Peter O. Argetsinger, a member of the International Motor Racing Research Center’s Governing Council and an international racing champion and respected driving coach, is being remembered across the industry for his talents and joy in the sport.
Argetsinger died Thursday, Feb. 6, at his home in Watkins Glen after a fight against cancer. He was 69.
As the son of Jean and Cameron Argetsinger, who was the founder and organizer of the first races in Watkins Glen, motorsport was an important part of his life from early on. Maintaining a home in Watkins Glen, as well as Sebring, Fla., Argetsinger was involved with the IMRRC since it opened. He joined the Governing Council in 2018.
“Peter was an incredible racer and beloved racing instructor, but most importantly he was a good friend,” John Saunders, senior advisor at NASCAR and chairman of the IMRRC Governing Council, said. “The world of motorsports is richer for his dedication to developing young talent and growing the sport’s future. Pete will always be considered family to the International Motor Racing Research Center, an organization to which he devoted much wisdom and guidance.”
Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup, also a member of the IMRRC’s Governing Council, noted Argetsinger’s dedication to the sport and Watkins Glen.
“Peter was an important part in carrying on the legacy and tradition that his father, Cameron, and family started here in Watkins Glen,” Printup said. “He will be remembered for his passion for auto racing and his continued desire to make this community a worldwide staple as an international racing destination.”
“I met Peter this past summer in between his coaching sessions at Watkins Glen International. It was a real pleasure to meet him,” said Dan DeRusha, who was appointed IMRRC executive director last June. “Peter was a constant advocate of the Center, sharing our mission with other racers and carrying on the legacy of Cameron and Jean, who was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the IMRRC.”
Argetsinger pursued a 47-year career as a professional road racing driver until his health failed last fall. He was a member of the Road Racing Drivers Club and had successes on the world’s major courses, initially in Europe and then in the U.S. and South America.
Watkins Glen International was naturally on the list of tracks at which he raced, and in 2011 Argetsinger was inducted into the Watkins Glen Drivers Walk of Fame, a project of the IMRRC. He was introduced by his brother Michael Argetsinger, an award-winning motorsports author. Michael died in 2015.
Argetsinger was named German Rookie of the Year Formula Ford 1974 and set the series’ fastest lap at the famous Hockenheimring, helping his Team Royale clinch the European FF Title. After moving to England, he captured the 1980 British Formula Ford Championship and was voted British Driver of the Year. Competition in Formula Three, sports cars, sedans, as well as IMSA and Daytona prototypes, followed.
Argetsinger coached many successful professional drivers at the start of their careers, including 1996 Formula One World Champion Damon Hill, Indy 500 winners Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi and others including James Hinchcliffe, Graham Rahal and Gabby Chaves.
Additionally, he instructed at the Skip Barber racing school, tutored private clients and was chief instructor of the Formula BMW young drivers’ series in the U.S. and in Europe. The U.S. State Department’s Anti-Terrorist Division also used his talents.
Up until his final days, he was sought after for the 2020 season as a driver and coach, family members said.
Argetsinger is survived by Sjoukje Schipstra, his beloved wife of 45 years, and his children Kimberley Argetsinger of New York City and J.C.G. Argetsinger of Los Angeles.
The family will receive friends from 5-8 p.m. on Feb. 14 at the Vedder-Scott-Zinger Funeral Home, 122 N. Genesee St., Montour Falls, New York.
A funeral mass will be conducted at St. Mary’s of The Lake Church, 905 N. Decatur St., Watkins Glen, on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 11 a.m.