8/4/1916 - 8/4/1956
Record updated 05-Apr-06
Don Olds was a popular and successful driver. He began his career as a team owner in the late 1930’s, after he moved from his North
Dakota farm to the Seattle area.
After WWII service, Don moved to Indianapolis, opened a watch repair shop, then viewed his first Indy race. That did it for him, he
sold the shop, returned to Seattle, and started racing midgets.
Don was a talented mechanic, machinist, weldor, and pilot. He and a friend were bounty hunting coyotes from the air, when a coyote they
had shot and though was dead turned out to be only stunned they had a big problem. The animal came alive in the small plane and began
ripping fabric off the fuselage. For obvious reasons they didn’t shoot him but clubbed the beast with the rifle, unfortunately wiping
out the rudder controls at the saeme time, requiring a forced landing. Uninjured they made a hasty retreat, while the coyote made his
He was also inovative, he once built a lightweight rear engine midget, powered by two Mark 50 Mercury Outboard motors. The driver would lay in a prone position, not a lot unlike the modern Indy car. He only had it to the test stage before he was to lose his life.
The goal of most American drivers is to make it to Indy. Don wanted to get there before he reached 40, as he figured he was running out
of time. He began running IMCA in Malcom Miller’s 270 Offy, and April 8, 1956 he was racing on the mile dirt track at the old Phoenix
fairgrounds when the Miller-Offenhauser's exhaust pipe came loose and he pitted to repair the problem. When he rejoined the race in his determination to make up lost time he was charging through the field, perhaps a trifle too hard. His car hit ruts on the track, went airborne and rolled end over end. The seat belt broke on the second roll and poor Olds was thrown out of the car and against a retaining wall, loosing his life.
It was his 40th Birthday.
Information from Mel Anthony Shoreline