A rare piece of Champ car history is currently being offered for sale via private treaty, by Christie’s Motor Cars. The 1968/70 Vel’s Parnelli Jones Lola-Colt racecar, known as the “Johnny Lightning Special,” is significant in that it helped carry Al Unser, Sr., to the 1970 USAC driving championship with a total of 12 wins, 19 podium finishes and 11 pole positions in its three-year USAC career.
Originally sold to George Bignotti as a 4-wheel drive car in 1968, this was the car that Al Unser scored his first Champ car win in at Indianapolis Raceway Park in July 1968. In 1969, the car was reconfigured as the Vel’s Parnelli Jones Ford Special, scoring victories at Milwaukee, Kent and Trenton. In 1970, the car was renamed the “Johnny Lightning Special,” as a result of sponsorship from Topper Toys, and carried Unser to four more victories and the 1970 USAC crown. According to Malcolm Welford of Christie’s, this is likely to be the only “Johnny Lightning Special” to come on the market because the other two are part of a private foundation. For more information call (310) 385-2699.