmitt ME-109
April 11, 1943 2 Junkers Ju 52 Transports; Ace status
June 15, 1943 1 Macchi 202

Awards and decorations[edit]

Crawford's ribbons as they appeared upon separation from the armed forces in 1953.

Silver oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star

From top, and from left to right:

Indy 500 results[edit]

Year Car Start Qual Rank Finish Laps Led Retired
1955 49 23 139.206 20 23 111 0 Valve
1956 49 17 140.884 29 29 49 0 Crash T4
1959 49 32 141.348 32 23 115 0 Crash T3
Totals 275 0
Starts 3
Poles 0
Front Row 0
Wins 0
Top 5 0
Top 10 0
Retired 3

Complete Formula One World Championship results[edit]

(key)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 WDC Points
1955 Ray Crawford Kurtis Kraft 500B Offenhauser L4 ARG
MON
500
23
BEL
NED
GBR
ITA
NC 0
1956 Ray Crawford Kurtis Kraft 500B Offenhauser L4 ARG
MON
500
29
BEL
FRA
GBR
GER
ITA
NC 0
1957 Meguiar's Mirror / Crawford Kurtis Kraft 500G Offenhauser L4 ARG
MON
500
DNQ
FRA
GBR
GER
PES
ITA
NC 0
1958 Meguiar's Mirror / Crawford Kurtis Kraft 500G Offenhauser L4 ARG
MON
NED
500
DNQ
BEL
FRA
GBR
GER
POR
ITA
MOR
NC 0
1959 Meguiar's Mirror / Crawford Elder Offenhauser L4 MON
500
23
NED
FRA
GBR
GER
POR
ITA
USA
NC 0

References[edit]

  • Bong, Carl. Dear Mom: So We Have a War. Burgess Publishing, 1993.
  • Thompson, Mickey and Griffith Borgeson. Challenger: Mickey Thompson’s Own Story of His Life of Speed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1964.