Pat O'Connor (racing driver)

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Pat O'Connor
NationalityAmerican
Born(1928-10-09)October 9, 1928
North Vernon, Indiana, United States
DiedMay 30, 1958(1958-05-30) (aged 29)
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
AAA / USAC Champ Car
Years active1952 - 1958
TeamsKuzma / Offy
Starts36
Wins2
Poles1
Best finish4th in 1957
Awards
1995National Sprint Car Hall of Fame inductee
Formula One World Championship career
Active years19531958
TeamsDeidt, Kurtis Kraft, Schroeder
Entries6 (5 starts)
Championships0
Wins0
Podiums0
Career points0
Pole positions1
Fastest laps0
First entry1953 Indianapolis 500
Last entry1958 Indianapolis 500

Pat O'Connor (October 9, 1928 – May 30, 1958) was an American racecar driver. He was killed in a 15-car pileup, after sustaining a fatal head injury after rolling his car and catching fire on the first lap of the 1958 Indianapolis 500.

Champ Car[edit]

O'Connor competed in 36 races in his champ car career.[1] He took his first win in 1956 at Darlington Raceway.[1] In 1957, he won the pole position for the Indianapolis 500 and he finished eighth.[1] Later in the year, he won at Trenton Speedway.[1]

He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in May 1958 (one week before the race),[2] adding to the legend of the Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx.

Death[edit]

For the 1958 Indianapolis 500, Dick Rathmann and Ed Elisian started the race on the front row, with Jimmy Reece on the outside of the front row. Elisian spun in turn 3 of the first lap and collided with Rathmann's car, sending them both into the wall, and starting a 15-car pileup.[2]

According to A. J. Foyt, O'Connor's car hit Reece's car, sailed fifty feet in the air, landed upside down, and burst into flames. Although O'Connor was incinerated in the accident, medical officials said that he was probably killed instantly from a fractured skull.[3][2] In an interview after the race, winner Jimmy Bryan was quoted for saying "It was a nightmare. I lived with it for 200 laps."[2]

Widely blamed for the accident, Elisian was suspended by USAC for the accident (reinstated a few days later), and was shunned by many in the racing community.

Following the accident, race officials announced that they would change the starting procedure, abandoning the single-file trip down pit lane that was used in 1957 and 1958. Also, for the 1959 Indy 500, metal roll bars welded to the frame behind the driver's head were mandated, and helmets were required to pass safety certification by Speedway medical officials.[4]

Awards[edit]

He was inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1995.[5]

Legacy[edit]

Salem Speedway honored him along with Joe James with an annual title event.[5] The 2020 event was part of the USAC Silvercrown series.[5]

Complete AAA/USAC Championship Car results[edit]

Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Pos Points
1952 INDY
MIL
RAL
SPR
MIL
DET
DUQ
DNQ
PIK
SYR
DNC
SJS
PHX
- 0
1953 INDY
DNQ
MIL
DNQ
SPR
DET
SPR
MIL
DUQ
DNQ
PIK
SYR
ISF
7
SAC
PHX
8
32nd 110
1954 INDY
21
MIL
5
LAN
DNQ
DAR
10
SPR
DNQ
MIL
19
DUQ
DNQ
PIK
SYR
DNQ
ISF
DNQ
SAC
DNQ
PHX
DNQ
LVG
9
25th 200
1955 INDY
8
MIL
18
LAN
5
SPR
DNQ
MIL
26
DUQ
9
PIK
SYR
4
ISF
5
SAC
5
PHX
5
7th 800
1956 INDY
18
MIL
11
LAN
DNQ
DAR
1
ATL
17
SPR
5
MIL
21
DUQ
DNQ
SYR
13
ISF
2
SAC
15
PHX
DNQ
11th 680
1957 INDY
8
LAN
DNQ
MIL
4
DET
ATL
SPR
DNQ
MIL
3
DUQ
8
SYR
2
ISF
10
TRE
1
SAC
15
PHX
2
4th 1,250
1958 TRE
13
INDY
29
MIL
LAN ATL SPR MIL DUQ SYR
ISF
TRE SAC PHX - 0

Indianapolis 500 results[edit]

Complete Formula One World Championship results[edit]

(key)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 WDC Points
1953 Slick Racers Deidt Offenhauser L4 ARG 500
DNQ
NED BEL FRA GBR GER SUI ITA NC 0
Engle-Stanko Kurtis Kraft 4000 500
DNQ
Brown Motors Schroeder 500
DNQ
1954 Hopkins / Motor Racers Kurtis Kraft 500C Offenhauser L4 ARG 500
21
BEL FRA GBR GER SUI ITA ESP NC 0
1955 Ansted Rotary Kurtis Kraft 500D Offenhauser L4 ARG MON 500
8
BEL NED GBR ITA NC 0
1956 Ansted Rotary Kurtis Kraft 500D Offenhauser L4 ARG MON 500
18
BEL FRA GBR GER ITA NC 0
1957 Ansted Rotary Kurtis Kraft 500G Offenhauser L4 ARG MON 500
30
FRA GBR GER PES ITA NC 0
1958 Sumar / Chapman Root Kurtis Kraft 500G Offenhauser L4 ARG MON NED 500
29
BEL FRA GBR GER POR ITA MOR NC 0

World Championship career summary[edit]

The Indianapolis 500 was part of the FIA World Championship from 1950 through 1960. Drivers competing at Indy during those years were credited with World Championship points and participation. Pat O'Connor participated in 5 World Championship races. He started on the pole once but scored no World Championship points, as his best finish was eighth (twice).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Driver Pat O'Connor Career Statistics". www.racing-reference.info. Retrieved August 16, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c d Ayello, Jim (May 21, 2018). "A.J. Foyt: Scar never healed after seeing friend die in horrific crash at 1958 Indy 500". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved August 16, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Indy 500 deadly accidents, 1958 Archived 2013-11-10 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ we feel the blues when we lose Archived 2007-02-02 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b c "USAC Joe James/PatO'Conner Memorial". USAC Silvercrown. August 15, 2020. Event occurs at 20:47. FloRacing.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Keith Andrews
Formula One fatal accidents
July 6, 1958
Succeeded by
Luigi Musso