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James Hurtubise (December 5, 1932 – January 6, 1989) was an American race car driver who raced in USAC Champ Cars (including the Indianapolis 500), as well as sprint cars and stock cars (USAC and NASCAR). He was from North Tonawanda, New York. Hurtubise enjoyed a lot of success in sprint cars, champ dirt cars, and stock cars but never achieved the success at the Indy 500 that his rookie qualifying run promised when he out qualified pole sitter Eddie Sachs by three mph, nearly breaking the 150 mph mark. "Herk" was a fan favorite throughout much of his career because of his fun-loving attitude and his hard driving style.[1]

Jim Hurtubise
Jim Hurtubise.jpg
Born(1932-12-05)December 5, 1932
DiedJanuary 6, 1989(1989-01-06) (aged 56)
Resting placeCrown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana
AwardsNational Sprint Car Hall of Fame 1993 Inductee
Formula One World Championship career
Active years1960
Career points0
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
First entry1960 Indianapolis 500
Last entry1960 Indianapolis 500
NASCAR Cup Series career
36 races run over 13 years
Best finish46th (1968)
First race1957 Ascot Stadium race
Last race1977 Delaware 500 (Dover)
First win1966 Atlanta 500 (Atlanta)
Last win1966 Atlanta 500 (Atlanta)
Wins Top tens Poles
1 11 0

Hurtubise raced in the USAC Championship Car series in the 1959–1968 and 1970–1974 seasons, with 97 career starts. He finished in the top ten 38 times, with 4 victories, in 1959 at Sacramento, 1960 at Langhorne, and 1961 and 1962 at Springfield.[2] In 1964, after suffering serious burns in an accident during the Rex Mays Classic at the Milwaukee Mile, doctors asked Hurtubise how he wanted his hands shaped permanently. "Just make 'em so I can hold a steering wheel," he replied.[1]

Hurtubise died January 6, 1989 after suffering a heart attack near his home in Port Arthur, Texas. He was 56 years old. He is interred at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.[3][4]

Indianapolis 500Edit

Hurtubise ran in ten Indianapolis 500 races between 1960 and 1974. His best finish was a 13th in 1962.

In 1965 He qualified using a Novi engine, the last year that engine would be used in the race, have been considered obsolete several years before.[5] The engine failed on the first lap, and he finished last.[6]

In 1966 He entered a rear-engined car, which was taking over from the front-engined roadsters as the standard for the race, and finished 17th.

After failing to qualify in 1967, in 1968 he ran the last front engined car to date in the race. He owned and had built the car himself, and named it the "Mallard". He claimed the car was lighter than previous roadsters, which would allow it to be competitive with the rear-engine cars.[7]

From 1969 through 1971, he would continued to attempt to qualify the roadster, but failed to make the field, which was now fully rear-engined cars.

In 1972, he had qualified a rear-engine car 13th.[8] However on "bump day", he put the roadster, sponsored by Miller Beer in line to make a qualification attempt shortly before the closing deadline of 6:00 pm. The time expired before it was his turn to qualify. He then removed the engine cover to reveal that the car had no engine, but five chilled cases of his sponsor's product, which he shared with the other pit crews and race officials[1][9]

In 1973 through 1975 he attempted to qualify rear-engine cars, missing the field in 1973 and 1975 while qualifying 28th in 1974, finishing the race 28th after blowing the engine on lap 31. This would be the last year he would successfully qualify for the race.

For 1976 he was back in the Mallard. In 1978, while once again attempting to enter the roadster (a type of car which had now not qualified for the race in a decade) Tom Binford, the chief steward, refused to allow him an attempt to make the race, stating the car had not showed it was capable of race speed during practice. He then sat in entrant Bob Harkey’s car for ten minutes refusing to move. After finally leaving the car he ran on the track where he was tackled and apprehended by the police.[10].

