Top Rookie in 1973 Indianapolis 500, F1 Racer Graham McRae Dies at 81

Top Rookie in 1973 Indianapolis 500, F1 Racer Graham McRae Dies at 81

08/04/2021

Racer, New Zealander and car builder Graham McRae, who was named the 1973 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, died on August 4.

He was 81.

No cause of death was given in a release issued by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

McRae may have been best known to racers for his success in Formula 5000 open-wheel race cars. He started one Formula 1 race in for Williams in 1973, when he finished 28th in a 29-car field at Silverstone. That F1 race, however, he failed to complete a lap after being retiring with a stuck throttle.

McRae’s start in the 1973 Indianapolis 500 was for team owner Pat Patrick and Patrick Racing. McRae started that 1973 race 13th, ran has high as third, and finished a solid 16th as a teammate of race-winner George Johncock and Swede Savage. A broken header ended McRae’s race early.

McRae failed to qualify in two other attempts at Indianapolis, falling short in both 1975 and 1978. The New Zealander made two starts in the CART open-wheel series—at 1984 in Cleveland and 1987 at Road America near Elkhart Lake, Wisc.

Outside of IndyCar, he won the 1970 New Zealand Gold Star and three consecutive Tasman Series titles from 1971-73. 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.

In addition to his driving career, McRae was also was a car constructor during the heyday of his driving career, building and driving machines under the McRae Cars Ltd. name. McRae has a spot on MotorSport New Zealand’s Wall of Fame.

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