Parnelli Jones, who was considered by many to be one of the greatest figures in American racing history, is no longer with us. He was ninety years old.

A Borg-Warner official with direct knowledge of the circumstances said that Jones died quietly at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Torrance, California, from natural causes while surrounded by his family.

With his victory in the 1963 Indianapolis 500, he holds the record as the oldest surviving winner of the event.

Jones was named after a local judge, Rufus Parnell, whom his mother had deeply liked. Jones was born on August 12, 1933, in Texarkana, Arkansas.

In Gardena, California, the town adjacent to Torrence where Jones had moved ten years earlier, he began racing jalopies at the age of seventeen. He required an alias to keep race authorities from finding out he was not eighteen, as was the legal age to compete. Even though he could pass for someone his own age, his buddy Billy Calder gave him the moniker "Parnellie," which he painted on the door of his old automobile.

Throughout the 1950s, Jones participated in a variety of racing classes to polish his abilities, including the West Coast late model division of NASCAR, where he won 15 races.

His first significant championship came in 1960 when he won the Midwest Sprint Car championship. And J.C. Agajanian happened to notice that.

1963 Indianapolis 500 Winner Jones Dies at 90

All of this culminated in a 1961 trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Jones and Bobby Marshman shared the title of 1961 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. He qualified sixth, led 27 laps, and placed 12th overall.

Jones made a comeback the next year, winning the Indianapolis 500 pole with a speed of 150.370 mph, making history as the first driver to qualify above 150 mph. He led 120 laps, but a brake problem ended his chances of winning, dropping him to sixth.

It took Jones until 1963 to make his breakthrough in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," when he finished on pole position and put on another strong performance that left no question about his dominance as he led 167 laps en way to victory. Later that year, he broke the speed record for a stock vehicle by winning the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in a Mercury Marauder manufactured by renowned fabricator Bill Stroppe.

Jones qualified in the first two rows of the next four Indianapolis 500s, which was rather impressive. When he drove the renowned STP-Paxton Turbo for Andy Granatelli in his last Indianapolis 500 start in 1967, he came the closest to winning the renowned race. After leading 171 laps, a broken bearing in the gearbox forced him to retire from the race with only three circuits remaining, finishing in sixth position.

In 1967, Jones started beginning in off-road racing and went on to win the Baha 1000 twice in a row in 1971 and 1972. 34 starts in the NASCAR Cup Series were made throughout his career, and he won four of them, the final one being at Riverside in 1967.

Together, he and Velko "Vel" Miletich founded Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing in 1969.

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With driver Al Unser Sr. leading 190 of 200 laps, the team went on to win the 1970 Indy 500. With an incredible ten victories that year, Unser also won the USAC championship. Unser and VPJ had another winning race in the Indianapolis 500 in 1971. 1971 and 1972 saw Joe Leonard, who drove for the team, win back-to-back USAC championships.

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Following a serious incident in the 1974 Baha 1000, Jones decided to give up full-time racing. But he was still going strong as a team owner, and at the conclusion of the year he signed Mario Andretti to try his hand at Formula 1.

The squad competed in 12 of 16 races in 1975, with Andretti besting himself with a fourth-place result in the Swedish Grand Prix. The next year, the team participated in only two races before Andretti joined Lotus for the balance of the season.

In off-road racing, Jones owned a team whose driver, Walker Evans, won the 1976 championship.

Jones has received recognition for his many accomplishments in the racing industry, as shown by his induction into many Halls of Fame, such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame (1985), the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame (1991), and the International racing Hall of Fame (1990).

Jones has gone from this life; he is left by his wife Judy, sons PJ and Page, and grandkids Jet, Moxie, Jagger, Jace, and Jimmy.