Johnny Rutherford

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John Sherman Rutherford III
JohnnyRutherford.jpg
Born (1938-03-12) March 12, 1938 (age 80)
Coffeyville, Kansas, U.S.
Awards1974, 1976, and 1980 Indianapolis 500 champion

1980 PPG Indycar World Series champion
1986 Michigan 500 champion
1974 USAC Pocono 500 champion
1993 Motorsports Hall of Fame of America Inductee
1995 National Sprint Car Hall of Fame Inductee

1996 International Motorsports Hall of Fame Inductee
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career
35 races run over 12 years
Best finish33rd (1981)
First race1963 Daytona Qualifier #2 (Daytona)
Last race1988 Checker 500 (Phoenix)
First win1963 Daytona Qualifier #2 (Daytona)
Last win1963 Daytona Qualifier #2 (Daytona)
Wins Top tens Poles
1 5 0

John Sherman "Johnny" Rutherford III (born March 12, 1938), also known as "Lone Star JR", is an American former automobile racing driver. He is one of ten drivers to win the prestigious Indianapolis 500 mile race at least three times, winning in 1974, 1976, and 1980.[1]

Rutherford began racing modified stock cars in 1959 and he also dabbled in stock car racing, making 35 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series starts from 1963 to 1988. Rutherford won in his first start, at Daytona International Speedway driving for Smokey Yunick. This made him one of the youngest drivers ever to win in NASCAR history, in a full points-paying NASCAR race.

Racing career[edit]

In 1959, Rutherford started driving modified stock cars in Dallas. He joined the International Motor Contest Association sprint car circuit in 1961 leading it for most of 1962. Rutherford later joined the United States Auto Club (USAC) starting in the Hoosier Hundred and later winning his first championship.[1]

Rutherford won his qualifying heat race for the 1963 Daytona 500, becoming the youngest winner of a Duel as a championship race, a record that would stand as the races were taken off the championship schedule in 1971 (though it has since been broken, the race was not a championship race when it happened). Later that year he also had his first start in the Indianapolis 500. Rutherford's first Indy car race win took place at the Atlanta 250. He won the USAC National Sprint Car Championship in 1965.[1]

On April 3, 1966, Rutherford suffered a serious crash at Eldora Speedway. His car flipped out of the track, and he suffered broken arms, a broken finger, and a head injury. He was forced to sit out the 1966 Indy 500.

Rutherford won pole position at the Indy 500 in 1973, 1976, and 1980. In 1973, Rutherford set a one-lap track record of 199.071 mph, falling just shy of becoming the first driver to break the 200 mph barrier at Indianapolis. Victories at the Indy 500 for him came in 1974, 1976 and 1980. In 1984, at Michigan International Speedway, Rutherford set an all time Indy car qualifying lap speed record of 215.189 mph. His win in the 1986 Michigan 500 at age 48 made him the oldest winner of a 500-mile race, a record that still stands. Rutherford recorded nine straight seasons with a victory making him one of just six drivers in Indy Car history to do so.[1]

In October 1977, Rutherford travelled 'down under' to compete in Australia's most famous motor race, the Bathurst 1000 km (800 mi) touring car race at the Mount Panorama Circuit. There, partnering fellow Indianapolis racer Janet Guthrie (who earlier that year had become the first woman to qualify for the Indianapolis 500), Rutherford drove a V8 powered Holden Torana for the team that had won the 1976 race, Ron Hodgson Motors. Driving a completely unfamiliar car (Australian cars have the steering wheel on the right side of the car) on a 6.172 km (3.835 mi) public road course carved into the side of a mountain, Rutherford qualified 26th out of 60 starters. During practice he complained about his car as it was not as good as the teams lead car driven by 1976 winners Bob Morris and John Fitzpatrick (JR was 8.2 seconds slower). Morris then got in the car and while not as quick as his own Torana, easily lapped over 5 seconds faster showing the problem was simply JR's lack of familiarity with the car and track. Wisely, JR made a cautious start to the race (another new experience was the standing start), but his race would come effectively to an end on lap 8 when he attempted to lap the Ford Escort RS2000 of 1966 winner Bob Holden. The Torana and Escort made contact and Rutherford ended up crashing into an earth bank at the top of The Mountain. The bent Torana was then brought back to the pits on the back of a tilt-tray truck (with the race still going at full speed and cars passing the truck going along the 2 km long Conrod Straight at over 150 mph (241 km/h)). It was then disqualified before being reinstated. Rutherford then completed another 5 laps before finally retiring with Guthrie not getting to drive.

