Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bill Jones’ Legacy
By Galen Kurth
with additional editing by Bart Stevens

Bill Jones was born in Jennings, Oklahoma July 25, 1923 and passed away in San Antonio Texas on March 14 2017.  As a boy, he lived with family friends Roy and Bernice Wilkerson, who ignited his life-long interest in motor sports. Roy worked on outboard-engine boats and midget race cars, and Bill learned the trade on the lakes and dirt tracks around Oklahoma.

During World War II, Bill served with the 349th Aviation Battalion, Army Air Corps, as a C-47 crew chief, dropping parachutists and supplies on numerous fronts in Europe and North Africa. He survived two crashes, but one knee was so badly damaged after a crash in Paris he had to be brought home for surgery before the war ended.
Bill Jones in front of his speed shop
Bart Stevens collection

Bill was drawn to Taft Stadium, a mecca of midget racing after the war. That eventually led him to Indianapolis, where he was first a mechanic in 1950 and 1951 for Oklahoma City business owner M.A. Walker's team, then in 1952 as crew chief for the Jack Zink team and driver Jimmy Reece. Returning home, he owned one of the first speed equipment shops in Oklahoma. He ventured into car building, creating a two seater sports car, the Sierra. Ten were eventually sold. Bill and local racer Bob Eichor also co-owned a short-lived drag strip which was washed away in a flood.

Race promoter Ray Lavely then hired Bill as his chief steward for races at Taft Stadium, then expanded his duties to become part of his promotional team at State Fair Speedway and Lakefront Speedway in Kansas City. General Motors offered Bill the position of Regional Sales Manager for Buick and after a time moved him up to the same position for Cadillac. One final move took him to San Antonio in 1960 to work for Intercontinental Motors, the Southwestern U.S. importers of Volkswagen and Porsche cars.

It was here that Bill became involved in SCCA Racing, as he campaigned a Porsche Speedster for several years on the SCCA circuit. Charles Urschel and Tom Slick, the owners of Intercontinental Motors, wanted to take a race car to the Indy 500, and this led Bill back to Indianapolis in 1964, again with Jack Zink, as a crew member for driver Jack Brabham

In the late 1960's Bill opened an auto dealership with VW and Porsche in south San Antonio. After many successful years Bill sold the dealership then he and son Bob opened Jones Autowerks, specializing in repairing and restoring classic Porsches. When San Antonio decided to stage a street race in 1986, featuring the high-powered sports cars of the International Motor Sports Association, it was only natural that Bill would be one of the primary organizers and a mainstay for the entire four years of the race's existence. .

Bill was a member of the Indianapolis 500 Oldtimer's Club and stayed close to his racing friends. In the early 1990's he helped organize an Oval Track Racers Reunion in San Antonio, bringing together his many friends from all aspects of auto racing. This annual event, still going strong, became a meeting place for active and retired racers, plus those interested in the restoration of old race cars. This was another area Bill excelled in, restoring many cars, working either with Bob or with business partner Jerry Weeks in Indianapolis.

Bill was described by one customer as “the most meticulous man I've ever met” and right up until his passing, he was sought out for advice and information on the correct way to restore or repair vintage cars and engines. Throughout his life, Bill received many honors for his accomplishments and contributions to one organization or another, but what he was proudest of was his family. Bill married Virginia Dubour in 1944 and they were truly a team until her passing in 2013. Bill Jones is survived by his daughter Marylou Morales of Dallas and son Bob Jones of San Antonio who remained the center of their parent’s lives no matter what else they were doing.

Bill Jones’  memorial service will be held on Tuesday March 28, 2017 at 2:00 pm at First Baptist Church of San Antonio located at  515 McCullough Avenue, San Antonio, TX 78215  Phone:(210) 226-0363