Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing

Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing, commonly referred to simply as Parnelli or VPJ, was a motor racing constructor and team from the United States. The team was formed in 1969 by former USAC racer Parnelli Jones and his business partner Velko "Vel" Miletich. Parnelli was initially solely concerned with USAC racing, where success came quickly; their driver Al Unser won the Indianapolis 500 race in 1970, driving a VPJ Colt, after leading 190 of the 200 racing laps. Unser went on to win the USAC championship. Unser repeated the Indy 500 win in 1971 with a nearly identical Colt, ending the season in fourth place in the USAC drivers points while teammate Joe Leonard won the championship.

Parnelli Jones Racing
Full nameVel's Parnelli Jones Racing
Founder(s)Parnelli Jones
Velko Miletich
Noted driversUnited States Mario Andretti
United States Al Unser
United States Joe Leonard
Formula One World Championship career
First entry1974 Canadian Grand Prix
Races entered16 [1]
0 (best finish: 10th, 1975)
Race victories0 (best finish: 4th, 1975 Swedish Grand Prix)
Pole positions0 (best grid position: 3rd, 1974 United States Grand Prix)
Fastest laps1
Final entry1976 United States Grand Prix West


Parnelli secured the services of ex-Team Lotus designer Maurice Philippe and driver Mario Andretti for USAC racing in the early 1970s, and in 1974 decided to move into Formula One racing, with financial support from tire manufacturer Firestone. After a brief foray into Formula One at the end of the 1974 season, Vel's Parnelli Jones mounted a full campaign in 1975. Their Parnelli VPJ4 car owed much to Philippe's Lotus 72 design. It appeared for the North American races at the end of the 1974 season and was gradually developed through 1975. However, Firestone's decision to quit racing at the end of 1974 meant that a major partner was lost. Jones was unable to find a replacement title sponsor and despite improvements made to the car the team folded only three races into the 1976 season. Andretti only learned of the Formula One team's future from journalist Chris Economaki, as he sat in the car on the grid for the Long Beach Grand Prix. This led to some bad feeling between Andretti and Jones, and Andretti returned to Lotus for the remainder of the season. In total, Vel's Parnelli Jones participated in 16 Grands Prix and scored 6 championship points.

Concurrent with the Formula One venture, VPJ was developing a turbocharged version of Cosworth's legendary DFV V8 Formula One engine, building on their experience from the previous two years. It was developed at their facility in Torrance, California, under the direction of engine builder Larry Slutter and dyno engineer "Chickie" Hirashima. The car debuted at the Speedway in 1975 in a modified Indy version of the Formula One Parnelli chassis, although it was not run regularly until late in 1976. This private project was quickly adopted by Cosworth itself, and the Parnelli engine evolved into the equally legendary Cosworth DFX, an engine which would go on to win every Indianapolis 500 race and USAC/CART Championship between 1978 and 1987.

IndyCar champions

Year Champion Wins Chassis Engine Tires
1970 United States Al Unser 10 Colt,
Ford Firestone
1971 United States Joe Leonard 1 Colt 70,
Colt 71
Ford Firestone
1972 United States Joe Leonard (2) 3 Parnelli VPJ-1 Offenhauser Firestone

Indianapolis 500 victories

Year Champion Chassis Engine Tires
1970 United States Al Unser Colt 70 Ford Firestone
1971 United States Al Unser (2) Colt 71 Ford Firestone

Complete Formula One results

(key) (results in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Chassis Engine Tires Drivers No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Points WCC
United States Mario Andretti 55 7 DSQ
1975 Parnelli VPJ4 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 F
United States Mario Andretti 27 Ret 7 17 Ret Ret 4 5 12 10 Ret Ret Ret
United States Mario Andretti 27 6 Ret


  1. ^ "Parnelli's results at". Formula One Results. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  • Lyons, P. 2007. Keeping up with the Jones. Motor Sport. LXXXIII/1 (January 2007), 52-59

External links

1969 Indianapolis 500

The 53rd International 500 Mile Sweepstakes was an auto race held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana on Friday, May 30, 1969. It was the third round of the 1969 USAC Championship Car season. Polesitter A. J. Foyt led the race in the early stages, looking to become the first four-time winner of the 500. Near the halfway point, however, a lengthy pit stop to repair a broken manifold put him many laps down. Despite a hard-charging run towards the end, he wound up managing only an eighth place finish, 19 laps down. Lloyd Ruby, a driver with a hard-luck reputation at the Speedway, was leading the race just after the midpoint. During a pit stop, he pulled away with the fueling hose still attached. He ripped a hole in the fuel tank, and was out of the race. The incident put Mario Andretti in the lead for rest of the way.

