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John Fitch


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#1 Doug Nye

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 16:35

I am sorry to say I have just heard that John Fitch - the influential, indestructible John Fitch - engineer, combat pilot, racing driver, safety campaigner - has passed away. Sincerest sympathy to his family and many friends.

DCN

Edited by Doug Nye, 31 October 2012 - 16:37.


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#2 bradbury west

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 16:49

What sad news, but a good life. Another of the old school gone. I always felt that Simon Taylor's "Lunch with" Mr Fitch article was one of the most enjoyable and entertaining.
Roger Lund

#3 Mal9444

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 17:01

What sad news, but a good life. Another of the old school gone. I always felt that Simon Taylor's "Lunch with" Mr Fitch article was one of the most enjoyable and entertaining.
Roger Lund


Is that article accessible? I should very much like to read it.


#4 Ray Bell

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 17:03

A sad loss indeed...

I would think Sir Stirling will not be taking that news lightly either, he would surely have fond memories of John Fitch.

A man, as I understand it, of an incredibly wide range of tastes and interests. I'm think there's information somewhere on this forum about him having resolved some problem with his home or property in a very unusual manner... quite apart from all the obvious contributions he's made to society.

#5 fbarrett

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 17:10

Damn! What a great man. I was fortunate enough to spend a little time with him, and he was extremely personable, a real gentleman. Luckily his life was recorded through his biographies, and his accomplishments will live on.

Frank

#6 RonPohl

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 17:16

A life well lived.

#7 T54

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 17:19

Here is an article from Autoweek: CLICK HERE.
One of the nicest, kindest men I have ever had the privilege to meet.
John, Rest in Peace. You deserve it.

#8 Mal9444

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 17:44

Here is an article from Autoweek: CLICK HERE.
One of the nicest, kindest men I have ever had the privilege to meet.
John, Rest in Peace. You deserve it.


I am indebted to you for this. I saw John Fitch in action only once, at Dundrod in 1955 where he did not shine: no need to go into detail. Moss held him responsible for Mercedes' withdrawal from Le Mans when they were looking like winning, a decision which understandably dismayed Moss and he felt JF's 'interference' inappropriate (in fact the decision was probably correct: as the MB press boss asked: 'and how are you going to celebrate at 4o'clock?'). So my view of John Fitch was badly informed.

One lives and learns.


#9 jj2728

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 18:01

RIP

#10 racinggeek

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 18:28

This is a shame and a loss. Mr. Fitch allowed me to interview him, by phone, for a newspaper story on racing safety back in 2000, and despite the fact that he was speaking to a reporter he undoubtedly never heard of who was working for a publication he also undoubtedly never heard of, he was gracious, patient, clear and direct in the 10 or 15 minutes we talked. RIP to a racer, innovator and safety expert who made it obvious he also was a true gentleman in the brief time I was able to talk with him.

#11 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 18:39

A very nice man who seemed eager to please when I met him...

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With my friend Shane Davis, Monterey 2004

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In 2005, Merv Therriault made up a Jenks roller map for our trip to California, which Fitch, and, I believe, Moss, signed. I regret not getting a photo of Fitch with Moss and the #722 300SLR, which, I think, were only a few feet away !

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Pebble Beach Tour, Carmel, 2007 (car only)

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Vince H.

Edited by raceannouncer2003, 31 October 2012 - 20:48.


#12 Mig007

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 18:50

RIP

#13 wsp77

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 19:00

I am sorry to say I have just heard that John Fitch - the influential, indestructible John Fitch - engineer, combat pilot, racing driver, safety campaigner - has passed away. Sincerest sympathy to his family and many friends.

DCN


Such sad news, a true motorsport legend.

