FEBRUARY 8, 2005
John S Zink
John S Zink has died in hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the age of 75. Zink was a high profile team owner in Champ Car racing in the 1950s and 1960s and won the Indianapolis 500 in 1955 and 1956 with drivers Bob Sweikert and Pat Flaherty. At the time the race was a Grande Epreuve and part of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship and thus Zink was a winning F1 team owner, even if his cars never ran in any other F1 races. Zink entered at least one car in every 500 between 1952 and 1967 and his drivers included Jack Brabham. Zink was also the co-owner of Jim Rathmann's entry which won the celebrated Race of the Two Worlds at Monza in 1958 beating the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss.
Zink was the heir to a considerable fortune from the John Zink Company, a manufacturer of industrial equipment, which was established by his father in Tulsa in 1929. The company was sold in 1972 for $40m. It has since become part of Koch Industries. His father sponsored cars at Indianapolis in 1950 and 1951 and in 1952 he took up the challenge, despite being only 23 years of age. John Zink Specials won 13 National Championship races between 1955 and 1966 with drivers Jud Larson, Jim McElreath, Sweikert, Flaherty and Lloyd Ruby. Most of the victories came in association with the well known crew chief AJ Watson.
Zink was one of the pioneers of rear engined racing cars in the United States but was also a pioneer of gas turbine propulsion in racing cars. In 1964 Zink commissioned Brabham to build him a car for Indianapolis. This car, which was designated the BT12, was later copied by Clint Brawner to produce the Brawner Hawk which won many victories in the 1960s with Mario Andretti at the wheel.
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