A walk down
From small town country boy, to becoming a true Wildcatter and Motorsports Hall of Famer, Pat Patrick lived a full and rich life. You may have seen him on Pit Lane, and now its time to walk with him down memory lane.
Years in Racing
Indy 500 Wins
Years in Oil & Gas Exploration and Production
“You know, I’ve lived a really good life, son. Not many people I know have grown up dirt poor and worked as hard as I did. I was a successful Wildcatter, owned an Airline company, built a very successful Racing team, and most importantly had a great family. I must say, I had a bit of luck along the way.” – Pat said to his grandson while fishing in Alaska.
“Well, you still might need to improve your Fishing, Grandpa.” – replied the grandson.
Over the Years
Born in Kentucky
Pat was born in Floyd County, Kentucky to Maxine and Cleveland Patrick on March 10, 1929.
Radio Operator in United States Air Force
After graduating from Homer High School in Homer, MI, Pat enlisted in the USAF and served as a radio operator in Alaska. He suffered a broken neck from a plane crash, later adding to his nickname, “Blue Steel”.
The family begins
Pat and Nancy have their first son, Steve in Jackson, MI.
Graduated Michigan State
Graduated Michigan State University with a BA in Accounting and Economics. This fueled his passion as an avid Spartan Michigan Fan, often raising the school flags during game days along the beach of his lake house. He soon became a CPA for a local Oil Field supply company, finding over $200,000 in savings, quickly moving him up in the business world.
Became a Wildcatter, forming Patrick Petroleum Company (PPC).
As a Wildcatter, a term known for individuals who explored for oil in often overlooked areas, he drilled his first 18 wells which came up ‘dry’ with no oil. The next 11 wells were very successful when the focus shifted to Trenton Black River wells in the Albion-Scipio trend. This would later be a reason for choosing 20 as his first Indy car number and naming them Wildcats.
Patrick Racing is off to the races. PPC goes public and is listed on NYSE.
After attending races with his eldest son, Steve, he decided to form his own racing team, “Patrick Racing”. Meanwhile, Patrick Petroleum continues to find success in the field, ultimately listing on the NYSE (‘PPC’). Filed the original S.E.C. registered public drilling programs. The company raised a total of $7,400,000.
“The worst year”
Though winning the first Indianapolis 500 with driver Gordon Johncock, the Patrick Racing family experienced its worst tragedy. Swede Savage, driver of another Patrick Racing, STP-sponsored car, crashed and later died from complications in the hospital. Armando Teran, mechanic on a third Patrick/STP car, also died attempting to help Swede during the crash.
CART is formed
Pat co-founded with Roger Penske the Championship Auto Racing Team (CART) sanctioning body for open wheel racing , and the “stepping stone” series, American Racing Series (ARS) for new and upcoming drivers in the sport.
2nd Indy 500 Win
Patrick Racing wins its 2nd Indianapolis 500 with driver, Gordon Johncock.
Becoming a Grandfather
Pat becomes a grandfather to Heather Dieck (Patrick), daughter of son Steve & his wife Mari. Being a grandfather later would become one of Pat’s most loved accomplishments.
3rd Indianapolis 500 Win and lots of celebrations
Patrick Racing wins its 2nd Indianapolis 500 with driver, Emerson Fittapaldi.
Daughter, Sherry, is married during Race Weekend to John Burke.
Pat gains another Grandson, Brett Patrick, from Steve and Mari.
Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame
Though he didn’t like the limelight, he was inducted into Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.
Patrick Racing and Firestone
Patrick Racing partners with Firestone to bring its tires to racing with driver Scott Pruett.
Pat becomes a Great Grandfather, with the birth of Liam Dieck.
Auto Racing Hall of Fame
Pat was inducted into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame in Indianapolis, IL.
Motorsports Hall of Fame
Pat’s Pit Crew
If there is one thing he loved most, besides a good poker hand, tootsie roll candy, VO and a splash of 7up, or KFC, it was his family. Everything he did was for his family and those around him.
Hall of Fame
Patrick Racing was one of Indy car racing’s top teams from the 1970s through the turn of the century. Ueal Eugene “Pat” Patrick was an independent oilman or wildcatter headquartered in Jackson, Michigan, who first got involved in racing when he sponsored Walt Michner’s Indy car in 1967.
Patrick started his own team in 1970 with Johnny Rutherford driving his car and quickly developed it into a frontrunner. Gordon Johncock won the 1973 Indianapolis 500 in one of Patrick’s STP Eagles and took the 1976 USAC Championship aboard one of Patrick’s own cars, appropriately called Wildcats. Johncock also won the 1982 Indy 500 aboard a Wildcat while Emerson Fittipaldi won both the 1989 Indy 500 and CART championship with Patrick’s team.
Patrick spent a few years out of racing but returned in 1994 in partnership with Firestone. After spending a year testing Firestone’s new Indy car tires, Patrick’s team went racing in 1995 with Scott Pruett who won that year’s Michigan 500. Patrick’s team continued to race in CART through 2002 before spending its final two years in the IRL.
Patrick is also renowned as the co-founder with Roger Penske of CART in 1979. Patrick and Penske provided the business brains and money to develop CART into a very successful series through the turn of the century.
Patrick’s team was based in Indianapolis barely two miles north of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Master mechanic George Bignotti ran Patrick’s team through most of the ‘70s, with Jim McGee taking over the reins in 1980. McGee spent most of the last 25 years of his career with Patrick and explains why he joined Patrick after spending a few years as Penske Racing’s Indy car team manager.
“Pat wasn’t as involved in racing as Roger and didn’t know as much about the sport as Roger,” McGee reflects. “But he knew enough to hire good people and let them have the ball and make suggestions and let them do it. Pat was a great guy to work for because he lets you do your own thing. That’s what really attracted me to Pat because I was able to do things my way.
“But it wasn’t my way or the highway. I listened to and respected Pat’s input. I really appreciated his input because he was a very smart businessman. A lot of things Pat said made a lot of sense. Pat always talked to me as a partner. With Pat you definitely felt that you were integral with the foundation and that was a key part of our success.”
Emerson Fittipaldi says joining Patrick Racing in 1984 was one of two pivotal occasions in his career. “Joining Lotus and Colin Chapman in Formula 1 in 1970 and signing with Patrick Racing in Indy cars were two key moments in my career,” Fittipaldi says.
“With Patrick Racing I learned so much about oval racing, just like I had learned so much about Formula 1 and road circuit racing with Colin and Lotus, and Pat Patrick was a perfect team owner. Pat pulled together the sponsorship and financial support, hired the right people and let us do our jobs.”
– Gordon Kirby