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  • Parnelli Jones

    Just finished the book As a Matter of Fact, I am Parnelli Jones. I thought it was very good. I was never really a Parnelli fan, my idol was Jim Clark, and after he died it was AJ. However I always recognized Parnelli was one of the fastest, ever. Good book, I recommend it.
    “Church supper with grandma and granddad, lets go out and have ourselves the best time we ever had" - John Mellencamp

  • #2
    PJ was the best! He got out at the right time. Sprint cars, dirt miles, then stock cars, off road, ... he was something else!
    "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved
    body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting
    "...holy $^!+...what a ride!"
    >

    Comment


    • #3
      I posted this in another thread, years ago, but it's worth reposting it here:
      Originally posted by JThur1 View Post
      Even though I was too young to comprehend some of it at the time, one of the greatest things I ever witnessed was Parnelli at the 1970 NASCAR Motor Trend 500 at Riverside. Parnelli set a new track record in qualifying, absolutely shattered it. NASCAR (which had just signed a deal with Goodyear) declared Parnelli's Firestones "illegal" as they weren't available to enough of the field (Parnelli and, IIRC, six of the West series drivers used them). Parnelli appealed and, as he was a Firestone distributor, said he could get enough tires to the track. Sure enough, truckloads of tires arrived in time for the race, but NASCAR stood firm and disallowed the times. Parnelli and the other drivers started at the back of the field. Parnelli started 35th. On lap 43, Parnelli took the lead. When he drove past the main grandstand to cross the start-finish line, Parnelli stuck his arm out the window and emphatically gestured toward the press box, where Bill France was. It's almost lost to history other than a slight comment in print that mentioned Parnelli let everyone know what position he was in
      A correction, it was 9 other Western drivers and Parnelli that were moved to the back. I forget how many cars Parnelli passed on lap 1. He put on a real charge through the field. In his book, Jack McCoy wrote how he tried to stay with Parnelli on the first lap, but watched in awe as he made his passes.
      "Versions of a story that are more tidy, compact, and camera-ready should generally be viewed as historically suspect." - Jackson Landers

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      • #4
        Foyt and Mario have always been my guys if you will, Panelli to an extent. The more I've learned about Parnelli the more I think that had he not used racing as a means to an end, he could have all the records. He was really that good. If Parnelli showed up to race somewhere everybody in the stands and pit area was watching him.

        Had he wanted to I think he could have contended for and won an F1 championship. Same with NASCAR.
        "For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children's future, and we are all mortal".

        John Kennedy at American University 1963

        "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power"

        A. Lincoln

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        • #5
          My story about Parnelli Jones is he was hitchhiking on 10th Street in Speedway the year before he raced in the Indy 500. We all knew about him and we anticipated his rookie year. I picked him up and dropped him off at a bar in Indianapolis on 10th street. I was in high school at the time. He invited us in for a drink but we refused being under age. He was my favorite driver at the time.
          Davydd (Anglicized Welsh name for David...that's all)
          Certified BPT Taster Pursuing Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches
          Long lost Speedway Sparkplug thrashing about in the deep woods of Minnesota

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          • #6
            His driving career (outside of desert racing) ended the year before I was born, so I learned all I know of it well after the fact. There wasn't much he ever tried that he wasn't capable of winning in, and doing so in very short order, so who knows what more he could have done. As far as Formula 1-there was a lot of prestige in F1 back then, but not as much actual money as one would think today. That was why you had so many top F1 drivers coming to Indy and the Can Am back then, because that's where the big prize money was. I think Foyt once said that he could have done Formula 1 if he had wanted to, but he didn't want to take the pay cut...Parnelli probably would have been in the same position.

            But I feel the same way about his retirement from circuit racing as I do about Jackie Stewart and Dan Gurney making the same decision at roughly the same time: I can't blame anyone who managed to survive that era for retiring young while they still could, especially in light of what happened to guys like Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt, etc. who died young even though still at the top of their game. There was no way to know back then that you could do like AJ, Mario and Petty eventually did and race into your 50s. (Even if, like AJ and Petty, you continued doing so long after it was obvious you had nothing left in the tank.)
            "Only a fool fights in a burning house."-Kang

            "If you listen to fools....The Maaahhhhb Ruuuules....."-Ronnie James Dio

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            • #7
              He's come to Alaska several times to go fishing with Todd Palin and Walker Evans and a couple of other buddies of mine. Hell of a good guy.

              He's 89, must be the oldest 500 winner left. Foyt is 87.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Sea Fury View Post
                His driving career (outside of desert racing) ended the year before I was born, so I learned all I know of it well after the fact. There wasn't much he ever tried that he wasn't capable of winning in, and doing so in very short order, so who knows what more he could have done. As far as Formula 1-there was a lot of prestige in F1 back then, but not as much actual money as one would think today. That was why you had so many top F1 drivers coming to Indy and the Can Am back then, because that's where the big prize money was. I think Foyt once said that he could have done Formula 1 if he had wanted to, but he didn't want to take the pay cut...Parnelli probably would have been in the same position.

