Team Owner John Della Penna, 68

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Richie Hearn drove John Della Penna's Indy car entry to a third-place finish in the 1996 Indianapolis 500. (IMS Photo)
Richie Hearn drove John Della Penna's Indy car entry to a third-place finish in the 1996 Indianapolis 500. (IMS Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS – John Della Penna, who fielded cars in CART and the Indy Racing League, has died at the age of 68 following a battle with cancer.

From Buenos Aires, Argentina, he began his career in race car ownership in the Atlantic Series. He fielded cars for a number of drivers through the years, including Jimmy Vasser, Richie Hearn, Scott Harrington and Memo Gidley.

In 1996 – the first year of the split between CART and the IRL – Della Penna decided to compete in both tours. His team made it’s Indianapolis 500 debut that year with Hearn at the wheel, scoring a third-place result.

Later in the year Hearn gave Della Penna his lone victory at Indy car competition at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sept. 15, 1996 with the Indy Racing League.

The next few years Della Penna’s team focused on CART with Hearn remaining at the wheel. The pairing ended after the 1999 season, with Gidley and Norberto Fontana sharing his car during the 2000 season.

Della Penna shut down his Indy car program at the end of the 2000 season.