1956 INDIANAPOLIS 500 ROOKIE OF THE YEAR VEITH DIES AT 81 INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, April 3, 2006 -- Bob Veith, a veteran of 11 Indianapolis 500-Mile Races and the 1956 Rookie of the Year, died March 29 in a Santa Rosa, Calif., hospital. He was ...
1956 INDIANAPOLIS 500 ROOKIE OF THE YEAR VEITH DIES AT 81
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, April 3, 2006 -- Bob Veith, a veteran of 11 Indianapolis 500-Mile Races and the 1956 Rookie of the Year, died March 29 in a Santa Rosa, Calif., hospital. He was 81.
Veith, who drove in 54 National Championship races between 1955 and 1968, was a steady campaigner who gained quite a reputation for being able to qualify for a race with very little practice time. He also gained quite a reputation for his ability to be able to "bring them home." Of 42 starts between 1955 and 1960, 29 resulted in a top-10 finish. Twelve of those were within the top six.
Of his 11 starts in the Indianapolis "500," six ended up with finishes in the first 12, topped by his Rookie of the Year run to seventh place in 1956.
Unfortunately, what many felt was Veith's best shot at Indianapolis ended quickly, when, after starting fourth in 1958, he became entangled in the first-lap accident that took the life of Pat O'Connor. The following month, Veith was one of the Americans chosen to drive in the "Race of Two Worlds," a 500-mile race held in three segments at Monza, Italy. The fastest of all the Americans, he qualified second, and was third to Jim Rathmann and Jimmy Bryan in the first leg and then runner-up to Rathmann in the second. In August, he finished second to Rathmann in the Milwaukee 200.
In the 1964 "500," Veith ran third for several laps before dropping out, driving a rear-engine car A. J. Foyt had tried out in practice and turned down.
During the years he was attempting to establish himself in the Midwest, midget car driver Veith competed regularly in USAC sprint car races, ranking fourth in the 1956 Midwest point standings. Between 1955 and 1957, he had eight feature finishes of either second or third.
For more than a decade, Veith, an avid golfer and an occasional volunteer fireman, was a member of the highly effective Champion Spark Plug Company's Highway Safety program in which Indianapolis 500 race drivers would visit the nation's high schools in order to pass on safe driving habits to students.
While there will be no services, a celebration of life likely will take place later in the year. Veith is survived by his daughter, Christine.