May 03 2017
Rufus Parnell "Parnelli" Jones (born August 12, 1933 in Texarkana, AR) is most remembered for his accomplishments at the Indianapolis 500. Jones, his wife Judy and their two sons P. J. and Page moved to Torrance, CA. where he flourished.
His first major championship was the Midwest region Sprint car title in 1960. That title caught the attention of veteran race promoter J. C. Agajanian, who plucked Jones out of the Sprint Car series in 1960….put him in the # 98 Agajanian Special and won the Indianapolis 500. He was Indy 500 Rookie of the Year in 1961 and the first driver to qualify over 150 mph in 1962. He won the coveted trophy in dominating fashion the following year.
Jones said there was a special bond between he and Agajanian. “Aggie gave me my big break and mentored me for life outside of racing. He’d take me to buy real estate investments”, Jones said. Using some of the lessons he had learned from Agajanian, Jones became a team owner and won the Indy 500 in 1970, he owned several successful businesses including Parnelli Jones Inc., which operated 47 retail tire stores.
Jones honed his skills at Ascot Park and won numerous races there. He won in sports cars, sprint cars, midget cars, off-road cars, and stock cars. He accumulated six Indy Car victories, 12 pole positions, four NASCAR victories, 25 Midget car wins and 25 Sprint car victories. He won the Baja 500, the Baja 1,000, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and the Turkey Night Midget Grand Prix. He broke stock car speed records and piled up 8 races on his way to winning the USAC Dirt Car Crown. He has been inducted into several Halls of Fame and is currently the oldest living "Indy 500" winner.