30/4/1930 - 2/9/1966
Record updated 27-Apr-06
Don Skogmo was from Minneapolis, MN. He was a member of the family that ran the Gamble-Skogmo merchandising stores which, at their peak, had nearly 4,300 stores in 39 States and Canada, selling everything from hardware and appliances to food and fabric.
Skogmo was also a sportscar veteran who raced a number of different cars from Birdcage Maseratis to Triumph sports cars.
At the final round of the 1966 United States Road Racing Championship the Road America 500, during Friday’s practice for big bore cars, Skogmo crested the hill in his brand new Lola T–70 just before the pit entry, lost control, went into a violent spin and crashed sideways into the new Armco barrier that for the first time separated the course from the pit area. The Armco speared him, killing him instantly. The Steward of the Meet was stationed at the old wooden pagoda, when he heard the crash he started to run down pit lane to the scene. Before he could get there, Kenny Kaminski, who was coming the other way grabbed him and said, “Bob, believe me, you don’t want to see that”. Strange as it may seem, the newly installed Armco barrier was man-dated by the insurance company to serve as a protective measure. On the very first day, it claimed a life, one that would have been spared had it not been built.
Bill Schley was waitng for the next practice session to begin when he saw the big ball of fire from Skogmo’s crash that was only twenty yards or so from where he sat. Bill got out of line, put his Fiat Abarth on the trailer, packed up and went home. As a result of this accident, the following year the guardrail was extended down the hill to the bridge, and the entrance to the pit lane was moved to the bottom of the hill.
Don Skogmo was the fifth driver to die at Road America near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, since it opened in 1955.