Rutherford's NASCAR Winston Cup career included 35 starts from 1963 to 1988. He won in his first start, at Daytona International Speedway driving for Smokey Yunick. The win, in the second 100-mile Daytona 500 qualifying race, made him one of the youngest drivers ever to win in NASCAR history, in a full points-paying NASCAR race. (Until 1971, the qualifying races were full points-paying races.) In 1981, Rutherford drove twelve races, the most he ever raced in a single NASCAR season. In addition, Rutherford competed in five runnings of the International Race of Champions – 1975, 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1984.

Post-racing career[edit]

Rutherford's 24th and final start at Indianapolis would be 1988. By that time he was running only a part-time schedule, and was splitting time working as a television analyst on NBC, ABC, CBS and ESPN and radio analyst on Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network. He also served as the pace car driver for the PPG Indycar series for most of that period. He failed to qualify at Indy in three attempts (1989, 1990, 1992) and was not able to find a ride in 1991 or 1993. Starting in 1989, Rutherford began serving as the driver analyst on the IMS Radio Network. He was never able to achieve his milestone 25th Indy start.

During the month of May 1994, Rutherford officially retired from racing. At its inception in 1996, Rutherford took a full-time position as an official with the IRL, serving as pace car driver and driver coach. Rutherford also served as a racing consultant for Team Pennzoil.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Rutherford was born in Coffeyville, Kansas. Rutherford was the honorary chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in 2006.

Johnny met Betty Hoyer, a nurse, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1963 when he was taking his rookie test. They married two months later[2] and were a highly visible and inseparable couple throughout Johnny's racing career. His first Indy 500 win in 1974, with Betty looking on from the pits, helped to end the superstition in American racing against allowing women in the pit area.

Rutherford, who has been invited to The White House on behalf of Indy on multiple occasions, is considered a popular ambassador and spokesman for the sport of Indy car racing.

Awards[edit]

Motorsports career results[edit]

NASCAR[edit]

(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)

Grand National Series[edit]

NASCAR Grand National Series results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 NGNC Pts Ref
1963 Smokey Yunick 13 Chevy BIR GGS THS RSD DAY DAY
1
DAY
9
PIF AWS HBO ATL HCY BRI AUG RCH GPS SBO BGS MAR NWS CLB THS DAR ODS RCH CLT BIR ATL DAY MBS SVH DTS BGS ASH OBS BRR BRI GPS NSV CLB AWS PIF BGS ONA DAR HCY RCH MAR DTS NWS THS CLT SBO HBO RSD NA - [3]
1964 Bud Moore Engineering 01 Mercury CON AUG JSP SVH RSD DAY
18
DAY DAY
26
RCH BRI GPS BGS ATL AWS HBO PIF CLB NWS MAR SVH DAR LGY HCY SBO CLT GPS ASH ATL CON NSV CHT BIR VAL PIF NA - [4]
Holman-Moody 0 Ford DAY
7
ODS OBS BRR ISP GLN LIN BRI NSV MBS AWS DTS ONA CLB BGS STR DAR HCY RCH ODS HBO MAR SVH NWS CLT HAR AUG JAC
1965 77 Ford RSD DAY DAY DAY PIF ASW RCH HBO ATL
13
GPS NWS MAR CLB BRI DAR LGY BGS HCY CLT CCF ASH HAR NSV BIR ATL GPS MBS VAL DAY ODS OBS ISP GLN BRI NSV CCF AWS SMR PIF AUG CLB DTS BLV BGS DAR HCY LIN ODS RCH MAR NWS CLT HBO CAR DTS NA - [5]
1966 Curtis Satterfield 33 Chevy AUG RSD DAY
23
DAY DAY
28
CAR BRI ATL HCY CLB GPS BGS NWS MAR DAR LGY MGR MON RCH CLT DTS ASH PIF SMR AWS BLV GPS DAY ODS BRR OXF FON ISP BRI SMR NSV ATL CLB AWS BLV BGS DAR HCY RCH HBO MAR NWS CLT CAR NA - [6]

Winston Cup Series[edit]

