Saturday, December 30, 2023

Gil de Ferran Dies at Age 56

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Gil de Ferran and Good Buddy Helio Castroneves at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2023. (The Tomaso Collection)


As De Ferran accomplished so many things inside and out of the cockpit. Including being a team owner in Sports Cars and IndyCar, to BAR Honda F1 Sporting Director and more…


Late Friday evening, I was listening to my NFB Newsline for The Blind telephone news, and was shocked by what I heard upon the Indianapolis Star’s Sport section!


As the news that Gil de Ferran had died from a Heart attack at age 56 sent a chill down my spine! For which naturally the entire motor racing fraternity is shocked over. Not to mention obviously gil’s family!


According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, De Ferran who was racing along with His son Luke in Boca-Locka, florida suddenly wasn’t feeling good and pulled over, before eventually dying from Heart attack!


I only met De Ferran once briefly during a long ago Legends Day outing at Mother Speedway. Where Carpets’ was my IMS Sherpa, and I recall several people running past us due to our slow pace. Leading us to a shorter autograph line that included De Ferran.


Gil always seemed to be the consummate Gentleman with a laconic vocal style which led me to believe He was somewhat cerebral. Yet this allowed Him to also play pranks upon unsuspecting friends and fellow racing drivers. As just ask Helio Castroneves about being pulled over on 16th and Georgetown for speeding!

As my favourite racing memory of De Ferran has to be the year He won at Portland International Raceway, for which I initially guessed was 1997. Before quickly remembering that was when Mark Blundell triumphed for Home-team PacWest Racing.


De Ferran held off  hard charging Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Juan Pablo Montoya, who’d started from Pole and led much of the race. With Montoya finishing runner-up and Dario Franchitti for Team Cool Green third


As the win at Portland in 1999 was Gil’s first in three years, before moving to Penske Racing the following season…


As Gil was driving for Walker Racing and running on Goodyear tyres, which at that point were inferior to Firestone rubber. Yet the cagey Derrick Walker called another master-class strategy that enabled De Ferran to win!


Gil is obviously best remembered for winning the 2003 Indianapolis 500 for Penske Racing, after finishing runner-up to Penske teammate Castroneves in ’01.


De Ferran won a total of 12 IndyCar races and 21 Poles. Along with the 2000-01 CART/FedEx IndyCar Championships, also driving for Roger Penske.


Along with setting the All-time closed course fastest lap speed at Fontana Speedway. Where De Ferran went an astounding 241.428mph in a Penske Racing Reynard 2k Honda in 2000!


Photo C/O No Fenders Offical’ Photographer CARPETS’