Joe James raced in the Indy 500 twice. In 1951 he retired after just eight laps with a broken driveshaft and in 1952 driving a Kurtis Kraft 4000 Offy he finished 13th. He was killed in a crash at the San Jose Speedway.
Joe James was born in Saucier, MS, United States, he started racing in the AAA National Championship in 1950 when he made five starts with a best finish of seventh at Detroit.
In 1951 had had a best finish of fourth on the dirt oval at Denver. At Indy he retired after just eight laps with a broken driveshaft. He made 12 starts during the year.
He had a number of top ten finishes in 1952. At Indy, driving a Kurtis Kraft 4000 Offy he finished 13th. Then late in the year, on the 2nd November, in the San Jose 100-Mile Race at the 1.0-mile dirt oval San Jose Speedway at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, James had qualified his Bob Estes Lincoln-Mercury entered Watson roadster second. At the start he grabbed the lead and led the first five laps before he was passed by Bobby Ball in his Kurtis 4000. James retook the lead on lap 26 and was dicing with Mike Nazaruk for first place when he clipped one of Nazaruk's tires. James' car was flipped into a series of rolls down the main straight before hitting the wall in Turn 1. Seriousely injured he was taken to hospital in San Jose but passed away three days later.
Joe's brother was Walt James of CRA fame.