NASCAR Winston Cup Series results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 NWCC Pts Ref
1972 Donlavey Racing 90 Ford RSD DAY RCH ONT CAR ATL BRI DAR NWS MAR TAL CLT DOV MCH RSD TWS DAY BRI TRN ATL TAL MCH NSV DAR RCH DOV MAR NWS CLT CAR TWS
26
NA - [7]
1973 B & B Racing 61 Chevy RSD DAY RCH CAR BRI ATL NWS DAR MAR TAL NSV CLT DOV TWS RSD MCH DAY BRI ATL TAL NSV DAR RCH DOV NWS MAR CLT CAR
13
NA - [8]
1974 RSD DAY
24
RCH CAR BRI ATL DAR NWS MAR TAL NSV DOV CLT RSD MCH DAY
39
BRI NSV ATL POC TAL MCH DAR RCH DOV NWS MAR 82nd 4.16 [9]
Howard & Egerton Racing 1 Chevy CLT
24
CAR ONT
1975 DiGard Motorsports 08 Chevy RSD DAY
27
RCH CAR BRI NA - [10]
Norris Reed 83 Chevy ATL
32
NWS DAR MAR TAL NSV DOV CLT RSD MCH DAY
40
NSV POC TAL MCH DAR DOV NWS MAR CLT
34
RCH CAR BRI ATL ONT
1976 Johnny Ray 77 Chevy RSD DAY CAR RCH BRI ATL NWS DAR MAR TAL NSV DOV CLT RSD MCH DAY
20
NSV POC TAL MCH BRI DAR RCH DOV MAR NWS CLT
31
CAR ATL ONT NA - [11]
1977 RSD DAY
41
RCH CAR ATL
40
NWS DAR BRI MAR TAL NSV DOV CLT RSD MCH DAY NSV POC NA - [12]
A.J. Foyt Enterprises 51 Chevy TAL
21
MCH BRI DAR RCH DOV MAR NWS CLT CAR ATL ONT
1981 Benfield Racing 98 Pontiac RSD DAY
10
RCH CAR
12
ATL
12
BRI NWS DAR
28
MAR TAL NSV DOV CLT TWS RSD MCH
17
DAY
5
NSV POC TAL MCH
13
BRI DAR
33
RCH
31
DOV MAR NWS 33rd 1140 [13]
Buick CLT
27
CAR
29
ATL
37
RSD
1988 Bob Clark Motorsports 31 Olds DAY RCH CAR ATL DAR BRI NWS MAR TAL CLT DOV RSD POC MCH DAY POC TAL GLN MCH BRI DAR RCH DOV MAR CLT NWS CAR PHO
39
ATL 89th 46 [14]
Daytona 500[edit]
Year Team Manufacturer Start Finish
1963 Smokey Yunick Chevrolet 4 9
1964 Bud Moore Engineering Mercury 35 26
1966 Curtis Satterfield Chevrolet 42 28
1974 B & B Racing Chevrolet 17 24
1975 DiGard Motorsports Chevrolet 11 27
1977 Johnny Ray Chevrolet 40 41
1981 Benfield Racing Pontiac 35 10

International Race of Champions[edit]

(key) (Bold – Pole position. * – Most laps led.)

International Race of Champions results
Year Make Q1 Q2 Q3 1 2 3 4 Pos. Pts Ref
1974–75 Chevy MCH
8
RSD
9
RSD
7
DAY
9
9th - [15]
1976–77 Chevy MCH
2
RSD
5
RSD
7
DAY
5
4th - [16]
1977–78 MCH
8
RSD
7
RSD
9
DAY
9
9th - [17]
1978–79 MCH MCH
6
RSD RSD ATL NA - [18]
1979–80 MCH MCH
4
RSD RSD
6
ATL
3
6th 24 [19]
1984 Chevy MCH
6
CLE
9
TAL
4
MCH
9
8th 33 [20]

American open–wheel racing results[edit]

(key)

PPG Indycar Series[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Rank Points
1979 Team McLaren PHX
3
ATL
1
ATL
1
INDY
18
TRE
15
TRE
3
MCH
3
MCH
11
WGL
15
TRE
5
ONT
4
MCH
4
ATL
11
PHX
6
4th 2163
1980 Chaparral Cars ONT
1
INDY
1
MIL
2
POC
2
MDO
1
MCH
1
WGL
5
MIL
1
ONT
2
MCH
4
MEX
10
PHX
13
1st 4723
1981 Chaparral Cars PHX
1
MIL
6
ATL
2
ATL
3
MCH
22
RIV
21
MIL
4
MCH
20
WGL
2
MEX
26
PHX
21
5th 120
1982 Chaparral Cars PHX
4
ATL MIL
15
CLE
23
MCH
28
MIL
17
POC
12
RIV
3
ROA
12
MCH
DNS
PHX
21
12th 62
1983 Patrick Racing ATL
18
INDY
DNQ
MIL
21
CLE MCH ROA POC RIV MDO MCH
23
CPL
24
LAG
DNQ
PHX
20
NC 0
1984 Doug Shierson Racing LBH PHX INDY
DNQ
22nd 20
Gilmore Racing INDY
22
MIL POR MEA CLE MCH
7
ROA POC
28
MDO
Team Penske SAN
5
MCH
14
PHX
11
LAG CPL
1985 Alex Morales Motorsports LBH
10
INDY
6
MIL
23
POR
9
MEA
14
CLE
15
MCH
4
ROA
DNS
POC
14
MDO
22
SAN
1
MCH
9
LAG
21
PHX
26
MIA
19
11th 51
1986 Alex Morales Motorsports PHX
5
LBH
9
INDY
8
MIL
4
POR
15
MEA
7
CLE
10
TOR
10
MCH
1
POC
18
MDO
8
SAN
16
MCH
9
ROA
14
LAG
12
PHX
9
MIA
12
11th 78
1987 Alex Morales Motorsports LBH
23
PHX
9
INDY
11
MIL
9
POR
7
MEA
11
CLE
9
TOR
21
MCH
28
POC
26
ROA
24
MDO
12
NAZ
20
LAG
15
MIA
16
18th 23
1988 King Racing PHX LBH INDY
22
MIL POR CLE TOR MEA 43rd 0
AJ Foyt Enterprises MCH
18
POC MDO ROA NAZ LAG MIA
1989 Team Menard PHX LBH INDY
DNQ
27th 3
AJ Foyt Enterprises INDY
DNQ
MIL DET POR CLE MEA TOR
Stoops Racing MCH
10
POC
13
MDO ROA
Machinists Union Racing NAZ
DNS
LAG
1990 Stoops Racing PHX LBH INDY
DNQ
MIL DET POR CLE MEA TOR MCH DEN VAN MDO ROA NAZ LAG NC -
1992 Walker Racing SRF PHX LBH INDY
DNQ
DET POR MIL NHA TOR MCH CLE ROA VAN MDO NAZ LAG NC -
1994 AJ Foyt Enterprises SRF PHX LBH INDY
Wth1
MIL DET POR CLE TOR MCH MDO NHA VAN ROA NAZ LAG NC -
1 Retired

