Happy birthday to open-wheel legend, Parnelli Jones

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We wish Parnelli Jones a happy 80th birthday today. It’s a banner year for the open-wheel legend, as 2013 marked the 50-year anniversary of his 1963 win at the Indianapolis 500. He was on hand as Ed Carpenter took the pole for this year’s 500.

Gentlemen who are older and more experienced than I am in racing – NBC Sports Network’s IndyCar insider and pit reporter Robin Miller and longtime IndyCar PR ace Steve Shunck come to mind off the top of my head – can probably offer better stories or words regarding some of Jones’ exploits on the track. Miller has said before if racing had a Mount Rushmore, you’d see “‘ol Rufus'” face on it.

Beyond being a great racer, he’s also served as a great ambassador for the sport over the years. Son P.J. raced in IndyCar off-and-on from 1996 through 2007, with a best finish of second at Nazareth Speedway in 1999.