Chris Cord, July 15, 1940 to July 28, 2022, IMSA World Champion, father of Stephen, Billy (Angela), Michael (Julie) and Cecelia (William), grandfather to eight grandchildren and beloved husband of 64 years to Katrina Cord, crossed life’s finish line and took his final checkered flag on Thursday evening, July 28.
Born in 1940, as the grandson to E.L. Cord (Cord, Auburn and Duesenberg), son of Billy James Cord and Onnalee Cord, Chris grew up in Brentwood, California. Chris lost his father at the age of 5, and his mother went on to marry Bill Doheny, who took Chris under his wing and raised him as his own. It was growing up under Bill’s tutelage and guidance that Chris became exposed to motorsports, which sparked a fire that would carry him across the finish lines at tracks such as Le Mans in 1978, where he and his teammates Rick Knoop and Jim Busby won their class in a Porsche 935 and finished 5th overall. He raced tracks all over North America in the IMSA series from the late 70s until achieving the ultimate in motor sports: winning a World Driver’s and a Manufacturers Championship for Dan Gurney’s All American Racing team and Toyota in 1987 in the IMSA GTO class.
Chris was also a driving force, along with good friend and partner Steve Earle, behind the formation of what has become a 50-year tradition of the “Monterey Historics” at Laguna Seca where cars with historical racing provenance are displayed and raced, just as they ran in period. His reputation among his fellow drivers, teammates and competitors have described him as: “A super human being on and off the track.” “A gentleman racer…who became a champion." “One of the kindest people I’ve ever met and yet could beat you on the track without needing to push you off the track.” “The only teammate I’ve ever respected.” “An incredible driver and an even better human being - probably the most admired guy in the paddock, certainly the most good looking.” “His competitors not only respected Chris, but usually became life-long friends.”
Chris lived life off the track, just as he did on the track—a champion in everything he did. He loved to take his family on motorcycling expeditions in the desert and ski trips to the mountains of Sun Valley, where he and Katrina decided to look at real estate while the family enjoyed the mountain, and found a family home to settle into on Warm Springs road by the Wood River in 1980. He was an accomplished athlete in tennis, paddle tennis, golf and water skiing. He had a passion and an eye for art that complimented his dream home along the Wood River, where he loved to spend his days sitting on his patio watching the river flow past his home, enjoying the wildlife that surrounded him. After his retirement from investment banking, it was that home with Katrina and the children that opened up a whole new life for him.
It was here, in the Sun Valley area that he began hiking in the Sawtooth Mountains with his dog, Tuffy, and was especially fond of his “campout birthday celebrations” with family and friends. He was a role model to so many people for his wisdom, humor, skill, patience, generosity and only ever offered advice or feedback in a humble, principled, and soft-spoken manner. He always maintained, however, that his greatest joy in life was his marriage to his wife Katrina of 62 years and his love of his family, including grandchildren KC (Jake), Gardner, Nick (Courtney), James, Lexi, Caitlyn, Will and Lauren. His passion for auto racing was contagious. A man’s man. A gentleman driver. A world champion. A dedicated husband, father, grandfather and friend to so many.
Chris was preceded in death by his father, Billy James; mother, Onnalee; stepfather, William Doheny; son-in-law, Hughes Morton; and daughter-in-law, Georgia Cord. In lieu of flowers, Chris and the family would like to encourage those that want to make a difference in others' lives, to support the Hospice and Palliative Care of the Wood River Valley, P.O. Box 4320 Ketchum, ID 83340, or the charity of your choosing. Here’s to a life well lived and a life lived well. Godspeed, Chris Cord.