Joe Nikrent

4/8/1879 - 25/7/1958

Joe Nikrent

In 1909 Joe Nikrent drove a Buick to victory in the Los Angeles-to-Phoenix race on public roads. He covered the 480 miles in 19 hours and 13 minutes for an average speed of 24.98 mph.

Joe Nikrent was a favorite at the prestigious Santa Monica road races. He and his brother Louis combined to make more appearances than any other single driver at the venue. In May 1911 he raced his Case there finishing 6th. He entered the Kane County Trophy in August with a Staver-Chicago but was out after just one lap.

In September of 1912, cars known as "Big Cars" took to the Illinois State Fair mile as part of a major competitive auto-racing program presented during the fair. Indianapolis 500 veteran Louis Disbrow set a one-lap track record of 51.20 seconds (70.313 MPH) that day, with eight races on tap. Scheduled were 5 heats of 5 miles each, one of two miles, one of three miles and a main event of 10 miles. Disbrow won 4 of the seven heat races, but it was Joe in a big Stutz that took the 10-mile feature race, averaging nearly 60 miles per hour for the distance.

In May 1913 he qualified for the Indy 500 with Eddie Hearne in a Case. They went out on the 67th lap with a burned bearing. In July he was at the Galveston’s annual beach races. These were hailed as the second biggest races in the world outside of Indianapolis. on the 28th in the 50 mile race he came 11th. On the following day in the 100 mile race, Disbrow opened up a lead at the start. Ten few minutes into the race on the 4th lap, Joe lost control of his Case and crashed in front of the grandstand, travelling at over 90 mph, he plowed into the barbed wire fence that ringed the edges of the track.

The fence cut his chest open and broke a few ribs. He was taken by army ambulance to Fort Crockett post hospital, where “surgeons announced that he had a good chance for recovery, although his condition is regarded as grave.”

At the scene, Nikrent, lapsing in and out of consciousness, was heard to say, “Was anybody hurt?” When told no one was injured by his wreck, he said, “I’m glad of that” before passing out again.

The crash ended Nikrent’s promising career. In his six-races, he had won once and finished second twice. After his accident in Galveston, he didn’t compete in 1914 and tried to race at Indy in 1915 but failed to qualify. He never raced again.

In 1923 Joe did drive a mildly tweaked Buick 6-54 to record 108.25mph during a high-speed dry lake run near Muroc, California.

Later became he became an aeronautical official with National Aeronautical Association.


  1. Facebook