1971 PJ Colt Samsonite Special

The fine team known as Vel’s VPJ, is one of the most revered teams ever constructed. Composed of Vel Miletich, a California Ford dealer; Parnelli Jones rookie of the year 1961 and winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1963; and add the genius of team mechanic Jimmy Dilamarter. Then on top of all these talented people include a host of the best drivers of the day.

VPJ began designing and constructing its own racecars in 1969. In 1970 and 1971 their PJ Colt series cars won both consecutive Indianapolis 500 and USAC National Championships, with drivers Al Unser and Joe Leonard. In 1972 Vel’s Parnelli Jones was named the “Super Team” with the addition of Mario Andretti.

In 1971, Joe Leonard became a full-time driver at Vel's Parnelli Jones. When the season started, Leonard had no sponsor on his #15 Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing PJ Colt-Ford for the season-opening pair of races, and then the car got sponsorship from Samsonite. At the Indianapolis 500, Leonard battled with teammate Unser for the lead. Leonard eventually led for 21 laps before retiring with a broken turbocharger.


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