Michele “Kelly” Petillo became a driving force in motor sports in racing’s infancy
“I never met Kelly Petillo, but everybody used to tell me how he’d go out here and run and people would go watch him run just to see how he drove into the corners so deep.”
— A.J. Foyt
Born December 5, 1903 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Michele “Kelly” Petillo became a driving force in motor sports in racing’s infancy.
From 1932 to 1941, Petillo appeared in ten Indianapolis 500 races, racking up more than $36,000 in winnings. In 1935, he hit the peak of his glory, winning the Brickyard race with a record speed of 106.240.
Petillo was a fearless risk-taker who revolutionized his sport with the patented “Balingwire Special,” a racecar featuring abandoned airplane parts.
He was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.