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Racing legend Parnelli Jones, the oldest living Indy 500 winner, dies at 90

(WXIN/WTTV) — Racing legend Parnelli Jones has died at the age of 90, a representative of Borg-Warner confirmed to Nexstar’s FOX59/CBS4 on Tuesday night.

Born in 1933 in Texarkana, Ark., Rufus Parnell “Parnelli” Jones was a legendary driver and team owner known for competing in many types of vehicles including IndyCars.

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Jones won the 47th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 1963 and famously broke down while in the lead in 1967. During his time as a team owner, Parnelli won the 1970 and 1971 races with driver Al Unser.

<br>Former Indianapolis 500 driver Parnelli Jones attends the drivers meeting for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in Indianapolis Saturday, May 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)<br>

Former Indianapolis 500 driver Parnelli Jones attends the drivers meeting for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in Indianapolis Saturday, May 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
<br>Crew members push the STP-Paxton turbine-powered car of Parnelli Jones before the 51st running of the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana on May 31, 1967. (AP Photo)

Crew members push the STP-Paxton turbine-powered car of Parnelli Jones before the 51st running of the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana on May 31, 1967. (AP Photo)

At the time of his death, Jones was the oldest living winner of the Indy 500.

Outside of the 500, Jones was known for other accomplishments in the racing world such as becoming the first driver to ever qualify over 150 miles per hour in 1962 and participating in the Baja 1000 race. He raced IndyCars, midget cars, stock cars, sprint cars, ORVs and more during his career.

In addition to his racing work, Jones co-founded Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing — often called VPJ — in 1967, according to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. The racing company created several racing vehicles and its drivers (including Unser) placed in several major races through the 1970s.

Parnelli was an accomplished businessman, having also previously founded Parnelli Jones Inc., which operated dozens of Parnelli Jones Tire Centers. Though the Los Angeles Times reports Jones sold his interest in the company years before all tire centers were acquired by California-based Dob’s Tire & Auto Centers in 1993, he continued being a visible figure in the automotive industry.

Back in 2013, Motor Trend published a portrait of Jones’ life up until that point, with writer Dick Martin citing the words of two-time Indy 500 winner Rodger Ward, who once said: “Parnelli Jones was the most talented race car driver I have ever raced against.”

Jones is survived by his wife, Judy Jones, their two sons, P.J. and Page (both of whom also raced), and six grandchildren.

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