Racing Legend Parnelli Jones Passes Away at 90

Parnelli Jones
Parnelli Jones

The motorsport world mourns the loss of one of its greatest icons, Parnelli Jones, who passed away at the age of 90. Known for his fearless driving and pioneering spirit, Jones left an indelible mark on American racing history.

Parnelli Jones, whose real name was Rufus Parnell Jones, was renowned for his versatility and success across various racing disciplines. He was most famous for his 1963 victory at the Indianapolis 500, where he became the first driver to break the 150 mph barrier during qualifying. This victory solidified his legacy as one of the sport’s most daring and skilled drivers.

Roger Penske, a prominent figure in motorsports, reflected on Jones’s impact, saying, “Parnelli was a true legend in every sense of the word. His achievements on and off the track have inspired generations of racers and fans alike. We have lost a great friend and an iconic figure in our sport.”

Jones’s career spanned multiple racing series, including USAC, NASCAR, and off-road racing. He was known for his adaptability and determination, qualities that earned him victories and accolades throughout his career. His contributions to the sport extended beyond his driving days, as he played a significant role in car development and team ownership.

Reflecting on his illustrious career, Jones once said, “Racing was my life, and I gave it everything I had. The thrill of competing and the camaraderie of the racing community were what drove me. I’m grateful for the opportunities I had and the people I met along the way.”

Jones’s influence extended beyond the track. He was a mentor to many young drivers and a beloved figure in the racing community. His legacy is carried forward by those he inspired, and his impact on the sport remains immeasurable.

INDYCAR President Jay Frye paid tribute to Jones, stating, “Parnelli Jones was a pioneer who broke barriers and set new standards in racing. His fearless approach and incredible talent made him a legend. We are forever grateful for his contributions to our sport.”

Jones’s achievements include not only his Indianapolis 500 victory but also wins in the Baja 1000, NASCAR, and multiple USAC championships. His versatility and success across different forms of racing made him a unique and respected figure in motorsports.

As the racing world comes to terms with the loss of Parnelli Jones, his legacy will continue to inspire future generations. He will be remembered not only for his achievements on the track but also for his dedication to the sport and the impact he had on the racing community.

Jones is survived by his family, who have requested privacy during this difficult time. The racing community extends its deepest condolences to the Jones family and honors the memory of a true racing legend.

Roger Penske

“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.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles

“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.”

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