Bob Sweikert won not only the Indianapolis 500 and the National Championship in 1955, but the Midwest Sprint Car title as well. Remarkably, he performed much of his own mechanical work, maintaining not only his own sprint car in 1955, but another driven by Jerry Hoyt. After Sweikert qualified for the 1955 Indianapolis 500 race, chief mechanic A.J. Watson was called away on a family emergency and it was Sweikert who tore down and meticulously prepared the race-winning engine, a fact Watson revealed at the Victory Banquet. A product of post-war hot rod and midget racing in Northern California, Sweikert was runner up in the 1953 Midwest Sprint Car standings before winning the title in 1955.
He earned 15 wins from 1953 through the spring of 1956. He won the first Hoosier Hundred in 1953 and was a two-time winner at Syracuse, New York. Broadening his horizons, Sweikert drove in the 1956 Sebring, Florida, 12-Hours, and after being offered some friendly tips (through an interpreter) from the great Juan Manuel Fangio, co-drove Jack Ensley’s D-type Jaguar to a very impressive third place finish behind two factory Ferraris. He aspired to race in Europe, but lost his life in a sprint car accident at Salem, Indiana, in June 1956.
Courtesy of Indianapolis Motors Speedway Museum