"Isn't that just beautiful"
Pat would often be found sitting in his lake-view rocking chair admiring the beauty of the water and thinking deeply about his life and family. It is to this backdrop that he often shared his life’s stories.
We’d love to capture your favorite memories, photos, and lessons from Pat. Navigate down below and join the chat with comment.
We’d love to capture more of your special memories with Pat. Tell us about some of the memories you have with him!
Do you have old photos of the racing days or memories you shared with him? Add them below by commenting and attaching a picture.
Pat wasn’t short of life’s accomplishments. What was your favorite advice he gave you? What saying stands out to you the most?
If you’re looking to make a donation. Pat’s favorite charity was the Wounded Warriors Project. Feel free to make a donation in his name.
Here’s an example tribute! You can add a lesson, photo, or favorite memory!
“Pat Patrick…what can I say; friend, boss, race team owner, the guy that signed my checks in the early CART days. But the biggest thing that renders in my mind is his love for his family. They always came first for Pat. I always enjoyed race days; being in the Patrick Pit as an official. You had to be on your toes and always ready especially when he leaned his head forward and looked over the top of his glasses for answers when it was not going his way; the right way. He expected answers that would put the team out in front. You learned fast he was testing you. To make sure you did your job. He was tough, serious and competitive; all at the same time while being the most caring guy. PRAYERS to the Patrick family. RIP Mr Patrick. You will be missed.”
“My Thoughts and Prayers are with Pat and the entire Patrick Family! May Pat forever Rest in Peace!”
God bless you all in the wake of Pat’s passing. I’m writing in the light of fond memories of the years I lived and worked with Fr. Coyle. The Catholic community of Jackson remains deeply grateful for Pat’s great generosity with Lumen Christi High School. The school is going strong and now includes 7th and 8th graders.
What a life and legacy to celebrate. I’ll remember Pat with a Mass in the weeks ahead. God bless him and all of you, his dear family.
Fr. Tom Helfrich, OSFS
Pastor, St. Rita, Clarklake MI
–Fr. Tom Helfrich, Osfs
My Thoughts and Prayers are with Pat, You and the entire Patrick Family! When and where will this Obituary be posted and will there be an area for people to send Flowers or Donations or a written Tribute? I have been asked by several of His
Friends and I will gladly pass along this information.
Pat Patrick has passed away at 91 years of age after a long illness. Mr. Patrick was an independent oil man or wildcatter headquartered in Jackson, Michigan, who first got involved in automobile 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 his team into a front-runner.
Patrick Racing went on to become one of Indy car racing’s most successful teams from the nineteen-seventies through the turn of the century, winning three Indy 500s and more than 40 Indy Car races. 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 also founded the Indy Lights series in 1986 and selected veteran racing man Roger Bailey to run the new series which produced many talented young Indy car drivers, including Paul Tracy, Greg Moore, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Cristiano da Matta and Josef Newgarden.
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 seventies with Jim McGee taking over the reins in 1980.
“Mr. Patrick, as we all referred to him, was a special person,” McGee says. “He was the son of a share cropper who was tough as nails. He worked from nothing to be very successful in the oil industry and Indy car racing and its growth. I worked for him off and on for 30 years. He was a great mentor and partner. He will be greatly missed. He was the best.”
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 says. “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 let 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 One 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 One 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.”
Roger Penske and Patrick were the leaders of the team owners who formed the new CART organization in 1979. Penske has tremendous respect for Patrick. “Pat Patrick was a shrewd businessman who had a great passion for racing and the people that work within the sport,” Penske comments. “He knew how to put the right people in the right position to create a winning environment and he was a fierce competitor, in racing as well as in business. Winning series championships and more than 40 IndyCar races, including three Indianapolis 500s, Patrick Racing was one of the top teams in our sport for many years. Pat was a visionary and a true innovator. His teams won a lot of races with the Wildcat cars that his company produced and he took open-wheel racing in new directions by helping form Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) and the Indy Lights Series.
“Pat was also important to the growth of our company as he served on the Penske Corporation Board of Directors for more than fifteen years. He was a good friend and our thoughts are with Pat’s family and everyone impacted by the loss of one of racing’s great leaders.”
Roger Bailey ran the Indy Lights series from its founding in 1986 through his retirement in 2012. Bailey worked closely with Patrick through this long stretch. “Mr. Patrick was a very interesting man with a dual personality,” Bailey remarks. “He was extremely kind and generous but there was not a tougher person on this planet. He loved to play poker and whether he was playing for five dollars or a million dollar deal, he hated to lose, but most of the time he didn’t.
