Indy racing legend Andy Granatelli passed away on Sunday in Santa Barbara, CA, due to congestive heart failure. He was 90. Granatelli was famous for his innovation in American open-wheel racing, kicking off his Indy career with an entry in the 1946 race. His creative streak didn't really kick off until the 1960s, though, when the Dallas, TX-born Granatelli began entering a series of wildly powerful supercharged Novi V8s in the Indianapolis 500. This was followed by the arrival of the (in)famous STP-Paxton Turbocar, a turbine-powered racer.
The dominant turbine car led nearly the entire 1967 Indy 500, running almost a lap ahead of the field when the unique Pratt & Whitney-powered car suffered from a bad transmission ball bearing. The faulty $6 part ground the car's Indy victory bid to a halt with just three laps left. Granatelli's Indy efforts weren't limited just to the turbine car, though. He sponsored Mario Andretti, who captured a win in 1969.
Granatelli's exploits weren't limited to the track, either. As president of STP, he grew the small brand into a sponsorship powerhouse, lending its traditional colors first to cars at Indy. As president of STP, Granatelli's most famous feat was securing the motor oil brand's sponsorship of NASCAR legend Richard Petty, a move that would prove to be the genesis of an iconic partnership.
Granatelli's impact on American motorsports, from his racecar innovations to his STP leadership is still felt today. Racing is worse off without him.