Going the Distance: These Senior Drivers Broke Records Behind the Wheel

Going the Distance: These Senior Drivers Broke Records Behind the Wheel

Johnny "Spider" Footman drove a yellow can in New York City until the age of 94!
Did You Know The Oldest Driver Ever Lived in Syracuse?
Kip Doyle

Safe driving is a big concern for many seniors, their friends, and their families. The changes that our bodies and minds go through in older age can impact or impair driving ability.

Our changing vehicles have influenced senior driving as well. A recent AAA study found that in-vehicle infotainment systems are especially distracting to older drivers.

Clearly, some older individuals face challenges when driving. But with age also comes experience and wisdom, two valuable traits for any driver.

The drivers listed here have used experience and wisdom to excel behind the wheel well into their senior years.


Phillip Gardner - California's Oldest Bus Driver

Phillip Gardner, 90, started driving a school bus in 1947. He's still a substitute driver today, even after retiring from full time work with the Yuba City Unified School District in 1994.

Gardner, a former licensed safety instructor, has been an example of responsible driving for three generations of riders. Many of his current rider's parents and grandparents have been Gardner's passengers.

“I went to college to be an elementary teacher and taught for one year,” Gardner told School Transportation News. “I decided that driving a school bus with kids on board for a half an hour was not as bad as being with them all day at school."


Morgan Shepherd - The Oldest Driver in NASCAR

At age 77, Morgan Shepherd still competes part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, making him the oldest NASCAR driver in the world. Shepherd's racing career began in 1967, with his Winston Cup Series debut coming in 1970.

Shepherd holds the record for second oldest race winner for coming in first at a race in Atlanta in 1993 when he was 53 years old. Today, Shepherd drives a Chevrolet Camaro for Shepherd Racing ventures, which he also owns.

"I have no desire to leave racing. I know we have potential as a team and I know that the potential is still there for Morgan Shepherd. I can still drive a race car and God blesses me well, I'm still a heck of a race car driver," Shepherd told MotorSport.com.


David Arnspiger - 88-Year-Old Uber Driver

In 2016, the Houston Chronicle published a feature on Uber driver David Arnspiger, an 88-year-old Marine Corps vet who enjoyed sharing stories from his life with passengers.

Arnspiger's military career was a source of material for his conversations (he earned a Purple Heart in the Korean), as well as his relationship former neighbor and church fellow with President George H.W. Bush, which even landed him a mention in Barbara Bush's memoir.

After coming out of retirement, Arnspiger started driving for Uber in 2014, putting in eight hour shifts most days of the week.

Johnny "Spider" Footman - New York City's Oldest Cabdriver

Johnny "Spider" Footman started driving a cab in 1945, continuing to drive until shortly before his passing  in 2013 at the age of 94. Celebrities like Rock Hudson and John Wayne sat in the back of Footman's car during his long career.

The New York Times reported that Footman was proud of his safety record, which was nearly spotless through nearly 70 years of driving professionally. He was also a recognizable character around New York, easy to spot with his big black spider pendant and baseball cap that said, "Old Dude made of Achey Breaky Parts!"


Fred Hale Sr. - The Oldest Driver in the World

At 113 years old, Fred Hale Sr. held the title of world's oldest man for eight months before passing away in Syracuse in 2004. Late in life, Hale would become the oldest driver in the world, when he renewed his driver's license at 104, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. He continued to drive until the age of 108!

A native of Maine, Hale was also the world's oldest Boston Red Sox fan. He was 27 when the Red Sox won the World Championship in 1918, and he lived to see them win it all again 86 years later in 2004.


These seniors show that people of all ages can be great drivers. AAA driving evaluations are a great way to test your driving skills with a professional driving instructor.


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