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Joe Boyer Jr

Joe Boyer, Jr. born the son of a wealthy Detroit family in 1890, began his auto racing career in the mid-teens and hit the pinnacle of the sport by winning the 1924 Indianapolis 500. His father was one of the founders of the Burroughs Business Machine Company.

Boyer was known as the Motor City Madman. He helped finance the Chevrolet Brothers when they were building their Frontenacs. After serving in World War I as an ordinary private, Joe came back to the Monroe-Frontenac team in 1919, winning in a Frontenac at Uniontown and at the board track in Cincinnati. The race in Cincinnati was registered as Boyer’s first National Championship win. He was driving in relief of Gaston Chevrolet at Uniontown when he flashed across the finish line. In 1920 he led the first Beverly Hill, CA board track race until a tire blew. In 1921, Boyer switched to Duesenberg, including a ride with the American team in the first postwar French Grand Prix at LeMans. He drove for Packard part of 1923, then came back to Duesy in 1924 when Packard quit racing. He won one other AAA race and had five top threes.
In 1924 Fred Duesenberg became one of the first major American teams to go to superchargers at Indianapolis. Boyer drove one of three supercharged Duesenbergs. Teammate Peter DePaulo drove the lone non-blown cars. Boyer’s wine-colored car trailed Miller drivers Jimmy Murphy and Bennett Hill at the start of the 1924 race. An exhausted Boyer stepped out of the car on lap 92, as he needed relief. A few minutes later Boyer, who by now had caught his breath, got a chance to drive in relieve for L.L. Corum in another Duesy. Corum, known for driving conservative, was running 5th when Joe took over on lap 108. Boyer quickly disposed of Hill and Harry Hartz and now trailed Murphy by 33 seconds and leader Earl Cooper by 85 seconds. He caught Murphy in less than 50 miles, and set sail for Cooper. Cooper, who was running one of his patented races, had figured the average speed he’d have to run to win and then stuck to it. This time he figured 98.32 mph would do it. He was wrong, Boyer began pushed him. Cooper had to increase his speed and in doing so tire wear became a factor. Joe took the lead at 445 miles when Cooper pitted for new tires. Cooper caught back up in 25 miles and was right behind Boyer, but while trying to pass, Cooper slid, and was forced to pit for tires again.

Boyer’s time in the limelight as the defending Indy 500 winner only lasted a few months as he crashed at the Altoona, PA board track on September 1, 1924. Boyer, ever reckless, pressured early leader Murphy, until Murphy’s tires started to shred. Murphy gave up the lead to Boyer and pitted for new tires. On lap 191, while running second to Murphy, one of Boyer’s tires blew and he crashed into the upper guardrail at 125 mph. The car pierced the wooded rail and tore out about 100 foot of rail before finally coming to a stop with the car wedged in the rail, leaving Boyer trapped inside, bleeding profusely in the twisted wreck. He died the next day at the hospital.

Boyer ran five Indy 500s, finished 31st in the 1919 Indy 500 after starting 14th in his rookie year. He finished 12th after starting second the following year. In 1921 he finished 17th after starting third. He missed the 1922 event, but came back to finish 18th after starting 13th in 1923. Boyer started 4th in the #9 Duesy in 1924, but turned that car over on lap 92 to teammate Ernie Ansterburg. Ansterburg was the first out of the race after he crashed on lap one, who in turn asked for relief. Fred Comer then ran just 7 laps in the car, Corum even tried a few laps in the ill-handling car and finally the fourth relief driver, Thane Houser hit the wall on lap 176. The car Boyer that started was credited with finishing 18th.

Boyer finished 17th in the 1917 AAA final points. He was seventh in 1919.

He had started 28 National Championship events. 19 of them on board tracks.