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Indianapolis 500 Veteran Prappas Dies at 66

Ted Prappas, who made his sole Indianapolis 500 start in 1992, died April 22. He was 66.

Southern California native Prappas started 32nd and finished 16th in the No. 31 PIG/Say No To Drugs Lola-Chevrolet fielded by P.I.G. Enterprises and owner Norm Turley. Prappas was sidelined due to gearbox problems after completing 135 laps in the unseasonably cold 1992 race.

Prappas earned his only starting spot in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in dramatic fashion, 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.

In an interesting historical footnote, Prappas’ successful qualifying run bumped Scott Goodyear from the field. In the next few days, Walker Racing announced Goodyear would replace Mike Groff in the team’s qualified car. Goodyear started from the rear of the field and fell just .043 of a second short of victory to Al Unser Jr. in the closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history.

Prappas climbed to CART with P.I.G. in the 1991 and 1992 seasons after finishing second in the Indy Lights standings with the team in 1990. His best finish was sixth as a rookie in 1991 at Long Beach. He was runner-up to Jeff Andretti in the CART Rookie of the Year standings in 1991.

The team fielded a car for Prappas in the 1991 Indianapolis 500 but failed to qualify.

Prappas won two career Indy Lights races, in 1990 at Laguna Seca for P.I.G. and in 1989 at Detroit for TEAMKAR International.

He started his open-wheel career in Super Vee in 1983 in a car bought for him by Academy Award-winning legendary actor James Stewart. Prappas’ mother helped to manage Stewart’s career.

Prappas won the championship in the 1986 West Coast Atlantic Racing series before climbing to Indy Lights in 1988.

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