Bryan Clauson GREAT OPEN WHEEL RACER
Bryan Clauson was an American auto racing driver. Best known for his achievements in dirt track open-wheel racing, Clauson also competed in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Indy Lights, and IndyCar Series and was a former development driver for Chip Ganassi Racing.
In 2016, Clauson attempted to compete in 200 races including the Indianapolis 500, World of Outlaws sprint cars, wingless sprint cars, and midget cars. On August 6, 2016, Clauson was involved in a midget car crash at Belleville High-Banks Speedway in Belleville, Kansas, and died the following night.
Born in Sacramento, California, Clauson made his USAC National Sprint Series debut just two days after his 16th birthday on June 17, 2005 at Limaland Motorsports Park, Ohio garnering a third place podium finish. On October 8, 2005, Clauson won the Open Wheel Oktoberfest Midget race at Columbus Motor Speedway, Ohio, becoming the youngest driver in USAC history to win a National feature event, aged 16 years, 3 months and 23 days. On August 12, 2006, Clauson recorded a historic USAC Sprint/Midget doubleheader "sweep" at Salem Speedway, Indiana winning both the 30-lap Midget race and 50-lap Sprint race held the same night, only the 24th such sweep in USAC history.
On August 31, Clauson scored his first career ARCA win at the Gateway International Raceway. Two months later he began competing in the NASCAR Busch Series, driving the No. 41 Memorex Dodge Charger for Chip Ganassi. He competed full-time during the 2007 season in the USAC National Sprint and Midget Series as part of the Keith Kunz Motorsports stable.
Despite his move to NASCAR, Clauson returned to his dirt-track roots on January 12, racing in the Chili Bowl, an indoor Midget race in Tulsa, Oklahoma, featuring some of the top names in racing, such as Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Jason Leffler, Gary Scelzi, Cruz Pedregon, Bobby Santos III, Brett Hearn and Tim McCreadie. After starting the feature mid-pack, he finished fourth overall.
In 2008, Clauson started the season in the No. 41 Polaroid/Texaco Havoline Dodge for Ganassi in the Nationwide Series, but was replaced by Kyle Krisiloff. He then drove the No. 40 Fastenal entry for Ganassi, filling in for Dario Franchitti in select races. He won his 1st pole at Daytona in July, but was replaced full-time by Franchitti the week after.
He was set to make his Cup debut at the Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway driving the No. 40 Target/MotorStorm: Pacific Rift Dodge but qualifying was rained out and the team, which did not have enough owner points, did not qualify. His second attempt at his Cup Series debut ended the same way at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Qualifying was rained out for the race on October 26, 2008; he would have driven the No. 40 Guitar Hero World Tour Dodge. In his first actual attempt at Texas, Clauson failed to qualify.
Clauson was supposed to drive the No. 40 in the Nationwide Series full-time in 2009, but the team shut down after Fastenal left the team. He won the Turkey Night Grand Prix in November.
Clauson joined the Tony Stewart Racing Silver Crown team in USAC 2010. During this season he was successful in winning the USAC National Midget championship for his own team, as well as the first-ever USAC National Drivers championship. Clauson earned a $300,000 scholarship to compete in all 6 Indy Lights oval races in 2011.
Clauson ran the 2012 Indianapolis 500 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, but finished 30th with mechanical problems.
Clauson won the USAC Sprint Car Championship in 2012, and repeated in 2013.
Following the 2013 season, Clauson replaced Jerry Coons Jr. in the Joe Dooling/Rusty Kunz number 63 Westin Packaged Meats Esslinger powered Midget. On January 18, 2014, he won the Chili Bowl Nationals at the Tulsa Expo Center, while teammate Michael Pickens, driving the number 63 Dooling Machine, Esslinger powered midget, flipped with 11 to go. Later that year, the Gold Crown Nationals at Eldora Speedway were postponed after a 5-hour rain delay, the next day they resumed racing and he led all 25 laps of the race for his first Gold Crown Midget win, holding off Christopher Bell in the No. 71 KKM midget.
Clauson returned to the Indy 500 in 2015, driving for the KV Racing Technology/Jonathan Byrd's Racing team, finishing 31st after an accident while moving out of the way for a faster car He also competed in the "Kokomo Classic" at Kokomo Speedway later that evening, where he finished 2nd to Kevin Thomas, Jr. in a photo finish
Clauson was attempting to compete in 200 races in 2016 which is being billed as "The Chasing 200 Tour, Circular Insanity". The tour included the 100th Indianapolis 500, USAC Midget and Sprint cars, World of Outlaws (WoO) sprint cars, and wingless sprint cars He normally ran about 150 shows per year; he hoped to double up by racing some 360 wingless sprint car class cars at 410 (WoO / USAC) winged sprint car events Clauson traveled the country living out of a mobile home.
On August 6, 2016, Clauson was competing in the Belleville Nationals midget race – his 116th race of the year – when he was involved in an accident in which he flipped his car after making contact with a lapped car and was hit by another. He was taken to Bryan Medical Center West and was in critical condition upon arrival. Clauson died at the hospital the following evening.
Tony Stewart remarked, "It sucks when it’s anybody in racing. It’s hard when you lose them, but it’s even worse when they’re somebody as close to you as Bryan was. I feel for Lauren today and Bryan’s parents and his sister, and I hope to be able to see them soon, but just thinking about them more than anything right now
Bradley "Buzz" Calkins winner 1st indy racing league event
Bradley "Buzz" Calkins was a Indy Racing League driver. After a successful run in Indy Lights from 1993 to 1995 where he finished 11th, 10th, and 6th in his three seasons, he and his Bradley Motorsports team purchased a 1995 Reynard chassis to compete in the inaugural season of the IRL. He won the series' inaugural race, the 1996 Indy 200 at Walt Disney World ahead of Tony Stewart and was that year's league co-champion with Scott Sharp. He competed in the Indianapolis 500 six times, with a best finish of 10th in 1998 His win in the series' first race would end up to be his only IRL win. He drove until 2001 when he retired and ventured into the business world today he is president of denver based bradley gas company
Ralph Liguori USAC AND NASCAR DRIVER
He competed in the USAC Championship Car series from 1957 to 1971 making 61 starts. His best finish was 2nd place at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Speedway in 1970. 1966 was his most active year, when he made 7 starts and finished 28th in the National Championship. He attempted the Indianapolis 500 six times (1959, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1967, and 1968) but he failed to make the field each time. Liguori continued racing well into his 70's and won a minor race in 2000 at 73 years old.
Liguori competed in 76 NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup Series) races in his career. He had 30 Top 10 and 5 Top 5 finishes in his career. His best finish was a third place finish at Wilson Speedway in Wilson, North Carolina. He finished tenth in the 1954 season points. Liguori made one start in the NASCAR Convertible Series during 1956.[
Bobby Allison Nascar Champion
When the phrase "Thrill of Victory and Agony of Defeat" was first coined, the author must have had Robert Arthur Allison in mind. "If I had kept a business chart of my racing career, it would have more peaks and valleys than the State of Arizona," he said.
He started his Winston Cup career in 1966 with a homemade Chevelle. "Somebody told me my chances of winning a race were about the same as Twiggy winning the heavyweight boxing championship. That made me mad" Allison recalls. Bobby Allison didn't win one race -- he won three. His fast start was accompanied by controversy, a years-long feud with Richard Petty and an ongoing war with the media.
Through it all, Allison became one of the winningest drivers on the circuit. He's fourth in wins, 84; fifth in poles, 57; fifth in prize money won, $7.2 million; led at least one lap for 39 consecutive races, a record; and third in miles led, 29,205.2 Allison won 38 races after his 40th birthday. Only 12 other drivers have won that many races in a career. Over a twenty-two year career that was interrupted by near tragedy on June 19, 1988, Allison was six times voted Most Popular Driver by the fans, twice honored as American Driver of the Year, and three times the National Motorsports Press Associations' Driver of the Year. He won the 1983 Winston Cup Championship after being a runner-up five times.
"Winning the championship is still my biggest thrill. It's the biggest of any one thing I've ever accomplished. But it's also that I'm on par with the Parsons, Yarboroughs, Pettys and Jarretts. It was an effort that really had started years and years before and had gone through trial after trial to get that far," said Allison.
One of 12 offspring born into the family of Edmund and Kitty Allison, Bobby was born on December 3, 1937. At age nine, he decided he was going to race cars. He started racing in 1955 at Hialeah, Florida. He had already moved to Hueytown, Alabama, when he launched his Winston Cup career. The former Judy Bjorkman and bobby were married on February 20, 1960, when Allison was still living in Florida. They had four children and it was son Davey who ran second to his father in the 1988 Daytona 500 and carried on the winning tradition of the "Alabama Gang" until his tragic death.
Allison, a perfectionist who won the Daytona 500, Winston 500 and World 600 three times each, and the Southern 500 on four occasions, has earned a place in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. Racing has exacted a tremendous price for Bobby Allison, and it is immeasurably better because of him.
Sir John Young Jackie" Stewart three time world champion
Sir John Young "Jackie" Stewart, the "Flying Scot", he competed in Formula One between 1965 and 1973, winning three World Drivers' Championships, and twice runner-up, over those nine seasons. He also competed in Can-Am. In 2009 he was ranked fifth of the fifty greatest Formula One drivers of all time by journalist Kevin Eason who wrote: "He has not only emerged as a great driver, but one of the greatest figures of motor racing."
He is well known in the United States as a color commentator (pundit) of racing television broadcasts having worked in that role in the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix from 1971 to 1986. In 1976 Stewart became the play-by-play announcer for the 1976 Winter and 1976 Summer Olympics, and he served as host of the Indianapolis 500 coverage for ABC's Wide World of Sports and ABC Sports, from 1982 to 1984. He has also been a spokesman for Ford, Rolex and Moët.
Between 1997 and 1999, in partnership with his son, Paul, he was team principal of the Stewart Grand Prix Formula One racing team.
Michael Schumacher 7 time world driving champion
Michael Schumacher a German racing driver. He is a seven-time Formula One World Champion and is widely regarded as one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time[ He was named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year twice. He won two titles with Benetton in 1994 and 1995. After his second title he moved to Ferrari for which he drove eleven years. His time with Ferrari yielded five consecutive titles between 2000 and 2004.
He holds many of Formula One's driver records, including most championships, race victories, fastest laps, pole positions and most races won in a single season – 13 in 2004 (the last of these records was equalled by fellow German Sebastian Vettel nine years later). In 2002, he became the only driver in Formula One history to finish in the top three in every race of a season and then also broke the record for most consecutive podium finishes. According to the official Formula One website, he is "statistically the greatest driver the sport has ever seen".
