U.E. “Pat” Patrick, who won the Indianapolis 500 three times as a team owner, died Jan. 5 in Phoenix after a long illness. He was 91.
Patrick’s team, Patrick Racing, fielded race-winning Indianapolis 500 entries for Gordon Johncock in 1973 and 1982 and Emerson Fittipaldi in 1989. Patrick entered cars regularly in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” from 1970-95, with one final entry in 2004. He is one of just seven team owners with three or more Indianapolis 500 victories.
Kentucky native Patrick was inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame in 2016 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2018.
Patrick began his professional career in accounting but then formed an independent oil company, Patrick Petroleum Co., in 1963 in Michigan after successful drilling efforts in the area. His “wildcatter” efforts to strike oil later were reflected in the name of the chassis his team built, Wildcat.
Patrick’s entry into Indy car racing came through sponsorship of fellow oilman Walt Michner’s team in the late 1960s. Patrick formed his team in 1970, and Johnny Rutherford qualified second in the No. 18 Patrick Petroleum Eagle/Offy in the team’s Indianapolis 500 debut.
The team’s first Indy victory came three years later when Johncock captured the rain-shortened 1973 Indianapolis 500 in the No. 20 STP Double Oil Filter Eagle/Offy. Johncock put Patrick Racing back into Victory Lane at Indianapolis in 1982 after winning a breathtaking duel over the closing laps with Rick Mears, edging Mears at the finish by a then-race record margin of just .16 of a second in the No. 20 STP Oil Treatment Wildcat/Cosworth.
Patrick’s third victory came in 1989, when two-time Formula One World Champion Fittipaldi earned the first of his two “500” victories, this time driving the No. 20 Marlboro Penske/Chevrolet Indy that was co-owned by Chip Ganassi.
Drivers for Patrick Racing also claimed two championships, with Johncock taking USAC honors in 1976 and Fittipaldi winning the CART title in 1989.
Patrick’s team also was the home of two of open-wheel racing’s most legendary crew chiefs. George Bignotti ran Patrick Racing during the mid- and late 1970s, with Jim McGee taking the reins in the 1980s.
The entrepreneurial, colorful Patrick also was instrumental in the founding of two major North American racing series during the late 1970s and mid-1980s, Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) and Indy Lights.
Patrick is survived by three sons and one daughter.