Saturday, May 6, 2017

"Midget, Sprint, Indy & NASCAR Driver" George Lynch Dies - May 6, 1997

June 20, 1918 - May 6, 1997
George Lynch
Born in Miles City, Montana, USA.
Enduring a rough childhood that saw his parents divorce, he was reared by his paternal grandmother in Nekoosa, Wisconsin, where Lynch bought a used open-wheel race car for $100 and began racing, even before obtaining his civilian driver's license.

Lynch's racing career spanned three decades, from 1935 through 1957. He completed over 300 races, primarily in open-wheel midget and sprint cars on small tracks primarily in the Midwestern United States. Lynch won few of his races but, in his own words, "pushed a lot of guys over the finish line." His aggressive driving style, characterized by bumping slower cars, earned him nicknames such as "Leadfoot Lynch" and "Red Devil." He also participating in the newly formed National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, now known as NASCAR.

The highlight of Lynch's career was his participation in the 1949 Indianapolis 500. He qualified in eighth position with a speed of 127.820 mph. He crashed into the wall on the first turn of the second lap and held the record for the shortest completed lap at Indy until 1964. Footage of Lynch's crash, along with other action from that race, was used in the 1949 motion picture The Big Wheel starring Mickey Rooney and Spring Byington.

After a failed attempt to qualify for the 1950 Indianapolis 500, Lynch continued racing in sprint and midget cars throughout the country, eventually bringing him to California. He participated in the 1951 Mexican Road Race (later Baja 1000) which was chronicled in the movie La Carrera Panamericana. Lynch officially retired from auto racing in 1957.

Lynch spent his remaining years in southern California as an auto mechanic, fisherman, and ambassador of auto racing. Lynch died in Los Angeles on May 7, 1997 after a long struggle with Alzheimer's Disease.

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