24/10/1928 - 5/8/1970
Titus was a racer, engineer and journalist who won the Trans-Am Championship for Ford in 1967. He also won his class at the Daytona 24 hour race in 1968 (4th overall) and 1969 (3rd overall). Jerry Titus died 52 years ago, he was 42 , He would have been 94.
Titus was a racer, engineer and journalist who attended the Juilliard School of Music in NYC , and played the trumpet before he found out about Sports Cars.
In 1963 he drove with Davey Jordan at Sebring in Hollywood Sports Cars Sunbeam Alpine finishing 3rd in class after spending 1-1/2 hours in the pits.
In January 1964 Jerry debuted the Cheetah-Chevy at a Cal-Club event at Riverside. He completed one lap in 1st place before the lower radiator hose came loose, dumping water under the rear wheels. The car went straight off turn one, climbed the Armco guardrail, and went over the top. Titus survived, but the car was heavily damaged. However, it was repaired at the Thomas facility and continued to compete in West Coast tracks such as, Pomona, Riverside, Cotati, Seattle, Phoenix, and Santa Barbara through out the remainder of 1964 with Jerry driving.
In 1965 Ford decided Mustang sales would benefit from a racing program, and Carroll Shelby was brought in to develop the GT-350R model for racing purposes. About 25 of these cars were built, and qualified for "B" production racing in SCCA. Jerry campaigned one in SCCA Division Six, winning the Regional Championship and the National Championships held at Daytona International Raceway at the end of the year.
In 1967, Jerry Titus won the Trans-Am Championship driving a Shelby built Mustang with 4 wins. In 1968 and 1969, he was third in the Trans-Am series.
Titus won the Trans Am class at the Daytona 24 hour race in 1968, finishing a remarkable 4th overall, but he left Ford at the end of the year to join up with Terry Godsall, a young Canadian businessman, to run a team of Pontiac Firebirds under the T/G Racing banner. Titus asked for an early release from his Ford Motor Company contract and left team with just one race left at Kent, Washington.
Armed with a new shop and several former Shelby crew members, they set out to build a new Pontiac Firebird in time for the last race of '68. Jerry had seen Jon Ward's Camaro at the Riverside Trans-Am race and a deal was done that permitted T/G Racing to convert this Camaro into a Firebird. For 1968 and 1969, a loophole in the SCCA rules permitted Pontiac Firebirds to run Chevrolet engines, as that's how they were sold in Canada. Jerry put it on pole for the race, and then led untill he suffered an engine failure.
In 1968 he made a rare appearance in single seaters when he attempted to qualify an Eagle 67 - Offy at the Indy 500. The car was the famous "Geraldine". Originally bought by Tom Friedkin for Jerry Grant to drive at the 1967 Indy 500 where he was bumped. Jerry Titus failed to qualify the car at the 1968 "500" and it was bought by Michner-Patrick for 1969 for Rutherford to drive.
He had taken on quite a task as the car needed a great deal of developmental work, especially on the engine, and when Godsall pulled out sighting SCCA inconsistentcies in its rule enforcement policy. Jerry took on the administrative responsibilities as well as driving. The Camaro/Firebird was used for some winter testing and development work, and secret factory zero bump-steer components were installed.
While T/G Racing's six new 1969 Firebirds were being built, Titus and Jon Ward decided to drive the Firebird at the 24-Hours of Daytona in the February of 1969. With a skeleton crew, Titus, Ward and the Firebird not only won their class but finished 3rd overall, despite a lengthy stop during the night to change the rear end.
In 1970, Jerry Titus decided to stop building Firebirds for customers and concentrate on his own race cars and built three Firebirds for the 70 season. Tragically, Jerry was to die as a result of injuries suffered at the wheel of one of them.
While practicing for a Trans-Am race at Road America, Jerry Titus was killed when his Pontiac Firebird apparently lost its steering and hit a bridge. He passed away from his injuries on 05 August 1970 at Milwaukee hospital.
The car was taken to Canada after the crash to determine the cause of the accident. Afterwards the car was crushed, only the deck lid remained.
He had 43 career races. He had 5 poles, and 7 wins in his career.