After beginning with karting, Schumacher won the German drivers' championships in Formula König and Formula Three before joining Mercedes in the World Sportscar Championship. After one Mercedes-funded race for the Jordan Formula One team, Schumacher signed as a driver for the Benetton Formula One team in 1991. Establishing himself as a top driver, finishing third in 1992 and fourth in 1993, Schumacher became the first German World Drivers' Champion in 1994 by one point over Damon Hill. In 1995 he repeated the success, this time with a greater margin. Schumacher moved to Ferrari in 1996. Schumacher came close to winning the 1997 and 1998 titles, before breaking his leg at the 1999 British Grand Prix, ending another title run. Things then came good for Schumacher who won another five consecutive drivers' titles from 2000 to 2004. Schumacher retired from Formula One driving in 2006 staying with Ferrari as an advisor. He came close to an eighth title that year, but due to technical problems in the final two races he fell short to Fernando Alonso. Schumacher agreed to return for Ferrari part-way through 2009, as cover for the badly injured Felipe Massa, but was prevented by a neck injury. Schumacher returned to Formula One on a permanent basis from 2010 with the Mercedes team before retiring for a second time at the conclusion of the 2012 season.
His career was not without controversy, including being twice involved in collisions in the final race of a season that determined the outcome of the World Championship, with Damon Hill in 1994 in Adelaide, and with Jacques Villeneuve in 1997 in Jerez.Off the track Schumacher is an ambassador for UNESCO and a spokesman for driver safety. He has been involved in numerous humanitarian efforts throughout his life and donated tens of millions of dollars to charity.[Schumacher and his younger brother, Ralf, are the only brothers to win races in Formula One, and they were the first brothers to finish 1st and 2nd in the same race, a feat they repeated in four subsequent races.
In December 2013, Schumacher suffered a serious head injury while skiing. He was airlifted to a hospital and placed in a medically induced coma, having suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was in the coma for six months from 29 December 2013 until 16 June 2014. He left the hospital in Grenoble for further rehabilitation at the University Hospital (CHUV) in Lausanne On 9 September 2014, Schumacher was brought back to his home for further rehabilitation.] In November 2014, Schumacher was reported to be paralysed and wheelchair-bound as a result of the accident.
Ayrton Senna f-1 racing legend
Ayrton Senna da Silva was a Brazilian racing driver who won three Formula One world championships. He was killed in an accident while leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. He was among the most dominant and successful Formula One drivers of the modern era and is considered by many as the greatest racing driver of all time
Senna began his motorsport career in karting, moving up to open-wheel racing in 1981, and winning the British Formula Three championship in 1983. He made his Formula One debut with Toleman-Hart in 1984 before moving to Lotus-Renault the following year and winning six Grands Prix over the next three seasons. In 1988, he joined Frenchman Alain Prost at McLaren-Honda. Between them, they won all but one of the 16 Grands Prix that year and Senna claimed his first World Championship. Prost claimed the championship in 1989, and Senna his second and third championships in 1990 and 1991. In 1992, the Williams-Renault combination began to dominate Formula One. Senna nonetheless managed to finish the 1993 season as runner-up, winning five races and negotiating a move to Williams in 1994.
Senna has often been voted as the best and most influential Formula One driver of all time in various motorsport polls. He was recognised for his qualifying speed over one lap and from 1989 until 2006 held the record for most pole positions. He was also acclaimed for his wet weather performances, such as the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix, the 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix, and the 1993 European Grand Prix. He holds a record six victories at the Monaco Grand Prix, and is the fourth-most successful driver of all time in terms of race wins. Senna courted controversy throughout his career, particularly during his turbulent rivalry with Alain Prost. In the Japanese Grands Prix of 1989 and 1990, each of which decided the championship of that year, collisions between Senna and Prost determined the eventual winner.
On Friday, Senna placed the car on the pole for a then-record 65th and final time, but he was upset by events unfolding that race weekend. Senna complained about the FW16's handling and reported that the car's performance was generally worse after the engineers' latest adjustments.] During the afternoon qualifying session, Senna's compatriot and protégé Rubens Barrichello was involved in a serious accident when his Jordan became airborne at the Variante Bassa chicane and hit the tyre-wall and fence. Barrichello suffered a broken nose and arm, and withdrew from the event. Barrichello reported that Senna was the first person he saw upon regaining consciousness
During Saturday qualifying, Austrian rookie Roland Ratzenberger was killed after the front wing of his Simtek-Ford broke entering the 310 km/h (190 mph) Villeneuve corner, sending the car into a concrete wall. Senna immediately visited the accident scene and medical centre. There he was met by FIA Medical Chief Professor Sid Watkins, who suggested to a tearful Senna to retire from racing and go fishing (a hobby they both shared), to which Senna replied that he could not stop racing. Senna was later called in front of the stewards for commandeering an official car and climbing the medical centre fence, and a row ensued, although Senna was not punished.
Senna spent his final morning on the Sunday talking to former team mate and rival Alain Prost to discuss the re-establishment of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, with the aim of improving safety in Formula One. Prost had retired from the sport at the end of the 1993 season, and was now a media presenter. As the most senior driver in competition, Senna offered to take the role of leader, starting from the next race in Monaco. During the drivers' briefing, concerns had been raised about the mainly promotional use of a Porsche 911 lead car for the warm-up lap, with organizers agreeing to abandon the practice It is said that Williams Chief Engineer Patrick Head had pranked Senna on the grid by advising him that the lead car would not be excluded from the warm-up lap after all.
At the start of the Grand Prix, Senna retained the lead from Schumacher, but proceedings soon became interrupted by a startline accident. JJ Lehto's Benetton-Ford had stalled and was hit by the Lotus-Mugen Honda of Pedro Lamy. A wheel and debris landed in the main grandstand, injuring eight fans and a police officer. The safety car, a sporty version of the Opel Vectra medium family saloon, was deployed for several laps. The Vectra's slow pace was later questioned because of the consequential drop in tyre pressures on the Formula One cars. Senna had pulled alongside the Vectra and gestured to the driver, Max Angelelli, to increase his speed.On lap 6, the race resumed and Senna immediately set a quick pace with the third-quickest lap of the race, followed by Schumacher.
As Senna rounded the high-speed Tamburello corner on lap 7, his car left the racing line at around 307 km/h (191 mph), ran in a straight line off the track, and hit the concrete retaining wall at around 233 km/h (145 mph), after what telemetry showed to be an application of the brakes for around two seconds. The red flag was shown as a consequence of the accident. Within two minutes of crashing, Senna was extracted from his race car by Professor Watkins and his medical team, including intensive care anaesthetist Giovanni Gordini. Initial treatment took place by the side of the car, with Senna having a weak heartbeat and significant blood loss (around 4.5 l). Because of Senna's poor neurological condition, Professor Watkins performed an on-site tracheotomy and requested the immediate airlifting of Senna to Bologna's Maggiore Hospital under the supervision of Dr Gordini. At 18:40, the head of the hospital's emergency department, Dr Fiandri made the announcement that Senna had died, but said the official time of death under Italian law was 14:17, which is when he impacted the wall and his brain stopped working. Professor Watkins later said that as soon as he saw Senna's fully dilated pupils, he knew that his brainstem was inactive and that he would not survive.
Arie Luyendyk 2 time indianapolis 500 winner
Arie Luyendyk, anglicised form of Arie Luijendijk is a Dutch auto racing driver, and two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. In 2014, he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. He is also known as "The Flying Dutchman".
Luyendyk started racing in the early 1970s, winning a number of Dutch national titles. In 1977, he won the EuropeanSuper Vee championship, and switched to Formula Three. Success continued to elude him until he moved to theUnited States in 1984, where he immediately won the Super Vee championship.
With the help of sponsor Provimi Veal, Luyendyk ran his first full Champ Car in 1985, winning the rookie of the year title both for the season and the Indianapolis 500. His first win in the series came five years later in 1990, at the most important race of the series, with a record average speed of 185.981 mph (299.307 km/h). Luyendyk won the 1990 Indianapolis 500 for Doug Shierson Racing. His average speed record which stood for 23 years, was finally broken in the2013 97th Indianapolis 500 by Tony Kanaan with an average speed of 187.433 mph (301.644 km/h).
Luyendyk continued to perform well at Indianapolis, scoring pole positions in 1993, 1997 and 1999, and retiring from the race while leading on three occasions. In 1996, he set the qualifying lap record at 237.498 mph (382.216 km/h), although he did not start on the pole because he qualified on the second day of time trials. He won the 1997 Indianapolis 500 from the pole over Treadway Racing teammate Scott Goodyear. It came under severe controversy when on the final restart the white & green flag waved to end a caution but the yellow lights stayed on with Arie Luyendyk pulling away to the win while the other competitors were confused. A similar finish involving a similar mistake almost took away a win from Luyendyk two weeks later. As a result USAC was removed of scoring the races.
Luyendyk also was selected to participate in the 1992, 1993, and 1998 editions of the International Race of Champions.
He retired from racing after the 1999 season, and for a short time, joined ABC Sports as a color commentator. He returned to the Indy 500 in 2001 and 2002. In 2003, he entered at Indianapolis for the final time. He suffered a crash during practice, and did not make an attempt to qualify.
Other Luyendyk victories include the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. His son, Arie Jr., is an Indy Lights racer.
The last corner of the Zandvoort track in the Netherlands carries his name. In 1999, he was presented with the Sagamore of the Wabash award, reflecting upon his Indy 500 career
Mark Martin nascar legend
Mark Martin is the only driver from Arkansas competing in the top circuit of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). He ranks tenth on the all-time win list and sixth on the all-time pole position list.
Martin was born on January 9, 1959, in Batesville (Independence County) to Julian Martin and Jackie Estes Martin. Martin’s father was a truck driver who started a successful Batesville-based trucking company, Julian Martin, Inc., in 1960. As a hobby, Julian also sponsored a race team that competed on the numerous small local race tracks. Martin’s father instilled a passion for driving in him when he was very young. Before Martin was big enough to reach the brake and accelerator, his father would put him on his lap and let him steer the car on the crooked roads of north Arkansas.
Martin persuaded his father to build him a race car in the fall of 1973. On April 12, 1974, at the age of only fifteen, Martin drove it in his first stock car race at a small dirt track in Locust Grove (Independence County). He won on his third start and completed the season by winning the most significant race in his division in 1974, the Arkansas State Championship held at the Benton Speedbowl in Benton (Saline County).
In 1977, Martin received his diploma from Batesville High School, but while his classmates were participating in graduation ceremonies, he was busy setting a new track record at a race in Springfield, Missouri. With high school behind him, Martin moved to Springfield and began competing in races throughout the Midwest in the more organized American Speed Association (ASA). He was named the 1977 ASA Rookie of the Year before winning the series championship in three consecutive years from 1978 through 1980.
Martin made his first attempt at the elite NASCAR Winston Cup series in 1981, with moderate success. Martin would run a full season in 1982 and attempt to win the Winston Cup Rookie of the Year. He finished fourteenth in the final point standings but finished second for Rookie of the Year. In 1983, his racing career then went sour. Having exhausted most of his personal resources the previous year, and suffering through a failed sponsorship, Martin was forced to sell his race team. He would spend most of the season bouncing around between several teams.
