He always brought a smile and his trusty camera to the racetrack and it almost seemed like everyone in the IndyCar paddock was his friend.
Floyd Ganassi, who passed away Monday at the age of 87, was a fixture by his son’s side at IndyCar races the past 30 years passing out goodwill and photos with equal enthusiasm and was also the impetus for what has become one of the most successful teams in motorsports.
“Floyd meant the world to me, he was always kind and gracious,” said Mike Hull, the lieutenant for the Target/Ganassi team the past three decades. “And I know he was that way with everybody.
“I attended a function in Pittsburgh not long ago where Floyd was being honored and met a lot of people whose lives had been affected by him and you could tell they were very positive relationships. I think it’s very difficult to describe what he meant to Chip and to all of us.”
Floyd with George Franchitti and Allan McNish (Dan R. Boyd photo).
The dynamic among father and son was unmistakeable. Chip’s sometimes caustic and abrupt personality was totally the opposite of Floyd’s good-natured persona, yet they shared many fun times at racetracks since the early 1980s.
It’s hard to imagine how many pictures Floyd shot each weekend but when that envelope showed up Monday or Tuesday after a race with the Pittsburgh postmark you knew what was inside.
A little sleeve titled: “Photos from Floyd Ganassi of the Indy race on July …..” Hell, he was a better shooter than some people who got paid to do it. But the kindly old grandfather was a shrewd businessman in his day and, without him, there probably wouldn’t be a Chip Ganassi Racing.
A big success in the sand and gravel business, Floyd was a proud pop when Chip was the fastest rookie qualifier for the 1982 Indianapolis 500 (RIGHT) and supported his son’s career wholeheartedly. However, the nasty accident at Michigan in 1984 that nearly took his son’s life sobered Floyd’s outlook and he eventually made a deal.
“I told him I’d buy him a race team if he quit driving,” said Floyd back in 1990 after Chip took over Pat Patrick’s operation. “I knew he loved racing and I wanted him to be in it but not as a driver anymore.”
Securing Target as a sponsor in 1990, Chip has become one of the winningest car owners in IndyCar history and Floyd always stayed in the shadows but was close by to give advice or support.
“The last time I saw him he was making a beeline for victory lane to congratulate Charlie (Kimball),” said Hull.
Service arrangements are pending.