Joe Boyer, 1924 Indianapolis 500 champ, was born in Detroit on May 12, 1890. The son of the head of the Burroughs Adding Machine Company, Joe grew up as part of the local country club set to be a well-known sportsman and bon vivant.
Early on, Joe became interested in auto racing and is believed to have been a discreet fnancial supporter of both the Chevrolet and Duesenberg racing teams.
Although Joe got into race car driving a number of years earlier, the high point of his racing career came on May 31, 1924 at the Indianapolis 500. Joe and Duesenberg racing teammate, L. L. Corum, were each behind the wheel of Duesenberg Specials. Each car was equipped with a centrifugal supercharger fitted to a straight-eight with dual overhead cams. The engine had been newly developed by Fred and Augie Duesenberg to meet Indy specifcations that had dropped maximum engine displacement to 122 cubic inches.
Joe blew by everyone in the opening lap but supercharger trouble had him gliding into the pits within a few more laps. Teammate Corum, who was running fourth, pulled in for a pit stop after 110 laps. Fred and Augie decided to change drivers. As Boyer climbed into the cockpit, Fred told him, “Put that ship out front or burn it up!”
Once underway, Joe made up ground fast and, on lap 177, flew into the lead and stayed there until he got the checkered flag 24 laps later. Joe Boyer was the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 with a supercharged car.
Tragically, after his great triumph at Indianapolis, Joe was killed just a few months later, on September 2, 1924, in a crash at the Altoona Speedway in Tyrone, Pennsylvania.
Poster, copy, and photos compliments of Daniel Hughes.