Danny Ongais Died: What Was His Cause Of Death?

Danny Ongais, the Hawaiian admired for his speed and bravery in a three-decade run at the Indianapolis 500, died on February 26.

The American, who made 11 starts in the 1977 and 1996 May Classic of the Month, died of congestive heart complications in Anaheim Hills, California. He was 79 years old.

Ongais is the only Hawaiian-born driver to have participated in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” For this reason, his fans nicknamed him “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” (“The Flying Hawaiian”), in addition to the fact that his last name allowed them to play with the phrases “On-Gas” and “On the Gas” (“A Fondo,” in the translation).

Looking at the Indy 500, Ongais had four top-ten finishes; His best years came with Interscope Racing and his flashy No. 25 with Parnelli chassis and Team Penske in the Cosworth-powered era.

He finished fourth in 1979 and started second, alongside poleman Tom Sneva, a year earlier. He led four editions for a total of 79 laps and also posted the fastest race lap of 192.678 mph as a rookie in 1977.

In 108 starts between USAC, CART, and the Indy Racing League, he had six wins, eleven pole positions, and 1,078 laps led. Currently, he remains the seventh oldest driver (54 years, eight months, and four days) to start a race since 1946 (the opening of the IRL in 1997, at Disney).


Born May 21, 1942, in Kahului, Hawaii, Danny Ongais began one of the most versatile careers of any rider in his era as a teenager, winning a state motorcycle title in 1960.

He also began drag racing in the early 1990s. In his distinctive Ford, he became one of America’s top drag racing competitors, winning the Funny Car class at the 1969 NHRA Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Mach 1 Blue Mustang presented by Mickey Thompson.

That win came a year after Thompson attempted to enter Ongais in the 1968 Indy 500 but was denied entry because he had almost no single-seater experience.

Despite this, Thompson and Ongais teamed up to set nearly 300 national and international speed records on the Bonneville Salt Flats, with the Mustang Mach 1, during the 1960s. This led to him being inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2000 in the Drag Racing category.

In the United States Army, Ongais had his first taste of sports cars in Europe, moving from quarter miles to ovals and road courses in the mid-1970s. He dominated the SCCA in 1974 when he called the attention of young media mogul Ted Field, who had recently founded the Interscope Records label.

Their partnership saw success in Formula 5000 and USAC in the late 1970s. He also competed in four Formula 1 Grands Prix in 1977 and 1978, two of them with Interscope, with the best finish of seventh in 1977 in Canada.

Amelia Warner– After graduating from NYU with a master's degree in history, She was also a columnist for many local newspapers. Amelia Warner mostly covers Entertainment topics, but at times loves to write about movie reviews as well.

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