Jimmy Jackson

Jimmy Jackson

25/7/1910 - 24/11/1984

American racing driver who finished 2nd in the Indy 500 in 1946, his first Indy and the first running of the race after the war.

Jimmy Jackson was from Indianapolis, Indiana. He raced Midgets and had competed at the Indy 500 as a riding mechanic.

After four long years at war the Indianapolis 500 in 1946 marked a return to normality. The track now under the ownership of Anton "Tony" Hulman Jr. was repaired and improved after some years of neglect.

Cliff Bergere won the pole position (126.471 mph), but Ralph Hepburn captured the fans' attention when he posted a record-breaking run of 133.944 mph for the 19th starting position. Jackson qualified 5th in his first appearace as a driver at the 500. His car had been modified many times over the years by Cotton Henning. A front wheel drive roadster, it had previously been driven by Horn in 1939 and 1940, while Chet Miller used it in 1941. Henning had modified it once again in 1946 by installing an Offy in place of its former Miller straight 8. Parts of this car were said to have come from the "Boyle Products Special which won the 1934 race. Jackson bought the car a few weeks before the race and named it the "Jackson Special" and defied superstition by painting it green.

George Robson, who had never won a major race, ran out the winner in a close finish with Jackson, who came second. Only nine cars were running at the finish.

Later the same year, Robson was killed along with George Barringer in a four car pile up on the 98th lap of the 100 mile race at Atlanta.

He qualifed four moer times but never stood on the podium again. He finished 5th the following year, 10th in 1948, though he went out after 193 laps when a spindle broke, and 6th in 1949.

In 1950 the Cummins Engine Company was ready to introduce its new six-cylinder, four-valve JBS 600 truck engine. To promote it they got Frank Kurtis tp build a new 3000-series Indy car stretched by four inches to accommodate the larger, heavier engine. The car was entered in the 1950 Indy 500 as the Cummins Diesel Special and assigned to Jackson, who had run the race as both a riding mechanic and driver, finishing second behind the wheel in 1946. Contrary to widespread superstition in the racing fraternity about the color green, Jackson insisted the Cummins be painted a lurid emerald hue. He dubbed the car the Green Hornet.

Despite efforts to lighten the engine with an aluminum head, block, and pistons, as well as a magnesium crankcase, the 401 cubic-inch diesel remained a great lump in the Kurtis’s engine bay. Even by adding boost to its Roots supercharger that pumped horsepower to a creditable 340 at 4000 rpm, the Cummins barely made the field, running 129.9 mph for the penultimate slot.

Jackson ran easily in the opening stages of the race with plans to up the pace following a single pit stop for fuel and tires. But after 52 laps supercharger problem put the car out.

Despite an attempt to qualify again in 1952,  it was the last time he took the start. He did drive relief for Duane Carter in 1954. After racing he worked as an accessory rep at Indianapolis.

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