Thursday, May 25, 2017

Eli Vukovich Born in Oakland, California - May 25, 1916

May 25, 1916 - Aug. 23, 2001
Eli Vukovich
(Photo; revslib.stanford.edu)
Born in Oakland, California, USA.
Eli, who was inducted into the BCRA Hall of Fame in 1966, was the older brother of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, Bill Vukovich Sr. Eli was not as renowned as Bill, but his name still carried weight in California, where he and Bill tore up tracks together in the 1930s and 1940s.

In a 1984 "Fresno Bee" newspaper interview Vukovich asserted that "Racing was my life, and it paid well, too. Bill and I worked in the fields as kids picking grapes and everything. Then I got into racing and won some money. That was the end of field work. Dirt has always been my favorite place to race. Bill and I used to run everywhere we could. We'd drive five, six and even seven times a week."

The Vukovich brothers started in midgets and stepped up to modifieds. His brother's death during the 1955 Indianapolis 500 while he was attempting to win his third straight classic-eventually led Eli to quit racing in 1961. "After Bill got killed at Indy," he said, "I just didn't have the desire anymore."

Eli remained associated with the sport as a mechanic in a Fresno auto shop for several years before retiring. In 1996, Eli, his brother Bill, nephew Bill Jr., great nephew Billy III and brother Mike Vukovich were together inducted into the Bay Cities Racing Association Hall of Fame.

Eli died Aug. 23, 2001 in Fresno, California, USA.

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