Friday, June 23, 2017

"Indy Veteran, Stunt Driver & Pilot" Bob Harkey Born - June 23, 1930

June 23, 1930 - January 16, 2016
Bob Harkey
Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.
He was a driver in the USAC Championship Car series from Charlotte, North Carolina. He raced in the 1963 to 1979 seasons, with 85 career starts, including the Indianapolis 500 in 1964, 1971 and 1973 to 1976. He finished in the top ten 23 times, with his best finish in 4th position in 1964 at Trenton. Harkey’s specialty was qualifying on bump day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and those last-day exploits included starts of 27th, 32nd, 31st, 31st and 28th.

Harkey also raced in the inaugural race at Daytona International Speedway, finishing 10th in a NASCAR Convertible Series race.

Harkey's introduction to speed was fleeing the law on the North Carolina back roads in a car that was a decoy for moonshine runs. "I learned how to get a car sideways with trees on both sides of the road," said Harkey a few years ago during a weekly lunch with some old race drivers. "It was good experience."

Outside of racing, according to the Indianapolis Star, Harkey performed as an aerial stunt pilot and wing walker at county fairs and also was as a stunt man in movies. He was one of the drivers in “Winning,” starring Paul Newman. He served as a stunt driver for the Robert Mitchum movie "Thunder Road", and in the movie “Speedway” with Elvis Presley.

He also had a short stint as a Golden Gloves boxer, once fighting eventual heavyweight champ Floyd Patterson. For many years, Harkey, worked with Champion Spark Plug’s safety program.

On January 16, 2016, he died in Indianapolis at the age of 85.
Butch Wilkerson, Merle Bettenhausen, Bob Harkey and Eldon Rassmussen.

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