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Alvin A J Shepard Passes Away


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#1
Marty Boyer

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Alvin J. "A.J" Shepherd

Shepherd, Alvin J. "A.J", 78, of Miami, OK, formerly of Wichita, died May 8, 2005. Visitation with family present 6-8 p.m. Tuesday; Graveside service 10 a.m. Wednesday, all at Resthaven Mortuary. A.J. was born June 11, 1926 at Chester, AR to Alvin & Jewel (Wilbanks) Shepherd. He had worked as a professional racecar driver, and had started his career at Old 81 Speedway and moved up to race at the Indy 500 in 1961. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge, and the Shriners, both of Wichita, and was a veteran of the U.S. Navy serving during W.W.II. He retired from the Wichita City Bus Transit System in 1994. He married Helen Jean (Stockbrand) Shepherd on December 3, 1946 at Wichita, KS. She preceded him in death in April of 1996. His parents, 6 brothers and 2 sisters also preceded him in death. Survivors include: sons, Michael of LaCrosse, WI, Dennis of Oklahoma City, OK, Robert of Fort Smith, AR; sisters, Genevieve Gandy & Vera Jean Dion, both of Commerce, OK, Margi Port of Anaheim, CA; brothers, Donald of Speedway, IN, Jimmy of Joplin, MO; 6 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren. Paul Thomas Funeral Home, with local arrangements by Resthaven Mortuary

#2
Marty Boyer

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ALVIN J. "A. J." SHEPHERD (1926-2005) of Wichita, Kansas drove a 1932 Chevrolet six-cylinder coupe #37 owned by Ray Ash of Wellington, Kansas, at Winfield on Memorial Day, 1956 and again on July 4, 1956. Shepherd won his heat race on Memorial Day and garnered a fourth place finish in the second semi-final race on July 4th. When I asked Shepherd what he remembered about racing at Winfield, he said, "Not much. I've raced at so many tracks since then. It was a dusty track though."

Shepherd raced professionally with USAC for several years and qualified 14th fastest for the 1961 Indianapolis "500" in Ernest Ruiz's Travelon Trailer, Watson Offy #73 with an average speed of 144.957 m.p.h. which was only 2.524 m.p.h. slower than Eddie Sachs’ pole winning speed that year. Shepherd worked his way up to fourth place in the race before being sidelined in a six-car crash on the 51st lap of the race. He was credited with 26th place finish in that race which was won by A. J. Foyt.

Shepherd suffered career ending injuries in another crash on September 16, 1961 while attempting to qualifying for the Hoosier "100" at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.

Shepherd passed away at Miami, Oklahoma.

AJ Shepherd at Indy Photo & Story........



#3
Marty Boyer

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A.J. Shepherd crash photo at the 1961 Hoosier"100" Champ car race

A. J. Shepherd of Wichita, Kansas appears here to be reaching for the safety of a tree limb. Seconds after this picture was taken, Shepherd was thrown from the car which had hooked a rut in the racetrack resulting in this violent crash during time trials for the Hoosier "100" USAC Champ Car race on the one-mile dirt racetrack at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis, Indiana on September 16, 1961. Both Shepherd and the car cleared the guardrail and crashed through the wall of a barn outside the racetrack. Shepherd suffered critical injuries in this accident and was in a coma for several weeks. This accident ended his racing career.

#4
High Groove

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That is one scary looking crash in that picture. He is lucky he survivored from that.
The line or path on the track nearest to the outer wall

#5
pokieokie

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Terry Reed has a funny story about A.J. coming back to the Indy mile a couple of years after the accident. During an interview with the track P.A., he said the first time he visited Indianapolis was when his ship docked there during WWII. THAT is what a severe head injury is all about. Things just don't always get straightened out, at least for a number of years. huh.gif




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