Pat_O'Connor_(auto_racer)

Pat O'Connor (auto racer)

Pat O'Connor (October 9, 1928 North Vernon, IndianaMay 30, 1958 Indianapolis, Indiana) 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.

He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in May of 1958 adding to the legend of the Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx.

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 collected Rathmann, sending them both into the wall, and starting a 15-car pileup.

According to AJ Foyt, O'Conner'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.

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. Allegedly, drivers prevented firefighters from reaching Elisian's burning car the following August at Milwaukee, and Elisian died in the fire.

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.

Indy 500 results

Year Car Start Qual Rank Finish Laps Led Retired
1954 35 12 138.084 24 21 181 0 Spun T2
1955 29 19 139.195 21 8 200 0 Running
1956 7 3 144.980 4 18 187 39 Flagged
1957 12 1 143.948 2 8 200 7 Running
1958 4 5 144.823 5 29 0 0 Crash T3
Totals 768 46
Starts 5
Poles 1
Front Row 2
Wins 0
Top 5 0
Top 10 2
Retired 2

World Championship career summary

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.

Awards

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

See also

References

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