Jump to content


Photo

Jim Rathmann R.I.P.


  • Please log in to reply
24 replies to this topic

#1 helioseism

helioseism
  • Member

  • 1,429 posts
  • Joined: December 05

Posted 24 November 2011 - 05:56

Jim Rathmann, winner of the 1960 Indy 500 and the 1958 Monza Race Of Two Worlds has passed away.

Link

Advertisement

#2 Tim Murray

Tim Murray
  • Member

  • 14,414 posts
  • Joined: May 02

Posted 24 November 2011 - 07:11

Very sad news, but what a nice obituary. I assume this makes him the only car dealer to have advertised on the moon.

RIP Mr Rathmann

#3 David M. Kane

David M. Kane
  • Member

  • 5,399 posts
  • Joined: December 00

Posted 24 November 2011 - 15:44

A great 500 Champion! RIP Jim.

#4 SeanValen

SeanValen
  • Member

  • 16,933 posts
  • Joined: February 01

Posted 24 November 2011 - 16:45

RIP



#5 Flat Black 84

Flat Black 84
  • Member

  • 739 posts
  • Joined: April 09

Posted 24 November 2011 - 17:56

Requiescat in pacem.

#6 Richard Jenkins

Richard Jenkins
  • Member

  • 6,151 posts
  • Joined: November 00

Posted 24 November 2011 - 21:02

A true link to the past gone - the last surviving starter of the 1950, 1952, 1953 and 1954 races.

Not entirely unexpected news, but very sad. It appears that this is the first time two Indy 500 winners have died in the same year for some considerable time (I think)

I always considered Rathmann to be considerbly underrated - very consistent, fast and a frequent race winner, but historically he doesn't seem to have the same - respect is the wrong word - but rating as those in his era.

Edited by Richie Jenkins, 24 November 2011 - 21:04.


#7 D-Type

D-Type
  • Member

  • 8,054 posts
  • Joined: February 03

Posted 24 November 2011 - 21:10

Another boyhood hero gone. RIP Jim/ Richard

Edited by D-Type, 24 November 2011 - 21:11.


#8 Jerry Entin

Jerry Entin
  • Member

  • 4,645 posts
  • Joined: December 02

Posted 24 November 2011 - 21:44

Here is the orbituary out of the LA Times:

MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) — Jim Rathmann, the 1960 Indianapolis 500 winner in a historic back-and-forth duel with Rodger Ward, died Wednesday. He was 83.

Son Jimmy Rathmann said in an e-mail message to Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials that his father died at a hospice facility in Melbourne, nine days after having a seizure at his home.

Rathmann, second in the Indy 500 in 1952, '57 and '59, was inducted into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007. He also won the 500-mile Race of Two Worlds in 1958 in Monza, Italy.

From 1949 to 1963, Rathmann made 42 IndyCar starts, drove in three NASCAR races and started twice in the Race of Two Worlds, winning seven times.

Born Royal Richard Rathmann, he borrowed the name Jim from his older brother to race underage in the mid-1940s. The name stuck, and his brother later raced as Dick Rathmann.

Rathmann is survived by wife Kay, two sons, two stepsons, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Posted Image

They accidentally ran a picture of his older brother Dick Rathmann with this obituary.

Edited by Jerry Entin, 24 November 2011 - 21:48.


#9 Jerry Entin

Jerry Entin
  • Member

  • 4,645 posts
  • Joined: December 02

Posted 24 November 2011 - 21:54

Posted Image
Jim Rathmann at Sebring in 1958

At Sebring in 1958 Jim Rathmann shared this Corvette with Dick Doane and took it to 12th overall. Note the interesting headlight covers.

