POMONA, Calif. (Jan. 14, 2003) — The NHRA Motorsports Museum will create a new exhibit highlighting the career of racing legend Rufus “Parnelli” Jones.
The Pomona museum's exhibit will feature historic vehicles from the Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing collection. It will run from Apr. 27 to Aug. 31, with a kickoff gala preview on Apr. 26.
“Parnelli Jones is one of the all-time legends of American racing,” said Sam Jackson, executive director of the museum, in a statement.
With a career that started in the late 1950s, Mr. Jones broke through as rookie of the year in 1961 at the Indianapolis 500, winning the race two years later. He also won Indy checkered flags in 1970-71 as a co-owner of the Vel's Parnelli Racing Team.
Specific vehicles in the exhibit will include: 1963 “Old Calhoun” Indy winner replica; 1969 Big Oly Bronco; 1970 Johnny Lighting Indy winner; 1968 Lotus Granatelli turbine; 1964 Lotus Ford Indy car; 1969 4-cam Ford Champ Dirt car; and Mr. Jones' 1976 Mustang Funny car. The exhibit also will include other memorabilia.
Along with partner Robert F. “Bob” Gatzke, Mr. Jones founded the Ventura, Calif.-based Parnelli Jones Inc. retail chain in 1966. The tire dealership grew to more than 90 retail and four wholesale locations before it was broken up and sold in 1998.
A year earlier, Mr. Jones lent his name to a then-new Parnelli Jones private brand high performance tire line, originally distributed exclusively by Progressive Custom Wheel. It was the first time a major wheel company had distributed its own private label tire. Eventually the line was sold to Akron-based Dirt Gripz Inc., which eliminated the line's passenger tires and today markets the Parnelli Jones Dirt Grip light truck tire.