The racing world lost one of its most underrated legends last week.
According to Autoweek, CART and one-time IndyCar racer Ted Prappas passed away at the age of 66 after a battle with colon cancer.
As Racer reported, Prappas earned his spot as an “elder statesman among the sizable group of skilled drivers who rose up the training categories in the 1980s.”
As Prappas and his peers chased their IndyCar dreams in the 80s, Prappas and a handful of West Coast racers were described as “staples” in the popular CCA Super Vee series, Formula Atlantics, and Indy Lights races.
Racing for the dream
Prappas finally got his shot in the Indy 500, also called “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” in what was described by those in the business as a “dramatic” entrance.
In 1992, Prappas got his dream shot after “making a successful qualifying run at 5:54 p.m. on Bump Day, Sunday, May 17, just six minutes before qualifications ended. Prappas became the final driver to qualify with his run, in his third and final attempt in his primary car.”
Unfortunately, he was taken out of the race after 135 laps due to gearbox trouble with his car. But making it to the big show already made him a winner, and he undoubtedly earned the lifetime respect of his friends and racing colleagues.
Notably, Prappas’ first racecar was purchased for him by none other than Academy Award-winning legendary actor James Stewart. Prappas’ mother had successfully managed Stewart’s career.
“Happy to be driving”
In addition to his perpetual respected underdog status, Prappas was also known as a humble driver who simply loved to race, and loved the sport.
“He wasn’t chasing a bigger house or status symbols. He was just happy to be driving racecars and he didn’t come from money; didn’t have sponsors. He got to IndyCar on his talent as a driver and being a good guy,” former fellow driver Paul Tracy said.
Tracy added: “He didn’t care if you didn’t know who he was. He was a guy who was happy just who he was; he wasn’t about being a household name or making a pile of money.”
Clearly, Prappas had a massive impact on the sport, and he will be missed and remembered fondly by many.