Indianapolis 500 veteran Ted Prappas passed away following a battle with colon cancer on Friday (April 22). He was 66.
Prappas earned his first and only starting spot in the 1992 running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” but the way he made it in made the highlight reel. The southern California native completed a successful qualifying run on Bump Day with just six minutes remaining on the clock in his third and final attempt running his primary car.
The last-second Hail Mary initially bumped Scott Goodyear from the field. However, Walker Racing announced days later that Goodyear would replace Mike Groff. The move nearly paid off for Goodyear, who started from the rear of the field and wound up finishing second to Al Unser Jr. by .043 of a second, the closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history.
Prappas finished 16th in the No. 31 P.I.G./Say No To Drugs Lola-Chevrolet fielded by P.I.G. Enterprises and owner Norm Turley. However, like much of the field, Prappas failed to finish the race, and gearbox issues forced him to retire after 135 laps.
Prappas climbed to CART with P.I.G. in the 1991 and 1992 seasons after finishing second in the Indy Lights Series standings in 1990. He won two races in the series, in 1990 at Laguna Seca for P.I.G. and in 1989 at Detroit for TEAMKAR International.
Although Prappas finished runner-up to Jeff Andretti in the CART Rookie of the Year Standings in 1991, he mostly struggled. Prappas failed to score a podium, and his best finish was sixth as a rookie in 1991 at Long Beach. Following a disappointing 1992 season, Prappas never raced again.
He started his open-wheel career in Super Vee in 1983 in a car purchased for him by Academy Award-winning actor James Stewart. Prappas’ mother was Stewart’s agent.
Prappas won the 1986 West Coast Atlantic Racing Series championship before moving to Indy Lights in 1988.
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