Jim Rigsby

Jim Rigsby

6/6/1923 - 31/8/1952

Jim Rigsby was a commercial fisherman who raced Sprint Cars on the dirt tracks of the United States. He drove in the Indy 500 once before loosing his life in a bizarre accident at the Dayton Speedway.

Originally from Spadry, Arizona, Jim Rigsby was a commercial lobster fisherman from Lennox, California.

He made his debut in the Indianapolis 500, driving the Bob Estes-owned Watson Offenhauser 4.5 L4. He qualified 26th and in the race drove steadily to finish 12th, on the lead lap and the last point-scoring position. Estes also entered a "sprint car" in the highly competitive AAA Mid West Sprint Car Championship for Rigsby in 1952.

Rigsby who was a well respected Sprint Car driver approaching the peak of his career in 1952, had just set a new track record at the Milwaukee Mile on 08 June and he was in great form at Springfield the week before the Dayton 100.

Then in August he travelled to the Dayton Speedway for the Dayton 100. Billed as, the track was rough and bumpy and had 30 degree, high banked, turns that dropped off vertically on the outside. Amazingly it had only a single two-foot high wooden guardrail to retain the cars.

The 1952 AAA Midwest sprint car season had started with tragedy at Dayton on April 20th when Gordon Reid crashed coming out of turn 4. His car flew into the top rows on the north side of the grandstand. Reid and 3 spectators their lives.

Gene Force took pole with Rigsby alongside him on the front row, behind them came Joe James and Mike Nazaruk. Also in the race were Bob Sweikert and Bob Scott, Travis "Spider" Webb and Carlyle "Duke" Dinsmore,  Jimmy Daywalt, Leroy Warriner Pat O'Conner and Eddie Sachs.

On lap 5 Gene Force got "loose" going into the turn three. Rigsby, who was following closely, went low in an attempt to pass him for the lead. However Rigsby's right front wheel clipped Force's left front wheel. His car bounced to the left and bottomed out causing  the underpan to push up bending the accelerator. With the throttle stuck wide open Rigsby shot up the banking and clearing the wooden guard rail by a reported 20 feet, he landed in a field 200 feet from the track with no chance of surviving.

The Dayton Speedway was closed in 1982 and became a landfill site.

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