Mechanic, crew chief
One of few disabled chief mechanics at the top level of American motorsports, Burton built Indy, sprint and sports cars, midgets, Bonneville racers and planes for the Reno Air Races. He wrenched for Mickey Thompson, Bill Simpson, Clint Brawner, Grant King, Lee Brayton, Smokey Yunick and Bobby East. Paralyzed by polio at 23, he and his brothers gained notice for the sprint cars they built for East. Louie Unser recommended he try Indianapolis. In 1966, Burton was crew chief on Charlie Hayes’ Nickey Chevrolet McLaren Elva that finished second at the Road America 500. The following year he was chief mechanic on 1990 inductee Thompson’s unsuccessful FWD Indy and LSR car. Thompson’s son Danny remembers Burton using his powerful arms to get in and out of his wheelchair and work under the car. “He was paralyzed, but you’d never know it,” said Hayes. He crew chiefed Bill Engelhart’s win in the 1973 Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ascot, the nation’s biggest midget event. A final hurrah was the ferociously fast “Blind Man’s Bluff” air racer.