Rex Mays

Class of 1993


Rex Mays, horn in 1913, started his racing career at Legion Ascot Speedway in Los Angeles, California. In 1931, Mays' made his racing mark very quickly, defeating local heroes and terrorizing West Coast midget racing before beginning his big-car career.

He entered his first Indianapolis 500 in 1934, finishing in 9th place. In 1935, he led for the first 90 laps, but left with a broken spring shackle on lap 123. Mays continued racing at Indy and came in 2nd in 1940 and 1941. His racing career spanned 18 years, but four of those were as a pilot during World War II. Mays never won at Indianapolis. But he did win a pair of AAA National Championships, and his peers held him in high esteem for his ability on dirt tracks.

Mays was more than a race car driver, he was a concerned professional who put the welfare of others before himself. Two events evidence that concern. In 1947, at Wisconsin's Milwaukee Fairgrounds race track, Mays was challenging for the lead when Duke Dinsmore crashed directly in front of him and was thrown onto the track. Rex intentionally crashed into the wall to avoid Dinsmore.

In the fall of 1949, at the Syracuse, NY State Fairgrounds. a dispute over prize money delayed the start of the championship 100 mile race for more than an hour, and the fans were becoming more and more upset. Mays prevented what might have developed into a major riot when without a word, he got into his car and started circling the track. One by one of the other drivers followed. He led the race until a flat sidelined him.

On November 11, 1949, at Del Mar, California, Rex Mays was killed in a race.

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