Mauri Rose, Historic, Class of 1996
Mauri Rose was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1906. He began his driving career at a Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, board track on the fourth of July, 1927. He made his way to Indianapolis first in 1932, and in 1933 he drove a modified Studebaker all the way to fourth place before falling out on the 125th lap with a failed engine. The following year, he finished second to "Wild Bill" Cummings by just 27 seconds. That close finish would torture him-and the machines that he drove-until victory finally came within his grasp several years later.
Rose's greatest competitive success came through his association with Lou Moore. In 1941, he took Moore's Maserati-powered Elgin Piston Pin Special to the head of the field, but retired with ignition problems. When Rose threatened to find a relief ride with another team, Moore pulled in teammate Floyd Davis. Rose picked up the battle in 14th place. Forty-five miles and one of the greatest feats of Brickyard driving later, he had moved up to ninth and by 300 miles he was fourth. He took the lead at 425 miles and never looked back. Some later said it was half a victory, but Rose's keen ability could not be overlooked. "I had to drive harder to win in 1941 than I did in the other two," Rose recalled.
Following the four-year war interruption, Rose returned in 1946 to find his stature elevated at the Brickyard. While that year's race was cut short by a steering failure, the 1947 race was notable for its controversy. Rose was teamed with 39-year-old rookie Bill Holland, piloting Moore's Blue Crown Specials. Holland had a comfortable two-mile lead as the race entered its last 100 miles; it was time for Rose to make his move. As Rose pulled out to pass, Holland-misreading the pit-crew signals-waved Rose around, thinking he was a lap behind. But as Rose took the checkered flag, Holland immediately learned otherwise.
There was no doubt about the 1948 triumph, another Blue Crown 1-2 victory. Rose, Holland, and the Novi hope, Duke Nalon, let Ted Horn and Rex Mays spar for almost half the race. When Nalon made his move, Rose was in his wake. Better pit work on the next stop gave Mauri the lead over Horn and Nalon, after which he outraced every challenger save Duke and the Novi until Duke retired near the end of the race. As in 1947, Holland had to be content with second. In 1949 Rose was running in second place-to Holland-when, with eight laps to go, the car broke.
Rose raced two more years, retiring after a blowout-induced rollover. He returned to engineering full-time with a number of enterprises, including General Motors, where he helped Chevrolet establish its presence in both hod-rodding and stock-car racing.
Rose died on New Year's Day, 1981.