1963 Watson Indy Roadster

A.J. Watson was the most successful builder of front-engined race cars for the Indy 500 during the fifties. The Watson-built cars won the Indy 500 every year but one from 1959 through 1964. In 1963, the Indy grid was filled with 14 Watsons and seven copies. The following year, 12 were Watsons. The following year the cars became obsolete by the rear-engine cars.

Watson served as a navigator in the Eighty Army Air Force during World War II. After the war, he returned to California and attended the Glendale College and worked at the Lockheed on their assembly line assembling aircrafts and parts. His entrance into the world of racing came in the late 1940s with the creation of his track roadster which he had constructed for oval-track racing. Within a year he was working at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a mechanic.

In 1950, at the tender age of 26, he constructed his first Indy Racer which was entered in the race. The costs were very steep and Watson was forced to return to Lockheed in an effort to make ends meet.

At the close of the 1954 racing season, Watson became chief mechanic for John Zink, Jr.'s racing team. Watson modified a roadster built by the legendary Frank Kurtis and in the capable hands of Bob Sweikert, it completed the race ahead of the competition. The following year, Watson constructed a racer of his own design. The racer was constructed to take advantage of proper weight distribution which allowed for higher speeds through the corners. During practice/qualifying, Pat Flaherty set a lap record and earned a pole position by achieving 145.596 mph. The roadster went on to win the race.

For the following years to come, the Watson race cars were in high demand and often dominated the race and provided many podium finishes for the drivers and teams.


by Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2008
Vehicle Profiles
1963 Watson Indy Roadster vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: 022-7
Engine Num: 238 (or engine 504)
Vin Num: 112157115

During the late 1950s, the cars built by A.J. Watson were among the most successful to race at Indy. A.J. Watson was an Air Force navigator, then attended Glendale College on the G.I. Bill and later worked at Lockheed Aircraft. ....[continue reading]

1963 Watson Indy Roadster vehicle information

Roadster

Summary
Built by A.J. Watson for car owner J.C. Agajanian in 1960, the 252 cubic-inch Offenhauser-powered machine nicknamed 'Calhoun' won the 1963 Indianapolis 500 in the hands of Parnelli Jones. After finishing seventh in its debut with L....[continue reading]

1963 Watson Indy Roadster vehicle information

Roadster

A.J. Watson first came to Los Angeles during World War II as a navigator with the Eighth Army Air Force, and returned to California after the war. He went to work on the assembly line at Lockheed Aircraft, but after seeing his first race at Bonelli ....[continue reading]

1963 Watson Indy Roadster vehicle information

Roadster

Engine Num: 504

This 1963 Watson Indy Roadster was driven by Johnny Rutherford at Indianapolis in 1964, starting 15th and finishing 27th, as the Bardahl/Racing Associates #86. This was the last roadster to run at Indianapolis in 1966 and is restored to that year as ....[continue reading]

1963 Watson Indy Roadster vehicle information

Roadster

This Indianapolis Roadster is one of eight built by A.J. Watson for the 1963 season. Watson made a total of 23 race cars during his career and this is number 21. It was entered for the 500 by Ebb Rose (whose mechanic was the late Herb Porter) in 1963....[continue reading]

1963 Watson Indy Roadster vehicle information

Roadster

This Watson Roadster debuted at the Indianapolis Speedway in 1963, driven by previous winner Jim Rathmann. This particular Watson Roadster is one of the 23 roadsters built by A.J. Watson, who had seven winning cars in the Indianapolis 500 from 1949 t....[continue reading]

1963 Watson Indy Roadster vehicle information

Roadster

This is a Kaiser Aluminum, Leader Card, Watson Roadster. It was built in 1963 for two-time Indianapolis winner Rodger Ward who started and finished in fourth place that year. It is powered by a 255 cubic-inch Offenhauser engine rated at 450 horsepowe....[continue reading]

1963 Watson Indy Roadster vehicle information

Roadster

This Watson Roadster is possibly the last of the 23 that A J Watson built for the Indianapolis 500. It was completed just in time for the 1963 race. ....[continue reading]

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Chassis #: 022-7 
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