Born May 26, 1906, in Columbus, Ohio, Mauri Rose started his career on the board tracks in Pennsylvania. Rose knew that racing for a living was difficult, so he got an engineering degree and worked as such during the off-season.
In a career riddled with controversy, Rose’s debut at Indianapolis in 1933 was just that, although not of his doing. On race day, speedway management ruled Howard Wilcox ineligible because he was a diabetic. Fellow drivers stood on the track in protest, but the officials would not relent. Though a rookie, Rose was tabbed to drive the Wilcox entry, but it soon fell out of the 500.
The following year, Rose led 68 laps and finished second, launching a long and successful career at Indianapolis.
With four top-10 finishes in his first eight starts, Rose joined forces with 1938 winning owner Lou Moore for 1941. Moore bought a new Maserati, similar to the car Wilbur Shaw had won with the past two years. Rose won the pole, but dropped out after 60 laps. Moore, not wanting his driver in a rival team’s car, pulled his second car, driven by Floyd Davis, in on the 77th lap. Davis was 14th, two laps down.
Rose made one of the greatest charges in speedway history, making up two laps and taking the lead with 39 laps remaining. He became only the second relief driver to win the race.
With the 500 resuming in 1946 after the four-year hiatus for World War II, Rose was an Indy-only driver. He started ninth, but crashed on lap 73.
For 1947, Moore had Emil Deidt build two low-slung front-wheel drive machines built especially for Indianapolis, a precursor to the roadsters. Rose’s teammate was 40-year-old Eastern leadfoot Bill Holland.
Holland held a commanding lead when Moore signaled his drivers to conserve fuel. Holland slowed, but Rose continued to charge, passing Holland for the lead on lap 193 en route to his second Indianapolis triumph.
Rose romped to his third Indy victory in 1948, with Holland again finishing second.
Holland finally won the race the next year, with Rose dropping out late in the race and quitting the team.
For 1950, Rose teamed up with owner Howard Keck and finished third in a rain-shortened event.
The following year, Rose started fifth, but blew a tire and crashed on lap 126, rolling his car several times. He retired from racing.
Rose worked as an engineer for GM and when Chevrolet introduced its V-8 in 1955, Rose was part of its racing division. His proudest achievement was designing components so handicapped people could drive passenger cars. He retired to Warren, Mich., where he died on New Year’s Day in 1981.