In subsequent years he continued to attempt to get the Mallard into the field, with his final attempt in 1981. This was the final attempt for any front-engine car in the race, 13 years after the last time a car of that type had qualified for the race, and 17 years since the last time one had won.[11]

Final race for the MallardEdit

In 1972 Hurtubise drove the Mallard in an IndyCar race at Michigan in 1972, qualifying 26th (last) and finishing 23rd. He drove the same car a year earlier at the Pocono 500, qualifying 33rd (last) and finishing 30th.[12] This would be the last time a front-engine car ran in an IndyCar race.

NASCAR careerEdit

In 1957, Hurtubise started his NASCAR career running two races. Over the next twenty years, he would race 36 races, winning one race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and amassing eleven top ten finishes.[13]


He was inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1993.[14] Hurtubise was the 1998 pioneer selection for the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame.[15]

Indianapolis 500 resultsEdit

Year Chassis Engine Start Finish
1960 Christensen Offy 23rd 18th
1961 Epperly Offy 3rd 22nd
1962 Watson Offy 29th 13th
1963 Kurtis Kraft Novi 2nd 22nd
1964 Hurtubise Offy 11th 14th
1965 Kurtis Kraft Novi 23rd 33rd
1966 Gerhardt Offy 22nd 17th
1967 Mallard Offy Failed to Qualify
1968 Mallard Offy 30th 30th
1969 Mallard Offy Failed to Qualify
1970 Mallard Offy Failed to Qualify
1971 Mallard Offy Qualifying Crash
1972 Coyote Foyt 13th 23rd
1973 Lola Offy Failed to Qualify
1974 McLaren M16 Offy 28th 25th
1975 Eagle Offy Failed to Qualify
1976 Mallard Offy Failed to Qualify
1977 Mallard Offy Failed to Qualify
1978 Mallard Offy Failed to Qualify
1979 Mallard Offy Failed to Qualify
1980 Mallard Offy Failed to Qualify
1981 King Offy Failed to Qualify

World Championship career summaryEdit

The Indianapolis 500 was part of the FIA World Championship from 1950 through 1960. Drivers competing at Indy during those years were credited with World Championship points and participation. Hurtubise participated in one World Championship race, finishing eighteenth and receiving no points.


  1. ^ a b c Chapin, Kim (1978-05-15). "The Ghost Of Indy's Past". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on 2008-08-29. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
  2. ^ Kavanagh, Rick. "Jim Hurtubise Remembered". Merrittville Speedway. Archived from the original on 2008-10-03. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
  3. ^ KUPPER, MIKE (10 January 1989). "FLAMBOYANT FIGURE : Auto Racing World Will Miss Fun-Loving Driver Jim Hurtubise". Retrieved 14 January 2019 – via LA Times.
  4. ^ "Indianapolis Auto greats" (PDF). Celebrating Automotive Heritage at Crown Hill Cemetery. Crown Hill Cemetery. 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-13. Retrieved 2012-09-10.
  5. ^ Studebaker Indianapolis 500 Novi Race car Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  6. ^ Race Results - Indianapolis 500 - 1965 Indianapolis 500 Historical Stats at Indianapolis Motor Speedway website. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  7. ^ 1967 Hurtubise Mallard Offy: The last roadster to run at Indy Autoweek, September 20, 2001. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  8. ^ Miller, Robin (May 16th, 2018) Robin Miller's Mailbag for May 16 Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  9. ^ Larson, Mike (April 28, 2016). "#31 Jim Hurtubise fails to qualify for Indy 500, treats everyone to beer instead". AutoWeek. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  10. ^ "Hurtubise Disrupts Indy 500 Qualifying". The New York Times. May 22, 1978. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  11. ^ Kelly, Paul (May 10, 2018) Indy Memories: A.J Foyt takes last win for a front-engine car WKRN Television. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  12. ^ "Driver Jim Hurtubise's AAA / USAC Champ Car Series Results at Michigan International Speedway -". Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  13. ^ "Jim Hurtubise". Retrieved 2008-07-15.
  14. ^ "inductees". National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2008-07-05. Retrieved 2008-07-15.
  15. ^ Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame

External linksEdit