Jack Turner

Jack Turner. Copyright Jim Nise, 2020. Used with Permission.

Jack Turner. Copyright Jim Nise, 2020. Used with Permission.


12 Feb 1920
Seattle, Washington


12 Sep 2004
Renton, Washington


United States

Grands Prix:

4 (1956-1959)

Indy 500s:

6 (1956-1963)

He retired from racing in 1963, but kept close contacts with the sport. Died after a long illness. Turner, full name John Ellsworth Turner, but often known simply as Cactus Jack, was lucky to survive not one, but three crashes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the 1960's. One crash saw him unscathed, but the other two caused broken pelvis, crushed vertebrae and burns; the last prompting his retirement. Married for fifty-eight years, Turner began racing in 1938, before serving his country in the Army, spending nearly three years involved in the fighting in the South Pacific area. He returned to racing in 1945 back in his home State of Washington. His best finish in Indy cars was finishing second in Darlington, South Carolina, in 1956. He also drove in midget cars and won numerous races. Turner later worked for a Buick automobile agency, Cummins Diesel Company as a engineer and also for the Champion Spark Plug Co. Highway Safety Program, as well as for Monroe Shock Absorbers. He also, in retirement, restored classic cars, including a 1912 Mitchell car. A member of the Indianapolis 500 Oldtimers club, he continued to visit races until his health started to fail. His ashes were later spread in the Pacific Ocean as both a nod to his World War Two Service and his beloved North-West Washington coastline.

Biography last updated 3 Sep 2017