Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor

24/12/1918 - 16/5/2004

Born in Oklahoma, Taylor’s father moved the family to Van Nuys in the Los Angeles area in 1925 after the death of Bill’s mother due to tuberculosis. It turned out that old Legion Ascot Speedway was located only 2 miles away.

He made friends with an electrician at the track and began doing odd jobs. He got to meet Indy 500 stars like Rex Mays, Wilbur Shaw, Bill Cummings and Kelly Petillo and by the time he was 14, he was working in the pits.

World War II sent him to Okinawa aboard an aircraft carrier.

When he returned, he borrowed $375 to buy a car, not mentioning it was a midget race car. He crashed it after four races but had done enough to get interest from other owners who wanted him in their cars.

By 1948, Taylor was one of the West Coast’s best drivers. He won the West Coast Stock Car Racing Association title, with Ruttman finishing third in the final standings. In the midgets, he ran second to Ruttman.

Taylor passed his Indianapolis 500 rookie test in 1949 driving the radical Rounds Rocket. The Rounds Rocket was an experimental rear-engine car built by Lujie Lesovsky on behalf Los Angeles millionaire Nathan J. Rounds. The car was not complete when it arrived, as the special gearbox didn’t get there until May 1. Taylor got through his driver’s test at the last moment and had the car up to 124 mph, but its weight of 2,240 pounds was too much of a handicap and he couldn't qualify.

In 1952 Ruttman won the Indianapolis 500 but Taylor unfortunately failed again to qualify. Driving the Blue Crown Special, he was running fast enough but a stuck throttle caused him to crash in qualifying.

Taylor later became racing director for Mobil Oil and handled logistics for cross-country runs, as well as world speed record attempts at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and Daytona Beach, Fla. At one of those Daytona runs, he met female race driver Nicki Griffin. They soon were married and were inseparable over the ensuing years.

Taylor became director of USAC's stock car program after the Mobil program was suspended. In later life, Bill and Nicki represented Simpson Racing Equipment at all NASCAR tracks.

Bill Taylor was a licensed chief steward and member of the NASCAR National Racing Commission and the Indianapolis 500 Oldtimers Club. He was recipient of the Buddy Shuman Award, one of NASCAR's most prestigious awards.

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