Who is the greatest American driver?

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Re: Who is the greatest American driver?

Post by MonteCristo » 1 month ago

Latest post of the previous page:

Can Scott Speed be counted for his esport prowess? No? No?

Carry on.
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Post by MonteCristo » 1 month ago

jimclark wrote:
1 month ago
How about Jimmy Johnson (Psssssttt....this year's Rolex and Sebring for Pete's sake... :shocked: )? Ever heard of Jeff Gordon? They've dabbled outside "their" box, too. :)
Would certainly rank Jeff Gordon at the very pointy end for the last 25-30 years. He did win a Rolex a few years ago, so at least he's not useless on road courses.

Johnson hasn't dabbled enough to rank yet. His Indycar efforts this year will be very telling. Can't expect him to win races at his age, but if he's really, really talented, he'll rapidly improve (he's currently slow) and be half competitive. His last few seasons in NASCAR don't help him either though in all-time rankings.

But the last 25 years are pretty hard to rank. FTG.
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Post by jimclark » 1 month ago

MonteCristo wrote:
1 month ago
Can Scott Speed be counted for his esport prowess? No? No?

Carry on.
Smart arse!!! :D
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Post by RobN » 1 month ago

Dan Gurney or Mario Andretti.

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Post by Michael Ferner » 1 month ago

Jimmy Murphy, no contest. Within five years of his very first start, he'd won Indy and the Grand Prix - at that stage of his career, Mario hadn't even so much as only started a Championship race, while Phil Hill and Gurney were still doing clubbies.
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Post by jimclark » 1 month ago

Michael Ferner wrote:
1 month ago
Jimmy Murphy, no contest. Within five years of his very first start, he'd won Indy and the Grand Prix - at that stage of his career, Mario hadn't even so much as only started a Championship race, while Phil Hill and Gurney were still doing clubbies.
You've got me on that one..... :dunno:

What's "the Grand Prix"? There was no F1 back then even if you meant Indy.

Anywho, the '20s are a far cry from the '60s.

Additionally (and most importantly) strictly oval trackers don't.....drive as they might.....even get on my list of great "drivers". :wink:
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Post by MonteCristo » 1 month ago

jimclark wrote:
1 month ago
Michael Ferner wrote:
1 month ago
Jimmy Murphy, no contest. Within five years of his very first start, he'd won Indy and the Grand Prix - at that stage of his career, Mario hadn't even so much as only started a Championship race, while Phil Hill and Gurney were still doing clubbies.
You've got me on that one..... :dunno:

What's "the Grand Prix"? There was no F1 back then even if you meant Indy.

Anywho, the '20s are a far cry from the '60s.

Additionally (and most importantly) strictly oval trackers don't.....drive as they might.....even get on my list of great "drivers". :wink:
French Grand Prix.

Could certainly argue that he was extremely talented... But the shortness of his career stops him from being an all-time great in my books. He may have done it in short time, but there are still 20 multiple (2+) Indy 500 winners.

A victim of the times.
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Post by Michael Ferner » 1 month ago

jimclark wrote:
1 month ago
Michael Ferner wrote:
1 month ago
Jimmy Murphy, no contest. Within five years of his very first start, he'd won Indy and the Grand Prix - at that stage of his career, Mario hadn't even so much as only started a Championship race, while Phil Hill and Gurney were still doing clubbies.
You've got me on that one..... :dunno:

What's "the Grand Prix"? There was no F1 back then even if you meant Indy.

Anywho, the '20s are a far cry from the '60s.

Additionally (and most importantly) strictly oval trackers don't.....drive as they might.....even get on my list of great "drivers". :wink:
https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictio ... grand-prix

Yes, a far cry, but don't be so hard on the sixties, it was still a proper sport then.

I get your point about "strictly oval" racers, although I don't understand why "strictly road" racers are okay with you, then. But anywho, it doesn't apply to Jimmy Murphy, who raced ovals, short and long, paved and unpaved, as well as roads, short and long, paved und unpaved. He doesn't lack in variety at all :smiley:
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Post by Michael Ferner » 1 month ago

MonteCristo wrote:
1 month ago
jimclark wrote:
1 month ago
Michael Ferner wrote:
1 month ago
Jimmy Murphy, no contest. Within five years of his very first start, he'd won Indy and the Grand Prix - at that stage of his career, Mario hadn't even so much as only started a Championship race, while Phil Hill and Gurney were still doing clubbies.
You've got me on that one..... :dunno:

What's "the Grand Prix"? There was no F1 back then even if you meant Indy.

