The Full Wiki

Bill Vukovich: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bill Vukovich (pronounced /ˈvjuːkəvɪtʃ/; December 13, 1918 in Fresno, California – May 30, 1955) was an American automobile racing driver. He was known variously as "Vuky" (/ˈvuːki/ VOO-kee) and "The Mad Russian" (though he detested that name, his ancestry being Serbian) for his intense driving style, as well as the "Silent Serb" for his cool demeanor.[1] He was also referred to as the "Fresno Flash" in Floyd Clymer's Indy yearbooks, and in an interview (available at the Vukovich Accident link below) his former mechanic Jim Travers calls him "Vuke" as in "cuke". Several drivers of his generation have referred to him as the greatest ever encountered in American motorsport.[2]




Midget car

Before he began Indy racing, Vukovich drove midget cars for the Edelbrock dirt track racing team. He raced on the West Coast of the United States in the URA, and won the series' 1945 and 1946 midget car championships. Vukovich won the 1948 Turkey Night Grand Prix at Gilmore Stadium, and six of the last eight races at the stadium track before it was closed for good.[3] He won the 1950 AAA National Midget championship.

Indianapolis 500

In 1952, his sophomore year in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 500-Mile Race, he quickly moved up from his starting position in the middle of the third row to take the lead, and led 150 laps in dominant fashion before suffering steering failure on the 192nd of the 200 laps. He returned to win the race in consecutive years, 1953 and 1954. He led an astounding 71.7% of laps that he drove in competition at the track, and remains the only driver ever to lead the most laps in the race three consecutive years. [3]

Death at Indy

Vukovich was killed in a chain-reaction crash while holding a 17-second lead on the 57th lap of the 1955 Indianapolis 500. He was exiting the second turn, trailing three slower cars—driven by Rodger Ward, Al Keller, and Johnny Boyd—when Ward's car swerved as the result of rear axle failure. Keller, swerving into the infield to avoid Ward, lost control and slid back onto the track, striking Boyd's car and pushing it into Vukovich's path. Vukovich's car struck Boyd's, became airborne, and landed upside down after going over the outside backstretch retaining wall and somersaulting several times, bursting into flames. As the car burned Ed Elisian stopped his undamaged car and raced towards Vukovich in a futile attempt to save him.

Vukovich was the second defending Indy 500 champion to die during the race, following Floyd Roberts in 1939, and the only former winner to have been killed while leading. Roberts' car was also thrown over the backstretch fence after exiting the second turn in his fatal accident. Since the 1955 race was counted as part of the Formula One World Championship, Vukovich is also the first driver to be killed during a World Championship race.

Lifetime achievement awards


His son, Bill Vukovich II, and his grandson, Bill Vukovich III, also competed in the Indianapolis 500, with Vukovich II taking second in 1973, and Vukovich III being named Rookie of the Year in 1988.

Indy 500 results

Year[4] Car Start Qual Rank Finish Laps Led Retired
1951 81 20 133.725 16 29 29 0 Oil tank
1952 26 8 138.212 2 17 191 150 Steering
1953 14 1 138.392 1 1 200 195 Running
1954 14 19 138.478 15 1 200 90 Running
1955 4 5 141.071 3 25 56 50 Crash BS
Totals 676 485
Starts 5
Poles 1
Front Row 1
Wins 2
Top 5 2
Top 10 2
Retired 3

F1 World Championship career summary

The Indianapolis 500 was part of the FIA Formula One World Championship from 1950 through 1960. Drivers competing at Indy during those years were credited with World Championship points and participation. Bill Vukovich participated in 5 F1 World Championship races. He started on the pole once, won 2 races, set 3 fastest lead laps, and finished on the podium twice. He accumulated a total of 19 championship points.

See also


  1. ^ Vukovich Indy 500 Trophy Sale Inspires Memories
  2. ^ Bill Vukovich at
  3. ^ a b Biography at the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame, Retrieved January 4, 2007
  4. ^ Bill Vukovich Indy 500 Race Stats

External links

Preceded by
Troy Ruttman
Indianapolis 500 Winner
Succeeded by
Bob Sweikert
Preceded by
Manny Ayulo
Formula One fatal accidents
May 30, 1955
Succeeded by
Eugenio Castellotti


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address