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HomeSportRacing world reacts to the passing of legend Parnelli Jones

Racing world reacts to the passing of legend Parnelli Jones

by News7

The condolences extend from every corner of motorsports, which is celebration of his versatility and the character of Jones for a life well lived.

Jones, who was born in Texarkana, Arkansas in 1933 but spent the majority of his life in Torrance, California, was 90 years old. He is survived by his wife Judy, sons PJ and Page, and grandchildren Jagger, Jace, Jimmy, Joie, Jet and Moxie.

A driving career that featured several accomplishments spanned from the 1963 Indy 500, victories in the NASCAR Cup Series and Baha 1000, Jones also a winner in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and a champion behind the wheel of a Sprint Car. He was also the first driver to break the 150mph mark in qualifying for the Indy 500, pushing to 150.370mph to take pole in the 1962 Indy 500.

Success also followed Jones as a team owner, with Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing scoring back-to-back wins in the Indy 500 with driver Al Unser Sr. in 1970 and 1971. VPJ also won the championship with Joe Leonard in 1971 and 1972. There was even an attempt at Formula 1, with Mario Andretti pushing the team to a best finish of fourth in the Swedish Grand Prix in 1975.

Mario Andretti, Parnelli VPJ4 Ford

Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch / Motorsport Images

Below are some of the comments, statements and tributes from across the motorsports world in reaction to the passing of the man simply known as Parnelli.

“The racing world has lost a great competitor and a true champion. Parnelli Jones was one of the most accomplished racers in history, and his determination and will to win made him one of the toughest competitors I have ever seen. From racing against him on track to competing against him as a fellow team owner, I always respected Parnelli’s passion and commitment to the sport he loved. I was proud to call Parnelli a good friend for many years, and our thoughts are with his family as we remember one of the true legends of motorsports.”

– Roger Penske, owner of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Team Penske

“In over 115 years of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, there have been many iconic moments and a handful of iconic drivers. Parnelli Jones was a total icon, both for his driving skill and the magical moments he created in the Indianapolis 500. He will always be known for his speed, talent and fearless approach, and for his personal demeanor and character. The first to officially break 150 mph at Indy, he also will be remembered for driving the famed STP turbine to near-victory in 1967 and as the winning Indy 500 owner in 1970 and 1971. His fingerprints on our sport go well beyond the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A winner in virtually everything on wheels including USAC, NASCAR and off-road racing, he is truly one of the most versatile competitors the sport has ever seen. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

– J. Douglas Boles, President of Indianapolis Motor Speedway

“We lost a giant in the racing world today. Parnelli was one of the greatest and most versatile drivers to ever compete on race circuits around the world. He was very instrumental in the success of our Long Beach event from the very first race here in 1975. He was always very supportive and was one of the distinguished inductees to the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Judy and his family at this time.”

– Jim Michaelian, President & CEO of the the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach

“Parnelli will forever be one of the best we have ever seen behind the wheel. It didn’t matter what he drove, he was fast! He will be missed as a friend and a true legend. My thoughts and well wishes go out to the Jones family and all the people Rufus impacted in his amazing life. Stay on the gas my friend.”

– Dave Allen, NASCAR, West Region President

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