Racing Legend Parnelli Jones Dies June 4

Jerry Curry, Staff Writer

The world lost a race legend Tuesday, June 4, 2024.

Rugus Parnelli Jones passed away at 90 years old. He hailed from Torrence, California, where at one time he owned over 40 Firestone Tire Centers.

During the 60’s the high banks were proving grounds for future Indianapolis drivers. In 1960, 1961 and 1962, he won the USAC National Sprint Car Championship. Jones also won in other divisions and drove other car types.

He won  sprint car championships by challenging the high banks like Winchester and Salem Speedway. After his retirement he is often quoted as saying that running the high banks was the craziest thing he’d done.

Running the high banks at Salem Speedway,  he set a fast time on April 29, 1962. Also, in 1962 Parnelli was the first driver to break the 150-mile-per hour barrier in a front engine roadster at Indianapolis.

He when on to win the Indianapolis 500 in 1963 and almost won at the wheel of the STP Turbine in 1967. Jones was leading when a $6 bearing went out with three laps to go. A.J. Foyt went on to win this third Indy 500. That was Jones’ last Open Wheel run.

He continued in racing as a car owner. Jones had two sons to continue in the racing field, P.J. and Page.

He was the oldest living Indy 500 winner at the time of his recent death.


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