Bob Christie

Bob Christie

4/4/1924 - 1/6/2009

Christie raced in the USAC Championship Car series in the 1956-1963 seasons, with 15 career starts, including every Indianapolis 500 race in that span. During his career in Champ Cars and Stock Cars, he finished in the top ten 5 times, with his best finish in 3rd position in 1959 at Daytona.

From Grants Pass, Oregon, Christie began racing midgets before turning to stock cars in the Pacific Northwest and the USAC Championship Car Series. 

He made his first trip to the Indy 500 in 1954 carrying the nickname 'Caveman'. His nickname coming from the 20-foot tall Caveman statue wearing only a loincloth and wielding a club that stands near the downtown area of Grants Pass.

Christie brought his own car to Indy that year and though he passed his rookie test, he didn’t make a qualifying attempt. He returned the next year but spun into the wall during a prctice run.

Herb and Elsie Johnson acquired Jack McGrath's 1955 Indy car and chose Christie to drive it in the 1956 race. A Mercury dealer in his hometown sponsored Christie, who brought a new pickup to the San Diego shop of chief mechanic Bruce Crower to join the team that consisted of six people.

Christie finished 13th in his first two Indy starts, in 1956 and 1957, and also came home 13th in his final start in 1963. He qualified for the Champion Club in 1960 when he placed 10th. He tried to qualify three more times as he reached 40, but was too slow in 1964, got bumped in 1965 and was yellow-flagged during two qualifying attempts in 1966.

In all he made 15 starts in USAC Champ Cars between 1956 and 1963 with five top ten finishes including two thirds at Daytona in 1959 driving the Federal Engineering Kurtis 500D.

He was ranked third in the 1953 AAA Stock Car standings and made 14 starts in USAC National Championship competition, with his best performance coming on his birthday in 1959 in a 100-mile race on the then new Daytona International Raceway.  finished an impressive third behind Jim Rathmann took the win that day at an average speed of 170.261 mph. Rodger Ward was second with Christie finishing an impressive third.

In AAA and USAC stock cars he finished in the top 10 in the point standings on three occasions. He took a fine win at the Carrell Speedway in Los Angeles in 1954, beating Marshall Teague in a 300-lap race and took four second place finishes, including a 150 mile race in 1953 at Milwaukee and a 250 mile race in September 1956 at Milwaukee finishing behind Jimmy Bryan.

Following retirement, Christie worked for Firestone briefly and then went to work for J.C. Penney, setting up its automotive shops around the country while based in New York. Later he became an independent representative for auto products, working out of Austin, Texas. As he moved into his mid 70’s, Christie returned to Grants Pass.

He continued to spend much of the month of May at the Indyanapolis track, holding court and telling stories. He was an excellent speaker and for many years would graciously escort special guests through the Speedway's garage area.


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