Posted on: January 20, 2011
Gasoline Alley Unplugged
By: Donald Davidson
Bill Vukovich Commemorates his 1953 Indianapolis 500 Win
Tagged as: Bill Vukovich, Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, race cars, winners, Winning Cars
There are 15 comments for this post.
Vukovich won the very first race I attended back in 1953. It was a very hot day and many drivers pulled into the pits seeking relief drivers. Not Vukie , he ran that entire race on his own. He led every lap except for a few when he stopped for gas and tires. I am so glad that they saved his car as I always stop and take pictures of the famous mouse gray #14 very time I visit the wonderful museum at Indy.
Still love the old roadsters. Much better racing back then.
I’ve attended 35 Indy 500′s since my first in 1974 as a 9 year old. If I had a time machine the ’53 or ’54 race would be on the list. Vuky was obviously an incredible talent.
with the safety inovations of today what kind of records would “Vuky” hold if he had them in his day?
WHAT A GREAT PHOTO !! The Pagoda, The Bricks, An Awesome car and driver, The Borg Warner Trophy, Old Helmet and Goggles and “knock off” rims………..and I’m assuming that it’s the 50th Anniversary of the Ford Motor Company as stated on the pit wall ? I JUST LOVE THAT PLACE ( THE MOTOR SPEEDWAY )
KEEP THEM COMING DONALD…matter of fact why don’t you start doing 2 a day and posting 1 and keep the extra one so we can have them after you pass away !!!!!!!!
10 years too early for me, but I remember seeing it on the radio. Also I remember the heat. My pop rigged a power cord outside so we could put the radio under the tree in the side yard. Big day for sure! Thanks donald, for refreshing my mind’s eye!
So that’s where the term ‘roadster’ came from! Isn’t it also contected with southern California and hot rods? Anyway, I still can’t get over racing on bricks (I’m scared even to drive on them, especially in the wet). Did they really vacuum the bricks before the race?
Xian- when Vuky said the car looked like his roadster back home (Fresno) he was referring to what they raced on dirt ovals back then which were essentially California hot rods. Parnelli raced ‘em too.
pics of old dirt track roadsters
I agree with the many who say Vukie was the best at Indy and I’ve seen almost all of the 500s since 1946. Each year I always placed a $1 bet with my uncle on which driver would finish highest of the two. In 1952 my pick was Duke Nalon in the Novi and his was Vukovich. My reply to him when we picked our cars was “who is Vukovich?” Well I found out as he was in the lead with only a few laps remaining when he crashed.
He went on to repeat in 1954 and had moved into the lead when he crashed in 1955. He certainly came within a whisker of winning 3 consecutive 500s and could very well have won 4 in a row.
There are a lot of what ifs at Indy, but I remember when I first heard of Vukovich.
I was so fortunate to remember Bill sr., esther, Bill jr., and Marlene…also one of Bills brothers, Mike and his family. Bill jr is the only one left. But the memories of Bill sr. will remian with me forever…the trip to Mellos ice cream store in fresno with Bill Sr., the trip to Savramento to see the 100 mile dirt car race…..to San jose to see the 100 mile dirt car race and numerous midget races. He could have won 5 in a row…cus wuda shuda…A sad ending to the best driver to ever drive the Speedway. Vukovich had that place figured out. He ran the Speedway, in the keck car, like he drove a midget AND said.”Its feels like a midget feels.” Which made sense because of the placement of the suspension parts…they were mounted like they were on a Kurtis midget. I ll never forget him. Didnt like small talk and was always thinking. His death still bothers me. The GREATEST ever!
I popped Donald an e-mail and requested that he does an audio feature on the pic of Vuky in the garage after the ’53 race sitting in a chair with a rag on his head and his wife in her pretty white dress and hat. My all-time favorite non-action racing photo.
The photo taht tells it all id the one afyter the 54 race, Bill sitting on the work bench holding his head. At one time it was the nost requested picture at the IMS photo shop. I ve been told Rousch has a very large copy of it in his office and when a driver comes in to complain he spins his chair around and points to that picture. probbaly just a “story” but it sure sounds food. AND to Steve…that was Esthers “lucky ” dress anbd you will see pictures fron 54 victory lane and she is wearing the same dress. She bought a new dress for the 55 race to surprise Bill in victory lane..
Bill Vukovich was bigger than life, an icon that towered above the field, his talent was awsome, no one could touch this man , he was the greatest ever, and could and would beat anyone, I would pit him againt the devil and Vuky would run over him what a tragic loss , Best of the best , best ever.
My Dad & I went thereto the 55 Brickyard. Went into the pits & met Bill, old friend of Dads from somewhere in Wash St. Great seats, I was 11, hell of a thing to happen. Two wins in a row, 53 & 54, then that terrible crash & fire, one guy ran into the flames tryin to save him. dam. Get driver, terrible loss to racing. Great guy, shook my hand like he knew me forever. Rest in peace Bud.
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