INDIANAPOLIS – Graham McRae, who earned 1973 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year honors in his only start, died Wednesday. He was 81.
New Zealand native McRae started 13th and placed 16th as Patrick Racing teammate to winner Gordon Johncock and Swede Savage. He had been running as high as third before being eliminated after 91 laps due to a broken header in the rain-shortened race.
While he made just one start at Indianapolis, McRae failed to qualify in 1975 as a teammate to Roger McCluskey. He also was a frequent visitor to Gasoline Alley during the Month of May in the 1970s, seeking available rides.
McRae produced an impressive global motorsport career, especially in his home country and Australia. He won the 1970 New Zealand Gold Star and three consecutive Tasman Series titles from 1971-73.
His success also was frequent in Formula 5000. McRae won the 1972 SCCA/USAC Formula 5000 championship in the United States and finished sixth in the European F5000 championship in 1970 and 1971, with numerous race victories during his European F5000 career.
McRae made one Formula One World Championship start, in the 1973 British Grand Prix, in which he was eliminated in a crash on the first lap.
He also was a car constructor during the heyday of his driving career, building and driving machines under the McRae Cars Ltd. name.
McRae was honored with a spot on MotorSport New Zealand’s Wall of Fame.