BILL DWYRE

Parnelli Jones returns to Indianapolis 500 to commemorate 1963 win

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But he remembers fondly his Indy racing days, the days, when, he says with a chuckle, people talked about "those two great Italian drivers, Andretti and Parnelli."

"In those days, we had fat drivers and skinny wheels," he says. "Now, it's skinny drivers and fat wheels."

Jones still has his real estate office in Torrance and a home in Rolling Hills. Life includes his wife of 46 years, Judy, and four grandchildren.

"Three boys and a girl," he says. "Two go-kart drivers, an ice hockey player and a professional shopper."

At Indy, he is doing book signings. His new one: "As a Matter of Fact, I am Parnelli Jones."

It happened years ago on the Long Beach Freeway. Police officers pulling over speeders in those days tended to use an opening line that said: "Who do you think you are, Parnelli Jones?" Jones' response that day has become a book title.

He was also stopped once in Utah.

"I give him my license," says Jones. "He looks at it, then is on his radio, telling his buddies, 'You're not gonna believe who I just pulled over. This is better than a little red Porsche.'"

Before Sunday's race, Jones will be in the roadster for another lap. It will be ceremonial, of course, but on the back stretch, there will be that itch again, on the bottom of his right foot.

bill.dwyre@latimes.com

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