In Memoriam: Jim Rathmann

1960 Indianapolis 500 champion Jim Rathmann passed away Wednesday at a hospice in Melbourne, Florida. The hall of fame driver was 83 years old.

Rathmann’s victory at the 1960 ‘500’ was a hard-fought one, as a record 29 lead changes took place within the event — a mark that still stands to this day. His duel for the win with Rodger Ward (the two drivers swapped the point 14 times) didn’t end until Ward was forced to slip to second place with three laps to go in order to conserve his heavily worn tires and make it to the finish. Their battle is considered by many as one of the 500’s greatest ever and proved to be a breakthrough result for Rathmann, who had finished runner-up in three Indy 500’s beforehand (1952, 1957 and 1959).

According to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Rathmann is survived by his wife Kay, his sons Jimmy and Jay, his stepsons Zack and Tosh Pence, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. The family is requesting that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the William Childs Hospice House, 381 Medplex Parkway, Palm Bay, FL 32907.

Below is one of the IMS-produced ‘Centennial Moments’ that focuses on Rathmann and Ward’s classic confrontation. Featuring interviews from Rathmann, Ward (who passed away in 2004) and Speedway historian Donald Davidson, it really shows just how much both drivers went through 51 years ago.

Indy Racing Revolution sends its condolences to the Rathmann family.