Martin swallowed his pride and took a step back from NASCAR racing, returning to the ASA. He won another ASA series championship in 1986. In 1988, Martin helped develop a stock car racing program for Jack Roush, a sports car team owner. Martin earned his first Winston Cup victory on October 22, 1989, at North Carolina Motor Speedway. Since joining with Roush, Martin has won thirty-five victories in the NASCAR Nextel Cup (formerly Winston Cup) division and finished second in the point standings four times (1990, 1994, 1998, and 2002). As of 2008, he has managed 395 top-ten finishes in over 700 career starts in NASCAR’s top division and holds the record for most wins, with forty-seven in NASCAR’s secondary Busch series. Martin has captured five championships (1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 2005) in the International Race of Champions series and is the series all-time winner with thirteen victories.
In 2004, Martin announced that the 2005 season would be his last in the Nextel Cup Series, but he later agreed to postpone his departure when his long-time friend and car owner, Jack Roush, asked him to stay for an additional year while the team found a suitable replacement. However, he kept racing, tying a record with his fifth second-place finish in 2009. (He shares this record with Richard Petty and Bobby Allison.) Martin is signed with Hendrick Motorsports through the end of the 2011 season. Despite having spent most of his adult life living in North Carolina and Florida, he has built a home in Batesville, where he owns an auto dealership, Mark Martin Ford, opened a museum to house his racing memorabilia. Martin and his wife, Arlene, have five children: Amy, Rachel, Heather, Stacy, and Matt, who is following his father into auto racing.
Emerson Fittipaldi 2 Time Indianapolis 500 winner and F-1 Champion
"Emmo" as he is known by legions of fans in America began his rise to fame in Europe. The son of well know Brazilian motor racing journalist Wilson Fittipaldi started racing motor bikes but soon moved to karts. In 1967, Fittipaldi with his older brother Wilson Jr. built their own karts and won everything in sight. Knowing that any future in motorsport led through England, Fittipaldi traveled to the distant shore in 1969 and came under the wing of legendary racing school owner Jim Russell, the first in a trio of great Brazilian drivers who were yet to come. Driving a Lotus Formula 3 car he won the Lombank F3 championship. His driving was smooth and controlled, trademarks that would continue throughout his career.
In 1970 he graduated to Formula 2, again driving a Lotus. In May of that year he was invited to a Formula 1 test drive by Colin Chapman. Duly impressed Chapman signed the young Brazilian to become the third team member after Jochen Rindt and John miles. Fittipaldi made his debut at Brands Hatch driving an old Lotus 49 in which he scored an 8th place. His second race in Germany saw him score his first points for fourth place. Later after the tragic death of team leader Jochen Rindt, he won the United States Grand Prix clinching the World Championship for his stricken teammate. This young well-mannered driver seemly appeared out of nowhere to rescue the devastated team.
Fittipaldi's 1971 season was interrupted by a road accident on his way home. His injuries while not life-threatening contributed to his lack of form that year but the following season saw him rise to the top, becoming the youngest World Champion in history. In 1973 he started the season as World Champion destined for another title. He seemed to have the measure of his competitors all save one, his teammate. Colin Chapman hoping to duplicate the super team of Clark and Hill added the Swede Ronnie Peterson. At first Fittipaldi seemed to take this challenge in stride when he won both the Argentine and Brazilian Grands Prix. But the strain of developing the car, only to be out-qualified by Peterson, soon told on the usually calm Brazilian. In France he made an uncharacteristic error in trying to pass South African Jody Scheckter, causing a collision that ended the race for both cars. Fittipaldi would finish the title chase in second that year and soon left for McLaren.
More than the threat of his fast teammate Fittipaldi might have surmised that Lotus was entering one of their down periods after the racing life of their superb Lotus 72 had reached its end. Three wins and numerous points scoring finishes allowed him to claim his second World Championship in 1974. The next year was a year of turmoil which included a half-hearted Brands Hatch Race of Champions and a walkout at the Spanish Grand Prix. Disgusted with the political machinations he found in Formula 1 he turned inward. Helped by sponsorship from the Brazilian sugar combine, Copersucar he formed his own team with his elder brother Wilson Jr. but try as they might they could not reproduce the magic of a decade earlier and it was a sad sight to see the double World Champion at the blunt end of the grid. Frustrated with the lack of success Fittipaldi retired to his native Brazil heavily in debt but through his many contacts and hard work he was able to rebuild his fortune.
His career while ending in disappointment had shown a driver of great talent, whose smooth style was best described in the title of his autobiography; Flying on the Ground. All could have ended there but the racer's heart still beat in his chest and.
In 1984 he made a remarkable comeback, not in Formula 1 but in the Indy Car series. He soon became a crowd favorite with his open love of racing and his gracious attitude to his fellow drivers, one of whom, Al Unser Jr. who would become his rival, teammate and friend something not exactly the norm in Formula 1. His smooth style and experience would result in two Indianapolis 500 victories on that fearsome track. He finally retired for good after suffering neck injuries in a crash at the start of the US 500 in Michigan in 1996 and later back injuries in a small airplane crash. Today he continues his involvement in motor sport on multiple levels loved by fans on two continents.
*Roger McCluskey usac national champion
Roger McCluskey was not only a tough and fiercely competitive race driver on the track, but a thoughtful and respected mediator off of it.
During his lengthy career, he won championships in three different divisions of the United States Auto Club and drove in 18 Indy 500s. But what set him above many of his fellow competitors was his ability to look beyond himself and negotiate feuds and differences of the competitors, owners and the sanctioning bodies.
It is a combination of these talents that has earned McCluskey a spot in the Motor Sports Hall of Fame of America as part of the class of 2011.
A prime example of his ability to be both a driver and peacemaker came in 1979. At 48 he was struggling to find enough speed to qualify for his 18th Indy 500. But this didn't prevent him from becoming a calming voice as upstart CART and USAC battled over who had control of the sport at the world's biggest racing event.
First, he called a meeting of all of the drivers (not all attended), then arranged a meeting of the all of the drivers and owners of both CART and USAC for the following week. It took someone of his respect to accomplish this feat. That's why USAC previously had named him to a four-man executive committee.
The dark-haired veteran from Tucson, Ariz., (he was born in Texas) had been racing since the late 1940's and was deeply disturbed that his sport was in such turmoil.
On the track over 30 years, he gave no leeway to his competitors, but his style was never uncontrolled. Even early in his career, his fellow drivers selected him to represent them at various meetings. Though serious about serious things, he also could be fun-loving and friendly at other times.
McCluskey won championships in three divisions: Indy cars (1973), sprint cars (1963, 1966), and stock cars (1969-70). He won five Champ car races, including the 1973 Ontario 500. He lost the Pocono 500 when he ran out of fuel while leading the final lap.
The Indy 500 was his nemesis. His best finish was third in the rain-shortened 1973 race, but there was a flock of DNFs. He never completed 200 laps.
"He was a good driver, very smooth," said fellow driver Bob Harkey. "I think he was better on dirt, but good on both."
McCluskey, who also drove in four NASCAR races, IROC and the 24 Hours of LeMans, retired on a high note by winning at Milwaukee in 1979 and then hanging up his helmet.
That fall he moved into the USAC office as Director of Competition and later executive vice president was added. In 1989 he was diagnosed with cancer and even while taking chemotherapy and forced into a wheelchair, he still made it to the daily decision-making meetings. He came to the office on Aug. 24, 1993, to celebrate his 63rd birthday and then passed away five days later.
USAC named a trophy, the Roger McCluskey Award of Excellence, after him.
Rusty Wallace nascar champion
Russell William "Rusty" Wallace was born on August 14, 1956 in Fenton, Missouri. Rusty and his two brothers (Kenny and Mike) were raised by their parents Russ and Judy Wallace. His dad was a champion racer in Missouri and the boys weren't far behind, with all three making careers in motorsports. Rusty Wallace made his stock car racing debut in 1973 at Lakehill Speedway near Valley Park, Missouri. Between 1974 and 1978 he won over 200 races around the Mid-West and was a budding star when he joined the USAC's (United States Auto Club) stock car division in 1979. His racing success continued as Wallace won USAC Rookie of the Year Award in 1979. Rusty Wallace began racing in a handful of NASCAR Winston Cup races by 1980, driving the #16 Chevrolet for Roger Penske. In 1983 he went on to win an ASA AC Delco Challenge Series championship add to his already glowing resume.
Rusty Wallace made his official Winston Cup debut in 1984. That season he participated in all 30 races and bagged two top 5 and four top 10 finishes on the way to 14th place in points and Rookie of the Year honors. He won his first Winston Cup race driving the Alugard/Blue Max Pontiac in 1986 at the Bristol Motor Speedway in the Valleydale 500. Rusty earned his first pole position about a year later at the Miller 400 at Michigan International Speedway. He really began catching everyone's eye in the 1988 Winston Cup season, racking up 6 wins along woth nineteen top 5s and twenty three top 10s. He finished second in total points to Bill Elliott.
After coming close to winning the championship, Rusty Wallace would come back with a bang for the 1989 Winston Cup season. He raced in all twenty nine races and added 6 more victories along with thirteen top 5s and twenty top 10s. This was enough to win him the championship series that year, beating arch rival Dale Earnhardt by just 12 points for the honor. That year, he also started racing in the IROC series and was its champion in 1991. Throughout the 1990s, Rusty was a top performer in NASCAR's Winston Cup circuit winning 33 races, including a combined 18 in 1993 and 1994. Surprisingly, he did not win another Winston/Nextel Cup championship, finishing second to Dale Earnhardt in 1993. He won the 1993 Food City 500 at Bristol Speedway the same weekend that his good friend Alan Kulwicki died in a plane crash. Rusty dedicated the emotional win to Alan by doing Kulwicki's trademark reverse "Polish Victory Lap" after his win.
Rusty had an amazing streak going up until 2002. He had one atleast one race every year from 1986. This winning streak though was broken in 2002 and was the best amongst all active drivers. His last Nextel Cup victory came in 2004 as Rusty Wallace won the Advance Auto Parts 500 at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. On August 30, 2004 the then 47 year old Wallace announced that the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup season would be his last as a full-time driver though he would run in some races on a part-time basis. To date he has 55 NASCAR wins, good enough for 8th place on NASCAR's all-time wins list. At the time of his retirement, he drove the Penske Racing's #2 Dodge that was sponsored by Miller Lite.
Rusty Wallace raced for over 25 years so one could not just expect him to walk away from the sport after his retirement. That is quite the case as he is still involved in various aspects of stock car racing. Rusty owns and operated Rusty Wallace, Inc. (RWI) which fields the #64 NASCAR Busch Series car driven by Jamie McMurray. He is also part owner (along with Roger Penske) of the Penske Racing South team that features Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman in the Nextel Cup series.
Rusty also has a huge passion for flying. He's a jet-rated pilot who would have flown for a career had it not been for stock car racing. He owns several airplanes (including a Learjet 31A) and a Bell 427 helicopter. He is also a fan of NHRA drag racing and golf. Rusty is married to his wife Patti, they have three kids (Greg, Katie, Steve) and live in a ranch outside Charlotte, North Carolina. Rusty Wallace has become the first on-air hire by ESPN and ABC Sports after being named lead auto racing analyst for their Nextel Cup coverage starting in 2007. He also owns five car dealerships in Tennessee.
