8/10/1919 - 6/11/1955
Record updated 06-Nov-06
The first driver to qualify for Indy at over 140 mph, McGrath had a fine record at the brickyard but never won the race. He was killed in the last race of the 1955 season.
'Gentleman' Jack McGrath was a soft-spoken and mild-mannered racing driver from Los Angeles, California. He won the first CRA (California Roadster Association) championship in 1946 and was dubbed "King of the Hot Rods." His efforts, along with those of friend and Indy-teammate Manuel Ayulo, helped establish track roadsters as viable race cars.
In 1954 he became the first driver to qualify at over 140 mph, his best lap being 141.287 mph. He also effectively served as his own chief mechanic, came within seven seconds of finishing second in the race. He set a one and four lap qualifying record in both 1954 and 1955, and sat on the front row in five out of his six starts between 1949 and 1954. Although McGrath twice posted the fastest qualifying speed, he only started from pole in 1954. In 1955, he started on the outside of the first row behind pole-day qualifiers Jerry Hoyt and Tony Bettenhausen.
His starting positions from 1951 to 1955 represened the best 5 year starting average in the Roadster Era but sadly he never won the race.
Because the Indy 500 was included in the World Drivers Championship between 1950 and 1960 he is credited with participating in 6 grands prix, achieving 1 podium, 1 pole position and scoring 9 championship points.
He was killed in the Bobby Ball Memorial Race, the final race of the season at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, Phoenix on November 6, 1955.