Eldon Rasmussen, a Canadian driver who made three starts in the Indianapolis 500, died June 5. He was 85.
Rasmussen, a native of Edmonton, Alberta, competed in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in 1975, 1977 and 1979.
His best start was 32nd in 1975 and 1977, with a best finish of 13th in 1977 in the No. 58 Rent-a-Racer, Inc. entry that featured a “Ras-car” chassis he built with his considerable fabrication skills.
In the 1975 race, Rasmussen was involved in one of the most dramatic accidents in Indianapolis 500 history. Tom Sneva was trying to lap Rasmussen and ran over his left front wheel, launching Sneva’s car into the Turn 2 wall. The car exploded and disintegrated upon impact, but Sneva miraculously escaped serious injury.
Rasmussen started racing on dirt tracks in Southern Alberta, including making more than 600 starts in the touring CAMRA series. He made more than 50 USAC Sprint Car starts before climbing to the USAC National Championship throughout the 1970s, with three top-10 finishes in 23 career starts. His finished a career-best seventh in a 100-mile heat race in 1975 at Ontario Motor Speedway, and he finished ninth in the 500-mile feature that weekend.
He retired as a driver in 1979 after suffering an injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway and then returned his focus to his in-demand work as a race car engineer, designer, builder and fabricator in the Indianapolis area.
Rasmussen designed and built some of the first wings for Indianapolis 500 cars and created innovative rear wings for NHRA Top Fuel dragsters. He also built machines for varied racing disciplines, including ice racing, motorcycle sidecar racing and karting.
Rasmussen was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2001.