Floyd Davis- Indy’s Forgotten Winner

Photo: Mauri Rose (L) and Floyd Davis with the Borg-Warner trophy after winning the 1941 Indianapolis 500

The 29th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 1941 is mainly remembered for two things- the race morning fire in the garage area, which miraculously destroyed just one car; and Wilbur Shaw’s tire issue that caused his crash while leading the race. The fire was indirectly responsible for the crash. One of the co-winners, Floyd Davis, is arguably the most forgotten man to win the 500.

After Shaw’s crash, Mauri Rose went on to win the race in Davis’s car.

Davis (in car)

Rose and Davis were teammates driving for Lou Moore’s Noc-out Hose Clamp team. Rose’s car dropped out early. Moore, who won the 1938 race with Floyd Roberts, was desperate to beat Wilbur Shaw again. He decided to have Rose replace Davis on lap 72. Davis was running mid pack, and Moore thought Rose had a chance to finish bear the front.

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Davis reluctantly gave up his seat. After Shaw crashed, Rose drove the car to victory. since rose was not the car’s starting driver, both Rose and Davis were the winners. It was the second time in Speedway history that the 500 had co-winners. In 1924 Joe Boyer and Lora Corum shared the win. The rules have changed and this situation will never occur again.

Floyd Davis

Floyd Davis was from Springfield, Illinois. He was a champion dirt track sprint racer. His record in the 500 is mostly nondescript. he drove in four races beginning in 1937. before 1941 Davis’s best finish was 15th his rookie year.

The racing careers of the co-winners took different paths after the race. Rose would go on to win the 500 outright in 1947 and 1948, making him the third three time winner. He mentored Bill Vukovich in his first year at the track.

Davis drove in a few sprint races in the summer of 1941, then didn’t race anymore. Some say he quit in disgust over being pulled from the race.

World War II halted racing in the United States for four years. Davis joined the Navy. After the war, he returned to Indianapolis and worked for Detroit Diesel Allison and an heating and air conditioning company. Davis also was a general contractor.

The lack of a race in 1942 probably contributed to Davis’s lack of recognition. No 500 meant no program recapping the previous year’s contest. The 1946 race program, for the first race after the war, does not mention 1941 at all. A huge oversight in my opinion.

I said I have a personal connection to the drivers I am writing about this week. Floyd Davis lived about seven houses from me in the 50s. I would see him and his son a lot. I wish I had talked to him more about the race.

next time you are in the museum and see the Borg-Warner trophy, look for the twin faces of 1941. Davis is an Indianapolis 500 winner.