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Priest known for work with IndyCar, IND Airport dies

PLAINFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — A priest known for his work at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis International Airport has died at the age of 66. 

Father Glenn O’Connor served as the Catholic chaplain for the IndyCar Ministry, as pastor at St. Susanna Catholic Church in Plainfield and as Catholic chaplain and board president for the Indianapolis International Airport Interfaith Chapel.

According to IMS, the man known sometimes as “the priest in the pits” spent more than four decades “celebrating Mass, administering to spiritual needs and working on pit crews” at the track. 

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis confirmed O’Connor died Friday evening. Archbishop Charles Thompson had this to say:

Fr. Glenn was a wonderful priest, beloved pastor and great member of the Indycar family. He will be greatly missed by St. Susanna Parish and the entire Archdiocese of Indianapolis. May he Rest In Peace, enjoying his eternal reward for a life and witness of discipleship well lived.

According to the archdiocese, O’Connor was ordained May 17, 1980, and worked as an associate pastor at St. Gabriel in Connersville. He began his work at the airport in 1993 and started his time at St. Susanna in 2012. 

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St. Susanna released this statement on Friday: 

It is with sad hearts that we need to let our St. Susanna family know that Fr. Glenn O’Connor has passed away. Please keep him, his family, and all of our parishioners in your prayers. More details will be shared as they become available.

On Saturday, Hulman & Co., the parent organization of IndyCar and IMS, called O’Connor “a legendary and revered figure” and noted his passion for racing: 

Everyone at INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is saddened about the passing of Father Glenn O’Connor. His passion for auto racing, especially his beloved Indianapolis 500 and the Month of May, made him a legendary and revered figure across the paddock. His devotion to serving God and people through his various ministries fueled a life of inspiration, giving and character. Father Glenn had such a warm personality, with a wide smile and hearty laugh that he shared with everyone he met, whether he was celebrating Mass in Gasoline Alley with his trademark checkered flag stole or turning a wrench for an Indy 500 team. We’re going to miss him dearly.

IndyCar Ministry, a non-denominational Christian nonprofit that provides counsel and encouragement to the racing community and where O’Connor served as chaplain, expressed their sympathy:

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