• Oct 31, 2012
We bring sad news that John Fitch has passed away at the incredible age of 95, succumbing to a rare form of skin cancer at 1:20 AM this morning. He was in the company of his family at his home in Lime Rock, Connecticut.

John Cooper Fitch was a true racing legend, a fighter pilot and a pillar of the automotive community. When combined, these accolades represent the accomplishments of a man who has lived more in one life than most others care to dream. Whether you know the name John Fitch or not, he has undoubtedly affected your life through safety innovations such as the Fitch Barrier, which are those yellow barrels filled with sand or water that are found everywhere on highways. Those familiar with auto racing know that his legacy stretches far beyond that.

Fitch was born in Indiana in 1917 and witnessed auto racing from his youth, as his step-father was an executive at the Stutz car company. During World War II, Fitch was a US fighter pilot at the helm of a P-51 Mustang. He was one of the first Americans to shoot down a German jet plane, and was later shot down himself, becoming a POW.

After WWII, Fitch raced for Mercedes-Benz, becoming the first American to successfully compete in Europe after the War. His storied race career included campaigns with Lime Rock Park, where he routinely attended vintage races into his older years.

Two cars with his name affixed to them are the Fitch Phoenix and the Fitch-Whitmore Special. The former was an attractive sportscar based on the Corvair, while the latter was a custom Le Mans racer based on the Jaguar XK-120. It is arguably one of the most stunning race cars from its era.

Throughout his life, Fitch remained a strong voice for vehicle safety and was a shining example of our Greatest Generation. He will be missed by his family, as well as the automotive community at large.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 8 Comments
      jhott66
      • 2 Years Ago
      Fitch was Pierre Levegh's teammate at Mercedes during the infamous 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans. Fitch was one of the great, little known, American racing drivers of the post-war era.
      gslippy
      • 2 Years Ago
      Interesting that he fought against the Germans, was imprisoned by them, and shortly afterward worked for them. I guess he could compartmentalize better than most, as he should have. What a fascinating life.
      nsreed3
      • 2 Years Ago
      Any man that piloted a P-51 Mustang in WW II is as bad to the bone as a man can be! ...RIP, John Fitch.
      Dave
      • 2 Years Ago
      RIP John! You were an inspiration to generations of racers.
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      RIP John.
      lthrnck68
      • 2 Years Ago
      Kind of surprised he didn't try air racing. Anyone who knows racing will keep him alive in spirit.
      dtrump_21
      • 2 Years Ago
      never heard of him but sounds like a great man who lived a great life
      Bumper
      • 2 Years Ago
      RIP, John Fitch