A Lifelong Love of Racing
As a six-year-old child in 1959, my first visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — a practice day — began what proved to be a lifelong love of racing at Indy. My first experiences at IMS fit squarely into what’s sometimes known as the “Roadster Era.” Having been introduced to the front-end Roadsters of that time, I immediately fell to liking Rodger Ward. I did not attend the race that year, but my favorite driver, Rodger Ward, won. My first race was in 1962 and who else but Rodger Ward won again! It was like it was meant to be!
There were many different types of Roadsters throughout the years starting back in approximately 1947 up through the mid-1960s. Even at a young age, I was interested in how cars worked. I always found it very interesting how much the drivers fought the wheel to keep the cars under control. Some were low to the ground. Others had drivers sitting in an offset position in the car.
Roadsters at the Museum
I’m not positive where the name “Roadster” was first used here at Indy, but it is said to come from Bill Vukovich. He named his race car after his hot rod, which he called a Roadster due to the look of the front grill. His winning Indy 500 car from 1953 and 1954 is on display in the museum and is featured in our Adopt-A-Car program. You can learn more about other Roasters in our collection by visiting the IMS Museum YouTube channel. A few suggestions include:
- Track historian Donald Davidson talking about one of his favorites: A.J. Foyt’s 1964Watson Roadster
- The many lives of the Sampson “16” Special
- A three-part Lotus Comes to Indy video describing the start of the “rear-engine revolution” that pretty much ended the Roadster era.
I would like to invite everyone, race fans or not, to come out and visit our museum soon. We have some really wonderful car displays on the floor. Until then, keep visiting us online and on social media!