July 22, 2016
You never know where you will find something to add to your collection. Among the treasures I found at a post card show was this postcard-sized autograph of Lloyd Ruby. I’d heard that many consider Michael Andretti the greatest driver never to win the Indianapolis 500, when I knew a lot less about the race. As time has gone on, I’ve learned that more likely consider Ruby as that man.
I believe that part of the reason many throw out Andretti’s name is because of the “Andretti Curse.” As I’ve learned more, I’ve come to realize that it is likely the Texan, Ruby. I’ve already finished one book (Lloyd Ruby: The Greatest Driver Never to Win the Indy 500) and am currently working on a longer, more recent one that is full of great pictures, “Hard Luck Lloyd – The Complete Story of Slow-Talking, Fast-Driving Texan Lloyd Ruby.”
“When I was coming up through the ranks of racing, Lloyd Ruby was my hero,” Indy-car legend Al Unser told Wichita Falls’ Times Record News. “He was honest and a hard racer. He didn’t pull bad things on you. You could run wheel to wheel with him and you didn’t have to worry about Lloyd. He made the race car talk.
He was just as good as anybody. He was never secondary. Look at the record book: He should have won [Indy] five or six times.”
While the postcard is personalized to Roland, that was of no matter to me. I picked this up a few months ago, earlier in my knowledge of Ruby. I may have overpaid for it, but it was admittedly an impulse pickup and I could walk out with it immediately. For me, there’s something to be said for that. I honestly don’t like waiting a week to receive something that I bought online.
The photo is from Ruby’s final year at the speedway in 1977. Unfortunately the #10 1st National City Travelers Checks Offy hit the wall in turn 2 on the 35th lap.
For me, the saddest part is that Ruby’s Indianapolis 500 misfortunes are what he is most remembered for. It’s understandable with the 500 being the biggest race and the most attended sporting event in the world. He had endurance racing victories in the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Daytona. Racing midgets throughout the country in 1949 and 1950, Ruby won 80 races piloting Bob Nowicke’s Offy.
I have found it curious how some people can have a favorite driver that they never saw race. Dario Franchitti idolizes Jim Clark, who was killed in a wreck in 1968. Franchitti wasn’t born until 1973. I have recently become friends with the man who has the top Indianapolis 500 Driver autograph driver collection. His favorite driver is also Clark.
After learning more about Ruby not just as a driver but also as a man, I understand how someone can have a favorite driver that they never even saw race. If I can be half the man who Lloyd Ruby was off the track, I will be doing well and fondly remembered.
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