Mario Andretti led 116 laps total and won for car owner Andy Granatelli. With Andretti's finish time of 3:11:14.71, it was the fastest run Indianapolis 500 up to that date, breaking the previous record by nearly five minutes. Andretti's victory capped off an up-and-down month of May. He entered the month as a favorite, but he crashed his primary car during practice. Andretti suffered burns but was able to qualify in a back up car for the middle of the front row. Mario Andretti's 1969 Indy 500 win is the lone victory in the race for the storied Andretti racing family. As of 2018, no Andretti has won the Indianapolis 500 since. Likewise, it was a triumphant victory for owner Granatelli, after a long presence at Indianapolis - and a long string of disappointments, first with Novis, and then with the Turbines.

For 1969 not a single front-engined car managed to qualify for the race, and ultimately, one would never do so again. All 33 cars in the field were rear-engined, piston-powered, machines. After the historic failures of the controversial STP Granatelli Turbine machines in 1967 and 1968, USAC imposed additional restrictions that effectively rendered them uncompetitive. The annulus inlet was further reduced from 15.999 in² to 11.999 in², and the Granatelli team parked them forever.

While Foyt and Andretti qualified 1st-2nd, the most notable story from time trials was the plight of Leon Duray "Jigger" Sirois, whose pit crew waved off his run on pole day. It would go down in history as one of the most famous gaffes in Indy history.

After five drivers were killed at the Speedway in the decade of the 1960s, the month of May 1969 was run relatively clean, with no major injuries. The only injuries for the month were during two practice crashes. Mario Andretti suffered burns to his face, and Sammy Sessions, who suffered a fractured knee cap. Al Unser, Sr. actually suffered the most serious injury of the month, when he crashed his personal motorcycle in the infield. He suffered a broken leg the night before time trials was to begin, and had to sit out the race. Bud Tingelstad served as his replacement in the Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing entry.

The car in which Andretti won the 1969 Indy 500 is owned by the Smithsonian, while a replica made from the original blueprints sits on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.

1972 USAC Championship Car season

The 1972 USAC Championship Car season consisted of ten races, beginning in Avondale, Arizona on March 18 and concluding at the same location on November 4. The USAC National Champion was Joe Leonard and the Indianapolis 500 winner was Mark Donohue. Jim Malloy was killed at Indianapolis in practice; he was 40 years old.

After sponsoring the USAC Championship Trail in 1970-1971, Marlboro dropped out of the sport for 1972. After only two seasons as title sponsor, the company became angered when rival Viceroy was signed on to sponsor Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing, at the time dubbed the "super team" of the series. Without any exclusivity clause, managers at Marlboro deemed the situation "impractical and untenable," and abruptly quit. Marlboro would not return to Indy car racing until 1986.

1975 Long Beach Grand Prix

The 1975 Long Beach Grand Prix was the inaugural running of the Grand Prix of Long Beach. The race was held September 28, 1975, on a 2.02-mile (3.25 km) temporary street circuit. It was race 7 of the 1975 SCCA/USAC Formula 5000 Championship. An estimated 65,000 spectators saw Englishman Brian Redman win the race from Australian Vern Schuppan, with Canadian driver Eppie Wietzes finishing third.

ABC Supply 500

The ABC Supply 500 is an IndyCar Series race held at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, located in the Pocono Mountains. The first Indy car race at Pocono was held in 1971. The race was sanctioned by USAC from 1971–1981, and then by CART from 1982–1989, and was known as the Pocono 500. The race was removed from the CART calendar following the 1989 running, due to poor track conditions, as well as poor revenue for the promoter.

After a 23-year hiatus, the event was successfully revived by the IndyCar Series in 2013. Following management changes at the facility, and after comprehensive safety improvements were completed at the track, the race was scheduled for Independence Day weekend. For 2013, the race was scheduled for 400 miles, and was part of the series' Triple Crown. For 2014, the race returned to its traditional 500-mile distance, and it is now scheduled in mid-to-late August.

