Len Sutton (August 9, 1925 – December 3, 2006)[1] was an American racecar driver. He is best known for finishing second at the 1962 Indianapolis 500.[2]

Len Sutton
Born(1925-08-09)August 9, 1925
DiedDecember 3, 2006(2006-12-03) (aged 81)
Formula One World Championship career
NationalityUnited States American
Active years1956, 19581960
TeamsLesovsky, Kurtis Kraft, Watson, Kuzma
Entries4 (3 starts)
Championships0
Wins0
Podiums0
Career points0
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
First entry1956 Indianapolis 500
Last entry1960 Indianapolis 500

Early racing careerEdit

A lifelong resident of Portland, Oregon, Sutton became involved in auto racing after serving in the Navy during World War II. He spun out in the first corner on his first lap at a dirt track.[2] Sutton won Oregon Racing Association championships in 1949, 1950, 1954, and 1955. He flipped his car to avoid cattle during the 1954 Carrera Panamericana road race (now Baja 1000). He was in a body cast for 4 months.[2] He also won midget car racing championships in Portland before he headed east to become a national touring driver.[2]

National circuitsEdit

He raced in the AAA and USAC Championship Car series from 1955 to 1965, with 76 career starts, 43 top ten finishes, and 3 victories.

Sutton completed his rookie test for the Indianapolis 500 in 1956. He flipped his car while attempting 140 miles per hour for the 1957 Indianapolis 500. He slide upside down with his helmet scraping the asphalt for nearly 1000 feet (300 m).[2] A report in the following day's Indianapolis News said "Sutton was at first believed dead by observers on the scene."[2] His injuries included broken shoulder, serious abrasions on his back, and a fractured skull.[2] He returned to Indianapolis the following year and made his first start in the event. That year he finished 32nd after being eliminated in a multi-car accident during the first lap. He competed in the 500 six more times and had his best result in 1962. After starting the race 4th, he led 9 laps and finished second behind his teammate Rodger Ward. The next year, he set an unofficial Indianapolis Motor Speedway record when he went over 155 miles per hour (249 km/h) during a tire test.

Known for his versatility as a driver, Sutton also competed in roadsters, midgets, sprint cars, and stock cars. He finished 31st in the 1963 Daytona 500. Sutton decided to retire from driving during a 1965 race at Langhorne Speedway. Fellow competitor Mel Kenyon was severely burned in the race.[2]

Broadcaster after retirement and deathEdit

After retiring from driving, Sutton went into broadcasting and was a member of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network for many years.

Sutton died at his home in Portland at age 81 after a long battle with cancer.

AwardsEdit

He was inducted in the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2005. He was a member of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. Sutton was named to the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2009.[3]

Complete AAA/USAC Championship Car resultsEdit

Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Pos Points
1955 INDY
MIL LAN SPR MIL
DUQ
PIK
SYR ISF SAC
17
PHX
17
- 0
1956 INDY
DNQ
MIL LAN DAR ATL SPR MIL DUQ
SYR ISF
SAC
18
PHX - 0
1957 INDY
LAN MIL DET ATL SPR
DNQ
MIL
19
DUQ
7
SYR
17
ISF
4
TRE
4
SAC
DNQ
PHX
17
16th 300
1958 TRE
1
INDY
32
MIL
11
LAN
9
ATL
4
SPR
9
MIL
9
DUQ
6
SYR
DNQ
ISF
DNQ
TRE
8
SAC
DNQ
PHX
9
11th 670
1959 DAY
20
TRE
16
INDY
32
MIL
10
LAN
14
SPR
1
MIL
19
DUQ
4
SYR
8
ISF
5
TRE
22
SAC
16
PHX
11
9th 520
1960 TRE
18
INDY
30
MIL
3
LAN
SPR
8
MIL
1
DUQ
DNQ
SYR
DNQ
ISF
7
TRE
5
SAC
10
PHX
DNQ
8th 780
1961 TRE
DNQ
INDY
19
MIL
4
LAN
MIL
2
SPR
10
DUQ
9
SYR
9
ISF
4
TRE
11
SAC
4
PHX
8
7th 860
1962 TRE
7
INDY
2
MIL
15
LAN
TRE
SPR
MIL
20
LAN
SYR
DNP
ISF
TRE
2
SAC
10
PHX
9
7th 1,250
1963 TRE
7
INDY
DNQ
MIL
6
LAN TRE
21
SPR
12
MIL
12
DUQ
13
ISF
DNQ
TRE SAC
DNQ
PHX 20th 170
1964 PHX
22
TRE
INDY
15
MIL
2
LAN
TRE
10
SPR
5
MIL
DNQ
DUQ
11
ISF
8
TRE
15
SAC
PHX
DNQ
17th 338
1965 PHX
TRE
INDY
12
MIL
21
LAN
7
PPR
TRE
DNQ
IRP
ATL
LAN
MIL
ISF
MIL
DSF
INF
TRE
SAC
PHX
35th 110

Indianapolis 500 resultsEdit

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. Len Sutton participated in 3 World Championship races but scored no World Championship points.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Legendary racer Len Sutton, 81, dies from cancer complications
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Biography at the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, Retrieved November 21, 2007
  3. ^ "14 Welcomed As New Midget Hall Class". National Speed Sport News. Retrieved December 27, 2013.