Today’s post is dedicated to the memory or AJ Watson who passed four days past his 90th birthday on May 12th. AJ designed and built 23 Watson Roadster Indy Cars after redesigning John Zinks 1955 Indy 500 winning Kurtis KK500C driven by Bob Sweikert.
AJ’s own designs won the Indy 500 in ’56 with Pat Flaherty driving John Zinks car followed by Rodger Ward in the ’59 Leader Card Watson and Jim Rathman in the 1960 Ken – Paul Watson seen above being chased Eddie Sachs in the Van Dean Lines Ewing.
Rodger Ward won again in the Leader Card Watson in ’62, seen in the middle of the front row above, followed by Parnelli Jones in JC Agajanian example in ’63 seen below.
Finally AJ Foyt, seen above drove the Ansted-Thompson Racing Watson to victory in ’64 which would become the last Indy 500 victory for a front engined Roadster.
Today’s featured car is perhaps the ultimate development of the Watson line, it was built in 1963 for Racing Associates who entered Ebb Rose. Ebb got bumped off the grid, but the following year the car was entered for Johnny Rutherford who qualified 15th and was classified 27th.
For 1965 Bobby Grim was entered in the Racing Associates Watson and failed to qualify the 252 cui Offy powered machine.
In 1966 Racing Associates has a 168 cui Offy fitted which gave an additional 50 hp thanks to the white pipes and turbocharger fitted to the exhaust. This time Bobby Grim just qualified 31st and was classified 31st after being involved in the start line pile up, on what would be the last appearance of a Watson in the Indy 500.
This was also the beginning of a new and final chapter in the story of the famous Offy motor which in turbocharged form would power Bobby Unser to victory in 1968; Mark Donohue ’72, Gordon Johncock ’73, Johnny Rutherford in ’74 and ’76 interupted by Bobby Unser in ’75 and would continue to be used until 1983 when the two Offenhauser Volstedts failed to qualify.
My thanks to Steve Arnaudin for sharing his late Dad Ed Arnaudin’s photo’s of the Watson Roadster’s in their heyday.
I hope you will join me in wishing AJ Watson’s family and friends including GALPOT contributor B² my sincerest condolences.
Thanks for joining me on this “AJ Watson RIP” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !