Jerry Grant (January 23, 1935 – August 12, 2012), was a driver in the USAC Championship Car series. Born in Seattle, he began racing sports cars in Northern California in the early 1960s. He raced in the 1965-1977 seasons, with 54 career starts, including the Indianapolis 500 in 1965-1968, 1970 and 1972-1976. He finished in the top ten 13 times, with his best finish in 3rd position in 1974 at Ontario.
Grant is best remembered for his bad luck at the 1972 Indianapolis 500 that cost him first victory and then second place. He was leading the race comfortably over Mark Donohue when a punctured tire forced him to pit with 12 laps to go. As Donohue went past into the lead, Grant overshot his pit and stopped at his teammate Bobby Unser's. His mechanics changed the tire in Unser's pit, and also refueled the car - from Unser's pit tank. Grant returned to the track and finished second to Donohue. Al Unser's team filed a protest, saying that Grant had used fuel from another driver's supply. The protest was upheld and Grant's final 12 laps were not counted, dropping him from 2nd to 12th.
Grant was the first USAC driver to break 200 miles per hour (320 km/h). He accomplished the feat in qualifying at the Ontario Motor Speedway on September 3, 1972, completing a 2.5-mile (4.0 km) lap in 44.7 seconds. however on raceday Grant's Eagle failed to complete a lap.
In addition to the controversial finish at Indianapolis in 1972, Grant suffered another famous stroke of bad luck in 1966, when his Ford GT Mk.II, with co-driver Dan Gurney behind the wheel, suffered an engine failure while leading two minutes from the end of the 12 Hours of Sebring. As at Indy, Gurney and Grant would have been awarded second place had they simply left the car where it came to rest. Instead, Gurney attempted to push the car over the finish line in violation of FIA rules, and the pair were disqualified.
Later in his career, Grant was the racing representative for Champion Spark Plugs, followed by Prolong oil conditioner.
Grant died August 12, 2012 from liver failure and diabetes at an Orange County, California hospital at the age of 77.
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