Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 39

Thread: Bill Vukovich Jr.

  1. #1
    Mr. Obvious Teej's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Fort Wayne, IN USA
    Posts
    4,434
    Blog Entries
    3

    Bill Vukovich Jr.

    He had a good run of top-place finishes in the early 70s at the 500 in the Sugaripe Prune cars, but did he win in USAC IndyCars elsewhere? What type of driver was he?
    "I love Indianapolis. I love the people. I love everything about it....the tradition, the history." - Dan Wheldon

  2. #2
    Amalgamated JBaiza's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Back in good old California
    Posts
    9,006
    I think he won once perhaps in Phoenix in the late 60's, iirc. He may have a dirt car win or two in that era when they were in the schedule.

    I remember him as a mid-field driver, easy on equipment. Probably not that aggressive in rear engined cars.

    He was contrasted on dirt. Very stiff competition and ballsy. I've seen him get a head of steam and shoot between the smallest holes in traffic to make a pass, where you knew it was either going to be a 3 car pile-up or a great pass.
    "You have not converted a man because you have silenced him."
    -John Morley

  3. #3
    Mr. Obvious Teej's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Fort Wayne, IN USA
    Posts
    4,434
    Blog Entries
    3
    Thanks JBaiza

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Port Jervis, NY
    Posts
    4,660
    From the link, below, it shows one win - Michigan in 1973.

    http://www.motorsport.com/stats/cham...Billy_Vukovich

  5. #5

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Clovis, NM
    Posts
    217
    seems he had a knack for Indy though. In Jud's cars he was running all day. 2nd in 1973 and 3rd in 74 if i remember. something like that.
    A regular in Midgets too.
    Some People Race For A Living
    I Live To Race
    http://s210.photobucket.com/albums/bb87/Rickysuave44/

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Clovis, NM
    Posts
    217
    ok i had to go look. Indy 500 top 10 finishes
    1971 - 5th
    1973 - 2nd
    1974 - 3rd
    1975 - 6th
    1979 - 8th

    The sugarripe cars were in a little garage a mile or so from the house, so we learned to keep an eye on Vuky.

  8. #8

    Mis

    Believe that his one and only win in Indycars occurred at MIS. In 1973 if I remember correctly

  9. #9
    Hoosier by adoption
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Clermont, IN
    Posts
    1,974
    He also registered a Dirt Champ car win at Duquoin on Aug. 26, 1979. On that day he bested Bill Puterbaugh, Larry Dickson, Larry Rice, and Bill Engelhart. It was his only win in 45 starts on the Dirt Champ/Silver Crown circuit from 1971 to 1986.
    Dwight Clock

  10. #10
    Registered User LittleFauss's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    584
    'Vuky, was a ........money driver. His two wins combined in the Indy cars and the Champ dirt cars are previously documented. He didn't run the "big cars" like he ran the small cars. Ask anyone and they'll tell you: No one ran the midgets any harder and any better than Vuky did when he was in the mood and whenever it didn't conflict with his golf game. And probably, no one loved a son like he loved little Billy.

  11. #11
    Billy was much better than a 'mid field' driver, at least IMO.

    He was probably much like his father, whom I never had the pleasure of seeing while he was alive. Billy was very good in the midgets, probably better than he was in sprint cars.

    He had good equipment when he broke into championship racing with Agajanian, but I never thought he had top notch equipment. He did post a win for the Sugaripe crew, and cae close at Indy a couple of times and might have won the 73 event had it gone the full distance.

    Billy was very good in championship dirt cars, he often ran up front and did post a win on national TV at DuQuoin in 79.

    Billy was/is one of those really unique personalites in racing. He's also been very vocal about not being a ride buyer, something I think always hurt him getting rides.
    "For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children's future, and we are all mortal".

