1/5/1900 - 15/6/1929
Record updated 14-Jun-06
He was a board and brick track racer in the 1920s. He is best remembered for winning the 1929 Indianapolis 500, and for setting a land speed record in the Triplex Spirit of Elkdom. This monster featured three 27-litre Liberty aero-engines! He died in a racing accident at the Altoona 200-Mile Race in 1929.
Ray Keech was born in East Fallowfield, Pennsylvania. He was a board and brick track racer in the 1920s. He is best remembered for winning the 1929 Indianapolis 500, and for setting a land speed record.
He won the first race at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in 1928.
J.M. White had put no less than three 27-litre Liberty aero-engines in his Triplex Spirit of Elkdom, based on a truck chassis, the car featured no gearbox or clutch. Ray Keech however was hospitalised after he was scalded by a burst water hose.
Two months later on April 22, 1928, Keech was back and set a land speed record of 207.55 mph (334.02 km/h) at the Daytona Beach Road Course in the 81-liter monster. Thus braking the record set by Capt. Malcolm Campbell in February.
Driving in his first Indianapolis 500 on 30 May 1928, Ray Keech finished in fourth place. He finished in second in the season points in the American Automobile Association.
His record was broken by Henry Segrave on March 11, 1929. In 1929 Keech was asked by Triplex owner J. M. White to attempt to break the new record in the Triplex. Keech wisely declined. White hired Lee Bible, who rolled the car and died in his second attempt to set the record.
He qualified sixth for the 1929 Indianapolis 500. Louis Meyer was leading the race, until he lost oil pressure on lap 157. Keech passed for the lead as Meyer's engine refused to fire after he went to the pits to get more oil. Keech led the rest of the race to win in his Simplex Piston Ring Special at an average speed of 97.583 mph.
He died sixteen days later in a racing accident at the Altoona 200-Mile Race in Tipton, Pennsylvania on July 15, 1929.
He was buried at the Hephzibah cemetery in Modena, Pennsylvania in Chester County.