Pat Flaherty (1926-2002), whose real name was George Francis Flaherty Jr., was an American racing driver who recorded 18 starts in the AAA/USAC Champ Car races between 1950 and 1963, scoring three victories. Among those three wins, the greatest was a victory at 1956 Indianapolis 500.
In that time, the Indianapolis 500 was a part of the Formula One World Championship, staying in that status until 1960, so Flaherty also had six F1 participations and one F1 victory in his record.
Indianapolis 500 debut in 1950
Born in January 1926 in Glendale, California, Flaherty made his AAA Champ Car Series debut in 1949, driving Andy Granatelli's #43 Grancor V8 in a qualifying session for Indianapolis 500 but he failed to qualify for the race.
His race debut followed one year later, in May 1950, when he was driving Granatelli-Sabourin's #59 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser at Indianapolis 500. Starting 11th on the grid, he finished in the tenth place, three laps behind race winner Johnnie Parsons.
Pat Flaherty as a rookie at 1950 Indianapolis 500
One NASCAR attempt in 1951, return to Indy 500 in 1953
In 1951, Flaherty made his only NASCAR attempt, participating at Grand National race at Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit. Driving the #188 Oldsmobile for Charlie Padovich, he retired after just thirteen laps.
Flaherty returned to Indianapolis 500 in 1953, driving the #77 Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser for Peter Schmidt. He crashed out after 115 laps. Next year, he was sharing the #39 car with Jim Rathman as a relief driver. That year, Flaherty made another start in the AAA Champ Car Series, finishing 12th at Milwaukee.
Maiden Champ Car victory at Milwaukee Mile
In 1955, Flaherty scored his maiden Champ Car victory, winning the Milwaukee 250 race at Milwaukee Mile in August. He was driving the #89 Kurtis Kraft-Offy for Dunn Engineering, beating Tony Bettenhausen for his first victory.
Earlier that season, Flaherty finished third in June's race at Milwaukee Mile and tenth at Indianapolis 500, driving the #89 KK-Offy in both races.
Celebrating a victory at 1956 Indianapolis 500
Pole position and victory at 1956 Indianapolis 500
Pat Flaherty reached the top of his career in May 1956, winning the Indianapolis 500 in the #8 Watson-Offenhauser of John Zink. He started from pole and led for 127 laps before winning the race ahead of Sam Hanks.
In the next race, at Milwaukee Mile, Flaherty was a winner again in the #8 car. He participated in three more races before crashing out at Springfield's Illinois State Fairgrounds in August. That crash interrupted his season and he missed six races, finishing second in the championship standings behind Jimmy Bryan. If he didn't crash out at Springfield, he could be a champion.
Pat Flaherty was driving John Zink's Watson-Offy
One more Indianapolis 500 start in 1959
Flaherty was out of racing in 1957 and he returned in 1958, participating in the USAC Champ Car race at Milwaukee Mile. He also had one attempt in the USAC Stock Car Series.
In 1959, Flaherty participated in four USAC Champ Car races, including his last attempt at Indianapolis 500 where he crashed out in John Zink's #64 Watson-Offy. In other races, he was the best in the ninth place at Daytona International Speedway.
Flaherty made a one-off return to racing in 1963, driving the #71 Peterson-Chevrolet at Champ Car race at Milwaukee Mile. At the age 37, he closed his racing career.