George Bignotti passed away on September 27, 2013 in his Las Vegas, Nevada home. Born in San Francisco, California, in 1916, it was his two older brothers, Al and John, who got George involved in midget racing as a mechanic. Often filling in as a substitute driver, he drove hardtops in the Bay Area winning 14 of 18 starts in a single season. Married in 1949, he gave up driving and focused his skills as a mechanic.
In 1954, Bignotti went to Indianapolis at the request of driver Freddie Agabashian to work on the chassis, helping Agabashian achieve a 6th place finish. He teamed up with A. J. Foyt for two Indianapolis 500 wins in 1961 and 1964 and three USAC championships. Bignotti went on to wrench five more Indianapolis 500 victories: Graham Hill in 1966 for (John) Mecom Racing, Al Unser Sr. in 1970 and 1971 for Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing, Gordon Johncock in 1973 for Patrick Racing, and Tom Sneva in 1983 for Bignotti-Cotter Racing. In total, Bignotti is credited with 89 open wheel victories as chief mechanic.
In 1984, leaving Bignotti-Cotter Racing where he was co-owner with Dan Cotter of True Value Hardware, Bignotti became a consultant for Mobil Oil. In retirement he played golf up to three times a week achieving a score well below his age.
Bignotti was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1993.
Bignotti was an avid Colts and New York Yankees fan. He is survived by his former second wife, Kay, daughter Mary, and two grandsons from his late son William. Bignotti will be interred at Crown Hills in Indianapolis. A memorial service is planned at Indianapolis next May.
09/27/13 A statement from Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles about legendary Indianapolis 500 chief mechanic George Bignotti, who died at age 97 on Sept. 27 in Las Vegas.
Bignotti tuned cars to seven Indianapolis 500 victories, more than any chief mechanic in the history of the race. His Indy-winning drivers included A.J. Foyt, Graham Hill, Al Unser, Gordon Johncock and Tom Sneva.
California native Bignotti also is the winningest chief mechanic in IndyCar history. zzzz
"We're saddened to learn of the passing of George Bignotti. George is a true legend. He set a standard for mechanical excellence and preparation at the Indianapolis 500 that has yet to be matched and may never be reached. George's love and loyalty toward the '500' never waned throughout his wonderful, long life, and he had countless friends and admirers in Gasoline Alley and the IndyCar community. Everyone at IMS extends their thoughts, prayers and sympathy to the Bignotti family."
09/27/13 Racing lost one of the all-time greats today: George Bignotti, 97, died in Las Vegas.
He had 7 Indy500 wins as chief mechanic. More later......
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