Remembering “Pat” Patrick 1929-2021

Indianapolis, IN — U.E. “Pat” Patrick, who won the Indianapolis 500 three times as a team owner, died Tuesday (Jan. 5) in Phoenix after a long illness. He was 91.

Photo: Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

His Patrick Racing team fielded race-winning Indy 500 entries for Gordon Johncock in 1973 and 1982, and Emerson Fittipaldi in 1989. Patrick entered cars regularly in the 500 from 1970-1995, with one final entry in 2004. He is one of just seven team owners with three or more victories in the decorated race.

The Kentucky native was inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame in 2016 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2018.

Patrick’s entry into Indy car racing came through sponsorship of fellow oilman Walt Michner’s team in the late 1960s. Patrick formed his team in 1970, and Johnny Rutherford qualified second in the Patrick Petroleum Eagle/Offy in the team’s Indianapolis 500 debut.

The team’s first Indy victory came three years later when Johncock captured the rain-shortened 1973 race in the STP Double Oil Filter Eagle/Offy. Johncock put Patrick Racing back into victory lane at Indianapolis in 1982 after winning a duel over the closing laps with Rick Mears, edging Mears at the finish by a then-race record margin of just .16 of a second in the STP Oil Treatment Wildcat/Cosworth.

Patrick’s third victory came in 1989, when two-time Formula One World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi earned the first of his two 500 victories, driving the Marlboro Penske/Chevrolet Indy that was co-owned by Chip Ganassi.

Drivers for Patrick Racing also claimed two national championships, with Johncock taking USAC honors in 1976 and Fittipaldi winning the CART title in 1989.

Patrick’s team also was the home of two of open-wheel racing’s most legendary crew chiefs. George Bignotti ran Patrick Racing during the mid- and late 1970s, with Jim McGee taking the reins in the 1980s.

The entrepreneurial Patrick also was instrumental in the founding of two major North American racing series during the late 1970s and mid-1980s, Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) and Indy Lights.