Ruby raced in the USAC Championship Car series in the 1958 – 1977 seasons, with 177 career starts, including every Indianapolis 500 race from 1960 – 1977. He won 7 times and finished in the top 10 an amazing 88 times. His best Indy 500 finish was 3rd in 1964.
Ruby was a vital contributor to Ford’s endurance racing program, partnering with Ken Miles to win the 1965 Daytona 2000 km and 1966 24 Hours of Daytona in a Ford GT40 Mk II, the 1966 12 Hours of Sebring in the Ford X1 Roadster and the 1966 and 1968 World Sportscar Championship. Ruby also teamed with Denny Hulme in a Ford GT 40 Mk IV at the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans.
With all his accomplishments however, Ruby is best known for the race he didn’t win. His biography, written by Ted Buss in 2000, was titled: “Lloyd Ruby: The Greatest Driver Never to Win the Indy 500.”
Ruby raced in 18 straight Indianapolis 500s from 1960-77, led in five of them and was out front for 126 laps. But he never won open wheel racing’s most prestigious prize. Ruby’s best finish at Indianapolis was third in 1964. His only other top five finish at the 500 came in 1968. Five other times he placed in the top 10. In 1991, he was inducted into the Indianapolis 500 Hall of Fame.
Ruby had another strong chance at winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1969. With leader Mario Andretti suffering overheating problems and forced to nurse his car, Ruby was in strong position to score an upset victory. But at the end of a mid-race pit stop, a crew member motioned Ruby to exit a fraction of a second too early. The refueling nozzle was still engaged in the car’s left saddle tank, and as Ruby dropped the clutch, the car lurched forward and the nozzle ripped a hole in the gas tank. Andretti, the eventual winner, admitted later he could not have held Ruby off had the Texan remained in the race.
Ruby’s racing career was honored with the Bruton Smith Legends Award at the Texas Motor Sports Hall of Fame in Fort Worth in 2005. In 2008, he was inducted into the Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in Tulsa and also named co-recipient of the Louis Meyer Award along with Helio Castroneves at the Auto Racing Hall of Fame induction ceremony and special recognition dinner in Indianapolis.