When we attended the 2020 Hershey AACA (Antique Auto Club of America) National Meet held in Gettysburg PA one of the cars that caught our attention was a 1960 Watson Roadster Indy car that won the 1960 Indy 500 and continued to attend the following four years under different liveries. It was driven by Jim Rathmann in 1960, 1961 and 1962. In 1963 it the driver was listed as the “Spirit of St. Louis” and did not qualify. in 1964 it was driven by Bob Harkey and finished 8th. It is this livery that it has been restored to.
As the winning car in 1960 it was entered as the Ken Paul Special, in 1961 as the Simoniz Special and in 1962 as the Simoniz Vista. In 1963 it was the Paul Russo entry that did not qualify but came back in 1964 as the Wally Weir Mobil finishing 8th. In the early 60s all the Indy race cars were the traditional and beautiful Offenhauser Roadsters. By 1964 the rear engined, much lower and smaller Indy cars were on the track. It marked the end of the beloved Roadsters but also begun some of the most deadly years a Indy ever. The 1964 race was especially so. In 1965 Jimmy Clark driving a Ford powered rear engined Lotus 38 became the first rear engined car to win the 500 and the day of the Roadster was over.
This historic race car has been meticulously restored to its as raced condition in 1964. AACA is strict in its restoration specifications requiring proof that the race car is restored to its as raced condition. This particular car was parked just a few trailers down from where our trailer was parked providing us with an excellent opportunity to take a long close look at it.
- Drivers: Jim Rathmann & Bob Harkey
- Builder: A. J. Watson
- Engine: 255 C.I. Offenhauser, 450 HP at 6,000 RPM
- Chassis: Tube Frame, 1,450 lbs. WT.m Fuel 94 gal. alcohol (in 1964)
- Restored by: Classic Craft Motorsports, Steve Miller, and A. J. Watson
- Current Owner: Bob McConnell, Urbana, OH