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captainaudio 10-31-2012 11:18 AM

RIP John Fitch
 
I am posting this in the E9x forum because I know that many of the regulars here had met John Fitch at our Lime Rock get-togethers over the years and because books and posters that he had signed were popular auction items at C2C3 and C2C4.

========================================

I was saddened to hear that one of Motorsports most beloved and respected figures, legendary driver John Fitch, passed away this morning at the age of 95. John was a true gentleman and I was honored to have known him.

This is a picture that was taken the last time I saw him which was at the Limerock Historic Festival last Labor Day Weekend. He is sitting next to Sir Stirling Moss who was his friend and at various times had been his competition, co-driver and teammate. He was obviously in failing health but he sat there for hours signing autographs,


http://limerock.com/images/Fitch_2_web.jpg


Link to Autoweek article here.

http://www.autoweek.com/article/20121031/ALMS/121019873

John was an important member of the Lime Rock Community. He was involved in the design of the track 55 years ago and was the first track manager. His home was in Lime Rock very close to the track and he and his one of a kind Fitch Phoenix were familiar sights at the track.

The picture below is of John in the Fitch Phoenix at the 2008 Greenwich Concours.

http://www.greenwichconcours.com/images/2008car7.jpg

John was waiting for his turn to drive at the 1955 24 hours of LeMans when Pierre Levegh, his co-driver in a factory entered Mercedes 300SLR, crashed into the crowd killing himself and 83 spetators and injuring another 120. This remains the worst accident in the history of motor racing. After this horrific incident Fitch (as everyone called him) became interested in racing and automobile safety and came up with many safety innovations. One of his inventions was the yellow plastic sand filled barrels that are used as collision barriers on public highways. So the next time you see one of them you will know that they are called Fitch Barriers and that they were invented by a man who was a pioneer in road racing and who beacme a living legend.

The picture below is of John with a Mercedes 300 SLR at Bonneville in 2005. He was attempting (at age 89) to set the land speed record for the F/GT class (2.01L to 3.0L grand touring sport)

http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog....tch_bv2005.jpg


RIP John. You were one of a kind.

CA

DSXMachina 10-31-2012 01:21 PM

He was a real gentleman. There are so few like him.
Please let us know if there is an on-line condolence book.

(I have Racing With Mercedes if anyone would like to borrow it.)

captainaudio 10-31-2012 02:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DSXMachina (Post 7168542)
He was a real gentleman. There are so few like him.
Please let us know if there is an on-line condolence book.

(I have Racing With Mercedes if anyone would like to borrow it.)


This is a good shot of the Fitch Phoenix. It was a one of a kind prototype that was going to be a production car, It was based on the Chevoloet Corvair and the body was built by Intermechanica of Italy. Before production began Ralph Nader's "Unsafe at any Speed" was published and GM killed the Corvair.

http://i230.photobucket.com/albums/e...o/DSC04622.jpg


This is a shot of John at the 2011 Greenwich Concours signing the copy of Racing with Mercedes that DSX won at the C2C3 auction.

http://i230.photobucket.com/albums/e...o/DSC04616.jpg

This is John with legendary motorsports jounalist Chris Ecomomaki, who passed away September 28th and racer/journalist Sam Posey at the 2008 groundbreaking party for the renovation and repaving of Lime Rock Park

http://i230.photobucket.com/albums/e...t/DSC02094.jpg

CA

fun2drive 10-31-2012 04:17 PM

95 as a racing car driver is a respectable age to be when passing.
These guys are the pioneers of racing when they raced because it was in their blood...

Nordic_Kat 10-31-2012 05:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fun2drive (Post 7168773)
95 as a racing car driver is a respectable age to be when passing.
These guys are the pioneers of racing when they raced because it was in their blood...

+1

A solemn toast to a life well lived.

lqaddict 10-31-2012 08:15 PM

I've never had privilege meeting the legendary race car driver and car safety advocate, but I've heard so much about him and his destiny. RIP John Fitch may your spirit always enlighten car racing community and the LRP be forever ground where you found peace.

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Bimmer App

captainaudio 10-31-2012 09:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lqaddict (Post 7169197)
I've never had privilege meeting the legendary race car driver and car safety advocate, but I've heard so much about him and his destiny. RIP John Fitch may your spirit always enlighten car racing community and the LRP be forever ground where you found peace.

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Bimmer App

I had originally planned for Fitch to be our guest of honor at the Autumn Foliage Festival dinner at the Falls Village Inn but his health had been failing rapidly and as it turned out he passed away a few days after the event. He was a fascinating speaker and had known a huge number of prominent people from all walks of life ranging from the obvious such as race drivers Stirling Moss, Phil Hill and Juan Fangio but he had also know various Kennedy's including Rose and Jack, Orville Wright, Eva Peron and the The Duke and Duchess of Windsor and many others.

