John C. Fitch

Lakeville CT

RRDC memberships are supposed to be for those who have worked to improve our sport by giving back in some way … they can also be for serious accomplishments behind the wheel … either way, John Cooper Fitch is exceedingly qualified … From his first SCCA amateur win at Thompson Speedway in Connecticut in 1949 behind the wheel of a MG-TC to a 1951 win in the Argentine Grand Prix while driving a Cadillac-Allard, the Indianapolis 500 in start 1953, a 1955 production car class win in the deadly Millie Miglia, Flying Mile records on the Daytona beach sands, Sebring, Nassau, Watkins Glen and the rest of them, if John was not a race winner on the rare weekend, at least he was a championship gentleman … Born in Indianapolis with a blue chip genealogy, he drove in the first race at the Lime Rock Park track built practically in his back yard and was the track’s general manager; he served as team manager and engineering consultant, for Chevrolet’s factory Corvette team … after graduating from Lehigh with an engineering degree, he volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Corps…as a combat pilot he flew over North Africa and over Europe where he scored a confirmed Messerschmitt kill … while strafing a German train, he was shot down and spent the final two months of the war in a German prison camp … he is credited with designing five cars with engineering points that lived decades longer than the cars’ badges … with auto safety as his goal, he designed the Fitch Compression Barrier, the Fitch Driver Capsule, and the Fitch Displaceable Guardrail, among other features … today’s sand-filled barrels in highway construction zones are also his invention…the Fitch (or New Jersey) Barrier, inspired by the sand-filled gas cans he used to protect his tent from Axis strafing …He also served as a design consultant for many American road racing courses … his final professional race was the 1966 12 Hours of Sebring in Briggs Cunningham’s Porsche 904. Fitch was a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

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