Sep 27, 2013, 6:27 PM EDT
Legendary IndyCar mechanic and crew chief George Bignotti, who turned the wrench as chief mechanic on Al Unser’s winning cars in 1970 and 1971, died Friday at age 97.
A statement from Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles reads as follows:
“We’re saddened to learn of the passing of George Bignotti. George is a true legend. He set a standard for mechanical excellence and preparation at the Indianapolis 500 that has yet to be matched and may never be reached. George’s love and loyalty toward the ’500′ never waned throughout his wonderful, long life, and he had countless friends and admirers in Gasoline Alley and the IndyCar community. Everyone at IMS extends their thoughts, prayers and sympathy to the Bignotti family.”
Meanwhile, from Parnelli Jones, the 1963 Indianapolis 500 champion and someone who worked with Bignotti from 1969 to 1972:
“George Bignotti was a super guy and was a key to our success winning at Indianapolis (Al Unser 1970 and 1971) and an important part of our National Championships with Al Unser (1970) and Joe Leonard (1971 and 1972).
“George was strong minded and gave us very reliable cars that were not always the most innovative or flashy but always fast enough to win. George’s cars were always prepared to go the distance – whether it be 100 or 500 miles – dirt or pavement. Reliability back then was different than it is now and George made sure that both the chassis and engine were buttoned-up and capable of winning. George was meticulous and had an eye for detail.
“He was great to work with and he taught a lot of mechanics the trade. Everyone on the circuit learned by watching him, some as team members and some as rivals. We always wanted to think outside the box and constantly be innovative but George pushed back to make sure we were steady and could go the distance and finish – that’s what wins races, finishing every lap. George will be missed by everyone in the racing community and our thoughts go out to his family.”