Bob Burdick, perhaps Nebraska’s most storied and successful race car driver, died Thursday. He was 70 years old. Burdick won the 1961 Atlanta 500 in the Grand National Race, the equivalent of today’s Nextel Cup. It was considered a big upset on the national stage as Burdick drove the car of his father, Roy, besting a 46-car field on used tires. Burdick took home a check for $15,775 that day 46 years ago. It is still the only win for a Nebraska driver on NASCAR’s top circuit.
He would compete in 15 races from 1959 through 1962, winning the race in Atlanta and finishing in the top 10 nine times, earning a pair of poles along the way. His career earnings were just shy of $30,000. “That’s all he liked to do,” Bud Burdick, Bob’s uncle and racing partner, said Friday evening. “Racing was it.” Bob Burdick won 40 features in three years on the IMCA stock car circuit. The Burdicks would run two more NASCAR races in 1962 before ending their days on the circuit. Visitation will begin Sunday at 3:30 p.m. with a vigil service scheduled for 5 p.m. at St. John Vianney Catholic Church on 58th and Oak Hills Drive. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. on Monday at St. John Vianney.