The 103rd Indianapolis 500 event is scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 26, 2019, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana. The legendary event has been the premier event for American open wheel racing for decades with roots deeply imbedded in dirt track racing. To honor this heritage, we plan on counting down the top 20 dirt track racers that have won the Indianapolis 500.
We continue our countdown with #19 Bill Holland. The Philadelphia driver was involved in more than one odd race incidents, none more famous than his rookie race in the Indianapolis 500. Believing that he was a lap ahead of teammate Mauri Rose, Holland slowed down to let Rose pass him with only seven laps from the end of the race. Rose passed with a cheery wave and continued on to win the race. Holland finished second and reportedly never slowed down to let a competitor pass again.
In pure stats alone, Holland was an incredible dirt track racer having earned well over 40 Sprint Car features and over 150 podium finishes in his career. He finished second to Joie Chitwood in the AAA Eastern Sprint Car Championship in 1940 and won the title in 1941. Holland is also documented as the winner of the first auto race at Selinsgrove Speedway in 1946.
He raced every type of automobile without bias to type, and that cost him a year in the middle of his racing career. At the end of 1951, Holland was suspended from AAA Indy Car racing for a year because he had raced in a NASCAR charity event. Because NASCAR was a rival sanctioning body, The AAA’s rules against their driver’s participating in any races other than their own were enforced and Holland sat out a year. When he complained about the suspension in the media, he was awarded a second year suspension.
He was blacklisted from AAA competition until 1953. During the suspension, Holland ran in the IMCA Sprint Car series where he placed Seventh in 1951, and placed Third in 1952. Along the way he added in some NASCAR races. In 1953, the AAA sanctioning body allowed Holland back into the series where he ran his fifth and final Indy 500 race. After finishing Second place three times (1947, 1948, 1950) and winning once (1949), Holland retired on lap 177 with a broken cam gear, finishing in 15 place.
In 1959, at 51-years-old, Holland drove a Mercury-powered Sprint Car in the famed Little 500 in Anderson, Indiana, where he finished Seventh. He retired permanently soon after. After years of battling heath issues, he passed away in 1984 at 76 years of age in Tucson, Arizona. Holland was elected into the Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2005.