Longtime racer Bob Nagel has died at the age of 91. Nagel competed regularly as a privateer for more than 20 years in Can-Am (both iterations), Formula 5000 and USRRC, with occasional appearances in both the SCCA Trans-Am and IMSA’s GT and GTP categories.
Nagel began racing in 1962 with an Austin-Healey Sprite before moving up to a Cobra. Alternating between both cars in ’64 he enjoyed victories with both, then acquired an Elva MkVIII-BMW for ’65 when he tackled the USRRC. The Elva was replaced with a McKee Mk7-Chevy for ’67 as he moved into the original Can-Am with a trio of Chevy-powered Lolas of T70, T222 (above) and T260 configuration, as well as a Lola T332-Chevy in Formula 5000 and the single-seat Can-Am. His last competitive appearances came in 1988 behind the wheel of a turbocharged Buick-powered March 84G.
Professionally, his best recorded finish is a runner-up placing with the McKee, co-driving with Ed Lowther in the 1967 Road America 500 USRRC round at Elkhart Lake and finishing behind only the victorious Carl Haas-entered Lola of Skip Scott and Chuck Parsons. Beyond that he scored a podium finish (3rd) in the Mosport Can-Am in 1973 and registered a quartet of 4th–place finishes during the Can-Am’s final 1974 season. As an amateur he also claimed an SCCA National Championship in A Sports Racing at the 1973 Runoffs with his T260, and was runner-up the following year. In 1975 he tried to qualify for the 500 at Indianapolis, but failed to achieve the necessary speed.
Minnesota-born Nagel joined the Marines out of High School in 1942 and served in the Pacific theater until war’s end. He then attended Chaffee College before joining Westinghouse Electric as a mechanic and co-pilot, eventually becoming Chief Pilot and Director of Corporate Aircraft. He logged more that three million air miles without incident.
Upon his retirement from Westinghouse at age 80, Nagel and his wife Judy moved to Florida where he took up sailboat racing and polished his golf game. He is survived by wife Judy, their six children, 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, to all of whom, as well as his many friends in the sport, Vintage Racecar extends its deepest sympathies.