Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing
|Full name||Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing|
|Noted drivers|| Mario Andretti
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Debut||1974 Canadian Grand Prix|
|Races competed||16 |
|0 (best finish: 10th, 1975)|
|Race victories||0 (best finish: 4th, 1975 Swedish Grand Prix)|
|Pole positions||0 (best grid position: 3rd, 1974 United States Grand Prix)|
|Final race||1976 United States Grand Prix West|
Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing, commonly referred to simply as Parnelli or VPJ, was a motor racing constructor and team from the USA. The team was formed in 1969 by former USAC racer Parnelli Jones and his business partner Velko "Vel" Miletich. Parnelli was initially solely concerned with USAC racing, where success came quickly; their driver Al Unser won the Indianapolis 500 race in 1970, driving a VPJ Colt, after leading 190 of the 200 racing laps. Unser went on to win the USAC championship. Unser repeated the Indy 500 win in 1971 with a nearly identical Colt, ending the season in fourth place in the USAC drivers points while teammate Joe Leonard won the championship.
Parnelli secured the services of ex-Team Lotus designer Maurice Philippe and driver Mario Andretti for USAC racing in the early 1970s, and in 1974 decided to move into Formula One racing, with financial support from tire manufacturer Firestone. After a brief foray into Formula One at the end of the 1974 season, Vel's Parnelli Jones mounted a full campaign in 1975. Their Parnelli VPJ4 car owed much to Philippe's Lotus 72 design. It appeared for the North American races at the end of the 1974 season and was gradually developed through 1975. However, Firestone's decision to quit racing at the end of 1974 meant that a major partner was lost. Jones was unable to find a replacement title sponsor and despite improvements made to the car the team folded only three races into the 1976 season. Andretti only learned of the Formula One team's future from journalist Chris Economaki, as he sat in the car on the grid for the Long Beach Grand Prix. This led to some bad feeling between Andretti and Jones, and Andretti returned to Lotus for the remainder of the season. In total, Vel's Parnelli Jones participated in 16 Grands Prix and scored 6 championship points.
Concurrent with the Formula One venture, VPJ was developing a turbocharged version of Cosworth's legendary DFV V8 Formula One engine, building on their experience from the previous two years. It was developed at their facility in Torrance, California, under the direction of engine builder Larry Slutter and dyno engineer "Chickie" Hirashima. The car debuted at the Speedway in 1975 in a modified Indy version of the Formula One Parnelli chassis, although it was not run regularly until late in 1976. This private project was quickly adopted by Cosworth itself, and the Parnelli engine evolved into the equally legendary Cosworth DFX, an engine which would go on to win every Indianapolis 500 race and USAC/CART Championship between 1978 and 1987.
Complete Formula One results
(key) (results in italics indicate fastest lap)
|1974||Parnelli VPJ4||Ford Cosworth DFV
|1975||Parnelli VPJ4||Ford Cosworth DFV
|1976||Parnelli VPJ4B||Ford Cosworth DFV
- "Parnelli's results at formula1.com". Formula One Results. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
- Lyons, P. 2007. Keeping up with the Jones. Motor Sport. LXXXIII/1 (January 2007), 52-59