John Fitch

John Fitch

John Cooper Fitch was born in 1917 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was one of the first Americans to race Europe in the after the war. John's stepfather was on the board of the of Stutz, which introduced him to cars and racing at an early age, he would build cars from junk and drive them. John came to England in 1939 and watched the last race at Brooklands before the outbreak of World War II. In 1941 he volunteered for the US Army Air Corps which took him to North Africa, where he flew the A-20 Havoc and then on to England. By 1944, Captain Fitch was a P-51 Mustang pilot and is credited with shooting down a Messerschmitt Me 262 jet. Two months before the end of the war, he was shot down himself.

John raced an Effyh during 1951, winning at Bridgehampton and Giants Despair  In the course of a driving career which spanned 18 years, Fitch won such notable sports car races as the 1951 Argentine Grand Prix, 1955 Mille Miglia, Dundrod Tourist Trophy, and Sebring endurance race as well as numerous lesser races. He also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans six times, finishing as high as third.

Fitch also served as the first manager for Chevrolet's Corvette racing team, and the first general manager of the Lime Rock Park race track, where he organized (and drove in) a Formula Libre race in 1959, where Rodger Ward shocked the expensive and exotic sports cars by beating them on the road course in an Offenhauser powered midget car, normally considered competitive for oval tracks only.

An article by Guy Griffiths for Autosport magazine in 1953, John tests the new Staride.

Fitch was heavily influenced by the 1955 Le Mans tragedy where he was co driver to Pierre Levegh and crusaded for increased safety on racetracks and highways, joining with medical experts such as Steve Olvey and Terry Trammel. He has served as consultant to numerous research and governmental organizations on the subject of vehicle handling and dynamics, as they relate to safety. He also served as technical consultant for the film The Racers and design consultant for many racetracks, including Mosport, St. Jovite, Quebec, and Watkins Glen International, as well as Lime Rock Park.

John Fitch died in October 2012