Former USAC Champion And Indy 500 Veteran Greg Weld Dies At 64

In one of the more shocking news I’ve heard recently, 1967 USAC National Sprint Car Champion and Indy 500 veteran Greg Weld died unexpectedly Monday, August 4th of an apparent heart attack. The youthful looking Weld was 64 but looked much younger. I met Greg for the first time in March at Jack Martin’s Bench Racing Weekend in Indianapolis. BRW as it is known, is a gathering of many racing old-timers and not so old-timers to reminisce, research and chat about auto racing.

Greg was this year’s speaker. Greg who was also the 1963 Knoxville Nationals champion and a National Sprint Car Hall of Fame member gave an entertaining homily, He spoke candidly about his quick rise to a national level in racing. Starting in super-modifieds around his native Kansas City area, he quickly caught the national spotlight by winning the Knoxville Nationals at the age of 19. He reminisced about his brothers Jerry and Kenny who as a group was known as the “Kansas City Mafia” along with their father Taylor, known as “Papa.” Now all three have passed. It was a blessing to be present and hear him chat about racing with the likes of Jerry Richert, Jud Larson, Don Branson and A.J. Foyt.

However Greg had a plan. While driving, he had always wanted to develop a business. Even early on, Greg always thought he would retire as a driver by the age of 30. In 1965, Greg started Weldwheels, which because of its success, he was able to retire from driving at his goal age. With the accomplishments of Weldwheels he was able to sell the business to a large corporation, smartly keeping ownership of the property and thus entered the world of commercial property development.

Greg was only 21 when he burst on the USAC scene in 1965. He almost won the Sprint title the first year, leading in points for a most of the year losing out in the final race by the narrowest of margins to Johnny Rutherford.

Greg had passed his rookie test at Indianapolis in 1965, but in spite of coming close several times, his only “500” start came in 1970 when he was teammate to the late Art Pollard in a Grant King Gerhardt. Lasting only 12 laps due to piston failure, and he was credited with 32nd place.

He was the last person ever to drive a Novi at Indianapolis, a minor wall contact after two incomplete qualifying attempts coming on the final day of time trials in 1966.

In 1969, the next-to-last year in which the USAC National Championship circuit was to include selected 100-mile dirt track races, Greg drove an experimental Plymouth-powered car to four straight poles at Springfield, DuQuoin, the Hoosier 100 and Sacramento.

With his thriving business taking up more and more of his time, he closed his driving career at age 30 with a fourth-place finish in the 1974 USAC Silver Crown series. His final USAC sprint car appearance – he won 21 career features – came two nights before the 1974 Indianapolis 500, the occasion on which A.J. Foyt famously won both ends of a twin 50-mile classic on the dirt mile at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. He finished a close second to Foyt in the “nightcap.”

Richard Gregory “Greg” Weld had few peers on a dirt track, his spectacular broad sliding through a turn being something to behold.

Tentative arrangements call for services to take place at 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 8 at the Kansas City Baptist Temple.

Note: Thanks to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for their contribution to this story

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