    John Kennedy at American University 1963

    "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power"

    A. Lincoln

  12. #12
    Insider
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Houghton/Hancock, MI
    Posts
    16,423
    Quote Originally Posted by LittleFauss
    'Vuky, was a ........money driver.
    I'm not sure if you meant "money" as in good when the chips are down, or money as in that was his reason for racing the big cars.

    I remember reading an interview with him. He was asked if he loved racing. He said that he wasn't "in love" with racing. He said he could just walk away. But that he was good at it, and could make money at it, so that's why he was there.

    When I read that I thought "and that's why you run mid pack". Which may not have been fair of me.

    That's a good looking finishing record at the speedway. I thought he was pretty decent the little I got to see him race. I thought his boy, Billy III, had the stuff and was going to be very good. Alas.

  13. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Columbia SC
    Posts
    249
    I played little league with Billy III and spend many days at the mobile home outside of turn one. That is where they lived during May before going back to Fresno.

    If I recall, Bill Jr's only win was actually a second place finish with the winner being DQed after the race. I think he was awarded the win and never got to victory lane. I want to say it was AJ that was DQed but I could be wrong. Anyone know for sure as I was only ten at the time.

  14. #14
    Registered User LittleFauss's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    584
    'sc, 'That's a great memory you've got. I wasn't there at Michigan that day but, I remember very vividly reading in NSSN about the questionable finish. And Vuky, (in an all-too customary tradition that he was very well known for as Belanger99 pointed out) launched into an unbelievable, very expletive tirade at USAC officials in Victory Lane proclaiming his victory. They awarded him the win in that first twin 125. Unfortunately, he crashed in the second 125. My previous reference to Vuky being a "money driver," was no secret. That's why Jerry O'Connel released him after the 1974 season and hired Mike Mosely; thinking that, like all car owners, the grass is always greener with someone else. Ultimately, even Mike was let go after a couple of seasons with virtually no more success than what Bill had achieved. In reference to Coyote's remarks; 'remember, Vuky actually had a strong resentment towards racing going back to when it took his Father's life when he was just an 11-year old kid. Imagine, how he must have felt 35 years later when it also took his gifted, young son.

  15. #15
    Amalgamated JBaiza's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Back in good old California
    Posts
    9,006
    Tragic family story, no doubt. It could be a movie.

  16. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lviv, Ukraine
    Posts
    1,491
    I also tend to believe that Bill, Jr. was better than a mid pack driver. In the 1970s when you weren't a driver on one of the top teams you did not really stand a chance. Unfortunately neither Johnny O'Connel's operation nor the teams Vukovich, Jr. ran for later on were top teams. At that time you had to drive for Patrick, McLaren, Penske, VPJ or to be A.J. Foyt to win at Indianapolis or the on the USAC Trail. Bill's equipment wasn't bad but it wasn't good enough to win on a regular basis. As a driver he was probably pretty good as well. Certainly not a Foyt or an Unser but nonetheless he must have been pretty good in what he was doing.
    Too bad that Bill Jr. never got the chance he deserved.
    "Each day well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well therefore to this one day for it, and it alone is life" Sid Collins

  17. #17
    Magnafluxed
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Huntsville, AL USA
    Posts
    6,524
    Quote Originally Posted by Super44
    ok i had to go look. Indy 500 top 10 finishes
    1975 - 6th
    He was running either 2nd or 3rd when he spun out in the rain, just as the race was being red flagged. I still remember seeing the car looping at about 30 MPH, sliding backwards into the infield, jumping a drainage ditch, and rebounding off a chain link fence. He was catching Unser before the rain hit, and if the race had been restarted, he very well might have won.

  18. #18
    Insider
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Houghton/Hancock, MI
    Posts
    16,423
    Quote Originally Posted by cornutt
    He was running either 2nd or 3rd when he spun out in the rain, just as the race was being red flagged. I still remember seeing the car looping at about 30 MPH, sliding backwards into the infield, jumping a drainage ditch, and rebounding off a chain link fence. He was catching Unser before the rain hit, and if the race had been restarted, he very well might have won.
    Wasn't there some dude on the INSIDE of the catch fence that had to jump out of the way? I saw that clip again not long ago and wondered if he was TF member or if someone here knew who he was?