Joe Amato NHRA CHAMPION
During the heyday of his very successful Top Fuel career in the late 80s and early 90s, they called his legions of fans "Joe's Army." While his stellar performances attracted the attention of many, it was his easygoing personality and accessibility that ultimately proved to be his best "recruiting" tool. Far from being an aloof "commanding general," Amato was, and continues to be today, just one of the guys. That, as much as anything else, endeared him to the fans and media.
Before his retirement following the 2000 National Hot Rod Association season, Amato had amassed a record the likes of which is unlikely to be surpassed in the future. In some respects Amato's standards may have the longevity of Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, or Richard Petty's 200 NASCAR victories.
The number five plays a prominent role in this exceptional competitor's records. For but one example, Amato's 52 race wins are 19 more than his closest still-active competitor, with the level of competition being such that it's going to be extremely difficult to close the gap.
In terms of total professional victories, Amato is fifth – and sixth overall when his five sportsman wins are added. He's also fifth on the all-time Number 1 qualifiers list and the only five-time points champion in NHRA Top Fuel history. When he wasn't winning the championship outright, Amato was easily finishing in the Top 10, a consistency he maintained for 18 consecutive seasons. And let's not forget that Amato notched six impressive wins in the Budweiser Top Fuel Classic along the way.
Following his victory in the Mile-High Nationals in 2000, word leaked out that Amato had suffered what appeared to be a career-ending eye injury. Despite the setback, he completed the season fourth in the standings – winning again at the Keystone Nationals on his home track in Reading, PA. Sensing that the end of his career was coming, Amato was convinced to make the '01 season a retirement tour, but within hours wisely decided to hang up his helmet and concentrate on being a team owner.
From the ever-present Snoopy cartoon character that decorated his race cars to his effervescent personality, Amato was, and continues to be, a media and fan magnet. His interviews, often hilarious in delivery and content, effectively kept his business acumen from the public as Amato always made an effort to separate his business and racing lives despite the fact that they were irrevocably intertwined. Amato and his family were the founders of Keystone Automotive, which eventually morphed into Key Parts. Regardless of the name, it ultimately became the largest chain store operation in the eastern half of the country, with Amato personally responsible for a great deal of that growth. Amato eventually served on the SEMA Board of Directors, a position from which he had considerable influence on national legislation affecting the legality of high performance hardware for street-driven vehicles.
Unlike some former drivers, Amato has taken to the role of team owner with the same level of enthusiasm that he brought to his driving and business careers. He remains open, friendly and a fan favorite. Small wonder he's been elected to the Motorsports Hall of Fame. His "army" wouldn't have it any other way!
When the phrase "Thrill of Victory and Agony of Defeat" was first coined, the author must have had Robert Arthur Allison in mind. "If I had kept a business chart of my racing career, it would have more peaks and valleys than the State of Arizona," he said.
Joe Leonard AMA and USAC National Champion
Joe Leonard born August 4, 1932 in San Diego, California, is a retired American motorcycle racer and racecar driver.
Leonard won the first A.M.A. Grand National Championship Series in 1954 and won it again in 1956 and 1957.His record totals 27 wins, including the 1957 and 1958 Daytona 200.He retired from motorcycle racing at the completion of the 1961 season and turned his attention to auto racing.
Leonard raced in the USAC Championship Car series in the 1964–1974 seasons, with 98 career starts, including the 1965–1973 Indianapolis 500, sitting on the pole in 1968 in the Lotus 56 turbine car. He finished in the top ten 60 times, including 6 wins: 3 times at Milwaukee (1965, 1970, 1972), and once each at Ontario (1971), Brooklyn (1972), and Pocono (1972). His victories propelled him to the 1971 and 1972 USAC Championship Car Season Championship.
Joe Leonard has won multiple National Championships in both automobile and motorcycle racing back-to-back. In 1991
Charlie Patterson car owner "mr. racing everything"
Over fifty years of winning experience and hard work have earned Charlie Patterson the distinction of being recognized as an expert in the field of auto-racing. Charlie began his motorsports career back in 1958, at age twenty, as a crewman for an Indy Racing team. He spent the next thirty years mastering a variety of skills from lead fuel man to crew chief.
During this same period, from 1969 to 1989, Charlie also joined the ranks of car ownership fielding his own USAC Silver Crown and Midget racing teams with such notable drivers as Johnny Rutherford, Kenny Jacobs and Johnny Parsons behind the wheel. From time to time you could even find Charlie piloting one of his midget cars out on the open wheel circuit. Another early career highlight came when Charlie was hired as motorsports consultant and provided race cars for use in the filming of Paul Newman’s motion picture WINNING.
The latest chapter on Charlie’s colorful career comes with the formation of NEX• GEN Motorsports – a new driver search and placement program designed specifically to fulfill the growing sponsor demand that NASCAR and its teams provide a younger, more camera-friendly driver image as representative of the sport. In the world of product marketing, perception is reality and the consumer demographic being targeted is increasingly getting younger.
To the benefit of our industry, Mr. Patterson has the proven ability to single out those young men and women who possess the rarest combination of natural talent, star image and the personal dedication necessary to achieve championship status – both on and off the track. With “motorsports veterans” like Charlie Patterson watching the road, the Next Generation of auto racing has a very bright future ahead!
Bruce McLaren race-car designer, driver, engineer and inventor
Bruce Leslie McLaren 30 August 1937 – 2 June 1970 was a New Zealander race-car designer, driver, engineer and inventor.
His name lives on in the McLaren team which has been one of the most successful in Formula One championship history, with McLaren cars and drivers winning a total of 20 world championships. McLaren cars totally dominated CanAm sports car racing with 56 wins, a considerable number of them with him behind the wheel, between 1967 and 1972 (and five constructors’ championships), and have won three Indianapolis 500 races, as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans and 12 Hours of Sebring.
Born in Auckland, New Zealand, Bruce McLaren attended Meadowbank Primary School. As a nine-year-old, he contracted Perthes disease in his hip that left his left leg shorter than the right.
His parents, Les and Ruth McLaren, owned a service station and workshop in Remuera Rd, Remuera, Auckland. Bruce spent all of his free hours hanging around the workshop and developed his passion during his formative years.
Les McLaren restored an aging Austin 7 Ulster which 14-year-old Bruce used in 1952 when he entered his first competition, a hillclimb. Two years later he took part in his first real race and showed promise. He moved up from the Austin to a Ford 10 special and an Austin-Healey, then an F2 Cooper-Climax sports. He immediately began to modify and improve — and master - it, so much so that he was runner-up in the 1957–8 New Zealand championship series.
His performance in the New Zealand Grand Prix in 1958 was noted by Australian driver Jack Brabham (who would later invite McLaren to drive for him). Because of his obvious potential the New Zealand International Grand Prix organisation selected him for its 'Driver to Europe' scheme designed to give a promising Kiwi driver year-round experience with the best in the world. McLaren was the first recipient, to be followed by others later including Denny Hulme.
McLaren went to Cooper and stayed seven years. He raced in F2 and was entered in the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring in which F2 and F1 cars competed together. He astounded the motor racing fraternity by being first F2, and fifth overall, in a field of the best drivers in the world.
McLaren joined the Cooper factory F1 team alongside Jack Brabham in 1959 and won the 1959 United States Grand Prix at age 22 years 80 days, becoming the youngest ever GP winner up to that time. He followed that with a win in the Argentine Grand Prix, the first race of the 1960 Formula One season, and he would finish runner-up that season to Brabham.
McLaren won the 1962 Monaco Grand Prix, eventually finishing a fine third in the championship that year. The next year he founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd, which remains in the Formula One championship simply as Team McLaren. McLaren continued to race and win in Coopers (including the New Zealand GP in 1964).
McLaren left Cooper at the end of 1965, and announced his own GP racing team, with co-driver and fellow Kiwi Chris Amon. Amon left in 1967 to drive for Ferrari. In 1968, McLaren was joined by another fellow Kiwi Denny Hulme, who had become world champion in 1967 with Brabham. McLaren took his fourth career win racing his own McLaren car at Spa in 1968, achieving the team's first Grand Prix win. Hulme won twice in the McLaren-Ford.
The 1969 championship was also a success, with McLaren finishing 3rd in the standings despite taking no wins. In tribute to his homeland, McLaren's cars featured the "speedy Kiwi" logo.
It was in powerful sports car racing where McLaren's design flair and ingenuity were graphically demonstrated. Just as the Can-Am began to become very popular with fans in Canada and the U.S., the new McLaren cars finished second twice, and third twice, in six races.
In 1967 they won five of six races and in 1968, four of six. The following year McLarens proved unbeatable, winning 11 of 11 races. In two races, they finished 1-2-3. (McLaren, Hulme and Mark Donohue).
In 1966 he and co-driver Chris Amon won the prestigious 24 Hour race at Le Mans in a Ford GT40.
Bruce was a competitive driver but in many ways his legacy, the McLaren Racing Team, is testimony to his abilities as an analyst, engineer and manager that contributed much to the success of the cars that bore his name. In the early days of the McLaren sports cars Bruce was testing and as he drove out of the pits he noticed the fuel filler access door was flapping up and down as he drove. The current aerodynamic thinking was that it should have been pressed more firmly in place as the speed of the car increased. Instead, it bounced more vigorously as the speed increased. Instantly his frustration at the sloppy work changed and he had an insight. Stopping in the pits he jumped from the car, ran to a mechanics tool box, grabbed a pair of shears and started cutting the bodywork away behind the radiator. Climbing back in the car he immediately began turning lap times faster than before.
From that session came the "nostrils" that have been a key McLaren design feature, even in the McLaren F1 road car, since that day.
Bruce McLaren noted that his team's cars were marginally less innovative than the Chaparral Cars of rival driver/designer Jim Hall but their superior reliability was rewarded by race and championship victories. Long after his death that culture prevailed and when Ron Dennis bought the team was reinforced by the lessons learned in his early career as a race mechanic.
Bruce McLaren died (aged 32) when his Can-Am car crashed on the Lavant Straight just before Woodcote corner at Goodwood Circuit in England on 2 June 1970. He had been testing his new M8D when the rear bodywork came adrift at speed. The loss of aerodynamic downforce destabilized the car, which spun, left the track and hit a bunker used as a flag station.
Conrad "Connie" Kalitta Drag Racing Driver
Conrad "Connie" Kalitta born February 24, 1938, in Michigan is the CEO of Kalitta Air and a retired American drag racing driver, once known as "The Bounty Hunter".
He grew up in Mount Clemens, Michigan, and was a 1957 graduate of Mount Clemens High School.
He raced from the 1950s through the 1990s. He was the first driver to hit 200 mph in an NHRA sanctioned event. He also helped Shirley Muldowney get started (in the "Bounty Huntress" car). Kalitta won 10 NHRA national events between 1967 and 1994.
Connie has won the U.S. Nationals in 1994 after losing in two prior finals to Don Garlits and Shirley Muldowney. He defeated Eddie Hill in the final round.
He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1992. On the 2001 National Hot Rod Association Top 50 Drivers, 1951-2000, Kalitta was ranked #21. He was played by Beau Bridges in the Muldowney biography film Heart Like a Wheel.
