Rufus Parnell “Parnelli” Jones, famous US racing driver and team owner, started his racing career in 1950s from different classes of stock car racing. He won 15 races in the regional NASCAR Pacific Coast Late Model Series. In 1956-60 Parnelli Jones also started in some races in the highest stock car championship – NASCAR Grand National, scoring 3 victories. In 1958 he graduated to sprint car racing sanctioned by California Racing Association (CRA), and in 1960 debuted in his Fike Plumbing Special in the USAC Sprint Car Championship winning the Midwest series, while A.J. Foyt claimed USAC’s Eastern title. The 1960 was also his first season in Big cars – Jones was 18th in the USAC National Championship. In 1961 Parnelli Jones took part in all 4 major USAC series. He focused mostly on the USAC Sprint Car Championship and USAC National Championship, but often raced in the USAC National Midget series and occasionally started in the USAC Stock Car Championship.
The 1961 USAC National Championship included 12 races. Five of them were held on paved ovals, and 7 on dirt tracks. J.C. Agajanian’s team used Watson-Offy roadsters for paved superspeedways at Indianapolis 500 and Milwaukie 200, and Lesovsky – Offy big car for shorter (usually, 100-miles) races on short dirt or paved ovals. Both cars were officially named Willard Battery Special. The dirt car was manufactured by Los Angeles based car builder Ludwig “Lujie” Lesovsky. Of Czechoslovakian blood, he ran his L.A. Lesovsky Race Car Engineering garage which mostly dealt with modifying Kuzmas, Kurtis Krafts, Epperlys, and Watsons, than in constructing his own vehicles. Lesovsky build just 5 Indy-500 roadsters and some dirt big cars. The owner of the car was Joshua (J.C.) Agjanian, a businessman of Armenian origin, one of most influenced and famous persons in US motor racing of the 1950s – 60s. He ran his family’s refuse collection and hog ranching businesses in California, but promoting of motor races and his own cars was actually his main and most loved activity. The money for his team came from Willard Storage Battery Corporation, an early leader in the development and manufacture of automobile batteries, founded by Theodore A. Willard in Cleveland. In 1961 its factory in Cleveland shuts down and the company goes bankrupt. In his Willard Battery Specials Parnelli Jones was not very successful on paved ovals, but showed much better performance on dirt tracks. He drove his Lesovsky – Offy dirt car to 2nd places at Langhorne 100, and Golden State 100 at Sacramento before taking his first championship race win at the final round of the 1961 season, Bobby Ball Memorial at Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix. In the final 1961 USAC National Championship standings Jones was 9th. The Champion was A.J. Foyt, who lost the Sprint Car title to Parnelli, but excelled in the most prestigious and most money-earning series.
|1961||USAC National Championship|
|Parnelli Jones||98||J.C. Agajanian|
|Lesovsky||Offenhauser||Willard Battery Special|
|1:43||GMP||Limited Edition 1:43 Parnelli Jones 3 Car Set|
|1443 / 7682|