25/11/1908 - 26/8/1984
Jimmy Wilburn was an American racing driver from Los Angeles. He won the first known Champ Car race to be held after the end of World War II at Lakewood Speedway in March 1946. Later that year he made his only appearance in the Indianapolis 500. Driving an Alfa Romeo he started 16th but retired after 52 laps with engine trouble. He was credited with finishing 19th. Jimmy Wilburn died 38 years ago, he was 76
Wilburn started racing in the early 1930s based out of Portland, Oregon and raced mainly on the west coast.
He enjoyed considerable success before moving Oakland to race in the Charlie Curryer run American Racing Association before moving back to Los Angeles in the Western Racing Association.
In 1936 he moved to Indianapolis along with Travis "Spider" Webb and together they began competing in Central States Racing Association events in sprint cars. CSRA was one of three major sanctioning bodies in the United States along with the American Automobile Association and the International Motor Contest Association.
Wilburn won three back to back CSRA championships in 1938, 1939 and 1940; and following year he won several major races at Reading, Pennsylvania and Des Moines, Iowa.
Tragically in the IMCA season finale on October 21, 1941, at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds, he was battling Gus Schrader when Schrader's car clipped Wilburn's tire causing Schrader to flip end-over-end with fatal consequences.
Racing stopped for World War II but on cessation of hostilities racing resumed and in 1945 Wilburn won in front of a large CSRA crowd of over 124,000 people at Allentown Fairgrounds, possibly the first known Champ Car after the war.
Wilburn returned to CSRA in 1946 and won the championship again and he also won all four IMCA events at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. He also made his only appearance in the Indianapolis 500 that year, driving an Alfa Romeo he started 16th but retired after 52 laps with engine trouble. He was credited with finishing 19th.
In 1947 he won the CSRA championship yet again and finished second to Emory Collins.
In July 1948 Wilburn flipped his Offenhauser at Oskaloosa, Iowa and he was unconscious for several weeks. He returned to racing in 1949 and finished third in the IMCA points behind Frank Luptow and Collins and the following year he won the CSRA championship. However partly due to the injuries he sustained in 1948, Wilburn felt that this had started to affect his driving ability and he retiring from racing.
Wilburn moved with his wife Mary to Florida after retiring. He died on August 26, 1984.