He is the father of racer Scott Kalitta, killed in a fiery crash in Old Bridge Township, N.J. in 2008, and uncle of racer Doug Kalitta. His step-daughter is Commander Shanti Sethi of the United States Navy, former commander of the USS Decatur
Rich Vogler * USAC National Sprint Car and Midget champion
Rich Vogler July 26, 1950, Chicago, Illinois – July 21, 1990, Salem, Indiana was a champion sprint car and midget car driver. He was nicknamed "Rapid Rich". He competed in the Indianapolis 500 five times, his best finish was eighth in 1989.
Vogler was the National Alliance of Midget Auto Racing (NAMAR) midget champion in 1973. He won the midget car track championships at the Indianapolis Speedrome in 1984 and 1985. He won the Fireman Nationals midget car race at Angell Park Speedway in 1985. Vogler became the first driver to win the USAC Sprint Car and Midget championships in the same year (1980). He won USAC National Sprint Car Series championships in 1980 and 1989, USAC National Midget Series championships in 1978, 1980, 1983, 1986, and 1988.
He won numerous major national events: the Hut Hundred eight times, the 4-Crown Nationals midget car event four times, the Copper Classic twice, the Hoosierdome Invitational twice, the WWRA Florida Winter Nationals in 1983, and the Night Before the 500 once. In 1987 he won the inaugural Chili Bowl Midget Nationals race.
Vogler finished seventeenth in his only NASCAR Busch Series start at the North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham in 1988.
His 134 wins (95 Midget, 35 Sprint, and four Silver Crown wins) in national events is second only to A. J. Foyt's 169. Vogler had 170 total USAC wins, and won over 200 "outlaw" (non-USAC) midget races.
Days before his 40th birthday, Vogler was competing in a nationally broadcast ESPN Thunder Joe James / Pat O'Connor Memorial sprint car event at Salem Speedway. He was leading the race at the time, when his car crashed with just over a lap to go. Vogler was de-helmeted in the accident, and as a result was fatally injured. Because of USAC rules on a red flag reverting to the previous completed lap, he was declared the winner of the event following his death, which was his 170th win. He was scheduled to make his NASCAR Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup) series debut at Pocono Raceway the day after his fatal crash. He was awarded a 40th place finish (as a "Did Not Start").
The Pocono race was not his first attempted NASCAR Winston Cup start: two weeks before, he entered the Michigan race but failed to qualify.
His mother Eleanor started a college scholarship fund for aspiring Indiana students as part of Rich's concern over his sons, and the fund was started by USAC officials and sponsor Valvoline.
The first major fund-raiser for the fund has been a Daytona 500 viewing party in Indianapolis, today well-attended with a silent auction and notable names in auto racing in the state as guests. Usually, his mother and his sons appear at the annual fund-raiser. In 2008, the viewing party was moved to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where 1996 scholarship recipient Ryan Newman won the aforementioned race.
In April 1991, Winchester Speedway began the annual season-opening Rich Vogler Classic sprint car race, usually the first race at the track each year.
There is also a Team Vogler classic at the Indianapolis Speedrome. His father Donald Vogler died in a midget car accident at the Indianapolis Speedrome on May 1, 1981.
Robert Glenn "Junior" Johnson NASCAR Superstar
Robert Glenn "Junior" Johnson, Jr. born June 28, 1931 better known as Junior Johnson, is one of the early superstars of NASCAR in the 1950s and 1960s. He won 50 NASCAR races in his career before retiring in 1966. In the 1970s and 1980s, he became a NASCAR racing team owner; he sponsored such NASCAR champions as Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip. He now produces a line of fried pork skins and country ham. He is credited as the first to use the drafting technique in stock car racing. He is nicknamed "The Last American Hero" and his autobiography is of the same name.
Johnson was born in Wilkes County, North Carolina, the fourth of seven children of Lora Belle Money and Robert Glenn Johnson, Sr. His father, a lifelong bootlegger, spent nearly twenty of his sixty-three years in prison, as their house was frequently raided by revenue agents. Junior spent one year in prison in Ohio for having an illegal still, although he was never caught in his many years of transporting bootleg liquor at high speed.
In 1955, Johnson began his career as a NASCAR driver. In his first full season, he won five races and finished sixth in the 1955 NASCAR Grand National points standings.
In 1958 he won six races. In 1959, he won five more NASCAR Grand National races (including a win from the pole position at the 1959 Hickory 250); by this time he was regarded as one of the best short-track racers in the sport.
His first win at a "superspeedway" came at the Daytona 500 in 1960. Johnson and his crew chief Ray Fox were practicing for the race, trying to figure out how to increase their speed, which was 22 miles per hour (35 km/h) slower than the top cars in the race. During a test run a faster car passed Johnson. He noticed that when he moved behind the faster car his own speed increased due to the faster car's slipstream. Johnson was then able to stay close behind the faster car until the final lap of the test run, when he used the "slipstream" effect to slingshot past the other car. By using this technique Johnson went on to win the 1960 Daytona 500, despite the fact that his car was slower than others in the field. Johnson's technique was quickly adopted by other drivers, and his practice of "drafting" has become a common tactic in NASCAR races
In 1963 he had a two-lap lead in the World 600 at Charlotte before a spectator threw a bottle onto the track and caused Junior to crash; he suffered only minor injuries.
He retired in 1966. In his career, he claimed 50 victories as a driver, and 11 of these wins were at major speedway races. He retired as the winningest driver never to have a championship.
Johnson was a master of dirt track racing. "The two best drivers I've ever competed against on dirt are Junior Johnson and Dick Hutcherson," said two-time NASCAR champion Ned Jarrett.
As a team owner, he worked with some of the legendary drivers in NASCAR history, including Darel Dieringer, LeeRoy Yarbrough, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip, Neil Bonnett, Terry Labonte, Geoffrey Bodine, Sterling Marlin, Jimmy Spencer and Bill Elliott. In all, his drivers won 139 races, which is third to Petty Enterprises and Hendrick Motorsports. His drivers won six Winston Cup Championships—three with Yarborough (1976–1978) and Waltrip (1981–82, 1985).
In 2011, Johnson announced that he would restart a race team with son Robert as driver. Junior Johnson Racing will be located in Hamptonville, North Carolina. Robert, the 2010 UARA Rookie of the Year, plans to run a 28–30 race schedule in 2011, which includes the entire K&N East Series schedule and some races in the UARA and Whelen All-American Series.
His first marriage ended in divorce in 1992. His marriage to his current wife Lisa in 1994 has resulted in two children, daughter Meredith Suzanne, and son Robert Glenn Johnson III, who is a sophomore at Duke University. He resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. Johnson is referenced in the Bruce Springsteen song "Cadillac Ranch".
On December 26, 1986, President Ronald Reagan granted Johnson a presidential pardon for his 1956 moonshining conviction. In response to the pardon, which restored his right to vote, Johnson said, "I could not have imagined anything better."
Tom Bigelow Open Wheel Racer
Tom Bigelow born October 31, 1939, in Whitewater, Wisconsin), USA, is a former driver in the USAC and CART Championship Car series.
He began his racing career at the Badger Midget Racing Association at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. His first attempt at the National Championship was in 1967, and he finished eighteenth. He had 1968 midget wins at Hales Corners Speedway in Hales Corners, Wisconsin and at the Sycamore, Illinois track. He won the first Astro Grand Prix in the Houston Astrodome in 1969. His come back in Midgets started in 1981 driving for Sandy Racing. In 1984 he was National USAC Midget Champion, two years in a roll, 1982 and 1983 he was USAC Spreedrome Champ.
He raced in USAC and CART in 17 seasons (1968–1983 and 1985), with 104 combined career starts, and started in the Indianapolis 500 every year during 1974-1982. He finished in the top ten 39 times, with his best finish in 2nd position in consecutive races in 1978 at Texas World Speedway and Milwaukee.
Bigelow was also the 1978 USAC Sprint Car Series Champion. He became the leader in USAC Sprint car wins with 52
He returned to his roots won the 1984 USAC National Midget Series Champion. He finished fourth, third, and ninth in the following three season. He also won the 1982 USAC Midwest Regional midget car title. His car (number 16) was owned by Carl Sandy, husband of Carol Sandy and father of Duane, Mathew, and Troy Sandy.
Tom made a single NASCAR start at the 1986 Atlanta Journal 500 at the Atlanta International Raceway, and he finished 40th with engine problems.
Gary Lee Racing Broadcaster
A lifelong resident of Indianapolis and a graduate from Thomas Carr Howe High School Gary attended Vincennes University with a degree in broadcasting
Gary worked in the local Television Market for over 20 years and was hired by ESPN in 1981 and was part of the very first race telecast on ESPN...the Tony Bettenhausen 200 from the Milwaukee Mile.
Public address announcing was a big part of his career. Gary has done PA at more than 300 races including more than 100 Silver Crown races. Gary was on the PA for 30 consecutive years for The Hoosier 100 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, 25 years at DuQuoin and 18 at Springfield and has done over 1100 auto racing events including banquets and MCing events
From 1977-1984 Gary was on the PA at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Gary spent 9 years on the IMS Radio Network and was the anchor for the first 3 years of the Indy Racing League.
What was to become known as Thursday Night Thunder had it's beginning at the Speedrome with Gary at the mike. He remained on the Thursday show from 1985 until 2000 and will always be linked with Larry Rice for the Larry and Gary racing broadcasts Gary did the the international broadcast for ESPN for 8 years on the IndyCar circuit.
Gary owned Whiteland Raceway Park in Whieland Indiana for over 10 years
Larry Rice Open Wheel Racing Legend*
Larry was an American racing driver in the USAC and CART Championship Car series.He was the 1973 USAC National midget driver's champion and won the USAC Silver Crown series in 1977 and 1981. He was inducted in the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1993.]
Larry's father Bob got him started in racing. Bob purchased Larry's first race car, a Kurtis Craft Half Midget from Bob Cunningham in Covington, Indiana prior to turning twelve years old. Larry went to Modified Midget racing at the Logansport, Indiana track from 1965-1967. While in modified midget racing Larry and his father introduced the first car with a suspension system in this type of racing. It was made by Kurtis out of Indianapolis, Indiana. Eventually all cars would have suspension systems on them.
Larry graduated from college with a teaching degree. He taught school briefly while racing the modified midget racing circuit. He was fondly known as "The Flying School Teacher" due to his ability to win races.
Larry's father Bob worked as a pit crew member for various race teams at the Indianapolis 500 in the 1970s.
Rice had a major win when he won the 1970 Hut Hundred. Rice finished third in 1972 USAC National Midget championship, helping his team (Shannon Brothers) win the owner's championship. Rice followed up by winning the 1973 USAC National midget driver's championship himself. Rice was also the 1977 and 1981 USAC Silver Crown Series champion. He won the Silver Crown and sprint car portions of the 4 Crown Nationals at Eldora Speedway in 1985. He won his second Silver Crown portion at Eldora in 1987.
He raced in 5 seasons (1974, and 1978–1979, and 1981), with 9 combined career starts, including the 1978 and 1979 Indianapolis 500 and finished in the top ten 3 times. He was co-named the 1978 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, along with Rick Mears, for his 11th place finish.
After he stopped racing in 1991, he became the color analyst on ESPN's Saturday Night Thunder program.The program featured midget, sprint, and Silver Crown racing. He also worked as ESPN's regular analyst on IRL races.
Rice later worked for K&K Insurance, specialising in motorsport insurance, and later formed his own insurance organisation, Short Track Independent Drivers and Associates, underwritten by Nationwide Insurance, with his son Robbie, who operates the racing insurance organisation today.
Rice died from lung cancer on 20 May 2009.
*Jim Hurtubise Open Wheel Legend
Jim Hurtubise (December 5, 1932 – January 6, 1989) was an American race car driver who raced in USAC Champ Cars (including the Indianapolis 500), as well as sprint cars and stock cars (USAC and NASCAR). He was from North Tonawanda, New York. Despite his limited success, he was a fan favorite throughout much of his career as many characterized him as an "old style" racecar driver
Hurtubise raced in the USAC Championship Car series in the 1959–1968 and 1970–1974 seasons, with 97 career starts. He finished in the top ten 38 times, with 4 victories, in 1959 at Sacramento, 1960 at Langhorne, and 1961 and 1962 at Springfield.] In 1964, after suffering serious burns in an accident during the Rex Mays Classic, in Milwaukee, doctors asked Hurtubise how he wanted his hands shaped permanently. "Just make 'em so I can hold a steering wheel," he replied.
Hurtubise died January 6, 1989 after suffering a heart attack near his home in Port Arthur, Texas. He was 56 years old. He is interred at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.
Hurtubise ran in ten Indianapolis 500 races between 1960 and 1974. His best finish was a 13th in 1962. In 1972 he ran out fuel, but was towed through the infield, which resulted in his disqualification. In the 1968 race, he ran the last front engined car to date in the race. He attempted to qualify a front engined car for the Indy 500 every year from 1975 to 1981 but failed to do so in each of those years. On May 21, 1972, on "bump day", he put his Miller Beer sponsored car in line to make a qualification attempt shortly before the closing deadline of 6:00 PM. The time expired before it was his turn to qualify. He then removed the engine cover to reveal that the car had no engine, but five chilled cases of his sponsor's product, which he shared with the other pit crews and race officials. In 1978, he did not meet the certified speed and was denied an attempt to make the race. He sat in Bob Harkey’s car and locked the brakes. He then ran on the track until he was apprehended by the police. But by 1979, was in USAC's good graces.
The Indianapolis 500 was part of the FIA World Championship from 1950 through 1960. Drivers competing at Indy during those years were credited with World Championship points and participation. Hurtubise participated in one World Championship race, finishing eighteenth.
In 1957, Hurtubise started his NASCAR career running two races. Over the next twenty years, he would race 36 races, winning one race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and amassing eleven top ten finishes
He was inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1993
Bill Elliott NASCAR National Champion
Bill Elliott was the youngest of three sons born to George and Mildred Elliott of Dawsonville, Georgia. George Elliott owned a home supply center and dabbled with auto racing. In fact he first owned a Grand National car in 1966, driven by Don Tilley at the fall race in Rockingham. Tilley finished 42nd in field of 44 cars after suffering steering problems.
Growing up Bill and his older brothers, Ernie and Dan, started working at the family business at an early age, and perhaps that is one of the reasons Bill still prefers to own his own team rather than work for someone else. By his early teens Bill was driving delivery trucks throughout the twisting roads of Northern Georgia, at rates of speed he smiles and says he would rather not discuss these days. The racing bug had already bitten. Bill and his brothers began in racing selling parts out of a truck to racers at tracks in the area. Ernie would eventually start his own engine business, while Bill specialized in building chassis and setting up suspensions. He also did a little racing and on September 7th, 1974 Bill won his first sportsman race at the Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Georgia. More victories soon followed and the family saw Bill's talents as a God given gift that they should help him develop.
Elliott's first career Winston Cup start was Feb. 29, 1976 at the Carolina 500 in Rockingham, N.C. He started 34th and finished 33rd. His first win (117th start) was on a road course - Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway, Nov. 20, 1983. His first pole (56th start) was at the Rebel 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on April 12, 1981.
Bill Elliott celebrated 25 years driving in the prestigious NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 2000. It was Elliott's sixth season behind the wheel of the McDonald's Ford. He raced on a part-time basis from 1976 - 82. His first full season was in 1983.
Entering the 2000 season, Elliott had 40 career Winston Cup victories, 49 career pole positions and career earnings of $21,107,334. He was tied for 14th (with the late Tim Flock) overall in career wins, fourth overall for career poles and seventh overall for career earnings.
Elliott has won the famed Daytona 500 twice, 1985 and 1987. He won both races from the pole. He also has won two of NASCAR's prestigious, non-points races, the Busch Clash in 1987 and The Winston in 1986.
Elliott won the Most Popular Driver Award in 2000 for a record 15th time. Except for 1989 and 1990, Elliott has won the award every year since 1984. The award is voted by the fans in a contest conducted by the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA).
Elliott started his 600th career Winston Cup race at the Diehard 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on April 16, 2000. He is one of 19 drivers to have more than 500 career starts, reaching that milestone on April 13, 1997 at the Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Elliott set the fastest qualifying speed in Winston Cup history with a lap of 212.809 mph at Talladega (Ala.) during the1987 Winston 500.
Elliott was the 1988 Winston Cup Champion. He is only one of three Ford drivers (Dale Jarrett, Alan Kulwicki) to win the championship since 1969. Elliott finished second in the point standings three times - 1985, 1987 and 1992. He lost the series championship to Kulwicki by 10 points in 1992, the narrowest winning margin in Winston Cup history.
Since he started to run a full season schedule in 1983, Elliott has finished in the top 10 every year except 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000.
In 1996 Elliott missed seven races due to an injury (fractured left thighbone) he suffered in a crash in the Winston 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Elliott was the first driver to win The Winston Million, a $1 million bonus from R.J. Reynolds for winning three of four major superspeedway races in a single season. He accomplished this feat in 1985 (the inaugural year of The Winston Million program) with victories at the Daytona 500, Winston 500 (Talladega, Ala.) and the Southern 500 (Darlington, S.C.).
Along with winning the Winston Million, Elliott's 1985 banner year also included a Winston Cup season record of 11 superspeedway wins. For his achievements in 1985, Elliott was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. His two nicknames: "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville" and "Million Dollar Bill" also came as a result of his record-setting 1985 season.
Elliott was named the "American Driver of the Year" in 1985 and 1987 by the nation's motorsports media.
Prior to his first race on the Winston Cup circuit, Elliott raced on the Georgia short tracks with his brothers, Ernie and Dan.
Elliott's hobbies include snow skiing and flying his personal aircraft. He has a multi-engine instrument-rated and helicopter-rated pilot's license.
Johnny Parsons USAC racing driver
Johnny Parsons is the son of Arza and 1950 Indianapolis 500 winner Johnnie Parsons. His parents divorced, and Johnny was raised with half-brothers Dana and Pancho Carter, the product of Arza'a marriage with Duane Carter. The Carters grew up racing quarter-midgets in Indianapolis.
John who was once a police officer in California resigned to move to Indianapolis to become a full time driver in USAC in the early 70s
Parsons started twelve Indianapolis 500 races. His last Indy 500 start was the 1996 Indianapolis 500. His best finish was fifth in 1977 and 1985.
Parsons finished second in the 1977 USAC National points. Parsons has also twice finished second in the USAC championship dirt cars.
Parsons won 29 midget car features (as of 1994), including major wins at: the 4-Crown Nationals midget car feature twice, the 1979 Hut Hundred, and the 1986 Copper Classic midget feature.] He has won two Silver Crown and five sprint car features.
He is listed as #42 in the world as an all-time open wheel race winner.
Racing Hall of Fame member Johnny carries his father's name, with a different spelling.
When Davey Hamilton decided to come out of retirement to run in the 2007 Indy 500, Parsons replaced him as the driver expert for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network's broadcasts of race activities.
Johnny raced way into the 21st century before his retirement he now lives in Indianapolis with his wife and still does does speaking engagements.
*Sam Hanks 1957 Indianapolis 500 Winner
Sam Hanks was an American racecar driver who won the 1957 Indianapolis 500. He was a barnstormer, and raced midget and Champ cars.
He won his first championship in 1937 on the West Coast in the AMA. He barnstormed the country, racing on the board tracks at Soldier Field in Chicago and the Los Angeles Coliseum Motordome. Hanks reportedly won the first two board track races at Soldier Field in 1939. Hanks won the 1940 VFW Motor City Speedway championship. After World War II, he captured the 1946 URA Blue Circuit Championship. He won the 1947 Night before the 500 midget car race. He was the 1949 AAA National Midget champion. He won the 1953 AAA Championship in the Bardahl Special. He won the 1956 Pacific Coast championship in the USAC Stock cars.
He won the 1957 Indianapolis 500 at his thirteenth attempt at the race, the most tries of any Indy winner, and announced his retirement from racing in Victory Circle. He drove the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 from 1958 to 1963 He was inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1998. He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2000. Hanks was inducted in the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1984.
James Ashbury Allison (11 August 1872 – 1928), born in Marcellus, Michigan, was an American entrepreneur and businessman. He was the inventor of the Allison Perfection Fountain Pen and with Carl G. Fisher a founder of Prest-O-Lite, a manufacturer of automobile headlights. With Carl G. Fisher, Frank H. Wheeler, and Arthur C. Newby he was a founder of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. Allison formed the Indianapolis Speedway Team Company later known as the Allison Experimental Company, and later as the Allison Engine Company which was eventually purchased by General Motors after Allison’s death becoming the Allison Division of General Motors, a manufacturer of automotive transmissions (Allison Transmission), aircraft engines (Allison Engine Company), truck engines, and other products. Allison died of pneumonia in 1928 at the age of 56 and was buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana. His Indianapolis home, Riverdale, is now part of Marian College.
James Allison moved to frankfort with his parents, Noah and Myra, in 1880. He quit school and joined his father's business, Allison Coupon Company, at age 12 in 1884. Just six years later, with the untimely death of his father, James assumed the vice-presidency of the company at age 18 in 1890. Allison Coupon Company still exists today as Allison Payment Systems. During the 1890s Allison became intrigued by the bicycle craze that was sweeping the nation. He joined the Indianapolis-based bicycle "Zig-Zag Club," where he met future business partners Carl G. Fisher and Arthur C. Newby. Fisher and Allison would remain confidants the rest of their lives.
James Allison, just 32 years old and already an executive at two companies, Allison Coupon and Allison Perfection Fountain Pens, was drawn into forming yet another when Carl G. Fisher called in 1904. The new company would prove to be the biggest yet, the producer of the first viable headlight for automobiles. Based on compressed acetylene gas as electric headlights were years from introduction, the new technology utilized brass canisters of the compressed gas funneled to the headlight through tubing. Fisher had met Percy "Fred" Avery, the holder of the patent for the product, and the three of them formed Concentrated Acetylene Company in September 1904. They called their product "Prest-O-Lite," which became the company's name when Avery parted with the firm in 1906. The partners hit the market with perfect timing as the automobile industry was growing rapidly and the ability to see at night was naturally a great benefit. Prest-O-Lite brought the already successful Allison and Fisher wealth well beyond what they had enjoyed earlier. When they sold the firm to Union Carbide in 1917 Allison reaped several million dollars.
