DRIVERS: LLOYD RUBY

Name: Lloyd Ruby
Nationality: United States of America
Date of birth: January 12, 1928 - Wichita Falls, Texas

Ruby was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, in 1928 and was racing motorcycle and midgets in his home town in the late 1940s. He was drafted to serve in the Korean War but then broke his leg in a racing accident and ended up working in a camp hospital. He returned to midget racing for most of the 1950s although he also raced sports cars later in the decade.

In 1959 he moved to USAC dirt cars and this led to an opportunity to race Indycars with JC Agajanian in 1960. He made his debut at Indianapolis that year (which at the time counted as a Grand Prix). The following year he won his first Indycar race at Milwaukee and at the end of the year he raced a Lotus 18 in the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen entered by J Frank Harrison.

Ruby then concentrated on Indycars but he was not to win a race again until the end of 1964 when he triumphed at Phoenix. That year he was third at Indianapolis, which would end up as being his best finish. Ruby's luck at Indianapolis was truly extraordinary. He led the race on five separate occasions but never won. He was almost a minute ahead in 1966 when he black-flagged for leaking oil. In 1968 he was leading with just 25 laps to go when his car broke down. In 1969 he was a whole lap ahead when there was a problem in the refuelling stop and the car was unable to continue. He led again in 1970 and 1971 and on each occasion suffered mechanical failures.

But there was good luck as well. In sports car racing he was employed by Ford to develop its sports cars and was very successful, winning the Daytona 24 Hours in a Ford GT in 1965 and then following up with wins at Daytona and Sebring in 1966 with a Ford MkII. Later in 1966 he escaped from a plane crash with only a compression fracture of the spine. In Indycars he returned to winning in 1967 with victories in a Mongoose-Offenhauser at Phoenix and Langhorne and in 1968 he twice won at Milwaukee. His last victory came in 1970 driving a Mongoose at Trenton.

He continued to enter the 500 until 1978 (he raced 18 times at the Speedway) but that year he suffered a series of engine failures in practice and did not qualify. Ruby decided that at the age of 50 it was time to quit and went back to his home town of Wichita Falls where he invested in some small oil wells, which keep him occupied in his late seventies.

Print