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Friday, May 17, 2013

Johnny Rutherford: Indy Champ by Hal Higdon

Kids Book, but still an interesting read for Indy 500 fans

Published in 1980 by G.P. Putnam's Sons

Johnny Rutherford: Indy Champ is a short biography aimed at elementary/middle school aged readers. It has 123 pages of text and 2 pages of end notes and is part of the extensive series of sports biographies known as the Putnam Sports Shelf.
Rutherford (by rear wing) and his car
at the 1975 Indy 500.

Even though I am long past the targeted audience for this book, I found it to be entertaining and informative. Higdon's roots as a magazine writer shine throughout the book - the text is lively throughout.

For those who do not know, Johnny Rutherford is a three-time winner of the Indy 500 with wins in 1974, 1976 and 1980. He was known as a hard luck driver until he broke through and finally started to win. His wins are even more remarkable when you consider he raced and won against all three four-time winners of the Indy 500 (A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Sr. and Rick Mears) and other legendary Indy 500 drivers such as Mario Andretti and Tom Sneva.

The book emphasizes Rutherford's humble beginnings in racing and his struggle to get quality equipment and to even finish the Indy 500. He used to joke and say, "If I ever finish this race, I'm going to win it." That is exactly what he did in 1974.

This book captures his approachable manner and "good guy" personae very well. The on track action is described very well. It also covers his 1963 appearance in the Daytona 500. It was published just before he won the 1980 Indy 500.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Johnny Rutherford: Indy Champ.

Reviewed on May 17, 2013

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