“I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Patrick for many years and because of his generosity I was ultimately able to retire and enjoy the life I have today. Pat put up the money to start the Indy Lights series and when he sold the series to CART he gave me twenty-five percent of it which has allowed me to live quite comfortably in my retirement. So Mr. Patrick was very important to my life and my family.”
Wally Dallenbach drove for Patrick Racing from 1973-’79, winning five Indy car races, including the 1973 California 500. Dallenbach was then hired by Roger Penske and Mr. Patrick to become CART’s chief steward and director of competition. Over the following twenty years Dallenbach established himself as one of the most respected chief stewards in the history of automobile racing.
“Pat hired me to drive for him in 1973 after Swede Savage has been badly hurt at the Speedway,” Dallenbach recalls. “Swede was special to Pat and losing Swede was a hard thing for him to swallow. Over the next few years Pat and developed a close relationship. He came west to go hunting and ski-ing with me and I began to respect Pat for his wit. He had a way of looking at you in the eye and telling you a story. Then he would get a little smile and I would know that I had been had. That was part of the way Pat dealt with people. It was his way of taking his measure of you.
“I was driving for Pat when they formed CART and Pat and Roger asked me to become the chief steward. In the early years of CART, the organization was led by Roger and Pat, John Frasco, who was the chairman, and by Kirk Russell and me. Pat was a get-it-done kind of guy. He was one of the originators of CART and we built a very good team of people.
“One episode I recall was the season’s last race at Phoenix in 1979. After qualifying, I was disqualified because my rear wing was a quarter-inch too high. The good news was I was allowed to re-qualify, but it was at that race that Pat and Roger asked me if I would become the chief steward the next year. I was flattered, but taken aback. I was having a tough year. We were struggling with our race cars and I was getting disappointed and disgusted, but I had no thoughts of retiring.
“I said, ‘Give me a couple of weeks to think about it’, and I went elk and deer hunting in New Mexico with Al Unser. Al and I were good friends at that time and we talked about the idea of me becoming CART’s chief steward. He said he didn’t have any problem with it and when we got back from our hunting trip I called Pat and told him I was ready to become the chief steward.
“Pat was a no-BS kind of guy and my family developed a very close relationship with his family. We enjoyed some good hunting stories and after I became CART’s chief steward Pat was always very fair. He never complained about any of my decisions. In many ways, I depended on him for some guidance. I had the driver’s view of things packed away in my brain but I needed to get with Pat from time to time to understand the owner’s side. I respected what he had done as an oil wildcatter and businessman and learned a lot from him. I’ve lost a good friend and I think a lot of people in the sport feel the same way.”
Pat Patrick, one of the most influential car owners in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history, passed away on Tuesday in Phoenix at at the age of 91.
Patrick’s teams won the Indianapolis 500 three times, including the rain-shortened race in 1973 with Gordon Johncock and then near photo finish in 1982, where Johncock edged Rick Mears, and again in 1989 with Emerson Fittipaldi. But his legacy will likely be as one of the founding fathers of Championship Auto Racing Teams. Together with Roger Penske, he started CART in 1979 and wrestled control of Indy car racing away from the United States Auto Club by 1982.
“Pat was a very sharp businessman and very good at looking down the road and he could see USAC was going nowhere so he and Roger started CART,” said Jim McGee, who worked as team manager for Patrick Racing in three different decades from the 1980s to 2000s. “He was a wildcatter and took a lot of chances but he was always very determined to make something work and he was proud of what CART accomplished.
“He liked racing because it was a challenge.”
A native of Kentucky who migrated to Michigan, Patrick was in the oil business with Walt Michener when Michener began fielding Indy cars in the late 1960s sponsored by his partner. In 1970, Patrick Racing was formed and Johnny Rutherford damn near stole the pole position in an old, modified Eagle.
“That was a great way for Pat to get started but it didn’t look it the day before qualifying,” said Rutherford, who drove for Patrick in 1970 and 1971 and again in 1983. “We were only running 161mph and then my chief Mike Devin made a change to the front spoiler and we gained almost 10mph.
“Al Unser beat me by fraction (0.01 seconds) for the pole but Patrick Racing was suddenly on the map.”
Patrick Petroleum was a solid business unlike USAC championship racing in the ’70s and when fellow car owner Dan Gurney penned the White Paper and questioned where the sport was heading, Patrick and Penske put down their own money to start a separate CART series in ’79. USAC tried to ban their teams (along with four others) from competing at Indianapolis that year before a federal court judge ruled in their favor. “All the money Roger and I have spent fielding cars at Indy and they want to keep us out?” said Patrick after the trial. “That’s what I call bad business.”
