This year marks the 50th anniversary of Parnelli Jones’ 1963 Indianapolis 500 victory. That win, from pole position, turned out to be his only one although at least three others slipped from his grasp through various misfortunes. In his rookie year of 1961, he was leading when debris opened a cut on his brow, yet he continued to lead until his engine lost power and he fell to 12th. In ’62 he cracked Indy’s fabled 150 mph barrier to take pole position and led 130 laps, but a brake line failed and dropped him to 7th at the finish. In ’64, he and A.J. Foyt were dueling out front in their roadsters after the early rear-engine challenge faded, when a pit stop fire took him out, leaving Foyt to win. He ruled the ’67 race in Andy Granatelli’s revolutionary STP Turbine car, only for it to fail in sight of the checkered flag. Later he became the first to win the 500 as both driver and car owner, and his team created the Cosworth DFX, one of the most successful engines in Indycar history. VR Associate Editor John Zimmermann recently sat down with Jones to discuss his experiences at Indy and beyond.
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