Editor's Note: This version corrects error that stated Emerson Fittipaldi finished second to Rick Mears in 1998. The year was 1988. This version replaces the earlier version. We regret the error and apologize for any inconvenience. FITTIPALDI,...
Editor's Note: This version corrects error that stated Emerson Fittipaldi finished second to Rick Mears in 1998. The year was 1988. This version replaces the earlier version. We regret the error and apologize for any inconvenience.
FITTIPALDI, GRANATELLI, COOPER EARN AMERICAN RACING HONORS
INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2001 -- Three of the great names in Indianapolis 500 history are among nine “Heroes of Horsepower” 2001 inductees into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in Novi, Mich. Two-time champion Emerson Fittipaldi, renowned car owner Andy Granatelli and pole winner Earl Cooper will be inducted at the 13th annual Motorsports Hall of Fame Dinner and Ceremony on June 6 at the State Theater in Detroit. Fittipaldi and Granatelli were honored at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last May as part of the annual Legends of the Speedway program. Brazilian Fittipaldi was a brilliant driver on the Formula One circuit in the early 1970s, winning two championships, then retiring at the end of the 1980 season at age 34. After three years out of the driver’s seat, he became restless and was lured out of retirement and into Indy-car racing. Fittipaldi’s debut at Indy in 1984 was inauspicious, qualifying 23rd and finished in 32nd place after completing only 37 laps. But he finished second to Rick Mears in 1988 at Indy, driving for Patrick Racing. Then in 1989, Fittipaldi dueled Al Unser Jr. wheel-to-wheel and won the Indianapolis 500 for the first time when Unser crashed after they touched on Lap 199. Fittipaldi repeated as Indy champion in 1993 when he outran Arie Luyendyk to the checkered flag. Fittipaldi retired for good in the late 1990s after suffering a back injury in a crash at Michigan. Granatelli first came to the Speedway with his brothers in 1946, driving their race car to the track from their native Chicago. Danny Kladis qualified the car in 33rd and finished 21st. In 1948, Granatelli crashed while trying to qualify and never made the field. But his fame came in the 1960s when he became president of the STP Corp. and bought the famed Novi race cars. The flamboyant Granatelli plastered STP stickers everywhere and got his first Indy victory when Andretti crashed his primary car and then drove his backup Brawner Hawk home first in 1969. Granatelli then planted the famous smooch on Andretti cheek that was pictured everywhere around the world. In 1967, Granatelli broke tradition and brought turbine-powered cars to the Speedway and almost won with Parnelli Jones that year and with Joe Leonard the next. Granatelli’s second victory came in the rain-plagued 1973 race, with Gordon Johncock at the wheel. Granatelli now is retired from racing and other businesses and lives in California. Cooper was one of the early superstars of auto racing. He started on the West Coast and won virtually everywhere but at Indy. In 1915, Cooper won a 500-mile race on a concrete speedway at Fort Snelling, Minn., took fourth in 500-mile race on a board track at Maywood, Ill., and added another fourth at Indy driving a Stutz. He competed seven times at Indy between 1914 and 1926. He finished second in 1924 after leading by 44 seconds after 400 miles. Twice he had to pit to replace blown tires in the final 100 miles and settled for second behind the L.L. Corum-Joe Boyer combination. Cooper captured the pole in a Miller in 1926. After retirement, Cooper was involved in other forms of racing for many years before his death Oct. 23, 1965.
- IMS -