    Yeah, that was a wierd. Nobody deserved to lose spots from looping in that deluge. Everybody was squirrely. I remember it looking like Foyt was trying to get past Bobby Unser as they came to the line in the downpour, and Unser looking like he was trying to prevent it. They were both sliding all over but still trying to make it to the line. I suppose it made sense since if they restarted Foyt would have wanted to be back on the lead lap and maybe the red flag hadn't yet come out. It was strange.

  19. #19
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Columbia SC
    Posts
    249
    Billy was a good driver but he did seem to be a little too cautious, probably because of what happened to his father. He would bring the car home in one piece and would have some good finishes since the cars broke much more often back then.

    I don't remember he leading many laps anywhere, let alone at Indy. Did he even lead a lap at his one victory? Did anyone figure out who was DQ'd? I don't remember but I keep thinking it was A.J.

    Someone told me that Billy III was more like Billy Sr in his driving style. I didn't see him drive (except his two Indys) to make that assumption.
    As for remembering the Michigan controversy, I only remember it because I knew Billy III as a kid and remember the awsome trophy (at least to a 10 year old) on the mantle. I didn't see Billy III for decades until we spoke on carb day his rookie year. As a youth, he had that racer mentality and I figured he would race at Indy one day and do well. Too bad we will never know for sure.
    Last edited by sc-indy; 04-27-2007 at 12:26 PM.

  20. #20
    Magnafluxed
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Huntsville, AL USA
    Posts
    6,524
    Quote Originally Posted by Coyote
    Wasn't there some dude on the INSIDE of the catch fence that had to jump out of the way? I saw that clip again not long ago and wondered if he was TF member or if someone here knew who he was?
    That's right. I was going to say it was a spectator, but even back then they wouldn't have had just one chain link fence between the spectators and the cars. I have a very vague memory that it was a photographer. Vuky wasn't the only one that spun, he was just the only one to hit anything. There were cars spinning and sliding everywhere.

    Yeah, that was a wierd. Nobody deserved to lose spots from looping in that deluge. Everybody was squirrely. I remember it looking like Foyt was trying to get past Bobby Unser as they came to the line in the downpour, and Unser looking like he was trying to prevent it. They were both sliding all over but still trying to make it to the line. I suppose it made sense since if they restarted Foyt would have wanted to be back on the lead lap and maybe the red flag hadn't yet come out. It was strange.
    It hit really suddenly. I remember thinking at the time that they should have stopped the cars on the back stretch as soon as it started, but I guess they didn't have a procedure for doing that. My most vivid image from all that was when Unser made it back around to the pit after the race was stopped, and he was driving down the pit lane, and creating a wake as he went. They called the race just a few minutes into the storm. I've since read that the storm stopped after a few more minutes and the track dried and they could have finished it, but they had already called it.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by cornutt
    He was running either 2nd or 3rd when he spun out in the rain, just as the race was being red flagged. I still remember seeing the car looping at about 30 MPH, sliding backwards into the infield, jumping a drainage ditch, and rebounding off a chain link fence. He was catching Unser before the rain hit, and if the race had been restarted, he very well might have won.


    That was the only race i sat under cover on the front stretch, and a good one to do that!

    That ending, with all the cars sliding around, was just crazy. I was so sick of rain at Indy by then.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by cornutt
    He was running either 2nd or 3rd when he spun out in the rain, just as the race was being red flagged. I still remember seeing the car looping at about 30 MPH, sliding backwards into the infield, jumping a drainage ditch, and rebounding off a chain link fence. He was catching Unser before the rain hit, and if the race had been restarted, he very well might have won.
    He was credited with 166 laps to Unser's 174, so he was at least 7 laps down when the rain hit.

    Rutherford, on the other hand, would have given Unser a run for the money.
    "Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate."