Anywho, the '20s are a far cry from the '60s.

Additionally (and most importantly) strictly oval trackers don't.....drive as they might.....even get on my list of great "drivers". :wink:
French Grand Prix.

Could certainly argue that he was extremely talented... But the shortness of his career stops him from being an all-time great in my books. He may have done it in short time, but there are still 20 multiple (2+) Indy 500 winners.

A victim of the times.
Yes, the brevity of his career is a problem. But most careers were shorter then, for various reasons. If you make longivity an exclusive argument, then you exclude basically everything before WW2. Anyway, I just wanted to throw in a different name, and James Anthony Murphy was really an exceptional racing driver, not only for his time. He may have won only one Indy 500, but so did Mario. His overall record at Indy is astounding, in five tries he finished fourth, fourth, first, third and third - I think that's the best run of top four finishes in history. He also raced in "the Grand Prix" which back then was pretty equivalent to a World Championship, and won it on his first try. He also finished third in the 1923 Gran Premio at Monza, another high profile European road racing event. Not much more could have been achieved at the time, especially considering that it took weeks to travel between continents.
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Post by MonteCristo » 1 month ago

Michael Ferner wrote:
1 month ago
MonteCristo wrote:
1 month ago
jimclark wrote:
1 month ago
Michael Ferner wrote:
1 month ago
Jimmy Murphy, no contest. Within five years of his very first start, he'd won Indy and the Grand Prix - at that stage of his career, Mario hadn't even so much as only started a Championship race, while Phil Hill and Gurney were still doing clubbies.
You've got me on that one..... :dunno:

What's "the Grand Prix"? There was no F1 back then even if you meant Indy.

Anywho, the '20s are a far cry from the '60s.

Additionally (and most importantly) strictly oval trackers don't.....drive as they might.....even get on my list of great "drivers". :wink:
French Grand Prix.

Could certainly argue that he was extremely talented... But the shortness of his career stops him from being an all-time great in my books. He may have done it in short time, but there are still 20 multiple (2+) Indy 500 winners.

A victim of the times.
Yes, the brevity of his career is a problem. But most careers were shorter then, for various reasons. If you make longivity an exclusive argument, then you exclude basically everything before WW2. Anyway, I just wanted to throw in a different name, and James Anthony Murphy was really an exceptional racing driver, not only for his time. He may have won only one Indy 500, but so did Mario. His overall record at Indy is astounding, in five tries he finished fourth, fourth, first, third and third - I think that's the best run of top four finishes in history. He also raced in "the Grand Prix" which back then was pretty equivalent to a World Championship, and won it on his first try. He also finished third in the 1923 Gran Premio at Monza, another high profile European road racing event. Not much more could have been achieved at the time, especially considering that it took weeks to travel between continents.
I totally agree there's not much more than he could have done in that era. But the sample size is just so small - he was only in barely over 50 races during his career from what I can gather. The era itself was also so difficult to judge due to grid sizes and disparate cars.

Random name to throw out there - not top tier, but ruled his discipline - Steve Kinser.
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Post by EB » 1 month ago

Michael Ferner wrote:
1 month ago
Anyway, I just wanted to throw in a different name,
I mentioned him on page 1!

I'm intrigued as to how good Frank Lockhart was - everyone knows his reputation on the engineering side but so many contemporaries seemed to rate him equally highly as a driver, certainly up there with Murphy amongst the 1920s brigade, far ahead of the Eddie Hearnes and Harry Hartzs.

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Post by Cheeveer » 1 month ago

What do we say about Billy Arnold then?
Wikipedia wrote:He won the 1930 Indianapolis 500 after leading all but first two laps of the race, the most ever by a winner of the race and he won by a margin of 7 minutes and 17 seconds. He was 24 years old at the time. In 1931 he led 155 laps but crashed on lap 162 while holding a five-lap lead, suffering serious injuries along with his riding mechanic Spider Matlock.[3] A tire came off the car, bounced over the fence the killed 11 year old Wilbur Brink who was playing in his front yard outside the track.[4] In 1932 Arnold led 57 laps before crashing on lap 59. He suffered a broken shoulder and riding mechanic Matlock suffered a broken pelvis. At the urging of his wife, Arnold retired from racing.
From the start of the 1930 race until his crash in '32 he lead all but 49 laps.
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Post by jimclark » 1 month ago

Michael Ferner wrote:
1 month ago
https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictio ... grand-prix

Yes, a far cry, but don't be so hard on the sixties, it was still a proper sport then.

I get your point about "strictly oval" racers, although I don't understand why "strictly road" racers are okay with you, then. But anywho, it doesn't apply to Jimmy Murphy, who raced ovals, short and long, paved and unpaved, as well as roads, short and long, paved und unpaved. He doesn't lack in variety at all :smiley:
'Appreciate the link, but I know what a grand prix in auto racing is. I asked about your "the Grand Prix" regarding which one it was that you were referring.
MonteCristo answered that for me. :tongue:


I didn't know Murphy drove road courses, let alone oversea.

Regarding the '60s, you've got me all wrong there too. I loved the sport of auto racing that once was.....not so much the show/multifaceted advertisement it has become. Auto racing was still in it's infancy in the twenties (compared to the '60s) so I find it hard to even try to compare drivers from back then to closer (I suggest after WWII)

I said nothing about strictly road racers. 'Just from experience, I know how much more difficult "driving" a road course is compared to an oval. ('not talking race craft.....that's important on any type of circuit.....actually the difficulty negotiating one vs. the other, as one of my criteria). :)

Edit: Imeant to ask.....what road courses did Murphy run on? (besides the French GP)
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Post by Michael Ferner » 1 month ago

Monza and Elgin.

About "the Grand Prix", I thought you were old enough to know that there were times when there was only one Grand Prix (I know most of the younger ones posting here don't know or care). In fact, until 1968 it didn't need an actual name, it was officially just THE "Grand Prix" - it only became the "Grand Prix de France" when the FFSA took over from the ACF in the revolutionary year of 1968 (yeah, it was not only de Gaulle's old guard which disappeared that year! :wink:)
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Post by Michael Ferner » 1 month ago

EB wrote:
1 month ago
Michael Ferner wrote:
1 month ago
Anyway, I just wanted to throw in a different name,
I mentioned him on page 1!

I'm intrigued as to how good Frank Lockhart was - everyone knows his reputation on the engineering side but so many contemporaries seemed to rate him equally highly as a driver, certainly up there with Murphy amongst the 1920s brigade, far ahead of the Eddie Hearnes and Harry Hartzs.
And a good post it was! :thumbsup:

Somehow I missed it, apologies. Lockhart was certainly another great, but his comet went past even faster than Murphy's. You mentioned a few others close to my heart: Bryan, Ruttman (!), Mays, to which I would add Ernie Triplett, Bill Cummings and Ted Horn, maybe Bettenhausen - I would rate all of them comfortably ahead of the likes of Louie Meyer, Wilbur Shaw or Bill Vukovich, but today all that's left in discussions about US racing "history" is the number of Indy 500 wins or near-wins, so I tend to avoid those discussions.
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Post by jimclark » 1 month ago

Michael Ferner wrote:
1 month ago
Monza and Elgin.

About "the Grand Prix", I thought you were old enough to know that there were times when there was only one Grand Prix (I know most of the younger ones posting here don't know or care). In fact, until 1968 it didn't need an actual name, it was officially just THE "Grand Prix" - it only became the "Grand Prix de France" when the FFSA took over from the ACF in the revolutionary year of 1968 (yeah, it was not only de Gaulle's old guard which disappeared that year! :wink:)
:omg: Let us not discuss age/ing......a very sore subject here!!! :annoyed: :tongue: :)
Again, I'm quibbling, but when you used "the" Grand Prix, rather than "The" Grand Prix, I didn't know to which you were referring. There were many races called "Grands Prix" that weren't "The" French "one"..... :)
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