CA

beden1 10-31-2012 09:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by captainaudio (Post 7169270)
I had originally planned for Fitch to be our guest of honor at the Autumn Foliage Festival dinner at the Falls Village Inn but his health had been failing rapidly and as it turned out he passed away a few days after the event. He was a fascinating speaker and had known a huge number of prominent people from all walks of life ranging from the obvious such as race drivers Stirling Moss, Phil Hill and Juan Fangio but he had also know various Kennedy's including Rose and Jack, Orville Wright, Eva Peron and the Prince of Wales.

CA

It sounds like he lived a full and rewarding life.

DougN 11-01-2012 05:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lqaddict (Post 7169197)
I've never had privilege meeting the legendary race car driver and car safety advocate, but I've heard so much about him and his destiny. RIP John Fitch may your spirit always enlighten car racing community and the LRP be forever ground where you found peace.

Could not have said it any better. RIP sir.

SD Z4MR 11-02-2012 05:28 PM

The December 2012 issue of Road & Track arrived today and there is an 8-page write-up on John Fitch. It was probably written several weeks before he passed away.

captainaudio 11-03-2012 10:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SD Z4MR (Post 7172554)
The December 2012 issue of Road & Track arrived today and there is an 8-page write-up on John Fitch. It was probably written several weeks before he passed away.

I received my copy of R&T today. The article focused on Fitch and Sterling Moss at the Lime Rock Historic Festival which was last Labor Day weekend. I was at that event and that was the last time I saw John Fitch.

CA

GarySL 11-15-2012 08:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by captainaudio (Post 7173502)
I received my copy of R&T today. The article focused on Fitch and Sterling Moss at the Lime Rock Historic Festival which was last Labor Day weekend. I was at that event and that was the last time I saw John Fitch.

CA

Link to the well-done coverage of a legend:

http://www.roadandtrack.com/racing/m...ife-well-lived

captainaudio 11-15-2012 09:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DSXMachina (Post 7168542)
He was a real gentleman. There are so few like him.
Please let us know if there is an on-line condolence book.

(I have Racing With Mercedes if anyone would like to borrow it.)

Some information on the memorial service here:


http://www.racesafety.com/memorial-services.html


CA

captainaudio 11-26-2012 06:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DSXMachina (Post 7168542)
He was a real gentleman. There are so few like him.
Please let us know if there is an on-line condolence book.

(I have Racing With Mercedes if anyone would like to borrow it.)

There is an online tribute at this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=89s0lV0nnwE

There will be a memorial service at Trinity Church (Accross the street from Lime Rock) at 2:00 PM on Saturday December 5th.

http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/184b...jpg/xlarge.jpg

CA

SD Z4MR 11-26-2012 07:04 PM

There's an article on page 29 in the Nov 26 issue of Autoweek on John Fitch's 1966 "Fitch Phoenix", a car that he designed based on the Corvair that he planned to market. Bad timing, the National Traffic and Motor Safety Vehicle Act was signed a few months after he started taking deposits. GM then killed the Corvair, which also killed the Phoenix.

captainaudio, I'm guessing that you've seen, and perhaps even ridden in this vehicle, as it apparently made regular appearances at Lime Rock on race weekends.

captainaudio 11-26-2012 07:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SD Z4MR (Post 7215802)
There's an article on page 29 in the Nov 26 issue of Autoweek on John Fitch's 1966 "Fitch Phoenix", a car that he designed based on the Corvair that he planned to market. Bad timing, the National Traffic and Motor Safety Vehicle Act was signed a few months after he started taking deposits. GM then killed the Corvair, which also killed the Phoenix.

captainaudio, I'm guessing that you've seen, and perhaps even ridden in this vehicle, as it apparently made regular appearances at Lime Rock on race weekends.

Fitch lived accross the road from Lime Rock and he and the Fitch Phoenix were regular fixtures there, The Phoenix also made regular appearances at the Greenwich Concours. I saw the car dozens of times and discussed it with Fitch but never rode in it.

Here is the Fitch Phoenix at the Greenwich Cocours and on the Midway at Lime Rock on a race day.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2397/...7c8b6c3d97.jpghttp://www.coolcatcorp.com/limerock/phoenix6.jpg

captainaudio 12-11-2012 07:59 PM

John Fitch was laid to rest on December 1st in a ceremony at Trinity Episcopal Church, which is on Lime Rock Road in Lakeville Ct. accross the road from Lime Rock Park and very close to John's home.

He was honored with a moment of silence today at the Madison Avenue Sports Car Driving and Chowder Society December meeting and Christmas party at Sardi's in New York. John Fitch was a long time member.


http://www.briggscunningham.com/wp-c...ID-TO-REST.pdf

This is a video of John's 95th birthday party last summer.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztfUw...ature=youtu.be


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