Hall of Fame: A.J. Watson



A.J. Watson was the preeminent constructor of Indianapolis 500 cars in the late 1950s and 1960s as well as the winning crew chief four times. An extraordinarily modest man, Watson strived for simplicity with the cars he built, reasoning there would be fewer things that could go wrong. In addition to building cars for the teams for which he was chief mechanic, he also sold cars to independent customers. During the winter of 1962-63, he built eight Watson “roadsters” in a tiny shop in Glendale, California, the most completed during a single year.


Watson-built cars won the Indianapolis 500 with Pat Flaherty (1956), Rodger Ward (1959 and 1962), Jim Rathmann (1960), Parnelli Jones (1963), and A.J. Foyt (1964). He was the winning crew chief in 1955 with Bob Sweikert in a John Zink-owned Kurtis-Kraft, in 1956 with Flaherty for Zink, and in 1959 and 1962 with Ward for Leader Cards, Inc. Watson won 29 National Championship races as a crew chief, plus numerous American Automobile Association and United States Auto Club sprint car feature races. His car won the 1960 Midwest championship with A.J. Foyt driving.


Courtesy of Indianapolis Motors Speedway Museum

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