HomeNAME LISTStoriesStatisticsLinksContact

 



 







 


Jim (Richard "Dick") Rathmann
Born: July 16, 1928 Alhambra, Ca.
  Died: November 23, 2011, Melbourne, Florida (Age 83)
 

Jim Rathmann (born Richard (Dick*) Rathmann July 16, 1928 from Alhambra, California) is a former American race car driver who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1960.

He drove in the AAA and USAC Championship Car series in the 1949-1950 and 1952-1963 seasons with 42 starts, including the Indianapolis 500 in each of those seasons. Rathmann also participated in the two runnings of the Race of Two Worlds at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Italy, winning the 1958 event. He had 6 victories in addition to his Indy 500 win. He also drove in 3 races in the NASCAR series from 1949-1951.

Since retiring, Rathmann has owned Chevrolet dealerships in Palm Bay and Melbourne, FL. He is currently the oldest living winner of the Indy 500.

Rathmann was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America on August 15, 2007. The ceremony took place in Detroit.

*The Name Game
Dick was the elder brother of 1960 Indianapolis 500 winner Jim Rathmann. Jim and Dick switched names in 1946 so that his younger brother could enter a race while underage. For what was supposed to be a short time, he adopted the name "Dick" and his brother adopted the name "Jim." The name change stuck for life.

 

OBITUARY  -  November 23, 2011

The Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) Jim Rathmann won seven times on auto racing's biggest stages.

An elusive win at Indianapolis in the historic 1960 race finally turned him into a star.

Son Jimmy Rathmann said in an e-mail message to Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials that his father died Wednesday at a hospice facility in Melbourne, nine days after having a seizure at his home. He was 83.

Rathmann was a regular on the IndyCar circuit from 1949-63, but had to settle for second in 1952, 1957 and 1959 at Indianapolis. Then, in 1960, he finally broke through in one of the greatest two-man battles in 500 history.

Over the final 250 miles, he and defending champion Rodger Ward engaged in a test of wills. They traded the lead 14 times in two hours, rarely running more than a few feet apart while fighting worn tires and guessing at fuel mileage relayed to them only by pit board.

With three laps to go, it looked as if Rathmann would once again finish second as Ward continued to lead the race. But when Ward noticed the discoloration in the center of his right front tire, he had to slow down just to stay in the top two. The relieved Rathmann nursed his car back to the lead, winning the race at a then-record speed of 138.767 mph to avoid the dubious distinction of being the only four-time runner-up in 500 history.

And though Rathman revered Indianapolis, there was more to his career.

Born Royal Richard Rathmann, he borrowed the name Jim from his older brother to race underage in the mid-1940s. The name stuck, and his brother later raced as Dick Rathmann.

In 1948, he moved from California to Chicago where he raced hot rods in Andy Granatelli's Chicago-based Hurricane Hot Rod Association.

One year later, he was driving IndyCars and over the next decade, Rathmann became a household name in racing circles. He started twice in Italy's "Race of Two Worlds," winning the title in 1958, and raced three times on the NASCAR circuit from 1949-51. He won the 100-mile USAC national championship race in 35 minutes at a brand-new Daytona International Speedway, and he drove the famed Granatelli brothers' car in 1952.

In 1993, he was inducted into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame, and he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007.

But it was the Indy win that vaulted Rathmann into the national spotlight.

He became close friends with the early astronauts and even convinced one of them to place his car dealership decal on a cart that was driven on the moon. Rathmann also became part of the GCR Corporation team that raced in the USAC Series in 1966 and 1967. The "G'' represented Gus Grissom, the "C'' represented Gordon Cooper and the "R'' was for Rathmann.

In recent years, though, Rathmann's health problems prevented him from making his annual journey back to Indy, where he often played golf with former competitors such as Ward, Lloyd Ruby and Parnelli Jones and actor James Garner. With Rathmann's death, Jones is now the oldest living winner of the 500.

Rathmann also drove the Indy pace car six times, before making his last Indy appearance in February 2009 at the speedway's Centennial Era Gala.

He is survived by wife Kay, sons Jimmy and Jay, stepsons Zack and Tosh Pence, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

 

Jim Rathmann, winner of the 1960 Indianapolis 500, the 1957 Monza (Italy) 500, and what for many years was the fastest National Championship race ever held (Daytona, 1959), always appeared to be poker-faced and not particularly moved in victory shots. Did this fellow even like racing? He'd stand in the cockpit with a wreath around his neck, grime all over his face, and his helmet still in place, but with the unfastened straps dangling lazily around his chin. A plea from the battery of photographers for some sort of acknowledgement would result in the bare trace of a smile, and a wave of one hand at approximately chest level.