    2014 Indianapolis 500 photo gallery

  23. #23
    Planning dalz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Back to work hibernation
    Posts
    3,834
    Uncle Bobby has said that you had to keep a certain speed in that gullywasher bacause if you hit the turn to slow the banking would slide you off to the infield. He almost lost it once and then figured it out.

    As a VERY young kid at the time, Indy was just supposed to have rain. I always remember the '77 race going the distance and thinking, wow, that was weird....

  24. #24
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Mojave Desert, California
    Posts
    1,140
    Billy Vukovich won a great number races on Western U.S. tracks early in the 1967 season - I want to say it was 21. These came in Sprints, Midgets and Super Modifieds and on dirt and pavement. Quite an impressive roll.

    As a kid, I remember seeing him race the Peat Brothers 'T' Modified in the SDRA "Modified Sportsman" (actually Caged Sprints with some Modifieds mixed in) at Cajon Speedway. From it's origins as a high school football stadium, Cajon had bleachers on both sides. We sat low in the backstretch bleachers entering T3, where the track exit to the pits was located. Vukovich had some problems with another driver during the heat race and as the cars were lined up to exit the track, he had a major tantrum. He stood up in the cockpit, through the roof (no wings allowed in SDRA at the time) and pounded his fists violently into the top of his car. He was enraged. One of the best race track tantrums I've ever seen, and I have seen plenty and some real classics . He came back and won the main event.

    Robin Miller has said Vukovich did not have the temperment or personality for big time racing, that he was too nice a guy, but that he was very talented. I agree.

  25. #25
    Indy since '66 kevin99's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Location
    40 miles north of the greatest track that has the Greatest Spectacle In Racing.
    Posts
    5,392
    Vuky was the fastest car on the track in 1973 right before the rain came again. Could he have beat Johncock? Who knows, but he was running quicker.
    "You just don't know what Indy Means", Al Unser Jr.

    "That's why to me it does feel more precious when an American wins it...", Michael Andretti

  26. #26
    Insider carl s's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Indio, CA USA
    Posts
    9,019
    Quote Originally Posted by JThur1
    As a kid, I remember seeing him race the Peat Brothers 'T' Modified in the SDRA "Modified Sportsman" (actually Caged Sprints with some Modifieds mixed in) at Cajon Speedway. From it's origins as a high school football stadium, Cajon had bleachers on both sides. We sat low in the backstretch bleachers entering T3, where the track exit to the pits was located. Vukovich had some problems with another driver during the heat race and as the cars were lined up to exit the track, he had a major tantrum. He stood up in the cockpit, through the roof (no wings allowed in SDRA at the time) and pounded his fists violently into the top of his car. He was enraged. One of the best race track tantrums I've ever seen, and I have seen plenty and some real classics . He came back and won the main event.

    Robin Miller has said Vukovich did not have the temperment or personality for big time racing, that he was too nice a guy, but that he was very talented. I agree.
    El Cajon Speedway - "Low in the backstretch (West bleachers) turn 3 in the distance"

    Thanks to retrorockets.com (your commentary included) for a 1967 picture (at Mobile) of the Pete Brothers #71 that you mention B.V. Jr throwing his fit in at El Cajon.(running the wing that night in Cajon certainly would have dampened the outrage )


    Jim, do you remember Earle?

    8/2005 Earle Bucker (played for the Philadelphia Athletics) taking his final daily walk around the track that he and his sons developed (in 1960) and promoted and would be demolished the following day.
    Two years prior his son Steve (age 51), who ran the place, was gunned down and killed on his doorstop. Earle passed away shortly after the track was gone.
    Last edited by carl s; 05-19-2007 at 05:29 PM.

  27. #27
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Mojave Desert, California
    Posts
    1,140
    Quote Originally Posted by carl s
    El Cajon Speedway - "Low in the backstretch (West bleachers) turn 3 in the distance"

    One of the saddest sights, an abandoned race track. Someone needs to change the lyrics of "There Used To Be A Ballpark Here" to fit racing.

