Former Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Jim McElreath passes away aged 89

Jim McElreath pictured ahead of the 1966 Indianapolis 500. (Photo: Dave Friedman/LAT Photographic)

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Jim McElreath, a teenage dirt-track racer who went on to become the 1962 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year and race in 15 Indy 500s, has died. He was age 89.

Separate statements issued by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway say McElreath died Thursday in his sleep at his home in Arlington, Texas.

McElreath had been one of eight surviving drivers who had driven a front-engine car in the Indy 500, where rear-mounted engines are now standard. He finished sixth or higher in the 500 six times, finishing as high as third in the 1966 race.

McElreath retired from competition in 1984 and has been inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame, the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame and the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.