From: Sports Car Racing in the South

photo: Bob Jackson

#10 jj2728

jj2728
  • Member

  • 2,789 posts
  • Joined: January 04

Posted 24 November 2011 - 22:44

RIP

#11 B Squared

B Squared
  • Member

  • 3,162 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 24 November 2011 - 23:21

I met Mr. Rathmann, albeit briefly, at the first USGP at Indianapolis in 2000 in the oval Turn 2 Suite area. Still a fan of the sport, he will be missed. It was too bad he was unable to travel to Indy this year to be a part of the 100th anniversary activities.

Taken in Phoenix in 1958, I think.
photo: with permission: John E. Isom
Posted Image

Edited by B Squared, 25 November 2011 - 12:23.


#12 Lemnpiper

Lemnpiper
  • Member

  • 776 posts
  • Joined: February 05

Posted 25 November 2011 - 08:14

A true link to the past gone - the last surviving starter of the 1950, 1952, 1953 and 1954 races.

Not entirely unexpected news, but very sad. It appears that this is the first time two Indy 500 winners have died in the same year for some considerable time (I think)

I always considered Rathmann to be considerbly underrated - very consistent, fast and a frequent race winner, but historically he doesn't seem to have the same - respect is the wrong word - but rating as those in his era.



Mr Jenkins ,

Plus the last starter from the 1940's races as well since he was the last of the 1949 race's starters.


Paul



#13 Jim Thurman

Jim Thurman
  • Member

  • 4,169 posts
  • Joined: February 01

Posted 25 November 2011 - 18:58

Here is the orbituary out of the LA Times:

Posted Image

They accidentally ran a picture of his older brother Dick Rathmann with this obituary.

Associated Press botched that and sent out the photo of Dick Rathmann with the wire copy obituary. No telling how many newspapers and websites published the wrong photo.

#14 Frank S

Frank S
  • Member

  • 2,157 posts
  • Joined: September 02

Posted 25 November 2011 - 22:58

NSSN's ...

#15 jondon

jondon
  • Member

  • 510 posts
  • Joined: January 05

Posted 27 November 2011 - 00:29

I have read many NASA astronaut biographies and Jim Rathman crops up in so many anecdotes...
His sense of humour and practical jokes are the stuff of legend. Wally Schirra especially had some marvellous stories to tell about Jim.
May he rest in peace.

#16 grandprix61

grandprix61
  • Member

  • 153 posts
  • Joined: May 09

Posted 27 November 2011 - 15:58

Mr Jenkins ,

Plus the last starter from the 1940's races as well since he was the last of the 1949 race's starters.


Paul


Jim drove a lot of stuff including this Lister at a Pro race at Meadowdale. He later had a huge crash at the end of the main straight and a fellow photographer said he was clearing a couple trees on the way down. Ron N.
Posted Image

Uploaded with ImageShack.us


#17 Lemnpiper

Lemnpiper
  • Member

  • 776 posts
  • Joined: February 05

Posted 27 November 2011 - 20:16

A true link to the past gone - the last surviving starter of the 1950, 1952, 1953 and 1954 races.

Not entirely unexpected news, but very sad. It appears that this is the first time two Indy 500 winners have died in the same year for some considerable time (I think)

I always considered Rathmann to be considerbly underrated - very consistent, fast and a frequent race winner, but historically he doesn't seem to have the same - respect is the wrong word - but rating as those in his era.



Hi Richie

I think Jim ended up being somewhat overlooked since the type of cars he raced vanished from the race within 4 years of his retirement. I dont think he even practiced a rear engined car at Indy ( if i'm wrong please correct me) and since his comtemporaries Foyt Ward Ruby Vieth etc all did ,i suspect it helped folks to overlook Jim's results because of the cars changing.

As a looked at the results Jim Rathmann was the last surviving starter from the 1949 , 1950 , 1952, 1953, 1954 & 1956 races and his death i do believe Leaves only Eddie Russo , Paul Goldsmith and Chuck Weyant and Art Malone as the last survivng drivers to start in only front engined machines as well.
So while being overlooked a bit by the fans in life his legacy as one of the better racers at Indy is secure.


