Johnny Boyd

Johnny Boyd

19/8/1926 - 26/10/2003

A native of Fresno, Calif., Boyd followed his idol, Bill Vukovich Sr., to Indianapolis, only to be involved in the crash that took Vukovich's life.

A native of Fresno, Calif., Boyd followed his idol, Bill Vukovich Sr., to Indianapolis, only to be involved in the crash that took Vukovich's life.

Vukovich was attempting to race his way into a third straight win at Indy in 1955. In lap 57, Rodger Ward's axel broke, causing his car to spin out of control and overturn. As Boyd tried to avoid Ward's overturned car, he drove right into Vukovich's path. Vukovich hit him broadside, sheered off Boyd's rear wheel then sailed over the wall. Vukovich's car flipped once, smashed nose-first into the ground and exploded.

Boyd continued racing after the accident.

A third-place finish in the 1958 Indianapolis 500 was the highlight of Boyd’s racing career. He also finished fifth at Indy in 1964, sixth in both 1957 and 1959 and 10th in 1962. His best start was sixth in 1957.

“He led for 18 laps (in 1958), but he didn’t lead the one he wanted,” said Shirley Boyd, his wife of 28 years. “He told me, ‘I wouldn’t have changed anything, but I would have like to have led the last lap.’

“He said that was the only thing he did not do in his lifetime that he wanted to do. Racing at Indy was his passion, his desire.”

Boyd went on to drive in the 500 through 1966. He also drove in Indy-style races from 1952-66. His last start was on the road course at Indianapolis Raceway Park in 1966. He failed to qualify at Indianapolis and Milwaukee in 1967, and his driving career ended.

Although he was ill, Boyd returned in May 2003 to the Speedway to attend the annual 500 Oldtimers/Hall of Fame banquet. He received the prestigious Oldtimers Club Louie Meyer Award for service to racing. He was elected to the Fresno Hall of Fame in 1966, was the first inductee into the Bay Cities Racing Association Hall of Fame and member of the Kings Speedway and Motor Sports Press Association Halls of Fame.

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