Skip to content

“Grand Prix” star James Garner dies age 86

Jul 20, 2014, 6:45 AM EST

James Garner In 'Grand Prix' Getty Images

American actor and star of racing film Grand Prix James Garner has died at the age of 86, according to media reports.

Garner enjoyed a successful acting career, with his two most notable roles coming in TV series Maverick and The Rockford Files.

However, motorsport fans will undoubtedly remember him best for playing the role of American F1 driver Pete Aron in 1966 film Grand Prix, which is widely regarded as being one of the greatest racing movies of all time.

The movie gained a cult status in the motorsport world thanks to appearances from a number of contemporary racing drivers. Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney and Jack Brabham were just a few of the F1 stars to make a cameo in the movie.

Garner’s love for motor racing was aided by shooting the film, in which he did all of his own stunts and racing scenes. He went on to set up the American International Racers team, which raced at Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring in the late 1960s.

His feats in the film industry were recognized by the Screen Actors Guild in 2005, when he won its Lifetime Achievement award. He died at home in Los Angeles yesterday, and is survived by his wife, Lois, and his two daughters.

Rush director Ron Howard paid tribute to Garner on Twitter today, saying that he was “admired by all that knew him. When starring in Grand Prix the people around F1 said he had the talent to be a pro driver.”

1963 Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones also shared his thoughts on Garner, who was a close friend, and who also drove the pace car for the 500 on three occasions.

“I’ll miss Jim for sure and my family and I offer our condolences to his entire family and all his friends,” Jones said. “Jim was a hell of a driver, a competitor, most people don’t remember that and that he raced in a lot of different types of cars over the years. He truly was a “man’s man.”

“Jim was a friend and when he came to Indianapolis as a spectator and pace car driver we obviously welcomed him with open arms. People will remember him for his performances in “Grand Prix,” “The Rockford Files” and also for his excellent acting in so many other movies and TV shows, he was so smooth and such a natural, he made it look easy. He excelled in both movies and television a rarity back then.

“I’ll tell you something else, Jim was also one heck of a golfer, he played scratch golf and we shared lots of fun memories not only at the races together but on the golf course over the years. He was a good, good man and always shared his fun and smiles with those around him. If you were around Jim, you enjoyed the time you spent with him.”

Latest Posts
  1. GP2: Robert Visoiu moves up from GP3 with Rapax

    Mar 6, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    © GP3 Series © GP3 Series

    Romanian driver to race alongside Sergey Sirotkin in 2015.

  2. Sebastian Vettel first discussed Ferrari move back in 2008

    Mar 6, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    F1 Testing In Jerez - Day One Getty Images

    German driver reveals that he held secret talks with Ferrari following the 2012 season, but has only made the move to Maranello for 2015.

  3. GP3: Six more drivers announced on a busy Friday

    Mar 6, 2015, 1:00 PM EST

    _G7C0817

    ART, Koiranen and Jenzer all announce drivers ahead of pre-season testing.

  4. Grosjean keen to remind F1 paddock of his ability in 2015

    Mar 6, 2015, 12:05 PM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-F1-ESP-TEST Getty Images

    Frenchman hopes to make up for a difficult 2014 campaign that yielded just eight points in total.

  5. F1 2015 team preview: Scuderia Ferrari

    Mar 6, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    AUTO-F1-ESP-TEST-FERRARRI Getty Images

    A revolution has taken place at Maranello over the winter following Ferrari’s worst F1 performance in over 20 years.

  6. FIA considering tender for new Formula 1 teams

    Mar 6, 2015, 10:00 AM EST

    Formula E Championship In Buenos Aires - Jean Todt Press Conference Getty Images

    Gene Haas may not be alone in bringing a new team into F1 in the near future.

  7. Manor in “advanced discussion” with drivers over second seat

    Mar 6, 2015, 9:00 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Russia - Previews Getty Images

    After its remarkable comeback, the team is yet to confirm who its second driver will be in Australia.

  8. Big Australian V8 Supercars shocker: Shane van Gisbergen heads to Triple Eight for 2016

    Mar 5, 2015, 6:44 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    “The Giz” heads to V8SC’s biggest team in a three-year deal as the team’s third car.

  9. IndyCar: Happy 20th birthday to Ganassi rising star Sage Karam

    Mar 5, 2015, 5:23 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    “SK$” turns 20. Sage Karam will make his second IndyCar start at season-opening race in St. Petersburg.

  10. Jean-Eric Vergne chasing “amazing” home win for Andretti at Miami ePrix

    Mar 5, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    Formula E Championship - Buenos Aires Getty Images

    JEV wants to clinch Andretti a home win when Formula E hits U.S. shores in Miami later this month.

  11. More movements in GP2, GP3, Formula Renault 3.5 for 2015

    Mar 5, 2015, 4:00 PM EST

    © GP2 Media Service © GP2 Media Service

    All of the latest news from some of F1’s most prominent junior championships.

  12. GP2: Marlon Stockinger confirmed at Status Grand Prix

    Mar 5, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    _W2Q1556

    Filipino-Swiss driver moves from Formula Renault 3.5 for 2015.

  13. Hamilton: “I want to be better” in bid for third title

    Mar 5, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Hamilton 262a Getty Images

    British driver sends out an ominous statement of intent ahead of the first race of the year in Australia on March 15.

  14. F1 2015 team preview: Williams Martini Racing

    Mar 5, 2015, 1:00 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi Getty Images

    Can Massa and Bottas pick up where they left off at the end of 2014?

  15. Manor passes final crash tests ahead of Australian GP

    Mar 5, 2015, 12:07 PM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-RUS Getty Images

    Team now all set to race in Australia on March 15 after passing the FIA crash tests.

  16. Formula E: Scott Speed in at Andretti for Miami ePrix

    Mar 5, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    Bojangles' Southern 500 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Add another American to the Formula E roster for 2015 as Speed replaces Marco Andretti for the first of two home races.

  17. Reports: Giedo van der Garde steps up legal action against Sauber F1 Team

    Mar 5, 2015, 10:30 AM EST

    Singapore F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Dutch driver reportedly seeking an urgent court order that would get him on the grid for the upcoming Australian Grand Prix.

  18. Ecclestone: Decision on German GP due this weekend

    Mar 5, 2015, 9:30 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Germany Getty Images

    With neither Hockenheim nor the Nurburgring prepared to host the race in 2015, the outlook is bleak for a German Grand Prix.