Just my take on Jim Rathmann

Paul



BTW Jim's death makes Bobby Johns May 22, 1932 as the 10th oldest starter now.

Extra BTW how is Eddie Russo doin ,you hear very little about him now and he and Chuck Weyant are the last living starters from the 1955 race .



#18 B Squared

B Squared
  • Member

  • 3,162 posts
  • Joined: September 08

Posted 28 November 2011 - 20:04

A.J. Foyt remembers Jim Rathmann:

http://www.foytracin...ses/index.shtml

from the link:

HOUSTON Nov. 26, 2011—A.J. Foyt remembers Jim Rathmann as "a super guy and a helluva racer who never gave up and raced his ass off to beat Ward. He was damn good in those roadsters and there’s not many of us left.”

The race Foyt referred to was the 1960 Indianapolis 500 in which Rathmann battled Rodger Ward in a classic duel with 14 lead changes between them in the second half of the race. Rathmann prevailed when Ward had to slow down to nurse his worn tires to the finish, relinquishing the lead for the final time on lap 197 of the 200-lap race.

Rathmann,83, passed away on Wednesday, Nov. 23 in a hospice in Melbourne, Fla. after a suffering a seizure a week and half earlier. He is survived by his wife Kay, sons Jimmy and Jay, stepsons Zack and Tosh Pence, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

The 1960 Indy 500 winner had been in declining health the past several years and was not able to make it back to Indianapolis for the 100th anniversary celebration much to the dismay of his fellow competitors including A.J. Foyt. In fact his last visit to Indy was in February 2009 for the Centennial Gala which kicked off the Speedway’s three year celebration. He is pictured to the right with his wife Kay at that event.

“I hate to see good people like Jim pass on but I’m glad he didn’t suffer any more than he did,” said Foyt. “I was disappointed that he couldn’t make it back for Indy this year. We had a lot of good times together.”

Foyt reminisced about some of those times with one of racing’s more colorful personalities whose penchant for pranks was legendary.

- “He helped me get my Chevrolet dealership from Ed Cole [President of General Motors].” Rathmann, was the owner of a very large Cadillac and Chevrolet dealership in Melbourne, Fla. which he obtained in the mid-60’s. Foyt landed his Chevy dealership in the early 70’s and he eventually sold it in the early 90’s.

- “We were flying back from Monza, Italy in 1958 [the “Race of Two Worlds” which Rathmann won] and we stopped for fuel in Paris. They told us we would have 45 minutes before we took off so everyone got off the plane. When we got back on the plane, they did a roll call and I answered ‘Here’ for Rathmann even though he wasn’t on the plane. But all of his identification was—his passport, driver’s license and his money. We took off without him. He said it took him two days to get everything straightened out. He told me, ‘I will get even Li’l Texan.’ That’s what he used to call me, Li’l Texan.”

- “There were several of us playing cards in Jim’s room one night at the old Speedway Motel. He asked me to get a Kleenex for him out of the bathroom. When I opened the door, an alligator splashed in the bathtub! I scared him but he scared the hell out of me! I tore my pants getting outta there as fast as I could. Everyone got a big kick out of that, especially Jim.”

- “Jim had a heart operation here in Houston years ago—I think Denton Cooley operated on him. I was visiting with him the night before he was scheduled for surgery. Finally the nurses asked me to leave because it was getting late. I told them I wanted to be the last one talking to him in case he died during surgery. They didn’t think that was very funny but Jim did.”

Long after Rathmann retired from driving race cars in 1964, he continued to be a regular at the Speedway during May, always staying at the Speedway Motel/Brickyard Crossing Inn where he would have his door open-- welcoming old friends and making new ones.

#19 Richard Jenkins

Richard Jenkins
  • Member

  • 6,151 posts
  • Joined: November 00

Posted 28 November 2011 - 21:06

As a looked at the results Jim Rathmann was the last surviving starter from the 1956 race
Extra BTW how is Eddie Russo doing


Didn't Russo take part in 1956 - I thought Rathmann was the lst starter, but I noticed Russo's name.

