To Indy and Beyond


Dr. Bob L. Blackburn


Jack Zink is a legend in the world of car racing. As a driver for more than twenty years, he won stockcar races on dirt tracks, accumulated trophies in off-road dune buggies, and even set a flying mile speed record in a 1957 Pontiac he designed and built for the early NASCAR circuit. As a team leader, mechanic, and engineer, he pushed the limits of technology with his innovative designs for cars that were lighter, lower, and more powerful. Even his failures, such as the attempted use of a turbine engine in a car, opened new doors that others rushed through in the pursuit of speed and durability. Perhaps he is best remembered for his victories at the greatest track in the world, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the greatest race in the world, the Indianapolis 500. From 1950 to 1967, Jack walked shoulder to shoulder with the greatest team owners, mechanics, and drivers in racing history. Twice, his team won the coveted Borg Warner Trophy, in back-to-back Indy victories (1955 and 1956). But Jack was much more than a pioneer in car racing. He raced sailboats. He raced motorcycles. He also was a skilled engineer and businessman, ultimately building not one but two companies into international giants that still dominate the combustion industry with burners, flares, and incinerators that greatly reduce pollution. Even with all these accomplishments, Jack was most proud of his service to his community, especially the Zink Ranch, a 33,000-acre nature preserve in the Osage Hills of Oklahoma that will perpetually provide open space in an increasingly crowded and urban world. This biography weaves all of these stories into a portrait of Jack Zink. Along the way are the friends and family members who were part of the adventure, as well as the challenges and opportunities that drove him forward. Here is the story of one amazing man who lived by a simple code: “The man who wins is the man who tries.”