The late Gary Nixon, who died in 2011 following a heart attack at the age of 70, was one of the greatest racers of the modern era. What is particularly impressive is the fact that he raced with injuries and challenges that would have sidelined most strong men.
Here’s a look at some of Nixon’s ironman efforts from the drag strip to the dirt oval to the road racing track.
1. Born in Oklahoma, by the time he was 15 he was a local drag-racing champion. Gary weighed only 89 pounds at the time.
2. In the late 1960s and early 1970s he suffered several injuries. For three years he raced with an 18-inch stainless steel rod holding his left leg together.
3. The injuries forced Nixon to focus primarily on road racing. While that prevented him from winning another Grand National title, Nixon turned his infirmity into new opportunities. Nixon became known as one of the world's best pavement racers.
4. In 1976, he laid claim to the World Prize Formula 750 Road Racing title but was denied the championship after international politics cost him a victory, and ultimately the title, at the Venezuelan round of the series. His international success earned him the title of AMA Pro Athlete of the Year in its inaugural year.
5. Nixon hung up his racing leathers in 1979. During his 22 years of pro racing, he earned 19 AMA National victories and amassed over 150 Grand National finishes. His career spanned three decades and he competed as a factory rider for Triumph, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha.