The open-wheel world is mourning the passing of two individuals who played a big part in the evolution of the sport.
First, veteran Indianapolis 500 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network announcer Doug Zink passed away Sunday at the age of 78, according to The Indianapolis Star and a tweet by current 500 announcer Mark Jaynes.
Zink began a long association with the racetrack by serving as a backstretch reporter from 1966-1973, was Turn 3 announcer from 1974-1981 and Turn 2 voice from 1982-1984.
Zink spent 27 years with Indianapolis radio station WIRE before retiring in 1986.
The IndyCar world is also mourning Larry Slutter, 73, of Reno, Nevada. Formerly of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, Slutter passed away on Monday, April 4, one day before what would have been his 74th birthday.
According to LehighValleyLive.com, Slutter was a longtime fixture on the IndyCar scene, working for a number of top team owners including A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Lloyd Ruby.
Slutter was instrumental in developing the Ford racing engine in the 1960s, as well as the Cosworth DFX motor while working for Parnelli Jones.
He also worked for Toyota Racing Development before retiring in 2008, but continued to work part-time building racing engines in his own shop.
Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.
Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.