                But I feel the same way about his retirement from circuit racing as I do about Jackie Stewart and Dan Gurney making the same decision at roughly the same time: I can't blame anyone who managed to survive that era for retiring young while they still could, especially in light of what happened to guys like Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt, etc. who died young even though still at the top of their game. There was no way to know back then that you could do like AJ, Mario and Petty eventually did and race into your 50s. (Even if, like AJ and Petty, you continued doing so long after it was obvious you had nothing left in the tank.) [sic]
                Parnelli Jones said he turned down two opportunities to have an F1 career: with Lotus and with Ferrari. Jones said he didn't want to be teamed with Jim Clark at Lotus because he thought he would end up playing second fiddle to the Scot. Jones believed there would be no one to fight his corner. Chris Amon said Jones turned down Ferrari overtures precipitated by Amon because Ferrari was too Machiavellian for Jones' tastes. Jones didn't think he could trust Ferrari. Jones said money was not an issue regarding any potential move to F1. Money did become as issue for Jones later in his career. Money was the reason Jones ceased driving in the Trans-Am. Jones said that when Trans-Am race promoters refused to pay the appearance fee he demanded, he quit the series in protest. Jones said he did Can-Am because of his obligations to Ford. Jones was considered to be a bull in a China shop in a Group 7 car, drawing the ire of many. Many international drivers appeared in the Can-Am because of tire company obligations, manufacturer obligations or because of an appearance fee was negotiated. Other international drivers declined to race in the Can-Am because the payout was based mainly on prize money, not start money. They argued that in real terms this would effectively result in a cut in income. Point fund money dropped significantly over the course of the Can-Am. Some drivers raced at Indy because of tire company obligations, manufacturer obligations or both.

                Can-Am was McLaren's primary program for many years, especially after the team signed with Goodyear. F1 ran second to Can-Am until McLaren made good on its commitment to Goodyear to enter USAC. F1 then fell to third on its job list. For Bruce McLaren personally, the Can-Am represented income. He did not get paid by McLaren, taking a piece of what the car earned to make his living. For many years, Ferrari, to name one, felt there was more prestige to be gained from Le Mans than from F1. F1 development at Ferrari was virtually non-existent until after Le Mans.

                A.J. Foyt was entered in two F1 races in the mid-1960s but the cars never showed. McLaren said Foyt later spoke to the team about driving for its full-time in F1. McLaren said that Foyt promised that he would get into good physical shape and that he would make F1 his priority, foregoing Indy. McLaren said it felt Foyt's promises were disingenuous. The amount of money Foyt sought from McLaren to do F1 reportedly was not an issue.

                Dan Gurney retired for a multitude of reasons, according to Gurney and to others. Reasons Gurney mentioned include his remarriage and because he felt AAR would fail without him if he acceded to McLaren's demands. Gurney considered McLaren's diktats disrespectful and insulting, according to the driver and to the team. Chrysler, race promoters (and even Gurney) also attributed Gurney's retirement to other factors. Gurney had developed a reputation of being a capricious partner.

                There were plenty of reasons to recognize that a driver in his 40s or 50s could flourish not only in Indy car or stock car racing but also be successful in F1 and in other series because it was not uncommon to see drivers of that age in those championships do well.​ Jack Brabham spoofed the idea that a person in his 40s was past his prime as an F1 driver in 1966.

                Jim Clark died in an F2 race he was compelled to enter, according to those involved. Jochen Rindt reneged on a Goodyear deal that would have returned him to Brabham for 1970 in order to remain with Firestone and Lotus. Rindt turned down a deal to form his own F1 team in association with Bernie Ecclestone and Robin Herd. Herd said the technical rudiments of that team ended up becoming March. The Austrian said he turned down a McLaren contract for '70.

                The view in the paddock was that some drivers were nutjobs. It wasn't a question of if nutjobs would die, but when.
                Last edited by editor; 11-05-2022, 07:40 AM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Oddy View Post
                  Just finished the book As a Matter of Fact, I am Parnelli Jones. I thought it was very good. I was never really a Parnelli fan, my idol was Jim Clark, and after he died it was AJ. However I always recognized Parnelli was one of the fastest, ever. Good book, I recommend it.
                  Hey Oddy, I have Neely's book "Parnelli" but I'm not sure if I've read "As a Matter of Fact...". I'll have to find it or buy it. I'm much like you, AJ was always my guy but Clark was revered in my family mostly for his Indy exploits as well as his prowess in other forms of racing. One of my favorite photos of Clark is him four wheel drifting a Cortina through Riches corner at Snetterton. That is why I hold Clark, Foyt, Andretti, Gurney, and Parnelli in such high esteem. They would race just about anything, anytime, anywhere, and almost always be the guy to beat.

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                  • #10
                    Go to Coastal 181 for the book
                    "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved
                    body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting
                    "...holy $^!+...what a ride!"
                    >

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Parnelli was the best, smoothe and cool.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jim Wilke View Post

                        He's 89, must be the oldest 500 winner left. Foyt is 87.
                        Yes

                        Live like Dave

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                        • #13
                          Parnelli imo was the greatest. He could have won 5 of the 7 500’s he ran. I know, coulda, woulda, shoulda, but he was always exciting to watch.

                          If he hadn’t step back from champ cars so early, A.J. and Mario may have a few less wins.

                          A.J. said Parnelli was one of the best on the dirt.

                          A.J. Watson said he was the best driver he ever saw, hands down.

                          "You just don't know what Indy Means", Al Unser Jr.

                          "That's why to me it does feel more precious when an American wins it...", Michael Andretti

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