About George Bignotti
The Los Angeles Times
Chief mechanic for 7 Indy 500 winners
George Bignotti, 97, who set a record as the chief mechanic for seven winners of the Indianapolis 500, died in his sleep of natural causes Friday in Las Vegas, his daughter Mary Mendez said.
As a mechanic, Bignotti won the Indy 500 with drivers A.J. Foyt in 1961 and 1964, Graham Hill in 1966, Al Unser in 1970 and 1971, Gordon Johncock in 1973 and Tom Sneva in 1983.
Bignotti also holds the record for most wins overall in Indy-car history with more than 80 victories.
"He set a standard for mechanical excellence and preparation at the Indianapolis 500 that has yet to be matched and may never be reached," Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles said in a statement.
On Twitter, former Indy 500 winner Mario Andretti said, "We lost a true legend of Indy Car. George Bignotti did not need a compiuter [sic] to perform magic. Just ask AJ Foyt or Al Unser."
Born Jan. 12, 1916, in San Francisco, Bignotti got into race-car preparation after high school by following his brothers Al and John into the sport in the Bay Area.
Later, after he had worked on cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the mid-1950s, he realized, "I could build a car as good as anything I'd seen at Indy" and decided to become a chief mechanic, he told Sports Illustrated in 1971.
Along the way, Bignotti deftly handled the transition of Indy-style cars from front-engine roadsters to sleeker, rear-engine cars. He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1993.