#14 D-Type

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 19:35

Another legend gone. RIP

#15 Tim Murray

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 19:38

I’ve always had a lot of respect for John Fitch since I read DSJ’s book The Racing Driver at a very young age. It included the story about how Fitch had lost control of his Cunningham in the fast right-hander after the pits at Reims. The car rolled end over end several times and took a real battering. Fitch, unharmed, extracted himself from the wreckage and walked back to the pits, arriving at around the time his crew were looking the other way down the track expecting to see his car complete the lap. He was so laid back and sheepish – ‘I guess I’ve had an accident’ – that they didn’t really believe him, until they saw the remains of the car.

RIP Mr Fitch.


#16 gfastr

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 20:04

A sad loss indeed...

I would think Sir Stirling will not be taking that news lightly either, he would surely have fond memories of John Fitch.

A man, as I understand it, of an incredibly wide range of tastes and interests. I'm think there's information somewhere on this forum about him having resolved some problem with his home or property in a very unusual manner... quite apart from all the obvious contributions he's made to society.


In a poignant scene Fitch mustered his strength over Labor Day weekend (early Sepember) to visit with Sir Stirling when the latter was honored at the 30th Lime Rock Park Historic Festival.

http://www.limerock....c...icle&id=645

Over that weekend I was able to chat with Sir Stirling about Fitch. He said "John's body may not be up to the pace anymore, but his spirit is strong".

Just days before, another outstanding East Coast racer, Gaston "Gus" Andrey, passed away. Andrey's career spanned from Birdcage Maseratis to TransAm Alfas to IMSA Camel Lights cars.

#17 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 20:51

A truly remarkable life lived by a remarkable man. One who overcome the horrors of being a POW to try and better his life and the life of others, an accomplished sportscar driver and a tireless tinkerer!

The greatest tribute I can pay to him is that his greatest legacy is the safety work he did in the sport and out of it, has allowed others to have legacies.

RIP, sir.

#18 Frank S

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 20:59

Significant contributions in many fields. And he was fun to be around.

Thank you, John Fitch.

#19 ensign14

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 21:26

Going through the Guinness Book of Motor Racing at the local library, the only book that listed all the starters of every World Championship race, I'd come across these names - N. Lederle, F. Mazet, E. Klodwig. And of course one of them was J. Fitch. One of the more anonymous ones. He didn't have a name that stood out; he didn't have an odd finish that made him notable; he didn't have the sort of hopeless "DNQ six times in seven entries" start that would make him notorious. Just another one of the myriad of anonymities who dipped their toe in Grand Prix waters.

It took a while to find there was a bit more to him...he is proof that everyone has a story, it just needs to be told. His was worth telling a lot more though.

RIP.

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#20 scags

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 02:45

There's a nice write up on the NY times site. I'd always see him at Lime rock, with the corvair based car he designed. 95 years is a great run, and all the best.

#21 David M. Kane

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 05:17

Not to wave the flag too strongly here; but to me John Fitch represented all that was great about American coming out of his generation.
He was a man of all seasons. Was there anything this man couldn't do?

I was lucky to meet him once at the IMRRC in Watkins Glen; he was pleasant, had a constant smile and he was a gracious gentleman.

If someone ever asks me to describe my ideal American, why wouldn't I answer...well someone like John Fitch.

God Bless your soul John.


#22 sbrinley

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 14:50

Not to wave the flag too strongly here; but to me John Fitch represented all that was great about American coming out of his generation.
He was a man of all seasons. Was there anything this man couldn't do?

I was lucky to meet him once at the IMRRC in Watkins Glen; he was pleasant, had a constant smile and he was a gracious gentleman.

If someone ever asks me to describe my ideal American, why wouldn't I answer...well someone like John Fitch.

God Bless your soul John.


Coincidentally, Road & Track has a feature article on John Fitch in the latest issue, which I received yesterday. The underlying theme being that he never received the recognition that other contemporary drivers received.