Allison and Fisher continued to build businesses together throughout their lives. Their styles complemented each other famously. Fisher was the fountain of ideas, but impetuous. Allison was the steady hand and an outstanding manager. Lem Trotter, a mutual business colleague, said of Allison, "Fisher was the dreamer but Allison had the most brilliant mind of any man I ever knew. He was the industrialist."
Allison supported Fisher's efforts to lead the development of transcontinental highways, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Miami Beach. The two men were the senior partners in establishing the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with junior partners Arthur C. Newby and Frank H. Wheeler.
James Allison formed the Indianapolis Speedway Team Company to engineer race cars for the Indianapolis 500. The machine shop was located on the same grounds as Prest-O-Lite (directly across the street from the Speedway) until Prest-O-Lite was sold in 1917. The company engineered the car that won the 1919 race with driver Howdy Wilcox. The company re-tooled for World War I, becoming a major defense contractor as Allison Experimental Company. Re-named as Allison Engineering Company in the 1920s, the company was acquired by General Motors in 1929 after Allison's death in 1928.
Allison Engineering became two divisions of GM, one of which was sold to Rolls-Royce Aerospace in 1995. The other division, Allison Transmission, was acquired by a private equity firm in 2007, but still has a close affiliation with GM.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway continues to evolve and expand as it approaches its centennial year in 2009.
Richard Day Most Respected Public Relations Person in the sport
Although he had never even seen a sprint car race when National Sprint Car Hall of Fame inductee Ted Johnson hired him to spread the good word about the World of Outlaws in 1987, Day immediately fell in love with the sport and quickly became one of the leading publicists in auto racing. He tirelessly served sprint car racing’s car owners, drivers, sponsors, press, promoters and fans for 18 years while helping Johnson build the World of Outlaws into the sport’s largest series. In recent years, Day has publicized various sprint car racing teams in addition to serving as a writer and editor for WhoWon.com.
As a one-man public relations department, Day was a behind-the-scenes force in sprint car racing despite his rare presence at the racetrack. While working almost exclusively from the World of Outlaws’ Texas offices, he wrote so descriptively that fans said his reports made them feel like they had seen the races with their own eyes … and he did it utilizing only the notes competition directors and announcers on the scene relayed to him. Many thought the system was Johnson’s way of saving money, but it was a stroke of genius because it allowed Day to not only write post-race reports, it also made him available to the press and promoters. Newspaper editors and publishers, including Chris Economaki of National SpeedSport News, appreciated the fact that Day never missed a deadline.
As the first auto racing series publicist to post press releases on an electronic media service – CompuServe in 1988 – Day ushered motorsports into the computer age. He also published press kits – which every promoter received a month before his or her race – as well as the World of Outlaws Souvenir Yearbook. While writing more than 1,000 press releases per year, Day built an immense media network that included more than 250 outlets around the world.
Day considered it a treat every time he visited a racetrack. He especially enjoyed the Knoxville Nationals, which he attended every August from 1988 to 2003. When TNN: The Nashville Network started televising sprint car racing’s premier event in the mid-1900s, Day was there – behind the scenes – providing anchor Ralph Sheheen and analyst Brad Doty with interesting facts. One particular night – August 16, 1997 – was particularly interesting for the trio. Within seconds after Sheheen proclaimed to the national television audience, “It’s incredible to be in a place where the top of the grandstand at the racetrack is the highest place in town,” a tornado touched down nearby and everybody headed for cover. Sheheen and Day looked at each other and knew what they had to do. They each grabbed one side of Doty’s wheelchair and carried him down 10 flights of stairs, through the crowd and safely into the press room.
Day did everything he could to gain more insight into the sport in an effort to write more exciting race reports. “Smiley” Sitton, owner of the car Norman Martin drove to victory in the first World of Outlaws preliminary feature race in March of 1978, gave him the opportunity to actually drive a sprint car at the Outlaw Driving School in 1996. Day promptly wrote a two-page article about the experience and submitted it to Open Wheel Magazine.
Richard Day has done a little bit of everything in sprint car racing while giving his heart and soul to the sport for more than 20 years. The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame would not be complete without him.
Mari Hulman George CEO Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Mari Hulman George, born Mary Antonia Hulman on December 26, 1934, in Terre Haute, Indiana, is the daughter of the late Anton "Tony" Hulman and Mary Fendrich Hulman, prominent Indiana philanthropists and business owners. She is the current chairman of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hulman & Company.[Mari was the Hulmans' only child, but from the age of eleven she was often surrounded by the families of Indianapolis 500 drivers, whom she befriended. Perhaps it would come as little surprise that she would marry one such driver, Elmer George, on April 29, 1957. At 22 years of age, she became stepmother to Elmer's children from his first marriage, and the couple would go on to have four children together: three daughters, Nancy, Josie and Kathi; and one son, Anton Hulman George, who, like his namesake grandfather, would be better known as "Tony."
Elmer George, who met with little success as a driver, retired from racing in 1963, later becoming a Speedway vice-president and head of the IMS Radio Network.
For most of the couple's marriage, they owned a farm outside of Terre Haute, but spent much of their time at their 1,300-acre (5 km2) ranch in Wyoming.
After the death of Tony Hulman in 1977, his wife, Mary Fendrich Hulman, assumed the chairmanship of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hulman & Co., the family's primary businesses. When Mrs. Hulman's health began to deteriorate, she retired and passed the chairmanship of the companies to her daughter in 1988. Mari Hulman George retains both positions today.
Like her father and mother before her, since 1997, Mari officially starts the Indianapolis 500 and Allstate 400 at the Brickyard races with the command, "(Lady/Ladies and) gentlemen, start your engines!"
Like her parents, Mari Hulman George is well-known throughout Indiana for her generosity to institutions of higher learning, with her alma mater, St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in West Terre Haute, Indiana among the top recipients of her monetary gifts. The college maintains the Mari Hulman George School of Equine Studies, founded in part due to her love of horses.
In 2001, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security renamed their search-and-rescue training area at Camp Atterbury the Mari Hulman George Search and Rescue Training Center, in recognition of her contributions to the care of animals displaced and otherwise affected by disasters. She has also been active in the rescue and adoption of racing greyhounds.
Bob Jenkins Premier Broadcaster
Bob Jenkins is an American television and radio sports announcer with NBC Sports Network, also known for his work at ABC and ESPN] calling IndyCar and NASCAR telecasts. He is currently the lead commentator for the IndyCar Series on NBC Sports Network.
Bob Jenkins was born in Richmond, Indiana and grew up in the nearby town of Liberty. He was one of the original cornerstone anchors on ESPN when it debuted in 1979, working there as one of the most senior members of the network until 2003. His primary duty was anchoring NASCAR on ESPN from 1979-2000 with Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons. The trio was one of the most popular announcing crews in NASCAR. By the early 1990s, the crew (sans Jarrett, who was contracted with CBS) would also cover races on ABC Sports. During the 1980s, Jenkins also occasionally called CART races on ESPN, prior to the arrival of veteran Paul Page.
Jenkins hosted the weekly racing magazine show Speedweek during most of his tenure at ESPN. Jenkins was the television announcer of the Brickyard 400 on ABC from 1994-2000.
Concurrent to his work on ESPN & ABC, from 1979–1998, Jenkins worked on the IMS Radio Network. He reported various positions including the backstrech, turn four, and served as chief announcer of the Indy 500 from 1990-1998.
By 1999, Jenkins quit the radio crew to focus on television full-time. The ongoing IRL/CART split forced changes in the announcing crews at ESPN/ABC. In addition, ESPN/ABC would be losing NASCAR rights at the end of the season. Paul Page was assigned to the CART series broadcasts, and Jenkins was moved exclusively to the chief announcing position of the IRL and Indianapolis 500 broadcasts. The arrangement would continue through 2001.
For 2002, with CART floundering, Page was moved back to the IRL, and Jenkins was shifted to the lesser host position. The arrangement created a "crowded" booth with two veteran announcers. In 2003, on Bump Day at the Indy 500 on ESPN, Jenkins made an impassioned commentary, defending the event from media detractors. Many were ridiculing the race and the IRL for struggling to fill the field to the traditional 33 cars.
At the end of the 2003 season, Jenkins was released from ABC/ESPN.
Co-anchor for nationally syndicated farm news show, "AgDay".
After being released from ABC/ESPN in 2003, Jenkins joined the Indianapolis Motor Speedway staff in various roles including public address announcer and designated emcee of various events and press gatherings (such as the Victory Banquet, Last Row Party, and press conferences). In 2004, he had a short stint as an announcer for Champ Car on Spike TV but was soon fired by the production company. He joined SPEED and was an anchor for Speed News for a little over one year. Jenkins has also been a contributor to WIBC radio in Indianapolis.
In June 2006, Jenkins was released from his contract with SPEED.In early 2006 Jenkins became the communications director for the Premier Racing Association.
In July 2006, he was the chief announcer of the IMS Radio Network for the U.S. Grand Prix. In 2007, he was the announcer of Indy Pro Series broadcasts on ESPN2. He anchored the Allstate 400 on the radio, his first NASCAR race call since November 2000. For 2007-2008, he returned to the IMS Radio Network for the Indy 500, reporting from the turn two position.
In 2008, Jenkins returned to the ESPN booth for two IndyCar races, the Rexall Edmonton Indy and the Nikon Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise. Regular play-by-play announcer Marty Reid was unable to broadcast because of prior engagements.
In 2009, the IndyCar Series started a new television contract with Versus. Jenkins was signed as the chief announcer, and returned to Indy racing full-time for the first time since 2001. He opted out of reprising his turn two role on the radio network, because Versus was hosting a post-race show, and Jenkins would not have time to arrive at the studio in time. Jenkins, however, did record segments for air on the radio broadcast, as all three living "Voices of the 500" (Page, Jenkins, and King) participated in the broadcast.
In 2011, Jenkins continued at NBC Sports Group. During the month of May, and on race day at Indianapolis, he continued his part-time work on the public address announcing team.
Jenkins also has three movie credits, one of which was an on-camera appearance. In order to be realistic, the race announcers in the movie Days of Thunder were the actual ESPN crew of the time, which meant Jenkins was the announcer in several voice-over scenes. While at Speed Channel in 2005, he was the Speed anchor in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. He also did voice over work in the movie Kart Racer.
His voice was used in the EA Sports NASCAR video game series, from NASCAR 98 to NASCAR 2001, the Codemasters video game IndyCar Series and IndyCar Series 2005 as well as the Destineer Games video game Indianapolis 500 Evolution.
His most recent work can be heard in the trailer for the independent film Trifocals (March, 2007).
