June 19, 2024
Industry News

Parnelli Jones, the oldest Indy 500 winner, passes away at 90

Parnelli Jones in 2012. (AP)

TORRANCE, Calif. — Parnelli Jones, the winner of the 1963 Indianapolis 500, passed away on Tuesday at Torrance Memorial Medical Center after battling Parkinson’s disease, as announced by his son. Jones was 90 years old.

Known as the oldest living winner of the “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” Jones was revered for his skill and finesse behind the wheel.

“Parnelli Jones was the greatest driver of his era,” his contemporary Mario Andretti once acclaimed. “He had aggressiveness and also a finesse that no one else possessed. And he won on everything he put his hands on.”

Rufus Parnell Jones was born in Texarkana, Arkansas, in 1933 but moved to Torrance as a young child, where he remained for the rest of his life. He adopted the name “Parnelli” to compete anonymously, a name that stuck with him throughout his illustrious career.

Parnelli Jones in the 1963 Indy 500. (AP)

In 1962, Jones made history by becoming the first driver at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to qualify at over 150 mph. He was the pole-sitter for the Indy 500 in 1962 and 1963, showcasing his exceptional racing prowess.

Throughout his career, Jones demonstrated his versatility by winning various races, including the Baja 1000 twice and a Trans-Am championship in a legendary 1970 Boss 302 Mustang. He also achieved success in NASCAR, USAC sprint cars, and midgets.

Jones is survived by his wife of nearly 57 years, Judy, sons PJ and Page, and six grandchildren. Both of Jones’ sons pursued professional racing careers, with PJ Jones participating in the Indianapolis 500 in 2004 and 2006, following in his father’s footsteps.

Parnelli Jones left a lasting legacy and was posthumously inducted into various Halls of Fame, honoring his contributions to the world of motorsports.

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AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing


Q: What was Parnelli Jones known for?

A: Parnelli Jones was known for his exceptional skills as a race car driver, winning the 1963 Indianapolis 500 and excelling in various racing disciplines.


Parnelli Jones will be remembered as a racing legend who pushed the boundaries of the sport and left an indelible mark on motorsports history. His legacy lives on through his achievements on the track and the impact he had on future generations of racers.

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