George Lynch

20/6/1918 - 6/5/1997

Record updated 20-Jun-07

In a racing career that spanned three decades Lynch completed over 300 races, primarily in open-wheel "midget" and "sprint" cars. He raced in the Indianapolis 500 in 1949. However he crashed into the wall on the first turn of the second lap.

George Lynch
George Lynch was born in Miles City, Montana. Raised by his maternal grandparents in Nekoosa, Wisconsin, after his parents divorced, Lynch bought a old open-wheel racing car for $100. And, even before obtaining his driver's license, he went racing.

His racing career spanned three decades, from 1935 through 1957. He completed over 300 races, primarily in open-wheel "midget" and "sprint" cars on dirt tracks throughout the upper midwest. While he didn't win many races, Lynch apparently 'pushed a lot of guys over the finish line.' His aggressive driving style was characterised by bumping slower cars and earned him nicknames such as "Leadfoot Lynch" and "Red Devil."

His racing career was briefly interrupted in 1944 when he enlisted in the United States Army, where he was a member of the American occupation force in Japan. During his tour, he earned his jump wings and joined the 11th Airborne Division. He attained the rank of tech seargant before his honorable discharge in 1946.

The highlight of Lynch's career was in 1949, when he raced in the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. He qualified at the 8th position with a speed of 127.820 mph; but his race ended early when he crashed into the wall on the first turn of the second lap. Until the tragic events of 1964, Mr. Lynch held the record for the shortest appearance in the Indy 500. Footage of Lynch's crash, along with other scenes from the race, were used in the 1949 film, The Big Wheel, starring Mickey Rooney.

After a failed attempt to qualify for the 1950 Indianapolis 500, Mr. Lynch continued racing in sprint and midget cars throughout the country, eventually bringing him to California. He participated in the 1951 La Carrera Panamericana, aka the Mexican Road Race, and briefly raced in a fledgling new racing association called the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing, commonly known today as NASCAR. After becoming "too careful" and losing his aggressive driving style, Lynch officially retired from auto racing in 1957.

He spent his remaining years in Southern California as an auto mechanic, fisherman, and ambassador of auto racing.

Married five times with four children: George Jr., Jeanette (died 1969), Roberta, and Neil,  George Lynch passed away on May 7, 1997 after a long struggle with Alzheimer's Disease.