Posted on: November 9, 2010
Gasoline Alley Unplugged
By: Donald Davidson
Jim Rathmann, Jim Robbins, and Gus Grissom in a garage at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Listen Now: Donald Davidson’s discusses the legends in this photo
Tagged as: Gus Grissom, Indy 500, Jim Rathmann, Jim Robbins
There are 4 comments for this post.
Fantastic story Donald! Jim Rathmann was an amazing driver and I was lucky enough to meet him at the old Speedwat Motel a few years ago – what a great, fun-loving gentleman!
Gus was born in Mitchell, Indiana, and learned to fly in Bedford, Indiana. The Grissom Museum is in Peru, Indiana
Ah, yes, the old mongoose bit. I remember reading about it once. Not only were the ’50s and ’60s a golden age of racing at the speedway, it apparently was for pranks and jokes as well, many of which if I remember correctly involved firecrackers (M80 types usually). As for Jim Rathmann (who bears a bit of resemblance to my father, BTW), he had a Chevy dealership in the Cape Canaveral area in the ’60s which provided Corvettes to the astronauts, which is how he became friends with them. I’m sure he has lots of good stories about his relationships with the astronauts– I hope he tells them before he himself leaves this earth. This would be a good time to do it–not only is May 2011 the Centennial of the 500, but it’s also the 50th anniversary of Alan Shepard becoming the first American in space. Sadly, this was the last time Jim Robbins and Gus Grissom would appear at the Speedway; Robbins fell victim to a plane crash late in 1966, and Grissom was lost in the Apollo 1 fire soon after.
I love it when people get together and share thoughts, great blog, keep writing.
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