20/8/1939 - 23/10/2000
Record updated 20-Aug-20
Bob Hurt started racing in sports cars before switching to Indy Cars in 1964. He was paralyzed in a qualifying accident at Indy in 1968.
Born in Champaign, Illinois, Hurt was a keen athlete in his youth. He played on two Illinois high school state championship basketball teams and was a fine high jumper.
He started racing at 19, driving modified stock cars and sports cars.
In 1961 he acquired a Ferrari 250 TR59 Testa Rossa Fantuzzi Spyder '0766' which he raced at Riverside International Raceway and Laguna Seca that. The car had been driven by Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien to victory in the 12 hour race at Sebring in 1959 and by Ricardo Rodriguez to second at Le Mans in 1960. He also raced a Lotus 18 at Bridgehampton in the Vanderbilt Cup that year and in December, he finished 3rd overall and second in class in the Governor's Trophy during the Bahama's Speed Week driving his Ferrari.
He raced the Testa Rossa sparingly over the next two years. In 1962 he took the car to Puerto Rico to race in the 1st Grand Prix de Puerto Rico, finishing 11th.
In 1963 he drove the Matt DeMatthews owned Chevrolet in the Grand National round at Richmond finishing 16th.
Hurt passed his rookie test at Indianapolis in 1964 but didn't make an attempt to qualify. He entered six USAC races with the Joe Hunt Magneto Ewing Offy with little success.
He failed to qualify at Indy again in 1965 and didn't post any results of note in his six other races that year. 1966 was a similar story.
For 1967 he launched a full season of Indy car racing. His qualifying run at the Brickyard of 161.261 mph was once again not quick enough and he was bumped off the grid. He took part in a total of fourteen races during the year with a best finish of sixth in the Trenton (N.J.) 200 in September.
In 1968, he was scheduled to drive the Jack Adams-owned Wynn-Storm Glen Bryant Turbine at Indy, but was injured in the morning practice period while driving the Quaker State Gerhardt Offy. Rain had marred practice and qualifying for 23 consecutive days and an extra qualifying day had been added on May 27.
He was taken to Methodist hospital in Indianapolis with a broken neck. He spent nearly two months there before being transferred to the Rusk Center Institute of Rehabilitation in New York City.
Though paralyzed he refused to accept that he would be a paraplegic for the rest of his life and over the years made trips to Russia and Sweden to undergo experimental treatment.
He worked and helped council others with similar problems and spoke with actor Christopher Reeve after he suffered similar injuries.
At the time of his death, He was fighting prostate cancer and was in Toronto staying in a hotel and undergoing outpatient treatment to save on cost.