The 2014 race, won by Juan Pablo Montoya, stands as the fastest 500-mile race in Indy car racing history. At an average speed of 202.402 mph (325.734 km/h), it was the first 500-mile race to be completed in under 2 hours and 30 minutes.

ABC Supply Wisconsin 250

The ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers was a IndyCar Series race held at the Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin.

Al Unser

Alfred "Al" Unser (born May 29, 1939) is an American automobile racing driver, the younger brother of fellow racing drivers Jerry and Bobby Unser, and father of Al Unser Jr. Now retired, he is the second of three men to have won the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race four times, the fourth of five to have won the race in consecutive years, and won the National Championship in 1970, 1983, and 1985. The Unser family has won the Indy 500 a record nine times. He is the only person to have both a sibling (Bobby) and child (Al Jr.) as fellow Indy 500 winners (coincidentally, all three captured their final Indy 500 wins racing for Team Penske). Al's nephews Johnny and Robby Unser have also competed in that race.

After his son Al Jr. joined the top circuit in 1983, Unser has generally been known by the retronymic name of "Al Unser Sr." or "Big Al."

Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix

The Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix was an IndyCar Series race held at the ISM Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Open wheel racing in the Phoenix area dates back to 1915 on a dirt oval at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. The race was revived in 1950 by the AAA, and then passed to the United States Auto Club in 1956. USAC moved the race to the newly built Phoenix International Raceway in 1964. The race became a CART event in 1979, and joined the Indy Racing League in 1996. It was held continuously through 2005.

After a hiatus of eleven years, the race was revived by the IndyCar Series in 2016. It was held on Saturday night under the lights. Long considered a popular Indy car track, Phoenix has a rich history of open wheel races, including a spectacular crash involving Johnny Rutherford (1980), and the final career victory for Indy legend Mario Andretti (1993).

Illinois State Fairgrounds Racetrack

Illinois State Fairgrounds Racetrack is a one mile long clay oval motor racetrack on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, the state capital. Constructed in the late 19th century and reconstructed in 1927, the "Springfield Mile" as it is known has hosted competitive auto racing since 1910, making it one of the oldest speedways in the United States. It is the oldest track to continually host national championship dirt track racing, holding its first national championship race in 1934 under the American Automobile Association banner. It is the home of five world records for automobile racing, making it one of the fastest dirt tracks in the world. Since 1993, the venue is managed by Bob Sargent's Track Enterprises.

The Illinois State Fair mile currently hosts the Allen Crowe Memorial 100 ARCA stock car race, USAC Silver Crown championship dirt cars, UMP Late Models and Modifieds and the A.M.A. Grand National Championship.

Billy Winn won the first national championship dirt track race held at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in 1934. A.J. Foyt ran his first national championship race there in August 1957. The track is host to two of the older memorial events in the United States, the Bettenhausen 100 for the USAC dirt championship cars, first run in 1961 and the Allen Crowe Memorial 100 stock car event for USAC, now ARCA, stock cars, first held in 1963. Both races are now held on the last weekend of the Illinois State Fair. Chuck Gurney is the only seven-time winner of the Bettenhausen 100, while ARCA driver Frank Kimmel won the Allen Crowe Memorial for the seventh time in 2008.

The Bettenhausen 100 was part of the AAA/USAC Championship Car schedule from 1934 to 1940, 1947 to 1970 and again in 1981 and 1982.

From 1946 to 1953, the A.M.A. Grand National Champion was crowned based solely on the results of the Springfield Mile held at the fairground racetrack.

Jim Malloy

James Malloy (May 23, 1932 – May 18, 1972), was an American racecar driver.

Born in Columbus, Nebraska, Malloy's family moved to Englewood, Colorado, where he attended grade school and high school. Malloy lettered in football and baseball in high school. He attended Colorado State University for two years.

Joe Leonard

Joe Leonard (August 4, 1932 San Diego, California – April 27, 2017 San Jose, California) was an American professional motorcycle racer and racecar driver.

John Barnard

John Barnard (born 4 May 1946, Wembley, London) is a race car designer and is working with Terence Woodgate designing high specification carbon fibre furniture. Barnard is credited with the introduction of two new designs into Formula 1: the carbon fibre composite chassis first seen in 1981 with McLaren, and the semi-automatic gearbox which he introduced with Ferrari in 1989.

