Motorcycles. Stock cars. Indy cars. Griffith resident and owner of the Griffith Airport, Paul Goldsmith has raced them all — and won.
Born in West Virginia, moving to Detroit in his teens, Goldsmith found work in a Chrysler plant. With the money earned there, he bought his first motorcycle shortly after World War II, found he had the skills to be a competitive racer and the rest is racing history.
Goldsmith won five American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Nationals from 1952-1955, as well as the winning the ’53 Daytona 200, before moving onto stock cars in 1956 at the urging of a friend. For a number of years he raced Pontiacs, then moved on to Chryslers.
In the late 1950’s, Goldsmith teamed up with Griffith resident Ray Nichels, with Nichels building the cars and Goldsmith racing them. The two men later partnered in several successful automotive businesses.
Goldsmith’s racing career includes two USAC National stock car championships, finishing second in season points on two occasions. His 11-year NASCAR career consisted of 127 races, 9 victories, 8 poles, 44 top-fives and 59 top-10s.
He is one of the few men to ever compete in the Daytona 200, the Daytona 500, and the Indy 500 and the only racer who had ever won on the famed Daytona Beach course on a motorcycle and in a car.
Goldsmith retired from racing in 1969 and became an active businessman, including ownership in the Griffith-Merrillville Airport, and for a while was involved in yet another type of racing — horse racing.
Historical displays on both Paul Goldsmith and Ray Nichels are set up in the Griffith Historical Museum room in the lower level of Franklin Center. Paul will be visiting Franklin Center on September 1st from 5pm to 8pm.