News & Multimedia

Goldsmith Could Race Anything With Two, Four Wheels

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series by Indianapolis Motor Speedway Historian Donald Davidson featuring Indianapolis 500 veteran drivers returning to IMS for Legends Day Honoring Roger Penske presented by Shell V-Power on Saturday, May 26. The veteran drivers will participate in autograph sessions and other fan-friendly activities.

Paul Goldsmith is one of only a handful of drivers still around who can say they raced in the Indianapolis 500 back when the greater part of the main straight still consisted of bricks and mortar.

Motorcycle racing and stock car legend Goldsmith – another returning veteran who has indicated he will sign autographs for fans on Legends Day Honoring Roger Penske presented by Shell V-Power on Saturday, May 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – had six starts in the "500," four before the bricks were finally paved over with asphalt in October 1961, and two after. Not only that, but Goldsmith had a chance to run on the new surface barely six weeks after its application when he was one of the six outstanding drivers who teamed up to break the 24-hour stock car record at the Speedway.

Between 3 p.m. Nov. 21 and precisely 24 hours later in 1961, a pair of Nichels Engineering-prepared Pontiac Catalinas—including one in full Police Enforcer trim, complete with "bubble gum" light atop the roof—thundered through a night of the most appalling rain and ended up covering a fraction more than 2,586 miles (average speed 107.787 mph) and 2,576 miles (107.343 mph), respectively. Both the winning group of drivers and the runners-up were actually one and the same in that all six put in at least two shifts apiece in both cars, Goldsmith's five teammates being Rodger Ward, Joe Weatherly, Marvin Panch (that year's Daytona 500 winner), Len Sutton and the legendary Fireball Roberts. And the drivers weren't the only iconic figures involved. All of the mechanical preparation, pit stops and general strategy was carried out by a stellar crew that included, among others, Ray Nichels, Bud Moore, Cotton Owens, Dale "Tiny" Worley and Smokey Yunick.

A truly amazing fact concerning Goldsmith's illustrious career is that when he made his "500" debut in 1958 with a Yunick-entered Kurtis/Offy "roadster," it was the first time he had ever driven an open-wheel car in competition. In fact, he only made eight starts in a front-engine car during his entire career. All eight were USAC National Championship events, and six of those were the Indianapolis 500!

After being one of several drivers eliminated in a huge accident in Turn 3 of the opening lap in 1958 at Indianapolis, Goldsmith returned the following year to finish fifth, driving Norm Demler's Quin Epperly-built "laydown" Offy on which the co-chief mechanics were none other than Nichels and Worley, who would end up being two of the principals on the Pontiac 24-hour run a couple of years later.

In 1960, the year of the extraordinary duel between Jim Rathmann and Rodger Ward, which ended up with defending winner Ward having to slow in the last couple of laps due to tire wear, the eventual third-place finisher behind Rathmann and Ward was Goldsmith, once again at the wheel of the Demler "laydown."

The diversified Goldsmith, whose numerous victories included wins on the old beach course at Daytona with both motorcycles and stock cars, won the USAC Stock Car title for Nichels in 1961 and '62. He was victorious at several tracks on which he had previously triumphed with motorcycles.

His last three Indianapolis races each ended with mechanical failures, but not before he had climbed into the top five in both 1961 and 1963.

He hasn't slowed down very much in recent years, still flying his own plane several days each week and training, at the airport he has long owned in Griffith, Ind., groups of bright young Chinese commercial airline pilots for Eastern Airlines in Shanghai.

He is one of the 161 Indianapolis 500 veterans who appeared in the "class" photo taken the day before last year's "500" and is one of the 100 or so who signed autographs that same afternoon.

And he'll be back again this year. The autograph sessions are scheduled, in shifts, from 1-4 p.m. in the Pagoda Plaza area Saturday, May 26.
 

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
Goldsmith Could Race Anything With Two, Four Wheels
 
Goldsmith Could Race Anything With Two, Four Wheels
This is part of a series by Indianapolis Motor Speedway Historian Donald Davidson featuring Indianapolis 500 veteran drivers returning to IMS for Legends Day Honoring Roger Penske presented by Shell V-Power on Saturday, May 26. The veteran drivers will participate in autograph sessions and other fan-friendly activities.
Read More
Related Media
Colts Draft Party
 
Indianapolis Colts to Host Fourth and Fifth Round Draft Selections at IMS
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is hosting the Indianapolis Colts’ Official Draft Party for the fourth and fifth rounds of the NFL Draft. Come out to IMS from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 30, to witness the Colts’ selections. The event is free and there will be Colts player and cheerleader appearances. You will be able to watch live picks for the rounds made by Colts personalities and Verizon IndyCar Series drivers. There will be complete draft coverage along with fun activities and games from the Indianapolis Colts organization as well.
Read More
Rick Mears vs. Dan Wheldon
 
#ChampsOfThe500 Challenge Reaches Final First-Round Matchups
The final first-round matchups in the "Champions of the 500" bracket challenge are open for voting to determine who will join Helio Castroneves, A.J. Foyt, Johnny Rutherford, Al Unser, Bobby Unser and Bill Vukovich in the quarterfinal round.
Read More
Darius Rucker
 
Multi-Platinum Recording Star Darius Rucker to Perform National Anthem at 100th Indianapolis 500
Three-time GRAMMY Award winner and multi-platinum recording artist Darius Rucker will perform the national anthem before the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
Read More
Stefan Wilson
 
Stefan Wilson Enters Indy 500 with Campaign to Honor Late Brother
KV Racing Technology announced that Stefan Wilson is entering the 100th Running of the Indy 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in the No. 25 Driven2SaveLives – KVRT Chevrolet. Stefan is partnering with Indiana Donor Network on Driven2SaveLives, a campaign to promote organ, tissue and eye donation and transplantation in honor of his late older brother, IndyCar driver Justin Wilson.
Read More
IMS Pylon
 
100th Running Host Committee Places Historic Pylon Panels Throughout Indy as part of 33-Day Countdown
Number panels from historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway scoring pylon will be showcased throughout the city to build anticipation for race weekend
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 1,107
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact Laura Wyamn at (317) 492-8557 or email at lwyman@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
In 1994 Al Unser, Jr. won the #Indy500 from the pole position in the 31 car & there are 31 days until the #Indy500?! https://t.co/R4xxzvyXSV
about 60 minutes ago