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Iconic Indy 500 car builder A J Watson dead at 90

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Indianapolis motor Speedway president Doug Boles has confirmed the death of iconic race car designer A.J. Watson yesterday at the age of 90, calling him "one of the most innovative mechanics and car builders in the track's 105-year history.

Watson was a fixture at Gasoline Alley for more than 50 years, and was the chief mechanic on six cars (three of which he built, himself) that won the Indy 500 between 1956-1964, including those driven by Jim Rathmann Roger Ward (twice), Parnelli Jones, and the roadster driven to Victory Lane by AJ Foyt in 1964.

Foyt, who got to spend time with Watson on his birthday celebration, just four days prior to his death stated that "Watson was the model of professionalism and presentation, and he never strayed from his neatly cropped white crew cut. It was amazing to watch him build a car without ever getting dirty."

"He was an amazing man, the most impressive mechanic, engineer and designer I ever worked with," commented John Barnes, founder of Panther Racing.

In addition, Roger Penske deemed Watson (and his cars) "a leader in the garage area."