Jeff Krosnoff was one of the upcoming stars of Indy car. An experienced racer, coming into Indy from five years in the Japanese Formula 3000 series, and three LeMans 24 hour races (2nd overall 1994). He died from injuries sustained in a crash in the 1996 Toronto Molson-Indy car race in Toronto, Canada.
Jeff Krosnoff was an American race car driver. He was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but grew up in La Cañada, California. He started racing in the Jim Russell Racing School for Formula Fords in 1983, finishing second in the series with seven winsand winning the Gilles Villeneuve Rookie Award.
Apart from Japanese Formula 3000, where he was active from 1989 to 1995, Krosnoff also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans several times, scoring 2nd in 1994 24 Hours of Le Mans, replacing the late Roland Ratzenberger.
From 1984 to 1986 he raced in the Formula Mazda Pro Series Championship. He won three races in 1985 and was presented with the Mazda Pro Series' "Star of Tomorrow Award" and recognised by Sportscar Magazine as one of America's top new drivers.In 1985 he also won his debut race in the Pro Sports 2000.
He graduated from UCLA with a degree in psychology in 1987.
By 1988 he was competing in the SCCA Race Truck Series Championship with Spencer Low Racing. he took four wins and finished second overall narrowly missing the title. Named the Race Truck Rookie of the Year.
Travelling to Japan in 1989, Jeff stepped up to F3000. He posted five top-ten finishes on his way to 10th overall in the series. Staying in Japan for 1990, he came seventh in Championship driving for the Suntec team. He also raced in the Japanese Group A Championship scoring three top-ten finishes, including one podium.
Still competing in Japanese Formula 3000 in 1991 he also competed in the Japanese Group C Championship with the TWR-Jaguar XJR 11, and later the Jaguar XJR-14. He made the trip to Europe and raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the TWR-Jaguar team.
1992 was his best year yet, finishing second in Group C at the 24 Hours of Daytona, he Won the opening round of the Japanese Group C Championship. He then took a class win in the Suzuka 1000km race. He continued to drive in the Japanese Formula 3000 with Speed Star Racing.
Staying with Speed Star Racing in 1993 he came second in Japanese Formula 3000 Championship. He also drove the NISMO GT-R Skyline entry in the International Suzuka 1000km race.
At Le Mans in 1994 he fininshed second overall and first in class after leading for more than 12 hours with the SARD-Toyota team. Competed in Japanese Formula 3000 Championship with Speed Star Racing and was the lead driver for SARD-Toyota factory GT team.
In 1995 he finished 14th at Le Mans driving the new SARD-Toyota Supra GTI. He continued racing in Japanese Formula 3000 and finished seventh in the Japanese GT Championship with SARD-Toyota team.
Racing back in the USA in 1996, he moved up to CART, driving for the Reynard-Toyota for Arciero-Wells-Racing and sponsored by MCI. He was improving with every race. He made eleven starts but was then tragically killed in the Molson Indy Toronto at Exhibition Place. With just 3 laps to go, coming down the straight at over 180mph, Krosnoff touched wheels with Stephan Johansson. His car went airborne into the fence, a steel catch fence similar to the catch fences on the Calder Park Thunderdome. The car took off, cleared the concrete barrier and spun along the catch fencing, disintegrating as it went. The impact deflected the fence back far enough for the car to hit a tree behind the fence. The car continued along the fence, impacting with a concrete light pole, once again positioned outside of the catch fence, although protected by a concrete barrier at track level. The front of the car was sheared off and Krosnoff was killed instantly. The engine and transmission hit Emerson Fittipaldi, who thankfully escaped injury. Several spectators were hit with flying debris. A track employee named Gary Avrin was also killed in the accident when he was struck by Krosnoff's then-airborne car.
Sponsored by MCI, Jeff anchored AWR in the first season CART teams used Toyota engines. Constantly improved qualifying and finishing positions from qualifying 25th and finishing 22nd in Miami to eventually qualifying 20th in Toronto and finishing 15th in Detroit. Both were the finest efforts to date in '96 for a Toyota powered engine.
The Jeff Krosnoff Scholarship Fund was established in his memory. Visit their web site below.