|Grant came close to winning Indy in '72.|
(Courtesy Indianapolis Motor Speedway)
Maybe fast laps and “almost wins” are sometimes just footnotes when we look at open wheel racing’s history, but they’re also part of what gives it depth and meaning. Jerry Grant qualified for Indianapolis 10 times, bridging a gap where revolutionary changes in cars were a yearly occurrence. His first 500 featured Jim Clark as winner; in his last attempt, he failed to qualify along with a young rookie named Rick Mears. He was a well-respected driver, and seemed to be a part of some of the strangest chapters in racing. Yet beyond that, it seems as if he raced just about every type of car at one point or another, from USAC to NASCAR to Can-Am and much more.
In a Forbes interview in 2003, Jerry Grant seemed acutely aware of how close he had come to winning Indianapolis, and just how unfair his hand may have been. Whatever he may have felt about his place in racing history, there can be no doubt there’s certainly one for him in its pages.