Bill Vukovich III, grandson of a two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and himself the one third-generation Indy 500 driver, was killed Sunday whereas practising for a California Racing Assn. dash automobile race at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield.
Bill Vukovich III was warming up the automobile earlier than time trials when he crashed within the third flip of the high-banked half-mile oval. “It appeared that when he hit the brakes, the car went straight into the wall,” mentioned Frank Lewis, CRA president. “He hit the wall head on. The car was damaged so badly we may never know what happened.” Bill Vukovich III, who lived in Coarsegold, Calif., close to Fresno, was not a daily CRA driver, however he had entered the Mesa Marin race as a result of it was a monitor on which he had gained a number of races. He drove within the final three Indy 500s. In 1988, he completed 14th and was named rookie of the 12 months, an honor his father, Bill Vukovich Jr., gained in 1968. Bill Vukovich III completed 12th in 1989 and 24th final May. His grandfather, Bill, gained the 1953 and 1954 Indy 500s and was main in 1955 when he was killed in a multi-car accident. Just a few days earlier than at Ascot Park, Bill Vukovich III accepted a plaque honoring his grandfather as a brand new inductee within the Midget Racing Hall of Fame. “I never knew my grandfather. I was born eight years after he was killed, but I am proud to be mentioned with him,” he mentioned at the ceremony.
Bill Vukovich III started his racing profession in 1982 when he was 18, after graduating from Yosemite High in Oakhurst. He drove midgets and dash automobiles and was named rookie of the 12 months within the Valley Midget Racing Assn.
“My dad never wanted me to race. Neither did my mom,” he mentioned in a 1984 interview. “My dad told me my chances of going to Indy were a million to one.” Winning the USAC supermodified championship caught the attention of the Gohr racing group of Indianapolis, and Vukovich was provided a experience within the 1988 Indy 500 and three different Indy automobile races. “I would rather have seen Billy get into some other line of work, but as long as he’s here, I’ll do whatever I can to help him,” his father mentioned in 1988. “But every time I see him on the track it gives me goose bumps.”
This was the primary fatality involving a driver at Mesa Marin for the reason that monitor opened in 1977, in accordance with Marion Collins, the monitor proprietor. A crewman was killed in a pit accident in 1978.
William John Vukovich III (August 31, 1963 – November 25, 1990), higher generally known as Billy Vukovich III or Bill Vukovich III was an American race automobile driver. Bill was a three-time starter of the Indianapolis 500. The grandson of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bill Vukovich and the son of Bill Vukovich II, Vukovich III was the 1988 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. Billy was killed in a dash automobile race at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, California, in 1990. Vukovich grew to become the primary third-generation driver to qualify in Indy 500 historical past. His grandfather was killed whereas main the 1955 Indianapolis 500. He obtained his begin in racing driving for the John Runjavac racing group.