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Indianapolis 500 veteran Rasmussen dies at 85

Indianapolis 500 veteran Rasmussen dies at 85

Eldon Rasmussen, a Canadian driver who made three starts in the Indianapolis 500, died on June 5. He was 85.

Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Rasmussen competed in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in 1975, 1977 and 1979.

His best start was 32nd in 1975 and 1977, with a best finish of 13th in 1977 in the No. 58 Rent-a-Racer, Inc. entry featuring a “Ras-car” chassis that he built using his considerable manufacturing skills.

In the 1975 race, Rasmussen was involved in one of the most dramatic accidents in Indianapolis 500 history. Tom Sneva tried to give Rasmussen a lap and ran over his left front wheel, causing Sneva’s car to launch into the wall of Turn 2. The car exploded and fell apart on impact, but Sneva miraculously escaped serious injury.

Rasmussen began racing dirt roads in Southern Alberta, including more than 600 starts in the touring CAMRA series. He made more than 50 USAC Sprint Car starts before climbing to the USAC National Championship in the 1970s, taking three top-10 finishes in 23 career starts. He finished seventh in his career in a 1975 100-mile heat race at Ontario Motor Speedway, and he finished ninth that weekend in the 500-mile track.

He retired from racing in 1979 after sustaining an injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway and then returned to his much sought-after work as a race car engineer, designer, builder and constructor in the Indianapolis area.

Rasmussen designed and built some of the first wings for Indianapolis 500 cars and created innovative rear wings for NHRA Top Fuel dragsters. He also built machines for a variety of racing disciplines, including ice racing, motorcycle sidecar racing and karting.

Rasmussen was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2001.

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