Indy 500 results[edit]

Year Chassis Engine Start Finish Team/Entrant
1963 Watson Offy 26th 29th Ed Kostenuk
1964 Watson Offy 15th 27th Racing Associates
1965 Halibrand Ford 11th 31st Racing Associates
1966 Did not compete due to injury
1967 Eagle Ford 19th 25th W&W Enterprises
1968 Eagle Ford 21st 18th Alan Green
1969 Eagle Offy 17th 29th Michner Petroleum
1970 Eagle Offy 2nd 18th Michner Petroleum
1971 Eagle Offy 24th 18th Michner Petroleum
1972 Brabham Offy 8th 27th Michner-Patrick Racing
1973 McLaren Offy 1st 9th McLaren Intl
1974 McLaren Offy 25th 1st McLaren Intl
1975 McLaren Offy 7th 2nd McLaren Intl
1976 McLaren Offy 1st 1st McLaren Intl
1977 McLaren Cosworth 17th 33rd McLaren Intl
1978 McLaren Cosworth 4th 13th McLaren Intl
1979 McLaren Cosworth 8th 18th McLaren Intl
1980 Chaparral Cosworth 1st 1st Chaparral Racing
1981 Chaparral Cosworth 5th 32nd Chaparral Racing
1982 Chaparral Cosworth 12th 8th Chaparral Racing
1983 Wildcat Cosworth Practice Crash Patrick Racing
1984 March Cosworth 30th 22nd Foyt
1985 March Cosworth 30th 6th Morales
1986 March Cosworth 12th 8th Morales
1987 March Cosworth 8th 11th Morales
1988 Lola Buick 30th 22nd King Racing
1989 Lola Cosworth Failed to Qualify Foyt
1990 Lola Cosworth Failed to Qualify Stoops Racing
1991 Did not enter
1992 Lola Chevrolet Failed to Qualify Walker Racing
1994 Retired

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Rutherford Johnny | Bio of Rutherford Johnny | AEI Speakers Bureau". Aeispeakers.com. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
  2. ^ Cork, Bob (1974-06-09). "Rutherford's Wife Met Tragedy, Then Him, at Indy". The Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
  3. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1963 NASCAR Grand National Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  4. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1964 NASCAR Grand National Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  5. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1965 NASCAR Grand National Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  6. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1966 NASCAR Grand National Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  7. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1972 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  8. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1973 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  9. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1974 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  10. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1975 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  11. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1976 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  12. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1977 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  13. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1981 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  14. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  15. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1975 IROC Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  16. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1977 IROC Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  17. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1978 IROC Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  18. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1979 IROC Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  19. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1980 IROC Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  20. ^ "Johnny Rutherford – 1984 IROC Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved April 14, 2017.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Gordon Johncock
Indianapolis 500 Winner
1974
Succeeded by
Bobby Unser
Preceded by
Bobby Unser
Indianapolis 500 Winner
1976
Succeeded by
A. J. Foyt
Preceded by
Rick Mears
Indianapolis 500 Winner
1980
Succeeded by
Bobby Unser
Preceded by
Rick Mears
PPG Indycar World Series Champion
1980
Succeeded by
Rick Mears