View Full Version : RIP Rodger Ward

07-05-04, 06:11 PM
The two time Indy 500 winner-when-it-meant-something, Rodger (yes, it is spelled right) Ward passed away today in a hospice in California.

His son is a friend of mine, but the last time I saw him was in February, I think. Even then he told me his dad wasn't doing too well. There was a time, a long time actually, that I would spend as much time as possible at IMS in May, mostly hanging with a bunch of buddies in the infield. When Rodger would visit the track during the month, his son would always bring him by on a golf cart where he would hang with us for a while. Hearing the stories he would tell was never less than fascinating. I was fortunate to be able to talk to him one on one a few years ago for 10 or 15 minutes. He talked of taking a midget to Mosport for a non-points F1 race in the late 50's or thereabouts, and WINNING the race. I've wanted to verify that (not that I doubt him), and the only place I can find with non-points race info that far back is Forix. I don't want to pay them to see it, though, so anybody who is a member, please feel free to chime in.

RIP, Rodger. You were a great champion.

07-05-04, 06:42 PM
One of my childhood favorites. Met him a few years ago and chatted a good half hour at a fund raiser in Chicago. Asked him to sign a couple things for me, including a dirt car diecast, as he told some old stories after I mentioned I saw him race in Milwaukee as a young boy. I believe he was the last winner of the 500 from the 50's. What a gracious man, I'm sorry to see him go.

07-05-04, 07:18 PM
Atlas (http://www.atlasf1.com/99/can/mirror.html)

It was Lime Rock in an ancient midget, Rodger also qualed a little better midget in the USGP at Sebring.

07-05-04, 09:59 PM
Very sad. I remember watching an ESPN Classic Special a couple of years ago on Bill Vukovich - you could still hear the emotion in Rodger's voice as he described his role in Vuky's fatal accident in 1955. You could tell that the incident had a dramatic effect on his life. I had a chance to talk with him briefly a couple of years ago - very nice person. Rest in peace.

Jervis Tetch 1
07-05-04, 10:27 PM
I met him at the 1999 Indianapolis 500. He was walking by himself in the garage area and I thought he looked familiar, so I went up to him and asked him if he was Rodger Ward.

He smiled broadly and said "yes I am," to which I said "Let me shake your hand!"

He laughed and extended his arm and we shook. We chatted a bit and he admitted he didn't get recognized much especially by the younger crowd. I however was more than happy to as he was such a warm, genuine man.

Mr. Ward will be missed. The last surviving champ from the 50s.

RIP and Godspeed. :(

07-06-04, 06:51 PM
INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, July 6, 2004 – Information on services for two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rodger Ward, who died July 5 at age 83:

•Memorial service: A memorial service for Ward will take place at 5 p.m. (PDT), Sunday, July 11, San Diego Automotive Museum, 2080 Pan American Plaza, No. 12, Balboa Park, CA 92101-1636. (Web: www.sdautomuseum.org)

•Cards and letters: Cards and letters can be sent to Sherrie Ward, 24701 Raymond Way, No. 29, Lake Forest, CA 92630.

•Donations: Donations may be made to the American Diabetes Association.

07-12-04, 05:07 PM
Just got back from vacation. I hadn't heard. Very sad indeed. Met him in 2000 when the mind was still sharp as a tack. He was my dad's favorite driver and it was an honor and a pleasure to interview him. :(

07-12-04, 05:37 PM
First met Ward in the lobby of the unfinished Hiatt Regencey Hotel here in Indy in 1977. My Uncle was in town doing the 500 with Penske. We spent a couple hours sitting with Roger in the bar (this was big stuff, as I was a freshman in HS)

About five years ago, a friend of mine called me and said "Roger Ward is asleep on my couch"!!! This guy lives down the street from me. I said, call me when he wakes up, I want some autographs!!! He called and I went. He did not remember the meeting in 1977, but the conversation was great all the same.

A true American Champion. A bonafide badass in Champcar Racing (to borrow the term from my friend Railbird) His name is very high up in the history books.
An outstanding human by the name of AJ Watson gives him high marks as well. For insight into Rogers psyche, read the intro to Dick Wallens "Fabulous Fifties" in which Ward wrote the forward. A must for history buffs, not only for the forward, but the overall content as well.

You set the mark high

07-12-04, 07:46 PM
Always appreciate you sharing insights on the good ole days, Ziggy. Railbird, too. I just wonder whether 'bird pronounces it "bondafide" or "bonafidy". :)