USAC and CART Championship Car series racer who was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2002.
He began racing when he was 17-years old, and spent 15 years racing as an amateur while working as a bricklayer.
He raced in the Indianapolis 500 15 times, and was the rookie of the year for the 1962 race.
His son James McElreath Jr was also a competitive racer.
He won the inaugural California 500 riding a car from the team of A.J. Foyt.