The Vukovich family, members of auto racing royalty with roots in Fresno, will be honored with an historic marker to be unveiled at a ceremony Saturday.
The event will pay tribute to Bill Vukovich Sr., a Fresno native and two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, and two generations who followed his high-performance path — son Bill Jr. and grandson Billy III.
Vukovich Jr., along with family and friends, will be at the ceremony, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in front of Fresno City Hall, 2600 Fresno Street. Legendary Fresno sports announcer and historian Ken Takeuchi will be master of ceremonies.
The No. 45 midget race car that Vukovich Sr. drove to the 1950 AAA national championship will be on display.
Vukovich Racing Family Spans Three Generations
The marker is being presented by the American Racing Memorial Association (ARMA), an outgrowth the Indiana Racing Memorial Association, which has placed 38 historic markers across that state. After the ceremony, the Vukovich market will be moved to a permanent location near the Bill Vukovich Sr. monument in front of Selland Arena.
Vukovich Sr. started five Indy 500s in the 1950s, winning the race in 1953 and 1954. He led 85% of the laps he ran at the Brickyard. Before his Indy Car career, he won two West Coast midget championships and the 1950 championship. He died in a crash while leading the 1955 Indy 500.
Vukovich Jr. won dozens of national midget and sprint car races before joining the Indy Car circuit in the late ’60s. He raced in a dozen Indy 500s, logging six top-10 finishes, including second place in 1973.
Vukovich III raced super modified and sprint cars, then started three Indy 500s. He was Rookie of Year in 1988, 20 years after he father had won the same honor. He died in a racing crash near Bakersfield in 1990.
“The name Vukovich is an iconic name, not only in auto racing but in all of sports,” said Brian Hasler, ARMA co-founder.
Laura Merrill, Fresno deputy city manager, said the city “is thrilled to have this opportunity to pay tribute to this internationally acclaimed racing family.”