We lost one of the, as Robin Miller puts it, Tough Guys.
Jim McElreath passed away today(Thursday) he was 89.
Jim came up through the IMCA Sprint Car ranks and made his First Indianapolis 500 in 1962 and won Rookie of the Year.
In a career at Indianapolis that spanned from 1962 to 1982 he only failed to Qualify for 4 of those races. His best finish was a 3rd place in 1966.
Jim won 5 IndyCar wins including the Inaugural California 500 at Ontario Motor Speedway in an AJ Foyt car.
Jim was a relatively unknown guy, even in his heydays, partly due to his quiet and unassuming way, but as Bobby Unser says, "When Jim stood up in a Drivers Meeting, everyone shut up and listened."
Those who follow IndyCar and study it's history know Jim because of his personal life that was full of tragedy. In 1977 a few months after attempting and failing to become the first Father-Son pair to Qualify at Indy, Jim lost his son James in a Sprint Car crash at Winchester Speedway. In 2000 his daughter Shirley Ann was killed in a plane crash along with her husband Tony Bettenhausen Jr. Not long after that his wife suffered a masssive stroke that left her unable to care for herself. For the last 17 years Jim never left her side and served as a professional caregiver for her until his own deteriorating health required him to receive constant care.
I'll end with the same quote that Robin Miller ended his tribute with.
Courtesy of A.J. Foyt - “Jimmy was a helluva man.”
"You need to grab a hold of that line between Speed and Chaos and you need to wrestle it to the ground like a Demon Cobra!"
When in doubt and you can't figure it out...Just Stand on It!