So was he just one of those iron "he-men" who simply never showed emotion, or was he even bored by racing and in it merely to make a living? In truth, Jim Rathmann loved racing. He was just a matter-of-fact individual who had been plying his trade since the age of 16, and had been involved in business even before that, earning a living in the flourishing hot-rod business while still in high school. As competitive as anybody on a race track (particularly those with paved surfaces), the off-track version of Jim Rathmann was (and is) actually a fun-loving, good-natured person, who has a twinkle in his eye, thoroughly enjoys a practical joke, and possesses a most infectious giggle when telling an amusing story. And he certainly has plenty of those.

Born in Los Angeles as Richard Rathmann, he was just 16 years old when he decided he wanted to start racing hot rods along with his friends, one of whom was an even younger Troy Ruttman. While Ruttman was able to get his mother to alter his birth certificate, Rathmann dealt with the "underage" problem by swapping identities with his brother James, who was two and a half years older. Thus Richard became "Jim," and James (the 1958 Indianapolis 500 pole-sitter) became "Dick."

Jim (as we know him) competed in 14 Indianapolis 500-Mile Races, finishing as runner-up three times (1952, 1957 and 1959) before finally triumphing in 1960 in what many feel was the greatest Indianapolis 500 ever. It certainly featured the greatest sustained two-man battle ever witnessed at the famed track, as during the entire second half of the "500" Rathmann and defending winner Rodger Ward were never any more than a few feet apart from each other, swapping the lead a total of 14 times. It was only when Ward was forced to slow due to a worn tire with three laps remaining that Rathmann was finally able to claim the victory which had eluded him so many times before.

Three times the champion of the Midwest track roadster circuit and one of the stars of Andy Granatelli's Hurricane Hot Rod Association?Rathmann was the third-ranking driver in the 1955 AAA National Stock Car standings. In 1957, he almost won the USAC National Championship title. He had ceased competing on dirt tracks by this time, but with a second-place finish at Indianapolis and a first in the Milwaukee 200, he found himself leading in points. He showed up for the final two races of the year, on the dirt tracks of Sacramento and Phoenix, but was unable to hold off the onslaught by dirt-track specialist Jimmy Bryan.

In 1958, Rathmann won all three legs of the Monza 500, posting an amazing overall average of 166.722 mph, while in the first (and only) appearance of the USAC championship cars at the brand-new Daytona International Speedway in April 1959, he completed the 100 miles in just over 35 minutes to average an incredible 170.261 mph.

Set up with a Cadillac and Chevrolet dealership in Melbourne, Florida, Rathmann resisted an agreed-upon retirement from racing for several years until he was finally "forced" to do so in the spring of 1964. By that time, he had climbed to third in the all-time laps-completed category at Indianapolis, with only Cliff Bergere and Mauri Rose having traveled a greater distance.

Close friends of several of the original U. S. astronauts, Rathmann briefly participated as a "500" car entrant in 1966 and 1967, "GCR Racing" having comprised Gus Grissom and Gordon Cooper, with Jim being the "R."

A perennial visitor to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway each May, he served as the pace car driver for the "500" six times between 1969 and 1982, and has continued to be an outstanding ambassador for the sport.

By Donald Davidson   http://www.mshf.com/

NASCAR career

Rathmann drove in 3 NASCAR Strictly Stock/Grand National races from 1949 to 1951, competing in one race in each of those years. He debuted in 1949 at Langhorne. Starting 13th in the race, Rathmann slid to 32nd by the end of the race. In 1950, Rathmann raced at the pretigious Daytona Beach Road Course. Starting 17th in this event, Rathmann finished a career-best 12th, two laps down. In his final race in 1951, Rathmann started a career-best 9th at Detroit. He finished 52nd in this race.
                                                                                                                                                        
'Rebel' Frank Mundy' Olds (51) racing Jim Rathmann's Hudson (7)  the Milwaukee Mille in 1953


Jim Rathmann owned a chevrolet dealership to the south in Melbourne Fla. and owned and sponsored this '58 checy for the 1958 Daytona Beach race with Banjo Mathews driving.

 

 

 

The 1960 Nascar Grand National Champion Rex White in his No. 4 car and the 1960 Indy 500 Champion Jim Rathmann (who also won with #4 at Indy)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indy 500 Win

After starting in the middle of the first row, Jim Rathmann ran in the front the entire race. From the midway point on, Rathmann and fellow driver Rodger Ward were locked in a neck and neck duel for first. Tire wear became an issue as the race wore on and Rathmann was able to keep his wheels fresh long enough to outrace Ward to the finish. The race featured the most recorded lead changes in 500 history. The win was especially sweet for Rathmann, as he had been the runner-up 3 of the previous 8 races.


