Floyd Ganassi, 1926-2013


Everyone who knew Floyd Ganassi was deeply saddened to learn of his death on Monday. Floyd was Chip Ganassi’s father and was a great supporter of his son’s racing teams, often accompanying Chip to IndyCar, NASCAR and Grand-Am races. He was 87.

Floyd was an entirely self-made man who started his career driving his own cement truck and went on to become one of Pittsburgh’s most successful businessmen. Ganassi created the FRG Group, a vast holding company engaged in everything from manufacturing to telecommunications, and when his son Chip decided to go racing, first on motocross ‘bikes, then in Formula Fords, Floyd supported him all the way.

Chip made it to Indycars, but a bad accident at the Michigan Speedway in 1984 resulted in the end of his driving career. A few years later Chip became a junior partner in Pat Patrick’s IndyCar team and in 1989 he completed his purchase of it. Ganassi secured sponsorship from Target Stores and soon established his team as one of the best in IndyCar racing.

Ganassi’s team has won 93 IndyCar races and nine CART or IndyCar championships with Jimmy Vasser, Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti. Chip also expanded into Grand-Am and NASCAR and his teams have won five Daytona 24 Hours and five Grand-Am championships as well as the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 NASCAR races.

Amid all this success Chip enjoyed unwavering support from his father Floyd who was renowned as a tough businessman with a kind heart. Floyd stayed very much in the background, but there was no better man for Chip to turn to for advice when needed.

Floyd loved to take photos at the races and the following week an envelope would arrive in many mailboxes marked ‘Photos from Floyd’. Inside would be three or four photos taken by Floyd of yourself with a luminary or two. He did this every week, sending his photos to hundreds of his friends. It must have been a monumental organisational task, but Floyd made it happen with zeal and good humour.

Floyd also learned to take action shots and it’s our pleasure to include here a shot he took of Scott Dixon making a pitstop at the St. Petersburg street circuit a few years ago (above). He beamed with pride over this shot and many, many people will miss his warm grin and firm handshake.

As Chip’s team said in a statement issued on Monday afternoon: “Floyd was beloved at racetracks all across the country and leaves a long trail of great friends. He will be sorely missed by us all.”

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