Art Pollard was born in Dragon, Utah, but spent much of his youth in and around Los Angeles. He lived in Medford Oregon during the 1960s and early 70s and was killed during the Indianapolis 500 time trials on May 12, 1973.
Kind, generous, friendly, outgoing, persistent, honest, gentlemanly, optismistic, competitive, even-tempered, vibrant - these words describe a few of the qualities of this exceptional person who was also a great race driver. He liked and understood people, and he gave of himself to his fans and friends - some of whom called him "Roberto" because of his dark heavy-bearded complexion. He made speeches at schools and churches and visited the troops in Vietnam, but his pet project was the LaRueCarter Memorial Hospital for retarded children in Indianapolis.
Pollard raced at Indy seven times, finishing eighth in the 1967 race. The following year, while driving one of the celebrated STP-Turbo cars, he qualified 11th and was running fourth with just a few laps to go when a fuel pump drive shaft broke and forced him from the competition.
That same year, 1968, he won the pole position at the Milwaukee 200 and led the race for the first 135 miles, when his brakes failed.
Art shook down a pushrod Plymouth V8 in one of the last year's wedge-shaped Lotus cars that wears new aero features. The car was uncompetitive and Art switched to a new Lotus Offy. He qualified 12th, but due to mechanical trouble on lap 7, he finished 31st.
Art qualified in 6th spot in 1970. Car trouble ends his day early on lap 28.
He qualified in 31st spot in 1971. Car trouble ends his day early on lap 45.
He didn't get to race in 1972 although he qualfied his STP Lola in 10th spot. During a subsequent practice lap, a wheel came off in the NE corner and he crashed, breaking his leg. Jim Malloy had crashed in this same turn 2 days before and would die 2 days later.
For the 1973 race Art Pollard had a new Eagle, two good mechanics, and a new sponsor. All during practice he was saying that this might be his best year. The car was running smoothly. In the Saturday morning practice session on May 12th, Pollard was running 191.4 mph when he lost control of his Dan Gurney Eagle car and smashed into the outside retaining wall at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The car careened off the wall, burst into flames and spun into the infield, where it rolled several times. He was unconscious until his death an hour later at Methodist Hospital of flame inhalation. He had burns, broken bones, and a severe spinal cord injury.
Pollard dominated racing on the super modified circuit on the West Coast in the late '50s and early '60s. During one period in 1961, he won 22 of 28 main events.
A race in his name has been held in the Rogue Valley and in Roseburg, where he lived for several years prior to moving to Medford. He graduated from Roseburg High School in 1945.