<VV> John Fitch Exhibit
Robert Marlow, Vairtec Corp.
vairtec at optonline.net
Fri Jul 21 16:12:48 EDT 2006
The Northeast Corvair Council is pleased to announce:
A truly special exhibit
John Fitch: An American Racing Hero
Presented by Mercedes-Benz
at the Saratoga Automobile Museum
110 Avenue of the Pines
Saratoga Springs, NY
beginning July 29
Fighter pilot, race driver, racing team manager, Lime Rock Park
circuit director, highway safety innovator, automaker, entrepreneur
John Fitch has done it all, and more.
Born in Indianapolis in 1917, John attended his first Indy 500 as a
passenger in a Stutz Bearcat. During World War II, he flew the P-51
Mustang and was one of the first Americans to shoot down a
Messerschmitt. Shot down himself two months before the war ended,
John was a POW when hostilities ceased.
Back home he began his racing career in an MG TC. His GP of Argentina
win in an Allard J2 catapulted him into the limelight. Joining Briggs
Cunningham, he co-drove a Cunningham C4R to victory at Sebring with
Phil Walters in 1953.
The legendary Alfred Neubauer chose John as the first American driver
for the Mercedes-Benz racing team, an adventure capped by his
remarkable fifth overall and class win in the 1955 Mille Miglia
driving a production Mercedes-Benz 300SL and breaking the class
record by over an hour.
Heading up the Corvette racing team at Sebring following his return
to the U.S., he transformed a passenger car-based boulevard sports
car into a world-class competitor. Using his extensive experience at
European and America circuits, he helped engineer Lime Rock race track.
During the 1960s John created the Fitch Sprint, based on Chevrolet's
Corvair coupe, and the Fitch Phoenix, a one-off sports coupe with a
modified, four-carburetor, 170-bhp flat six Corvair engine. As part
of the exhibit two Fitch Sprint Corvairs will be on display by
arrangement with the NECC.
In his final racing years, John drove such diverse mounts as a
Lotus 11, a 2.0-liter Maserati, a Cooper Monaco, and a Genie. He
co-drove his last race with Briggs Cunningham in a Porsche 904 at
Sebring in 1966.
Thereafter John began his crusade for automobile safety. His Fitch
Inertial Barriers (the yellow, sand-filled plastic barrels used at
intersections and bridge abutments) are credited with the saving of
countless lives. His racing safety innovations include the
Displaceable Guardrail, the Compression Barrier, and the Fitch Driver
Capsule. His Fitch Fuel Catalyst enhances fuel volatility, improves
mileage and reduces emissions. Like the steamboat pioneer from whom
he is descended, John Fitch is a tireless and creative inventor.
Inducted into the National Corvette Hall of Fame in 2000, John has
since competed at Bonneville in a specially-prepared 300SL Gullwing
and hopes to set a record there this year. Eighty-nine years young,
John Fitch is a hero, a legend, and a truly remarkable man.
Historical information courtesy of John Fitch, Carl Goodwin and Rich Taylor.
Robert W. Marlow
Vairtec at optonline.net
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