Well, Russo was one of two drivers who couldn't make the 100th celebrations that were invited - Rathmann being the other. There wasn't any elaboration but one line said that Russo and Rathmann were either too ill or frail to attend. Having also not been interviewed, I suspect his health isn't as good as we'd like, alhtough if he is a private person, maybe there's a perfectly good reason he's been quiet. Weyant was interviewed at length and looks and sounds pretty well for his age.


Advertisement

#20 rateus

rateus
  • Member

  • 205 posts
  • Joined: April 06

Posted 29 November 2011 - 00:20

Didn't Russo take part in 1956 - I thought Rathmann was the lst starter, but I noticed Russo's name.

Rathmann was the last starter - Russo drove in relief of Elisian so is the last surviving participant.

And as someone who thinks race cars don't come any more beautiful than an Indy roadster, I was very sad to hear of Jim's passing. Somehow 83 still seems too young...

#21 grandprix61

grandprix61
  • Member

  • 153 posts
  • Joined: May 09

Posted 29 November 2011 - 04:26

Rathmann was the last starter - Russo drove in relief of Elisian so is the last surviving participant.

And as someone who thinks race cars don't come any more beautiful than an Indy roadster, I was very sad to hear of Jim's passing. Somehow 83 still seems too young...

Yes, 83 does seem too young. I think many of us have been blessed to be around and stay in touch with our racing fiends from years ago. I did not get to talk to many of the drivers during my photo assignments and that was by choice. I respected their privacy during race day as they were deep in thinking about the task ahead. As time wore on you would run into them at events and they usually were friendly and enjoyed talking about their racing days. What a great time we all had.
Here is Jim after the 1962 race. He started 23rd and finished 9th. Ron N.
Posted Image

Uploaded with ImageShack.us

#22 racinggeek

racinggeek
  • Member

  • 218 posts
  • Joined: June 11

Posted 29 November 2011 - 05:33

With all the good things being said about Rathmann, it's probably a good thing Smokey Yunick isn't alive to deliver his own obituary ...

RIP to the Indy 500 winner

#23 Marc Sproule

Marc Sproule
  • Member

  • 625 posts
  • Joined: April 10

Posted 29 November 2011 - 07:16

GKirby's remembrance of Rathmann

http://www.motorspor...n-appreciation/

#24 john glenn printz

john glenn printz
  • Member

  • 661 posts
  • Joined: June 05

Posted 30 November 2011 - 19:29

There is material on Richard "Jim" Rathmann (1928-2011) in the thread USAC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACING 1956 TO 1962, including descriptions of his win at Monza in 1958 and his 1960 Indianapolis victory. Of the two brothers, Dick (1926-2000) and Jim, I always thought that Dick was the more cocky, but less intelligent, and less talented than Jim. I never met any of the Rathmanns. Dick had his big chance at Indianapolis in 1958, but Ed Elisian's (1926-1959) crash on the first lap in turn three wiped out Dick's golden opportunity.

Jim began racing in the summer of 1946 at the Carroll Speedway in Gardena CA, then a 1/2 dirt track, located near Los Angeles. Rathmann's car was a hot-rod composed of a 1942 Mercury V8 installed into a 1925 Model T Ford chassis. During 1946 to 1948 he raced under the aegis of the California Roadster Association (CRA) which was formed by Babe Ouse in 1945. In 1948 Jim read an ad, probably in the NATIONAL SPEED SPORT NEWS, about a big money race to be held in Chicago at Soldier Field, and Rathmann decided to head east to get into the action. Both Jim and Pat Flaherty (1926-2002) drove in the "Hot-Rod" races staged by the Granatelli brothers at Soldier Field (1/4 mile paved oval) in Chicago during 1948 and 1949. The Granatelli sanctioning body was called the Hurricane Racing Association.

