IndyCar News: Legendary engineer and team manager Larry Curry dies aged 68

David Malsher-Lopez
Veteran IndyCar engineer and team manager dies
Veteran IndyCar engineer and team manager dies

Veteran IndyCar mechanic, race engineer and team manager Larry Curry has died after a stroke, aged 68.

Curry, who was most recently team manager at Harding Racing, was perhaps best known for his work as engineer at Team Menard, where he gave NASCAR ace Tony Stewart his shot at U.S. open-wheel glory.

Stewart duly won the 1996-1997 Indy Racing League title championship, and finished third in 1998, across the two seasons accruing three wins and eight pole positions.

Although it would remain a regret of Curry's that open-wheel racing was too fractured at the time to offer job security to Stewart, who went on to be one of NASCAR's 21st Century stars, he was pleased and proud to see how Stewart had moulded his talent to stock cars and went on to become a three-time champion.

"Without Larry Curry, I'm not sure I would've had the opportunity to race in IndyCar," Tweeted Tony Stewart on Sunday morning.

"He pushed for me, and allowed me to make the jump from USAC to IndyCar.

"He always believed in me, and I'll always remember him. RIP, Big Daddy."

One of Stewart's team-mates in 1996 was Scott Brayton, who for a second straight year, put his car on pole for the Indianapolis 500, but died in a huge accident while practicing in his spare car.

A couple of years later, Curry would serve time for embezzling $1 million of Menards money, but once his time was served, Curry was hired by IRL owner Tony George to run his Vision Racing squad.

Veteran IndyCar engineer and team manager dies
Veteran IndyCar engineer and team manager dies

Over the next two years, the team would score a handful of top five finishes, but during the Month of May in 2008, Curry would be let go.

However he was quickly scooped up by Roth Racing, who needed his knowledge and experience, and he then joined Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

The team would show plenty of promise with Mike Conway and, in particular, Justin Wilson, scoring a pole and three podiums over three years, but it was a tough time to be any team that wasn't Chip Ganassi Racing or Team Penske.

The late Wilson would describe Curry as "a strange guy, but I can see why he's good for younger IndyCar drivers."

He added: "Larry does this thing where he's both the good cop and the bad cop - and sometimes he'll switch back and forth during just one debrief which is weird!

"But it keeps you on your toes; if I was a rookie, I definitely wouldn't mess around in front of Larry."

Hired by Harding Racing to manage its part-time effort in 2017, Curry would see the little squad start with a bang, Gabby Chaves driving to ninth in the Indy 500 and fifth at Texas Motor Speedway.

Curry would remain with the team into 2018 but in a season of new cars, the single-car entry faced an uphill struggle.

Chaves tweeted: "Saddened by this news. So proud I was able to see and experience the best of Larry in recent years.

"One of those proudest moments of my career shared with him as we took a one off entry with a first time team and finished ninth in our first Indy 500 R.I.P."

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