List of American open-wheel racing national champions

Various organization have awarded a season-long, points-based National Championship of open-wheel racing in the United States, first in 1905, and consistently since 1946. As of 2018, the top-level American open wheel racing championship is the IndyCar Series.

Lola T332

The Lola T332 was a race car designed and built by Lola Cars for use in Formula 5000 racing and made its racing debut in 1973. The T332 was successful around the globe with race victories in places such as Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the United States. The Lola commonly used the 5.0-litre Chevrolet V8 engine, though some competitors in Australia and New Zealand used the slightly cheaper and less powerful Australian made 5.0-litre Repco Holden V8.

Lola T400

After the great success of the T332 in the 1974 Formula 5000 season (18 out of 21 top 3 finishes in the US), much was expected of the new high-tech Lola T400. Described by development driver Frank Gardner as "the most sophisticated Formula 5000 to be built so far", the T400 was a completely new design, strikingly different to its T300, T330 and T332 predecessors.

Mario Andretti

Mario Gabriele Andretti (born February 28, 1940) is an Italian-born American former racing driver, one of the most successful Americans in the history of the sport. He is one of only two drivers to have won races in Formula One, IndyCar, World Sportscar Championship, and NASCAR (the other being Dan Gurney). He also won races in midget cars and sprint cars.During his career, Andretti won the 1978 Formula One World Championship, four IndyCar titles (three under USAC-sanctioning, one under CART), and IROC VI. To date, he remains the only driver ever to win the Indianapolis 500 (1969), Daytona 500 (1967) and the Formula One World Championship, and, along with Juan Pablo Montoya, the only driver to have won a race in the NASCAR Cup Series, Formula One, and an Indianapolis 500. No American has won a Formula One race since Andretti's victory at the 1978 Dutch Grand Prix. Andretti had 109 career wins on major circuits.Andretti had a long career in racing. He was the only person to be named United States Driver of the Year in three decades (1967, 1978, and 1984). He was also one of only three drivers to have won major races on road courses, paved ovals, and dirt tracks in one season, a feat that he accomplished four times. With his final IndyCar win in April 1993, Andretti became the first driver to have won IndyCar races in four different decades and the first to win automobile races of any kind in five.In American popular culture, his name has become synonymous with speed, as with Barney Oldfield in the early twentieth century and Stirling Moss in the United Kingdom.

Parnelli Jones

Rufus Parnell "Parnelli" Jones (born August 12, 1933) is an American former professional racing driver and racing team owner. He is notable for his accomplishments while competing in the Indianapolis 500 and the Baja 1000 desert race. In 1962, he became the first driver to qualify over 150 mph. He won the race in 1963, then famously broke down while leading the 1967 race with three laps to go in a turbine car. During his career as an owner, he won the Indy 500 in 1970–1971 with driver Al Unser, Sr.

Jones won races in many types of vehicles: sports cars, IndyCars, sprint cars, midget cars, off-road vehicles, and stock cars. He is also remembered for bringing the stock block engine to USAC Sprint car racing as one of the "Chevy Twins" with Jim Hurtubise. He is associated with the famous Boss 302 Mustang with his wins using the engine in the 1970s. Jones' son P. J. Jones was also a diverse driver, with IndyCar and NASCAR starts and a championship in IMSA prototype sports cars. His other son Page Jones was an up-and-coming driver before suffering career ending (and life-threatening) injuries in a sprint car at the 4-Crown Nationals, and has been in rehabilitation, working with his father-in-law. Following the death of 1960 Indianapolis 500 winner Jim Rathmann, Jones is now the oldest living "500" winner.

Parnelli VPJ4

The Parnelli VPJ4 was a Formula One racing car designed by Maurice Philippe, and used by Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing during the 1974, 1975 and 1976 Formula One seasons.

Trenton 150

The Trenton 150 was an American Championship Car race held at Trenton International Speedway from 1946 until 1979. In most years, two races were held: one in April, and one in September. Race lengths varied between 100, 150, 200, or 300 miles. The first four editions were held on a dirt track.

Viceroy (cigarette)

Viceroy is an American brand of cigarettes, currently owned and manufactured by R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in the United States and British American Tobacco outside of the United States.

United States Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing in Formula One
2019 season


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