I have a couple Fitch stories related to me by the crew chief of Team Roosevelt, who knew Fitch from the '50s on. One was what I call the John Fitch Theory of Racing. Fitch supposedly believed that a driver should use up a car--clutch, brakes, engine--so that he crossed the finish line in first place as the vehicle expired.
Another is his experience with the Mercedes team in the Carrera Panamerica. Evidently the mechanics mis-aligned the front wheels on Fitch's car, which made it hard to control, not to mention the possibility he would crash. When the day's leg was finished, Fitch had some strong words for the mechanics involved and they fixed the alignment and didn't screw around with his car after that. Always struck me as pretty ballsy on Fitch's part and probably was motivated in part by his time as a prisoner of the Germans in WWII.





#23 tampaguy

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 16:28

During the 80's I lived in CT and attended most of the events held at Lime Rock Park, the most beautifull race track in America ! One hot summer day my wife Marion and my dog Bandit where standing next to the fence separating the track from the padlock when a berry tall slender man approached us , I leaned over and whispered to my wife "that is John Fitch" she did not know who he was so I quickly rattled off a list of acomplishments During Mr Fitches career. As Mr Fitch walked by us I called out Mr Fitch ! He turned walked over to us with a big smile and stuck out his hand and shook mine like he had known me my whole life. I introduced him to Marion & Bandit. Mr Fitch spent a moment talking to my wife about Lime Rock and how he only lived a few miles from the track and then bent down and spoke with Bandit, I could tell he had a soft spot in his heart for animals! Him and I then talked at length about the state of motorsports ! I am 58 years old and have been a race fan my whole life , I started attending races when I was a child in Florida. I have had an opportunity to meet many "Famous" drivers, team owners, and so called important people ! not one can hold a candle to Mr Fitch ! To this day I can still feel the excitement he brought to my wife and I as he retold us some of the events of his life ! RIP Mr Fitch and I hope the state of Ct is happy about the torture you put this great man thru during the last years of his life ? I also want to say thank you to the people who contributed to the fund to help save his home , you know who you are......John & Marion Shea

#24 David M. Kane

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 18:28

During the 80's I lived in CT and attended most of the events held at Lime Rock Park, the most beautifull race track in America ! One hot summer day my wife Marion and my dog Bandit where standing next to the fence separating the track from the padlock when a berry tall slender man approached us , I leaned over and whispered to my wife "that is John Fitch" she did not know who he was so I quickly rattled off a list of acomplishments During Mr Fitches career. As Mr Fitch walked by us I called out Mr Fitch ! He turned walked over to us with a big smile and stuck out his hand and shook mine like he had known me my whole life. I introduced him to Marion & Bandit. Mr Fitch spent a moment talking to my wife about Lime Rock and how he only lived a few miles from the track and then bent down and spoke with Bandit, I could tell he had a soft spot in his heart for animals! Him and I then talked at length about the state of motorsports ! I am 58 years old and have been a race fan my whole life , I started attending races when I was a child in Florida. I have had an opportunity to meet many "Famous" drivers, team owners, and so called important people ! not one can hold a candle to Mr Fitch ! To this day I can still feel the excitement he brought to my wife and I as he retold us some of the events of his life ! RIP Mr Fitch and I hope the state of Ct is happy about the torture you put this great man thru during the last years of his life ? I also want to say thank you to the people who contributed to the fund to help save his home , you know who you are......John & Marion Shea


Thank you for sharing your story.

#25 Vettefinderjim

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 00:11

MATT LEBLANC sent this 2009 interview with Jay Leno, which gives you some idea how great he was.



RIP John Fitch

Matt LeBlanc

AND CLOSE FRIEND OF JOHN'S,TERRY DUNN, SENT THIS JUST TODAY
Dearest Friends of Fitch,

By now you have heard of the Passing of our beloved Icon, Hero, Friend, Father Figure.....Loved One. As were here in Lime Rock are still without power, I am at McDonalds, just to get a message to you.

The New York Times has a 1/2 page on John in the Obituary.

"Automobile Magazine" has a FULL PAGE on John, in their "American Heroes" Tribute.