Smokey Yunick in the black hat


Rare autograph


Indy 500 Results

Year

Car

Start

Qual

Rank

Finish

Laps

Led

Retired

1949

68

21

126.516

29

11

175

0

Flagged

1950

76

28

129.959

24

24

122

0

Flagged

1952

59

10

136.343

7

2

200

0

Running

1953

2

25

135.666

28

7

200

1

Running

1954

38

28

138.228

21

28

110

0

Crash T4

1955

33

20

138.707

24

14

191

0

Flagged

1956

24

2

145.120

3

20

175

3

Rings

1957

26

32

139.806

31

2

200

24

Running

1958

2

20

143.147

15

5

200

0

Running

1959

16

3

144.433

4

2

200

19

Running

1960

4

2

146.371

4

1

200

100

Running

1961

4

11

145.413

13

30

48

6

Magneto

1962

44

23

146.610

21

9

200

0

Running

1963

16

29

147.838

32

24

99

0

Magneto

Totals

2320

153

 

Starts

14

Poles

0

Front Row

3

Wins

1

Top 5

5

Top 10

7

Retired

4

World Championship Career Summary

The Indianapolis 500 was part of the FIA World Championship from 1950 through 1960. Drivers competing at Indy during those years were credited with World Championship points and participation. Jim Rathmann participated in 10 World Championship races. He won 1 race, set 2 fastest lead laps, and finished on the podium 4 times. He accumulated a total of 29 championship points. This total is the largest number of World Championship points earned by a driver in the Indianapolis 500


A fan sent me this fantastic print of Jim Rathmann in the Ken-Paul Special, 1960, Indianapolis 500
 
Bill Daniels sent this: "I am the the publisher of the limited edition print and owner of publication rights and you have my permission to use the image on your site.
Limited edition print signed by Jim Rathmann and artist Colin Carter."
Available at www.BillDaniels.com . Check it out!

Almost 2nd Four Times In A Row
It has often been said that the 1960 Indianapolis 500 was the most exciting ever with Jim Rathmann and defending Indy Champion Roger Ward fighting a fierce duel for the entire second half of the race. Both cars were never more than a few car lengths apart and the lead changed dozens of times before, with less than four laps to go. Ward's front tire was down to it's white cord and he backed off whereas Jim Rathmann with equally poor rear tires, decided to push on, winning the race by 13 seconds with a record average speed of 138.767 mph to give him a well deserved victory, after three previous second place finishes.


Smokey Yunick's Unique "Winged" Special
The first wing set-up at Indy. Needless to say<
it was controversial. But FAST.
(Note Rathmann's Signature)


Jim Rathmann giving advice to Don Boberick


Rathmann loved Go-Karting and even had a manufacturer name a kart after him
(Notice friction-scrub brake)

 


Jim Rathmann with Carroll Shelby - Winners of the 1960 Vanderbilt Cup Race

 

Jim Rathmann Strictly Stock / Grand National Statistics
 
Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn Miles
 1949 20 1 of 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   13.0 32.0 0.0
1950 21 1 of 19 0 0 0 0 46 0 50 89 17.0 12.0 191.8
1951 22 1 of 41 0 0 0 0 76 0 0   9.0 52.0 76.0
3 years 3 0 0 0 0 122 0 50   13.0 32.0 267.8

Results by Track:

Site Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings AvSt AvFn RAF Miles LLF
Daytona Beach 1 0 0 0 0 46 0 50 17.0 12.0 0 191.8 0
Detroit 1 0 0 0 0 76 0 0 9.0 52.0 0 76.0 0
Langhorne 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 13.0 32.0 0 0.0 0
GRAND TOTAL 3 0 0 0 0 122 0 50 13.0 32.0 0 267.8 0
Speedways (2 mi. +) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 0 0.0 0
Speedways (1-2 mi.) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 0 0.0 0
Short Tracks 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 0 0.0 0
Road Courses 1 0 0 0 0 46 0 50 17.0 12.0 0 191.8 0
Dirt Tracks 2 0 0 0 0 76 0 0 11.0 42.0 0 76.0 0




 

Copyright 2003 LegendsofNascar.com by Roland Via. All rights reserved.  Revised: 12/27/17 23:26:54 -0500. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works. FAIR USE NOTICE: This web page may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This page is operated under the assumption that this use on the Web constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Any text or images that you feel need to be removed please contact me. LegendsofNascar.com is not associated or affiliated with any racing club or organizations including that of NASCAR. It is constructed simply as an internet information source. Images and content made be used with email permission. Opinions and other content are not necessarily those of editors, sponsors.
Please visit official NASCAR information website at NASCAR.COM.