the late 60's some bigger doors started to open for Jigger. He got an Indy
car ride and raced at Milwaukee, Trenton, and Phoenix and ran in the
inaugural race at Michigan International. In this race he was running 2nd
with 9 laps to go and lost the clutch. With some good driving efforts,
this got him a ride for the Indy 500 in 1969. When his car didn't get to
the Speedway till the second week of practice, he had to pass his Rookie
Drivers Test, which he did with flying colors. This only left a few days
for practice to get ready for qualifying which was the next step. This
created a very unique situation.
At this time, the rule for pole qualifying was simply; the fastest qualifier on the first day of qualifying won the pole for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the Indy 500. In drawing for a qualifying spot, Jigger drew #1 and as the first day started, there was a definite threat of rain. He got on the track and took the green flag and put in 3 pretty consistent laps in the 162 m.p.h. range which his team believed to be borderline for making the race. The car owner waved off the attempt before the fourth lap was completed. Before another car could get on the track, it started to rain, which it did for the entire day. If the attempt hadn't been waved off, Jigger would have started the big race from the pole position. In order for this to not have happened, 33 other cars would have had to post faster speeds to bump him from the race. History shows that his speed was fast enough that he would have been 31st fastest in the field and he would have led them to the green flag. Following this situation, the rule was changed so that everyone has one chance at the pole, even if their chance comes on the second, third or fourth qualification days. The next weekend he again was waved off a qualifying run by his owner, even though his lap speeds were a little faster than his first effort on Pole Day. Using his third and final qualification attempt on the final day of qualifying, his tired turbo Offy engine blew on the warm-up lap, which ended his chance of making the field for this year. Two different years, Jigger was 35th fastest and that is as close as he got to making the Indy 500.
He did continue to race midgets and Indy Cars over the next several years. In 1972 he qualified a turbine powered dirt car 2nd fastest at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds and finished 3rd in the 100 miler, making this the best finish ever for a turbine dirt car. Jigger drove a USAC Stock Car for Tom Adams of Indianapolis with some success. He led a couple of races at Michigan International and was running 2nd at the 450 mile mark of the Pocono 500 Stock Car Race before blowing an engine. He qualified 5th fastest for an ARCA event at Daytona International and was running 3rd near the end of the race before blowing a tire and finishing 9th. This team was planning on going to Winston Cup (Grand National at that time) but it was determined that their racing budget was not sufficient enough to do this, so these plans were dropped. Tom was very instrumental with Jigger's Indy efforts in 1974 & 1975 with sponsorship. Jigger ran his last race in 1977 at the ASA Dri-Power 400 run at the Winchester Speedway in Winchester, In. ending a very colorful 20 year racing career.
Through his career, Jigger raced against Foyt, Andretti, the Unsers, Jones, Rutherford, Johncock, Allison, Baker, Lund and many other great drivers. While he never did get to realize his ultimate goal, he got further in our sport than about 99% of all race drivers ever do. Only a handful of drivers make it to Indy and even fewer make the race. In my opinion, Jigger was one of the smoothest drivers to ever sit in a race car. As so often happens, fate deprived him of his big dream.
Jigger now resides in Williamsburg, Virginia with his wife Juanita. He is a retired welder from the Amoco Oil Co. He still makes the trip back to Indiana each year to attend the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400. He still follows racing very closely and stays in good health. A couple of his favorite drivers are Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart.
My 'THANKS' to Jigger for allowing me to travel with him during much of his racing career. He was a mentor to me in my younger days and taught me so much about life. I am for ever grateful for the good times we had together and so thankful that we remain very good friends. He will always be a CHAMPION in my eyes!
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