"Auto Week" has a 4 page Tribute to John coming out in the December issue, but you can see it now at www.autoweek.com and enter John Fitch.

With that info given to you, I would like to share the personal passing of John. The Family asked me to have the honor and privilege of bringing him home from "Geer", the Nursing Home we was staying after his Hospital Visit, as the Cancer in his Left Leg, was traveling up. At 95, there were no more options for his recovery. He was told that, just 1 week ago. The Family then made the plans to have him be in his Own Home.....to enter into Hospice Care, for his "End Stage of Life".

He kept up a good appetite, but the meds and the reality of his impending end, finally wore out his resolve. Tuesday evening, I had dinner with The Family, and we had many robust conversations around John, floating in and out of his room....several generations of Fitch's were there......and, just by kismet, Son John was here from Ohio, with travel home plans for Wednesday. Niece Adrian and her partner, Michael and I stayed up while the others eventually went home and to bed.....but for some reason, the 3 of us just "knew" that we could not leave John alone, this Special Night....as I had promised him that he would Pass at Home, without pain...and that he would not be alone. I was blessed to have been able to keep my promise.

We told him many stories of his life....reminded him how much he added to the benefit of man kind....simply by having lived with us....and assured him the for generations to come, their family was changed, and spared on a highway...somewhere.

We told him he was on his "Last Lap", and he was in the lead....and told him to "Go to the Checkered Flag....and take his Final Victory Lap". We promised that we would not leave, and would stay with him, to be sure he crossed over, and was at Elizabeth's side. At 1:24, he drew his last breath, opened his eyes a little, to see life...and to say goodbye to us......on Halloween...during the worst Hurricaine in 100 years! John Fitch...always an Adventure!

The final words he wrote in his Autobiography, "Adventure on Wheels" were: "It's been a Good Bargain, and a Good Life......I only hope Tomorrow will be as Good as Yesterday".



#26 JacnGille

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 01:35

Sad news.

#27 West3

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 23:14

John Fitch crossed the Finish Line a winner.

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Photo copyright unknown

Edited by West3, 02 November 2012 - 23:20.


#28 David M. Kane

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 23:33

Sad news.


That photo pretty much sums up this great man.

#29 West3

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 04:04

Is that article accessible? I should very much like to read it.


Yes, a little determined Googling was rewarded by...

Lunch with John Fitch

His isn't called "The Greatest Generation" for nothin'.

#30 kayemod

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 17:58

Nice full page obituary for John today in The Times. It's all on their website, not sure how accessible the site is for non-payers though.

#31 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 12:49

Sad news, another legend of our lives.

#32 hamsterace

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 13:50

Nice full page obituary for John today in The Times. It's all on their website, not sure how accessible the site is for non-payers though.


There's also one in The Telegraph today (www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries) - which certainly is free.

A fine man.





#33 Jack-the-Lad

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 14:09

John Fitch had a long, rich life, well lived.....a unique character if ever there was one.

My sincere condolences to his family.

#34 Allan Lupton

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 23:24

Saw a film of the 1955 TT at the motor club this evening which reminded me how different in height JF was from Stirling Moss, yet they swapped into and out of the Mercedes without making any change to the seating that one could see. Slower round Dundrod than SCM, of course, but fast enough for the job in hand!

Edited by Allan Lupton, 05 November 2012 - 23:25.


#35 T54

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 04:10

This little Dinky toy car will stay with me as a memento of two very nice men, true gentlemen like there are so few left today:

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I learned a lot from both.



#36 24hourman

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 19:55

RIP John Fitch


#37 arttidesco

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 20:16

RIP Mr Fitch, belated condolences to his family and friends.

#38 kento11

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 02:24

Alsa, how sad, after the passing of Carroll Shelby another nail in the coffin of a glorious era in American motor sports

#39 cpbell

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 18:11

RIP.

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#40 Bill Becketts

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 21:26

God speed John Fitch