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Construction, auto racing businessman Floyd Ganassi Sr. dies

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WATKINS GLEN, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Scott Dixon (C), driver of the #9 Target Ganassi Racing Panoz Toyota, poses with Chip Ganassi (R) and Chip's father, Floyd Ganassi (L), after winning the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Inaugural Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix on September 25, 2005 at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Gavin Lawrence/Getty Images)

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Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, 6:21 p.m.

Floyd R. Ganassi Sr., who amassed a fortune in the construction industry while helping his son build one of the most powerful IndyCar Series teams in history, died on Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, after a short illness.

He was 87.

Mr. Ganassi, a longtime Fox Chapel resident, played an integral role in starting the auto racing career of his son, Floyd R. “Chip” Ganassi Jr.

The elder Ganassi was an influential businessman in Western Pennsylvania, serving as president of New Kensington-based Davison Sand and Gravel Co. for about 20 years and forming FRG Group in RIDC Park North.

“He was a great guy,” said Chip Ganassi, owner of IndyCar Series and NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series teams. “He never missed a day of offering advice or an opportunity to teach you a lesson, even up to the last few weeks.”

Mr. Ganassi had been hospitalized for almost three weeks after accompanying his son to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, where Chip Ganassi Racing captured its fourth consecutive IndyCar Series win. He died in UPMC Shadyside.

“We had a great relationship,” said the younger Ganassi, a former open-wheel driver. “He was all business, but we enjoyed our lives together.”

“It is with heavy hearts that everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing Teams offers our condolences to Chip Ganassi and the whole Ganassi family on the passing today of Chip's father, Floyd Ganassi,” the organization said in a statement. “Everyone that knew Floyd knew that he was beloved at racetracks all across the country and leaves a long trail of great friends. Floyd Ganassi will be sorely missed by us all.”

Mr. Ganassi was born the fourth of six children to Paul Ganassi and Dora Moire in Blythedale in Elizabeth Township on July 25, 1926.

He was a self-employed investor who began his career as a paperboy. After attending McKeesport High School, he joined the Army in 1944 during World War II and achieved the rank of corporal in the 3rd Armored Division.

Mr. Ganassi served on boards for MIMS, Passavant Hospital, the Birmingham Foundation, the Ganassi Foundation, Family House, Duquesne University, Board of Visitors of the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, and the Civic Light Opera.

He was known for his charity work with the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Automobile Association, where he was chairman for several years. He was a member of the Allegheny Club, Duquesne Club and the Pittsburgh Field Club.

Mr. Ganassi was preceded in death by his wife, Marie Moia Ganassi; brothers, Mario, Eugene and Ronald; and sister, Norma Oldham.

In addition to his son, Mr. Ganassi is survived by his daughter, Annette D. Ganassi; brother, Victor; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday in John A. Freyvogel Sons funeral home, 4900 Centre Ave. at Devonshire Street in Shadyside. A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday in Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church.

Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @RalphPaulk_Trib.

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