Joe Boyer

Full Name:
Joseph Boyer jr
30th May 1889
St Louis, Missouri
2nd September 1924 (Aged 35)
Altoona, Pennsylvania, from injuries inflicted the previous day
Most recent race (in database):

This millionaire heir is the first relief driver to have officially been credited with victory in the Indianapolis 500. His father was President of the company that marketed the Burroughs Adding Machine who amassed a fortune that Joseph Boyer Jr would one day inherit.

Background and early Indianapolis career

Raised in Detroit, it seems that he was addicted to speed. “It is said that at one time or another Boyer has had a speaking acquaintance with every traffic policeman and constable between Detroit and Chicago” wrote the Indianapolis Star in 1919. He was a popular man with both fans and colleagues alike – racing for the sport but with a keen sense of competition.

He was entered in the Indianapolis 500 in 1915 and 1916 although Louis Chevrolet commandeered his car on both occasions. He was a regular in Chevrolet’s Frontenac for 1917 and finished second at Uniontown.

World War I and return to racing

The 1918 season was lost to service in the United States Army but he returned to Frontenac in 1919. He completed the race at Uniontown as relief driver in Gaston Chevrolet’s winning Frontenac although his contribution was not reflected in the official results. His season ended with victory in his own right at Cincinnati but he hardly got rich that day – winning just six cents after drivers agreed a reduced purse.

Boyer joined Duesenberg for the 1921 Indianapolis 500 and qualified third. He retired from the race before finishing sixth as Albert Guyot’s relief.

Indianapolis 500 victory

His frustrations at the Brickyard continued until 1924 when his Duesey started from fourth on the grid. Boyer jumped into an immediate lead but Jimmy Murphy’s Miller passed him on the second lap and Boyer soon retired with supercharger maladies. He then took over the fourth placed car of team-mate L.L.Corum after 112 laps. Boyer set about reducing the deficit and took the lead on lap 177 when Earl Cooper hit tyre trouble. His resulting victory was the first time that two faces adorn the famous Borg Warner Trophy as co-winners.

Boyer’s Altoona accident

However, tragedy soon followed. Boyer and Murphy were disputing the lead of the Fall Classic at Altoona when Boyer’s Duesenberg suffered a high-speed puncture with nine laps to go. He crashed into the guard rail and was taken to the nearby hospital where he died a day later. Murphy won the joyless race but was killed less than a week later at Syracuse.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1924 AAA National Championship
Duesenberg Bros
5 0 1 1
20% win rate
22nd 10
1923 AAA National Championship
Packard Motor Co
Duesenberg Bros
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
21st 15
1921 AAA National Championship
Duesenberg Bros
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
1920 AAA National Championship
Frontenac Motors
5 0 1 0
0% win rate
1919 AAA National Championship
Frontenac Motors
8 0 4 2
25% win rate
1917 AAA National Championship
Frontenac Motors
8 1 1 0
0% win rate