Gary Buckner, a member of Marlboro Team Penske since 1993, passed away unexpectedly on Friday, March 8 in Reading, PA. Buckner was born October 18, 1958 in Fort Walton, Florida, and grew up in England. He began his career in racing in 1981 when...
Gary Buckner, a member of Marlboro Team Penske since 1993, passed away unexpectedly on Friday, March 8 in Reading, PA.
Buckner was born October 18, 1958 in Fort Walton, Florida, and grew up in England. He began his career in racing in 1981 when he took a position in the fabrication department of Reynard Racing Cars Ltd. From there, he would go on to work for Vince Granatelli Racing and Hall-VDS Racing prior to coming to Marlboro Team Penske.
Buckner began his career with Marlboro Team Penske at the end of the 1993 season in the fabrication department. He eventually became the fabrication manager for Penske Racing in Reading, PA, where he oversaw all aspects of the Team's fabrication department. Buckner also organized and contributed to the construction of all of the Team's pit equipment.
In addition to his fabrication duties, Buckner was the tire man for Two-Time National Champion Gil de Ferran and served as the outside rear tire changer on de Ferran's pit crew.
Prior to his work on de Ferran's crew, Buckner was on the pit crew for Two-Time Indianapolis 500 winner and Two-Time Formula One World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi and Two-Time Indianapolis 500 winner and Two-Time National Champion Al Unser, Jr. Buckner was with Marlboro Team Penske for 31 race wins, including two Indianapolis 500 victories and three National Championships.
Aside from his career in auto racing, Buckner also had his pilot's license for single engine planes and was trained as a glider sun-flight instructor.
Buckner also had a passion for fishing and enjoyed the opportunity to sneak away from the track and relax.
Buckner, is survived by his wife Kristen Edmonds Buckner, his three children Russell D. Buckner, Ryan C. Buckner and Megan E. Buckner, and by his father James R. Buckner.
A memorial service for Buckner will take place on Tuesday, March 12th at the Calvary Bible Fellowship Church in Sinking Springs, PA. Funeral Services will be held on Friday, March 15 at 10:30 am at Losantville Separate Baptist Church in Losantville, IN. Contributions may be made to the "Buckner Children Trust Fund" c/o First Union Bank, Green Hills Branch, 101 Love Road, Reading, PA 19607.
"It was a true pleasure to know and work with Gary, he was a first-class individual," said Roger S. Penske. "First and foremost, Gary was a devoted family man to his wife and three children. He was an inspiration on the track as well, always displaying the utmost dedication to his Team and the sport of auto racing. He was with us for our record season in 1994 and he hung in through the lean years and helped us get back on top in 2000 and 2001. I will always think of Gary as a true Champion in every respect. I'm thankful racing brought him into our lives to share our time together."
"Above all, Gary was a person I liked very much," said Gil de Ferran. "He was one guy that was absolutely imperative to the success of our Team. Not only because he worked hard himself, but his attitude was second to none and very contagious. He was a fierce competitor and always pushed everyone on the Team to work to the best of their ability. It was a joy to work with Gary, he was just a nice guy."
"Gary was a big part of our Team and his presence will be truly missed," said Tim Cindric, President of Penske Racing. "He wasn't just a Penske employee he was a Racer at heart."
Team To Honor Buckner At Phoenix
Plans are currently underway for the Team to honor Buckner at this weekend's Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.