INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 15, 2011) – Funeral services for Chris Griffis, team manager for Sam Schmidt Motorsports’ (SSM) Indy Lights program who passed away unexpectedly the evening of Monday, Sept. 12, in Noblesville, Ind., have been set for Saturday, Sept. 17, in Akron, Ind.
Griffis’ funeral will be at 11 a.m. (EDT) at Hartzler Funeral Home, 305 West Rochester Street, Akron, Ind., 46910. Visitation is from 4-9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 16, at Hartzler Funeral Home.
A Celebration of Life event for the racing community is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 24, from 3-6 p.m. at Sam Schmidt Motorsports, 6803 Coffman Road, Indianapolis, 46268.
Griffis, a native of Akron, Ind., was hired by SSM in January 2004 and led the team to 46 Indy Lights race wins and four series titles (Thiago Medeiros – 2004, Jay Howard – 2006, Alex Lloyd – 2007 and J.K. Vernay – 2010). He also served as team manager for SSM’s Indianapolis 500-Mile Race efforts most recently for Townsend Bell (2010, 2011) and Lloyd (2009).
Griffis, who was 45, is survived by his wife, Mari, and two daughters.
The team has established the Griffis Family Fund to assist the family with financial needs. Checks can be made out to Griffis Family Fund and sent to Sam Schmidt Motorsports, 6803 Coffman Road, Indianapolis, IN, 46268.
The Griffis family said contributions also can be made to the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, P.O. Box 3661, Princeton, N.J., 08543-3661.
Prior to working for SSM, Griffis was crew chief for Panther Racing’s Mark Taylor in the Indy Lights Series and helped the driver win seven races and four poles en route to the 2003 series championship.
Griffis began his IndyCar career with Patrick Racing in the 1980s working with legendary drivers Gordon Johncock and Emerson Fittipaldi and in 1989 Griffis was a crew member when Fittipaldi won five races, including the Indianapolis 500, en route to the series championship. Chip Ganassi then purchased the team and Griffis was crew chief for Eddie Cheever Jr. from 1990-1992.
From 1993-2002, he worked for Bernstein Racing and PacWest Racing as a crew chief, winning races with Scott Goodyear, Mark Blundell, Mauricio Gugelmin and Scott Dixon before moving to Panther Racing in 2003.