Gordon Johncock’s victory for Patrick Racing in 1982 with this Wildcat Mk8B was the last Indianapolis 500 win for an American-made chassis. Motorsport Images
With Penske building his own cars to compete with Gurney’s Eagle, McLaren and other models, Patrick’s crew began building his own chassis in his westside Indianapolis shop. Its 1982 Wildcat was the last American-made chassis to win Indianapolis.
“Pat was a very loyal person and stuck with people and we had a helluva group in 1982,” said McGee.
While USAC continued to sanction the Indy 500, CART grew into a popular series with a major title sponsor, races all over the globe and gave road racing a renaissance in North Amerce.
Patrick’s team brought Firestone back to IndyCar racing in 1995 with driver Scott Pruett. Marshall Pruett archive
Patrick invested in what became known as the Indy Lights series in 1986 and that was a steppingstone for young drivers to move up to CART. He fielded cars at Indy from 1970-1995 and came back one last time in 2004. He ran two cars for much of CART’s 24 seasons, which ended in 2003. He was voted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2018.
Pat Patrick is survived by three sons and one daughter.
CART TEAMS: Where are they now….
Welcome to the new and exciting inaugural CART Alumni feature page. What is it you ask? It is a page that will feature stories and bio’s of those teams, drivers and personnel that helped Championship Auto Racing Teams rise to become the leader in open wheel racing on a global basis. So sit back and enjoy interesting stories that you may or may not have known about regarding those that formed and created Championship Auto Racing Teams.
In this inaugural feature, we will be taking a look back at the history of one of CART’S founding members, Pat Patrick Racing.
Pat Patrick: Early Years:
Ueal Eugene “Pat” Patrick was born March 10, 1929 in Kentucky and was relocated to Jackson Michigan at an early age. Patrick grew up poor and worked in the onion fields in South Michigan. After Patrick finished high school, and with no money for college, joined the United States Air Force because he knew that the G.I. Bill would help give young Patrick the opportunity to acquire the education he sought.
Patrick began a career in accounting, however, after graduating from Michigan State, the Spartan began selling oil-field exploration equipment. It wasn’t long after Patrick decided to try his own hand at drilling. At first Patrick drilled and drilled only to find nothing but dry holes. Eighteen dry holes in all. Without getting disappointed, Patrick drilled his nineteenth hole and found the reservoir of black gold he sought. From that point on Patrick couldn’t do wrong as he hit another and another. It was an exciting time for Patrick as he founded Patrick Petroleum and landed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Pat Patrick’s Introduction to Motorsports:
Pat Patrick had an unusual introduction to motorsports. Somewhere along the line one of his sons was interested in racing sports cars. Like all drivers, he needed to pass a medical screen in order to acquire his racing license.
The doctor who did the screening discovered Patrick’s son had cancer. Being that it was caught in the early stages, he was completely cured of the Cancer. Patrick felt so indebted to motorsports for having saved his sons life that he also began a career in motorsports. During the late 1960’s things moved quickly for Patrick. In no time at all he went from a sponsor to a team co-owner and eventually a sole team owner.
Pat Patrick’s Racing success, heartbreak and innovation:
Pat Patrick was one of the founding members of the then “REBEL” CART owners following Dan Gurney’s famous white letter. Patrick found much success in open wheel racing, having won the Indianapolis 500 in 1973 and 1982 with driver Gordon Johncock and again in 1989 with two time formula one champion Emerson Fittipaldi. Who can forget that 1982 battle between Gordon Johncock and Rick Mears driving a Penske car with only a handful of laps left to witness one of the greatest finishes in Indy 500 history? It was an amazing event.
But Patrick suffered through heart break as well. Namely the horrendous 1973 Indy 500 weekend. When his driver Swede Savage lost control of his car and endured a firey crash. Then crew member Armando Teran, running toward the accident, was hit by a safety vehicle going the wrong way on pit lane. Armando Teran died that day, Swede Savage died a month later in the hospital.
Pat Patrick wasn’t without innovation and working for the advancement of young drivers. Patrick saw there was a need for an organized path for up and coming drivers to prepare for Indycar racing, so Patrick launched the new Indy lite series.
Pat Patrick continued to field Indycars through 2004 when he put the team up for sale at seasons end.
Pat Patrick is one of the great founding members of CHAMPIONSHIP AUTO RACING TEAMS that truly helped our sport reach global success. Ueal Eugene Patrick was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2018. Today Patrick lives a quiet life away from the track in his home in Jackson Michigan, not far from those onion fields and in Phoenix Arizona.
Christmas at grandpas