In the world of racing, driving legends never truly die. That’s why on this 82nd anniversary of his death, we remember the career and life of racecar driver Bill “Wild Bill” Cummings. He might not be the most famous driver of all time, and there is even a chance you’ve never heard of him, but he holds several important places in history worth remembering. This February marks the 82nd anniversary of his completely unremarkable death, and we look back on his very remarkable life and racing career.
The life and legacy
Bill “Wild Bill” Cummings was born and raised in the place where he would find his fame: Indianapolis, Indiana. Growing up, Bill was under the influence of the automotive industry. His father worked for the now-defunct Marmon Motor Car company, which reportedly sparked his interest in cars. He didn’t begin racing with dragsters or go-karts but instead on dirt tracks. With little notable or historic wins under his belt, there isn’t much back story for his start into racing, but he did have an enjoyable career.
Bill “Wild Bill” Cummings
With thousands of race car drivers in history, it’s easy to let the less-successful ones drift into the background. Sure, Wild Bill Cummings wasn’t on the front of any cereal boxes, and he maybe didn’t have any posters for young enthusiasts to idolize, but he did have several wins under his belt. This included one win at the famous Indianapolis 500 in 1934 in his number 7 car, which he later went on to name his bar after, The Lucky Seven.
An unremarkable death
One of the biggest tragedies in racing is to lose a driver before his time in a tragic accident. Of course, the potential for a fatal car accident is much higher for drivers taking cars to their limits on the track, and it isn’t unusual to hear of drivers passing away due to injuries sustained at the races. That wasn’t the case for Wild Bill, however. Unfortunately, Bill Cummings passed due to injuries sustained in a regular passenger car he was merely riding passenger in.
Reports claim that Bill was still alive when pulled from the car that had slammed into the guard rail on State Road 29 in Indianapolis. The vehicle broke through the guard rail before plummeting 50 feet into Lick Creek. He passed away from injuries at the hospital several days later.
No matter the accident, any loss of a racing icon is, of course, tragic, but he left a place in the world of racing with which we won’t soon forget.