Updated: Dec 5, 2019
Rex Houston Mays, Jr. (March 10, 1913 – November 6, 1949) was an AAA Championship Car race driver and won two-time AAA championship titles. His first Indianapolis 500 was in 1934. Mays won the pole in 1935, 1936, and again in 1940 where he finished second. He returned the next year and finished second again. However, World War II suspended racing from 1942 to 1946, denying Mays of what likely would have been the peak of his career.
Mays, a Southern California local, was entered in the final AAA championship race of 1949, at the 100 miler at Del Mar’s horse track. Mays started in the front row with Jimmy Davis. A crowd of 14,000 watched as Davies immediately jumped into the lead with Mays right behind. On the 13th lap, Mays’ “Wolfe Special” caught a rut and flipped, throwing him from the car. Mays, adamantly refused to wear a seat belt, was thrown out onto the middle of the track. He was struck while he was lying on the ground by another racer. But, physicians later attributed his death to a broken neck, likely caused when he hit the ground head first. His tragic death was just over a year after that of fellow Hall of Fame driver