VPJ-2 Indy Car
If you were lucky enough to watch Jan Opperman race in the 1970s, you couldn't argue with his talent behind the wheel. With a reputation that proceeded him, he was known for his charisma and long list of track wins. He won many World of Outlaws events, USAC, and countless other short tracks nationwide.
Opperman was also a two-time Indianapolis 500 starter in 1974 and 1976. His success with USAC earned him a ride in the 1974 Indianapolis 500, piloting the Offy powered 159 ci turbocharged inline 4-cylinder owned by Parnelli Jones. In the '74 race, after completing 85 laps, Opperman was running 10th when he spun out and was knocked out of the race.
Later on, Opperman was back aboard Bill Smith’s Speedway Motors machine, running regularly with USAC and later landing in Bobby Hillin’s Longhorn machines. In 1976, aboard Hillin’s #12 car Opperman was seriously injured in the 1976 Hoosier Hundred, suffering a head injury.
He returned to racing early in 1978, but would never again capture his previous success as a driver. A second crash in 1981, at Jennerstown, PA, caused more head injuries that left him severely injured for the rest of his life. In 1990, Opperman was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. After a largely successful career, Opperman sadly passed away at the age of 58 on September 4, 1997.
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