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Indy Vet Rasmussen Passes Away

| , RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 22 2022

Three-time Indy 500 driver Eldon Rasmussen of Canada has passed away. (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

RacinToday.com

Eldon Rasmussen, a member of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame who made three starts in the Indy 500, died in Indianapolis on Sunday, June 5, 2022. He was 85.

Rasmussen competed in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in 1975, 1977 and 1979. Ironically, all three starts were from the 11th and last row in the traditional 33-car field.

He qualified 32nd in 1975 and 1977 _ the year he finished a career-best 13th while completing 168 of the scheduled 200 laps around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. Rasmussen’s No. 58 Rent-a-Racer, Inc. entry featured a “Ras-Car” chassis he fabricated with power supplied by a Ford-derived Foyt V-8. The 61st edition of the Indy 500 was won by A.J. Foyt Jr., who became the first four-time winner of the event in his No. 14 Gilmore Racing Team Coyote/Foyt.

Competing as one of four rookies in the 1975 race, Rasmussen was involved in one of the most dramatic accidents in Indy 500 history. Tom Sneva was attempting to lap Rasmussen when he ran over Rasmussen’s left front wheel, launching Sneva’s No. 68 Norton Spirit McLaren/Offy into the Turn 2 wall and fencing. The car disintegrated upon impact, but Sneva miraculously escaped serious injury.

Rasmussen finished 24th in his No. 58 Anacomp-Wild Rose Ras-Car/Foyt on a day when Bill Puterbaugh earned Rookie of the Year honors with a seventh-place result in the No. 83 McNamara-D.I.A. Eagle/Offy. Bobby Unser scored his second Indy 500 win at the wheel of his No. 48 Offy-powered Jorgensen Eagle in a race called after 174 laps due to rain.

Rasmussen started 33rd and finished 23rd in the 1979 Indy 500 in his No. 50 Vans by Bivouac/WFMS Antares/Offy, his day ended after 89 laps by a broken header pipe. Rick Mears scored the first of his eventual four Indy 500 victories from pole in his No. 9 The Gould Charge Penske/Cosworth.

Rasmussen was born in Standard, Alberta, Canada, on July 7, 1936. He started racing on dirt tracks in Southern Alberta in 1952, making more than 600 starts in the touring Canadian-American Modified Racing Association (CAMRA) series encompassing Western Canada and the Northwestern United States.

Rasmussen moved to Indianapolis to pursue his Indy 500 dream in 1969. He made more than 50 U.S. Auto Club Sprint Car starts before graduating to USAC National Championship competition throughout the 1970s, scoring three top-10 finishes in 23 career starts.

He finished a career-best seventh in a 100-mile heat race in 1975 at Ontario Motor Speedway in Southern California, followed by a ninth-place result in the 500-mile main event that weekend.

Rasmussen retired as a driver in 1979 after suffering an injury in a crash at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. He immediately turned his focus to in-demand work as a race car engineer, designer, builder and fabricator in the Indianapolis area.

Rasmussen designed and built some of the first wings for Indy 500 cars and also created innovative rear wings for NHRA Top Fuel dragsters. He built machines for varied racing disciplines, including ice racing, motorcycle sidecar racing and karting.

Rasmussen was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2001.

Among his survivors is his wife of 63 years, Dianne Rasmussen, and four children.

 

| , RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 22 2022
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