And both Rathmann and Flaherty, as new rookies, were on the Granatelli team at Indianapolis in 1949. Flaherty did not make the race day lineup but Jim got in, but not driving a Granatelli team car. Jim's original 1949 Indy mount was an old Maserati chassis with an Offenhauser motor installed in it. A new body had also been made, but things didn't work out. At Indy in 1949 Rathmann piloted instead an ancient Wetteroth chassis owned by John Lorenz of Chicago. The vehicle had once been a Schoof Special! Lorenz owned an auto repair shot located at 4407 Belmont Avenue in Chicago. Jim drove the same machine for the same owner at the Speedway for 1950. In 1949 he was running at the end, but was flagged at off at 175 laps to place 11th overall. In 1950 he placed 24th and was flagged off again in a rain shortened race, halted at 345 miles.

During 1950 Flaherty and Rathmann were the "stars" at the non-AAA Soldier Field races. Thus Jim Rathmann was under suspension (for going outlaw) by the AAA for the 1951 season and was not at Indianapolis in 1951, but he was reinstated by the AAA on December 12, 1951. At Indy in 1952 he was back in the Granatelli camp again and was assigned an Offenhauser/Kurtis KK3000. Rathmann finished 2nd in the race, which was the best Granatelli placement at the Speedway, until 1966, when Jimmy Clark also duplicated the 2nd place finish. Granatelli finally won the "500" with Mario Andrett in 1969. Here, I think the victory was more due to the combination of mechanic Clint Brawner and Mario, than the Granatelli brothers.

Jim didn't fare too well at Indianapolis in 1953, 1954, or 1955, in the waning days of the AAA Contest Board. However for the USAC 1956 "500", in a Lindsey Hopkins' owned Kurtis KK500C roadster, he qualified in the middle of the front row with a speed of 138.700 mph. The car, was in fact, the one that Bill Vukovich had been killed in the previous year but had been completely rebuilt. Rathmann certainly looked like a possible winner, but things went awry again and Jim led only the first three laps and was out after 175 with piston ring failure. He had been riding in 5th place at 160 circuits. Rathmann's fortunes would improve considerably however in 1957.

Rathmann won both of the only two Indy car contests staged at the Daytona International Speedway. Both races took place on April 4, 1959. The first was a 100 mile USAC Championship point race, which Jim won at the remarkable speed of 170.261 mph. On the very last lap of this contest George Amick (1924-1959) lost control of his Offenhauser/Epperly layover, and flipped to his death. The second race, a 50 miler, was not for points, but Jim won it also. Rathmann had three Championship victories, Indy 500, Daytona 100, and the Milwaukee 200 of August 25, 1957. The Indy and Daytona wins were in an A.J. Watson Offenhauser powered roadster, while at Milwaukee he piloted an Offenhauser/Epperly upright.

Jim was never a real contender for the U.S. National Driving Title because he didn't like to race on dirt and didn't excel on dirt ovals when he did drive on them. Those pilots who generally won many AAA or USAC National Championships between 1949 and 1964, were all top aces when riding on the flat dirt one mile ovals, i.e., Tony Bettenhausen Sr., Jimmy Byran, and A.J. Foyt. Rathmann was strictly a paved track specialist. His best Championship rankings were 2nd in 1957, 4ths in 1959 & 1960, and 6th in 1952. Rathmann had placed 2nd at Indianapolis on three occasions (1952, 1957, and 1959) before his victory in 1960. After his 1960 Indy victory Jim quickly faded from the scene. His last try at Indianapolis was in 1963.-Printz

Edited by john glenn printz, 10 July 2012 - 19:46.


#25 hlfuzzball

hlfuzzball
  • Member

  • 35 posts
  • Joined: November 06

Posted 04 December 2011 - 23:07

Posted Image


A reflective Jim Rathmann in 1950 at Chicago Soldier Field. What is he thinking ? "Will I make the rent money this week ?".


Edited by hlfuzzball, 04 December 2011 - 23:08.