Billy Arnold (racing driver)

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Richard William Arnold[1] (December 16, 1910[2] – November 10, 1976) is an American racecar driver.

Early life and career[edit]

Billy Arnold was born in Chicago, Illinois December 16, 1905. He earned his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois and after his racing days were over, pursued a Ph.D. from the MIAT College of Technology.[2]

He won the 1930 Indianapolis 500 after leading all but first two laps of the race, the most ever by a winner of the race and he won by a margin of 7 minutes and 17 seconds. He was 24 years old at the time. In 1931 he led 155 laps but crashed on lap 162 while holding a five-lap lead, suffering serious injuries along with his riding mechanic Spider Matlock.[3] A tire came off the car, bounced over the fence the killed 11 year old Wilbur Brink who was playing in his front yard outside the track.[4] In 1932 Arnold led 57 laps before crashing on lap 59. He suffered a broken shoulder and riding mechanic Matlock suffered a broken pelvis. At the urging of his wife, Arnold retired from racing.[5]

At the time of his death he was married to LaFrance Arnold, his second wife. Prior to his affair, in May 1930, he was married to Dorothy Canfield of Detroit.[6]

During World War II, he served with Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower as Chief of Maintenance for the U.S. 8th Air Force and left the service in 1945 as a LtCol.[2]

Following the war, Arnold worked at Fretwell Desoto then entered the construction business, building upscale houses and one of the first shopping centers in Oklahoma.[7] Between 1950-58, he developed water skis and was among the pioneers of the sport.[8] His AquaKing water skis became the official water ski of Cypress Gardens in Florida.

Arnold died November 10, 1976 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, of a cerebral hemorrhage, aged 66.[9] He is buried at Resurrection Memorial Cemetery in Oklahoma City, OK.[10]

Billy Arnold 1930 Indianapolis 500 Winning Driver Gravestone. Resurrection Cemetery 7801 NW Expressway St Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, 73132 Plot: Section 10, Block 3, Lot 5, Space 1

Indianapolis 500 results[edit]

Preceded by
Ray Keech
Indianapolis 500 Winner
Succeeded by
Louis Schneider


  1. ^ "The Talk of Gasoline Alley" May 26, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Billy Arnold, 1930 '500' Winner, Dies". November 11, 1976.
  3. ^ The Indianapolis Star: 75 years of the Indianapolis 500, George Moore, William Eggert, Jep Cadou Jr., 1986.
  4. ^ Glick, Shav (July 29, 1998). "Danger Always There in Racing". Los Angeles Times. p. 2.
  5. ^ Bernie Biernacki (May 27, 2017). "Chicago tasted Indy glory through Billy Arnold, Pat Flaherty". Chicago Sun-Times. WordPress. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  6. ^ "Ardmore Daily Ardmoreite Newspaper Archives". The Ardmoreite. May 18, 1932. p. 1.
  7. ^ Daily Oklahoman May 29, 1955 p. 48.
  8. ^ Daily Oklahoman May 18, 1958 p. 115.
  9. ^ "Billy Arnold, Who Won 1930 Indy 500, is Dead". The New York Times. November 11, 1976.
  10. ^ "COL Billy "William H or Richard William" Arnold". Find a Grave. Retrieved February 28, 2019.

External links[edit]

The Greatest 33 Profile