Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bobby Grim 1957

(Jim Adams Photo)

The following was written by my father, Rick Johnson, and originally appeared in the Indianapolis Times newspaper and the October 9, 1957 edition of National Speed Sport News.

Bob Grim Cleans Up On Dirt

Earnings Top $25,000 For 1957

(Indianapolis Times Photo)

by Rick Johnson

Race fans generally look to Hollywood for their concepts of race driver’s lives.

Hollywood versions depict an exuberant, fun-loving chap that lives every moment as if it were his last and rides every race dodging old Father Time’s cruel scythe.

In reality there are only a few of that type. The rest are mostly a mild, gentlemanly bunch who drive race cars for a living. It is their job and not looked on by them as a hazardous profession.

Indianapolis can lay claim to one of these, namely Bob Grim. Bob has been racing, for a living, over ten years. Nine of these he has driven for one man, Hector Honore of Pana, Ill. Bob will tell you, if you ask about racing hazards, that the worst part of racing is driving to the track.

“For instance,” he said, “this year my boss and I have driven over 12,000 miles just getting to races. And the closest calls we had came on the road. I only had one spin on the track.”

Bob drives in the oldest racing association in America, the International Motor Contest Association, which has Joe Monsour, of Shreveport, La., as its president.

Bob says, “our organization is a no-limit one as far as engine displacement goes, but we have physical examinations, racing stewards, magnaflux rules and mandatory safety inspections at every race much like USAC.”

Grim got his start in Coal City right after the war when he and a few other boys got together and built up an old Studebaker to race at some of the tracks around the area.

“We didn’t win anything but a few thirds and fourths, but I got enough driving in to know that I wanted to do it for a living,” Grim said.

And so it started. Bob drove a few races and did very well. Then Honore spotted him and offered him a chance to drive regularly for him. Bob has been with him ever since with one exception.

Bob thought he would do better if he jumped IMCA and came to USAC. After three or four races he went back to IMCA.

“I just never felt right running up there,” Grim declared. “I’m used to running on a half-mile track and using knobby tires. I might give it another whirl some of these days though,” he added.

“I have driven on some of the best tracks in the U.S. and some of the worst,” Grim said, describing his working area. “I always drive according to the track…if it is rough you can only go so fast safely…the guys who get in trouble are the showoffs. You know a guy can drive too fast on a good track,” he said reflectively.

Bob has had only one serious accident in ten years of driving. That one came in 1954 at the Belleville, Kas., Fairgrounds. Grim was riding high, having control difficulties, when Bob Slater brushed him coming out of a turn. Grim’s car catapulted end over end and came to rest upside down and caught fire. Bob suffered some severe burns and bruises but recuperated fully.

This year in IMCA competition Grim has 22 wins, six seconds, three thirds and two fourths in 39 races. This has given him gross purses of over $25,000. He says that while this is one of his better seasons win wise, he did better money wise in 1948 and 1953, but that was because he raced more.

Grim has six more races schedules for the season, two in Nashville, Tenn., at the Fairgrounds, two at Birmingham, and another pair at Shreveport.

Grim’s competition sprinter is powered by a 250 cu. inch Offy.

When asked if he ever had any ambition to race in the “500” he said, “Do you remember what Jud Larson said when someone asked him how he liked the track? He said, ‘If they put about three inches of dirt on that thing I’ll feel right at home.’ That’s the way I feel,” he said.

Bob lives with his wife, Betty, and two children, little Bob, 8 years old, and Sue, 7, at 2214 Centennial.


“Oddly enough, the foregoing portion of this week’s column had already been written when a letter from out Kansas way came from Velma J. Reaser, in which some very complimentary remarks on the driving abilities of Jud Larson and Bobby Grim were expressed.

Velma’s question as to why Bobby has never driven the 500-mile race is answered in the foregoing article and oddly enough, is the same as another of auto racing’s driving greats on the dirt tracks who also has expressed the opinion that when they put dirt on the 500-mile course he would really give the rest of the drivers fits…we’re referring of course to the unexcelled Tommy Hinnershitz.”

-Gene Powlen, October 9, 1957, National Speed Sport News

Bobby apparently changed his mind. Indy...1959 Rookie of the Year. (Rick Johnson Photo)


  1. Thanks for the article WZ. I can add another postscript. Bobby went on to win both of the Nashville races referred to in your Dad's story. Don Carr finished second and Cotton Farmer third on Saturday, and in Sunday's race Buzz Barton ran second and Farmer was again third.


  2. I remember watching Bobby Grim drive at the Des Moines Fairground track (dirt,1/2 mile) as a kid in the 50's and 60's. He was smooth as silk.

  3. my cousin chuck rodee ran many races with bobby, they were good friends and rivals on the track!


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