Billionaire auto industry investor Kirk Kerkorian died on Monday, June 15, at the age of 98 in Los Angeles. At various times, he was a major shareholder in GM and Ford, and Kerkorian attempted to buy Chrysler twice.
The founders of most automakers aren't still with us. Enzo Ferrari, Ettore Bugatti, Henry Ford, Louis Chevrolet, Kiichiro Toyoda, Soichiro Honda and so many others have long since left this world. Those who are still with us – like Christian von Koenigsegg, Horacio Pagani and Elon Musk – got into the game much later. Brian Lister hit the scene a long time ago, but until just the other day, he was still with us. But now his time on the racing circuit has come to an end.
We have the privilege here at Autoblog of reporting a lot of good news, but it is our duty as well to report the bad news and sad news as well. And this is one of those occasions as the automotive industry mourns the passing of one of its leaders.
The motor racing community in North America and around the world is mourning the passing of one of its most influential figures, John M. Bishop, co-founder of the International Motor Sports Association that has developed into the premier sanctioning body for sports car racing in North America.
There have only been about a dozen people who have won multiple Formula One World Championships. Thankfully the lion's share of them are still among us – names like Vettel, Alonso, Hakkinen, Lauda, Prost, Piquet, Fittipaldi and Stewart. Michael Schumacher is hanging on, but Senna, Fangio, Ascari and Graham Hill have all since departed this Earth. And we're bereaved to report that they'll have company as Jack Brabham has passed away.
Watch through the end credits of any movie – an action movie especially – and you're bound to see a whole team of stuntmen involved in the production. But of all the stunties in Hollywood, Hal Needham stood out as one of the most important. And now, we're sad to say, he is no more.
Stanford Ovshinsky, the inventor of the nickel-hydride (NiMH) battery that is widely used in many non-plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, among other amazing things, died October 17 at the age of 89 from complications due to cancer.
Race car driver Roy Salvadori died on Sunday, June 3, at the age of 90. He was best known in the U.S. as the teammate of Carroll Shelby, the automotive impresario who was Salvadori's co-driver when they won Le Mans in 1959.
Porsche has announced that Ferdinand Alexander Porsche – grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, son of Ferry Porsche and designer of the iconic 911 – passed away today, April 5, at the age of 76. He died in Salzburg, Austria of unknown causes.
Bad news, it seems, does come in threes, as we're grieved to report the passing of Marco Simoncelli. The MotoGP rider succumbed to injuries sustained this weekend at the Malaysian Grand Prix, his death coming barely a week after those of Indy 500 champion Dan Wheldon and Baja racer Rick Huseman.
NASCAR's VP of communications, Jim Hunter, has passed away after a 12-month bout with cancer. Over six decades of motorsport involvement, he moved from from being a sportswriter and editor to handling PR for Dodge racing in the sixties. From there, we went on to handle PR for two marquee raceways and ultimately went on to lead the press charge at NASCAR itself.
Matchbox cars. We collected them. We played with them. We loved them. Heck, a lot of us still do. And over the weekend, the man responsible for making these simple, inexpensive pleasures a reality passed away. Jack Odell was 87 years old.