Fall 2015

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ATRON PROFILES PATRONS | Fall 2015 26 Although the couple shares honest and good- natured jabs, something clearly holds their 48- year marriage together. According to Judy, the simple secret is "having your own bathroom." After retiring from open cockpit racing, Jones devoted his versatile driving talent to closed cockpit races, winning the SCCA TransAm Series and the Pike Peak Hill Climb—a race to the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado. During his post-Indy years, Parnelli entered the ranks of "car entrant" with partner and long- time friend Miletich. e duo won 53 Indy races, including the 500 twice in 1970 and 1971, with a team composed of some the biggest names in racing history. ese included Al Unser and Mario Andretti, who has referred to Jones as "the greatest driver of his era." Today many of the beautifully preserved cars from the Vel/Parnelli collection are on permanent display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Racing Capital of the World Hall of Fame Museum. As parents, the Joneses recognized the dangers of racing. Despite their best efforts to steer their sons in a different direction, the apples fell close to the tree. With access to the best mentoring and equipment, sons P.J. and Page quickly became rising stars. Page won 18 out of 42 of his races and was on the fast track to NASCAR. However, on September 25, 1994, fate took a dark turn. While leading a Sprint Car race at Ohio's Eldora Speedway, his car flipped and was struck by another car. "My first thought was that he couldn't be hurt that bad," Parnelli says. "But when I called the doctor and he said, 'Mr. Jones, I think you'd better get here,' it scared the hell out of me." Page sustained a broken shoulder, collarbone and serious head injury. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital where he spent three months in a coma. "It brings tears to my eyes," Parnelli says pondering the accident. "I was so fortunate. Racing is dangerous. You always kind of overlook it and say, 'It won't happen to me.'" Page spent two years in hospitals and rehab, where he relearned basic skills such as walking and talking. Although today he still faces some motor skills challenges, he works alongside his dad at his Torrance office and co-parents his son and daughter with his wife, Jamie. A close friend, Rich Sloan, captured much of Page's recovery on video, which was recently included in a documentary called God Speed: e Story of Page Jones. Parnelli is working with the project's producer, 1st Wave Productions, to promote the film—with the goal of increasing awareness about the challenges faced by those with traumatic brain injuries, including war veterans. Proceeds will go toward the Brain Injury Foundation and the Page Jones Fund Foundation, established to contribute to programs that assist those who sustain a brain injury and their families, with an emphasis on the importance of rehabilitation. In addition to his work with Page's foundation and racing appearances, at 82 Parnelli rolls into his office daily in North Torrance to manage real estate and other business holdings. "I show up just in time to go to lunch and then spend a few hours working," he says. A visit to his office is like a trip to the Speedway Hall of Fame, with floor- to-ceiling prints of Parnelli with U.S. presidents, celebrities and racing's most notable icons. Page's accident made the Joneses keenly aware of the importance of good health care and hospitals. is led to their support of City of Hope, Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital, where their son was treated, and Scripps Health in San Diego. However, in spite of his many years tipping the speedometer, until last year Parnelli had never spent the night in a hospital. In 2014 he underwent surgery to repair a spinal disc, followed by a three-night stay at Torrance Memorial. "I was very impressed with the new Lundquist Tower," Parnelli says. "It's so fresh and clean. What used to look like army barracks is now a first-class hospital." Judy continues, "e equipment is state- of-the-art, and I love all the big windows and private rooms." After his stay, long-time friends and members of the Torrance Memorial Patrons program Sandy and Tom Cobb helped further guide their attention to the hospital in their own backyard. With children and grandchildren just miles away, it made sense to become Patrons of their neighborhood hospital. "When you get to be our age, you start to think about where you may be spending a lot of your time," Parnelli says. For Parnelli, what also makes sense is giving back to the city where it all started. "I will always feel I am a part of Torrance. I have always claimed Torrance as my hometown." "I was at an age where I could have easily turned in the wrong direction. A lot of my f riends went to jail. Racing helped keep me out of trouble." Judy Jones says that the secret to a happy marriage is "having your own bathroom."

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