October 30, 2003 by

Johnny Boyd

11 comments

Categories: Sports

Johnny Boyd, a race car driver who once finished third in the Indianapolis 500, died on Oct. 26. Cause of death was not released. He was 77.
A native of Fresno, Calif., Boyd followed his idol — racing champion Bill Vukovich Sr. — to Indianapolis, only to be involved in the crash that took Vukovich’s life.
Vukovich was attempting to race his way into a third straight win at Indy in 1955. In lap 57, Rodger Ward’s axel broke, causing his car to spin out of control and overturn. As Boyd tried to avoid Ward’s overturned car, he drove right into Vukovich’s path. Vukovich hit him broadside, sheered off Boyd’s rear wheel then sailed over the wall. Vukovich’s car flipped once, smashed nose-first into the ground and exploded.
Boyd continued racing after the accident, and eventually finished in the top 10 in five of his 12 Indianapolis 500 starts. His career ended in 1967 when he failed to qualify at Indianapolis and Milwaukee.
Boyd received numerous honors, including the prestigious Oldtimers Club Louie Meyer Award for service to racing. He was inducted into the Fresno Hall of Fame, the Bay Cities Racing Association Hall of Fame and the Motor Sports Press Association Hall of Fame.
Boyd’s Career Stats

11 Responses to Johnny Boyd

  1. John Pell

    I have been a fan of The Indy 500 for more years than I care to remember.I have been fortunate to meet some of the drivers. There was no one nicer than Johnny Boyd.Several years ago I had the opportunity to meet Johnny Boyd at an event connected with the running of the race. He was such a nice guy. He stood there and spoke with me and my friends just like we had been friends for a long time.It made a lasting impression on all of us. He was a real gentleman. I did not know of his passing until I was out at the track this past May. I would like to extend my sincere condolences to Johnny’s family.

  2. Tom Smith

    I met Johnny in 1962, he was with The Champion
    Spark Plug 100 MPH Club. He would go to high schools and talk safe driving to students.
    We hit it off as I was a junior in high school.
    From California,Indy 500 Driver, what a guy!
    We were fortunate enough to be brought into
    Johnny’s group of friends, this is EVERYONE at the
    Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I could write
    volumes on what my wife and I have experianced
    just because of Johnny & Shirley’s kindness.
    He was a man’s man, we Loved him very much and
    will miss him more.
    Tom & Darlene Smith
    Johnny’s Iowa Family

  3. Joseph Weingardt

    While I can honestly say that I did not know Mr. Boyd, I did have the fortune of having my picture taken with him in his last attempt to qualify for the 500 in 1967- I was seven years old at the time and a friend’s father had taken us to the Speedway for time trials. I found a photo from the day several years ago while cleaning up my father’s house after his death. Mr. Donald Davidson form the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was kind enough to help me identify Mr. Boyd and spoke volumes about his character and support of the sport. Thank you Mr. Boyd for taking the time to meet and speak with a seven year old. Best wishes to the Boyd family.

  4. Thomas W. Acker

    I met johnny about eight years ago at the Indianapolis 500. I have the two BRP cars that he drove in 1965,and 1966. I Had a photo of him at the speedway in the 1965 BRP, and had him autograph it for me. We talked about his driving the cars for hours. What a true gentleman !!! And a great driver. My hart goes out to the family. Another bit of history is lost.

  5. Morris J Caudle

    Thank you for the nice thoughts regarding my uncle/god father. John began his career on the west coast driving midgets. That is where a local co-carowner/crewman met John. My future father was then introduced to John’s baby sister that he was very protective of. John raced in 12 500’s , of my father’s 16 500 appearances as a crewman, 3 were as his brother inlaw’s crewman. John and Morrie were friends for 57 years,passing away 9 months apart. Ironically that was the difference in thier ages.
    Morris aka Jocko

  6. Lance Goddard

    As a boy our family attended many BCRA midget races, primarily at Contra Costa Speedway. My favorite was Johnny Boyd who used to drive the red and white “circle” 8 owned by Fred DeOrian. The car had “Mr. Boyd” printed on the side. At my father’s invitation he visited our house in Vallejo and it was a thrill for me. He truly was generous to have done this. I once has a photo taken with him in the Oakland Exposition Building when the BCRA had indoor races there. This all circa 1952-1953.

  7. Tom Jackson

    This is a long time after the fact, but I saw the name Morris J. Caudle and had to follow up. I grew up in Clovis, CA and grew up listening to the Indy 500 on radio, with Sid Collins, et al. Bill Vukovich was a real home town hero among my friends, as was Johnny Boyd. One of my Clovis High classmates, with whom I recently reconnected at our 50th reunion, was Ross Caudle. I know that he was involved in racing for years. Same family?

  8. THOMAS W. ACKER

    I was introduced to Johnny Boyd, by Howard Gilbert at the Indianapolis 500 race. I think it was in 2002. I have the two BRP (British Racing Partnership) cars that Howard was crewchief on and Johnny raced in the 1965,and 1966 Indy 500. After a two hour disussion with Johnny, I walked away thinking to myself, Howard was right, what a gentelman and great guy he is. I am sorry for the loss to the family and racing comunity.

  9. Jim Hissong

    Johnny Boyd was a driver for my Dad’s company, Bowes Seal Fast, for a few years back in the late 50’s and early 1960’s. He was on his way from the Indy 500 to the Milwaukee 200 race and stopped at our house between the two races. He was able to leave his race car in our garage overnight. What a thrill for me to be able to meet Johnny and have dinner at my parent’s house with him and visit before he went on to Milwaukee. What a gentleman and a truly nice man. The hardest part for me was I couldn’t tell any of my friends until he left that I had an Indy 500 race car in my garage until he left because of safety concerns for the race car.

  10. Richard Riggs

    Johnny Boyd is my grandfather and my idol. Jocko who is my cousin and was like a big brother to me and means a lot to me. I remember my grandfather as this iconic figure when I was growing up. The earliest memory of my grandfather was when my mother his eldest daughter Winona would take me and my sister to his house in Fresno. My grandpa used to push me around in a Indianapolis replica pace car around his backyard I was 4. I also remember my grandpa’s garage it was immaculate, he had it painted and was cleaner than most peoples homes. My grandpa was a clean fanatic. My relatives told me it was because when he was burned in a race car. the nursing staff at the hospital he was at kept his room immaculate and germ free. My grandpa kept the cleanliness in and around him at all times for the rest of his life for fear of being infected with germs. May my grandfather rest in peace and always know that he has a lot of people who love him and were effected by his presence on this earth. We love you grandpa and we will always cherish you in our hearts.

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