    Yep, many a Saturday night spent just to the right of the first full red bar on the wall from the far left light pole. Early on mom, dad, brother and I sitting there. Later, mainly dad and I. We originally moved to the West side at dad's suggestion because I was too little to see the start/finish line when people stood up. Everyone had their spots in the bleachers, the Ed Hale supporters, the Pat McIntyre fans, and for better or worse, that was ours. We couldn't even see turn 2 or beginning of the backstraight there. Thought we were goners when Skip "Fonzie" Wenck's Pontiac convertible slid through the infield and he tried to power out of it only to hook hard right and hit the board fence in front of us. I remember seeing the Pontiac grille coming at face level, ducking my head down and being showered with dirt and wood. Fortunately, it didn't quite hurdle the dirt behind the wall, but it acted like a shovel. I was picking splinters out of my head for a week.

    You remind me that I need to contact Dan at retrorockets.com and re-do that info a bit. I found out since I sent that off that Bill Jr. won in the car not only at Cajon, but Ascot and San Gabriel Valley Speedway and at least ran it at Manzanita.

    And, yes, I remember the Brucker family very well. Without them and Tom Jackman, there would never have been a Cajon Speedway.

    Bill's tantrum would have been quite interesting with the wing on

    Bill Vukovich Jr. (though he really isn't Jr.) won 4 times at Cajon Speedway, I think in only 5 or 6 starts (!). He won 2 USAC Midget features and was spun out late while leading a 3rd. Not a happy guy that day either, and again, with good reason.

    Thanks for posting those Carl

  28. #28
    Race Fan
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Austin Tx USA
    Posts
    3,570
    Bill Vukovich Jr. (though he really isn't Jr.) won 4 times at Cajon Speedway, I think in only 5 or 6 starts (!). He won 2 USAC Midget features and was spun out late while leading a 3rd. Not a happy guy that day either, and again, with good reason.

    Bill also got beat there By NP Bates in his only USAC midget win,It was also his first time on Pavment agaisnt the big Boys. Funny But He tied Vuky for Quick time the only Quick time ever for Him. Bates was driving a couple of races old Benson car. Anyone Saying Bill didnt drive hard has never watched Him race!! If He wasnt drivng hard He sure wore Himself out for nothing!
    aXe
    Born Again Race Fan seen at
    www.openwheelracers3.com

  29. #29

    Bill Vukovich II

    I recently met a slightly older gentleman in a place of business when I stopped to ask about having some work done by that shop. He was pleasant and we carried on a full conversation regarding my questions. At one point he even poked a little fun at me, telling me that I worried too much. In the context of our conversation, it was not only accurate but pretty funny too. Days later I returned to pick up my stuff and the same gentleman helped me. I knew his name was Bill but knew nothing more. We talked a bit and eventually got around to the Speedway (IMS) when he saw a front license plate on my truck. When I was talking about attending the Old Timers Banquet, he brightened up and told me he had an old timers card. I asked his last name and about fell over when he said "Vukovich". I have been going to the Speedway since '70 and remembered seeing him and photographing him on pit road. He showed me his old timers card and we chatted a little more before parting. I found him to be a nice fellow, interesting and of good humor. To say it made my day is an understatement. It just goes to show, you never know what treasure lies just around the corner. Thank you Bill.

  30. #30
    Certifiable Neshaminy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    On the water, just upstream a bit from the old Langhorne Speedway
    Posts
    6,373
    Carl...the picture of the old man taking one last lap around his old speedway is certainly a sad one. It's sad to see sweat equity disappear, as if you weren't here at all.

    For Billy's stats

    http://www.champcarstats.com/drivers...ichBillyJr.htm
    Katharine's Legge is in the gravel!--Jenks

    __________________________________________________ ____________________
    12-7-1941 Never, Never Forget 9-11-2001

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •