Lloyd Ruby may be best remembered for never having won the Indianapolis 500. When we were growing up we'd root for the Texan but he never seemed to be able to close the deal. It wasn't until we had grown that I found out just how good a racer Ruby had been.
In 1966 Ruby won the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring paired with Ken Miles. The two also won the World Sportscar Championship in 1966 and 1968. Ruby competed in 18 Indy 500s leading 5 for a total of 126 laps. His highest finish was a third in 1964. But that was not what he'll be best remembered for.
My father made us familiar with the "Lloyd Ruby Line," that dark gray scary place up in the marbles where angels feared to put a wheel. Long before Harry Gant made his home among the loose stuff Ruby was showing other drivers that the fast way wasn't always the short way around.
Lloyd Ruby won seven USAC National Championship races, including three at Milwaukee, two at Phoenix, and one each at the now gone tracks at Trenton, N.J., and Langhorne, Pa. Dad saw two of those wins from the old grandstands at State Fair Park. If I look I can find the program from the 1967 USAC race there.
Lloyd Ruby, as much as anyone, is responsible for lighting the spark of racing fandom that my family has carried for 40 years. He passed away this week at 81 in his beloved Wichita falls. He will be missed.
It also says something of the man that with all the years of his success,and, for a while, his considerable income, he never moved away from the place ofhis birth. Some of his closest friends were those with whom he had grown up andgone to school. A visit to his home likely would entail a casual drive aroundtown, cruising by the location of his old school, a malt shop or two, adrugstore and his favorite watering hole, a very down-to-earth establishmentfrequented by powerful townsfolk and city officials who were just asunpretentious as Ruby himself.