Art Cross

Art Cross may not be a name that is wellknown in the annals of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship but he took part in four Grands Prix, all of them at Indianapolis, and finished second in one of them. He was also the first man to be given the title of Rookie of the Year at the Indianapolis 500.

Born in Jersey City, NJ in 1918, Cross bought a midget when he was 18 and started racing with his friends in a parking lot. He started out on the midget scene, racing five or six times a week at different venues. He was already a professional, paid to drive by team owner Pappy Hough. In 1941 Cross was called up and spent the next three years in the military, driving a tank. In 1944 he was injured during the Battle of the Bulge and received the Purple Heart.

As soon as the war was over Cross returned to racing - he was will only 27. He married and tiring of the racing scene on the east coast, decided to move to the Midwest and set up home in Indiana where he raced AAA Midgets, becoming. In 1951 he went to Indianapolis to watch the 500 and decided that he was quite capable of competing and so in 1952 he entered the 500 and finished fifth at his first attempt. In doing so he became the first rookie of the year, a new prize which had been put up by Stark & Wetzel, a local meating-packing firm. The following year he was hired by Bessie Paoli to drive her Springfield Welding Special and on a blazingly hot day he finished second to Bill Vukovich. Neither man stopped for a reserve driver on a day when one of the drivers, Carl Scarborough, died from heat exhaustion. With the prize money he bought a 40-acre farm in La Porte, Indiana. He continued to race midgets in 1954 and 1955, stepping up to bigger cars each years for the 500 but then decided to retire, not because of the death a few months earlier of his friend Vukovich but rather because he was tired of all the travelling. He turned his attention to running the farm and later became involved in a heavy equipment business and in construction.

Follow grandprixdotcom on Twitter

Print News Story