Howard Augustine "Humpy" Wheeler Track and Race Promoter
Howard Augustine "Humpy" Wheeler, Jr. (born October 23, 1938 in Belmont, North Carolina, U.S.A) is the former President and General Manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway, one of the premier auto racing venues owned by Bruton Smith's Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Better known as H.A. or "Humpy" Wheeler, he has long been known as one of the foremost promoters of NASCAR auto racing.
During an appearance on the National Public Radio quiz show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! in July 2006, Wheeler explained the origin of his nickname. He said that when his father had played football at the University of Illinois, he was caught once smoking Camel cigarettes, earning the name "Humpy" for the camel's hump. His father's friends then began calling him "Humpy Jr." Growing up through high school, college football, and then racing, the name "Humpy" has stuck with him.
Wheeler begain his promotional career at age nine, selling tickets for a bicycle race.He was a defensive lineman for the South Carolina Gamecocks in the late 1950s. Interestingly, his teammates included future NASCAR communications director Jim Hunter (a running back), and Jim Duncan (later known as a marketing executive at Lowe's Motor Speedway).
After becoming the president of Charlotte Motor Speedway, Wheeler earned the reputation for organizing publicity stunts. A few weeks after driver Cale Yarborough gave the less-than-complimentary nickname 'Jaws' to rival driver Darrell Waltrip, Wheeler bought a giant dead shark, placed a dead chicken in the shark's mouth, and had it driven around the track on a flatbed truck before a race at Charlotte (Yarborough's sponsor at the time was Holly Farms Poultry). In 1984, the pre-race show for the World 600 was a reenactment of Operation Urgent Fury, the invasion of Grenada the previous year
In 2007, Wheeler announced that the Bank of America 500 would feature an "all-you-can-eat grandstand," where fans would pay a set ticket price, and would then get to eat as much as they wanted of the grandstand's food before, during, and after the race. The publicity for this event included Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest champion Joey Chestnut at the press conference.
Wheeler has a personal record of picking the correct winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race 10 of the last 19 years. In 2000, much to the dismay of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Wheeler correctly picked cup rookie Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to win and Earnhardt Jr. went on to become the first rookie to win the event. In 2005, he picked Mark Martin and Martin won the race. In 2006, he picked Carl Edwards to win, but Edwards finished fourth (behind winner Jimmie Johnson). He picked Johnson to win the 2007 event, but Johnson finished second to Kevin Harvick. He again chose Edwards to win the 2008 event, but Edwards finished 10th; Kasey Kahne won the race.
The Coca Cola 600 held on May 25, 2008 was to be Wheeler's last race as President of the Lowe's Motor Speedway. Steve Byrnes of Speed TV honored Wheeler before the race and Wheeler in turn gave a speech thanking race fans from all over the United States in addition to people from foreign countries for coming to the race: "I owe a tremendous gratitude to you for buying tickets to our facility. If we meet again may you be in the palm of God."
Although he had announced that he would step down as President and General Manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway soon after the race, Wheeler had hopes of staying on as a part-time consultant especially in light of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Speedway in 2009. However, apparently due to a falling out with Bruton Smith for reasons yet unknown, Wheeler's lengthy association with Lowe's Motor Speedway was unceremoniously ended. Smith thereafter wasted no time in appointing his son, Marcus Smith, as the new President and General Manager of the Speedway.
During an interview on Speed TV's "Wind Tunnel" on June 1, 2008, Wheeler stated that in addition to working as a part-time consultant, one of his primary projects during retirement will be working on a book devoted to his recollections of the numerous personalities he has known over his many years as a racing promoter at Lowe's Motor Speedway and prior to that during his years in Indianapolis and at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
Recently, in an off-track but still automotive related pursuit, Wheeler provided the voice for "Tex," a 1975 Cadillac Coupe de Ville cartoon character, in the 2006 Pixar hit film Cars.
On August 18, 2008, Wheeler announced the formation of The Wheeler Company, a consulting management firm focusing on general business, professional sports, and motorsports. Wheeler serves as chairman, with his son Howard III ("Trip") serving as president
Wheeler was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame on April 27, 2006 and to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America on August 12, 2009.
In April 2011, Wheeler appeared on an episode of The History Channel's American Pickers in which he donated items to be placed in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
In October 2011, Wheeler was announced as one of the principles behind the Grand Prix of America, a Formula One race to be run in New Jersey starting with the 2013 Formula One season.
Wheeler has had a long time interest in bicycle sports beginning with organizing bicycle races in his early teens. He continues to be an avid cyclist and can be seen at numerous cycling trails and tracks around his hometown. Along with this he is a prized boxer and continues to stay in shape doing so.
Wheeler has also become involved with flying radio control aircraft. He enjoys the off-track friends and acquaintances he has made in this hobby and can often be found on sunny days at a local flying field.
*Charlie Wiggins * Pioneer African American Race car driver
Back in the Jazz Age, when the Ku Klux Klan was the law in Indiana, and the heel of Jim Crow's boot lay squarely on the back of black Hoosiers, there was an Evansville, Indiana shoeshine boy named Charlie Wiggins, possessing the civil rights of a stray dog, who would help pave the way for Jackie Robinson to break the race barrier in baseball, Charlie Sifford in golf, Earl Lloyd in basketball, and most importantly to this story, Willie T. Ribbs to become the first black man to race in the Indianapolis 500.
Charlie Wiggins grew up in a segregated Evansville. The KKK had come to power in Indiana and in 1924 would win every elected office at the state level. D.C. Stephenson, the head and organizing force of the Klan, was an Evansville resident. There was even talk of building a city on an Ohio River island for whites only. The city's newspapers at that time were blatantly racist and even held a contest to name the new city. Negro League baseball players, banned from white-only organized baseball, while playing exhibitions games here, called the attitudes of southern Indiana more racist than areas in the Deep South.
Charlie Wiggins was a downtown Evansville shoeshine boy in those days and was fascinated with the relatively new automobiles that were coming to town. He would entertain his customers by identifying the make and model of cars by simply hearing the motors as they drove down the street. With a stroke of luck he was shining shoes outside an auto repair shop when the owner offered him a job as an apprentice. Quickly, Charlie rose to chief mechanic and became recognized as the best mechanic in the city and would often diagnose the car's problem just by listening to the car engine.
Indiana's heritage was rich and played a significant role in the development of the automotive industry. In Indianapolis there were hundreds of makes and models being manufactured. Charlie realized that greater opportunity lay in Indianapolis and he and his wife, Roberta, whom the newspapers described as a 'fetching Evansville model', moved to the state capitol.
Charlie and his wife opened a garage on Indianapolis' segregated south side and quickly established himself as the city's top mechanic and was held in high regard by the city's elite and particularly by white race car drivers who were among the top contenders for the Indianapolis 500.
Assembling parts from auto junkyards, Charlie built his first race car, "The Wiggins Special" which reached speeds on dusty, rutted, dirt tracks as fast as those cars racing on the smooth surface the Indianapolis Speedway.
Every year Charlie would enter "The Wiggins Special" in the Indianapolis 500 and every year the governing body, The American Automobile Association, enforcing unwritten segregation rules, rejected his application. Charlie and other black drivers formed a racing association and competed among themselves at tracks around the Midwest, attracting large crowds who appreciated exciting racing and Charlie gained a reputation as the top black driver and became known among fans as "The Negro Speed King".
Donald Davidson, Historian of the Indianapolis Speedway, said, "A race track would get so dusty that the only way you could follow your way around, you couldn't see in front of you or around you, but you could look up and go by the trees and actually drive and when the trees turned, then you knew you were in a turn and then just hope that somebody wasn't in front of you."
Charlie caught the attention of William Rucker, a black, gregarious, cigar-chomping, polite, wealthy, powerbroker among the black and white leaders on Indiana Street, who had great confidence in the black man's ability to advance into the Machine Age. With the backing of several sponsors Rucker established the Gold & Glory Sweepstakes, an annual 100-mile race of speed and endurance for black drivers on the one-mile dirt track at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. To gain national attention, Rucker invited Chicago Defender journalist Frank Young to cover the race and on the race's inaugural event he wrote, "This auto race will be recognized throughout the length and breadth of the land as the single greatest sports event to be staged annually by colored people. Soon, chocolate jockeys will mount their gas-snorting, rubber-shod Speedway monsters, as they race at death defying speeds, The largest purses will be posted here, and the greatest array of driving talent will be in attendance in hopes of winning gold for themselves and glory for their Race."
The Gold & Glory Sweepstakes became a national success, attended by thousands and covered by the national newspapers and newsreel services. Charlie won three of the first six races, performing as both driver and mechanic.
As an outspoken critic of the segregationist practices of the Indianapolis Speedway, Charlie was often a target of the Ku Klux Klan. This harassment became more chilling when in 1930 when two teenage black boys were lynched on the Grant County, Indiana Courthouse lawn. At times the Klan would damage his garage and on several occasions he was attacked physically but he would always fight off his attackers, refusing to succumb to their terror.
When Harry MacQuinn, a white Indy 500 driver and friend of Charlie's, asked to use a "Wiggins Special" in a race at Louisville, Charlie agreed if he could drive the car during the qualifications to get the engine and car adjusted correctly. When the fans at the Louisville track realized a black man was driving the car, they swarmed the pits and threatened to lynch Charlie. For his safety the Kentucky Militia arrested him for 'speeding'.
In 1934 Bill "Wild Bill" Cummings was one of the top competitors in the AAA asked Charlie to serve in his pit crew for the Indianapolis 500. The Raceway had strict rules about employment and race and the only job Charlie could officially hold was that of a janitor. During the days he would sweep and clean as a decoy and then at night would sneak in with the pit crew to help manufacture a racecar for Cummings. Bill Cummings won the 1934 Indianapolis 500 in what newsreels described as one of the greatest races in Indianapolis 500 history, and for years after, Bill Cummings publicly recognized and thanked Charlie for his skill and expertise in the victory.
In 1936, during the Gold & Glory Sweepstakes, because of poor track conditions Charlie was involved in a 13 car wreck. He escaped death but so severely injured his right leg that they had to amputate. The racing career of The Negro Speed King was over. With the loss of its biggest draw, 1936 would mark the end of the Gold & Glory Sweepstakes, an institution that had remained financially successful through the height of the Great Depression.
However, Charlie's contribution to auto racing was far from over. He would champion the rights of black mechanics and drivers and continue to fight the segregationist practices of the American Automobile Association. He would train young black mechanics who would contribute greatly to the development of the automobile and racing, and he would be visited at his garage by many important white drivers and mechanics seeking his expertise. Notre Dame Historian Richard Pierce summed up Charlie by saying, "Charlie Wiggins was a hell of man. We could talk about Charlie Wiggins as a mechanic, his ability as a driver. We could say all those things. And without the pejorative function, without the sexist connotation, we have to say at the end of the day that he was a man."
Nearly penniless after years of medical costs due to his injuries received in 1936, Charlie Wiggins died in 1979 and was buried in an unmarked grave at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.
*Art Pollard Open Wheel Driver
Art Pollard (May 5, 1927 - May 12, 1973), was an American racecar driver.
Born in Dragon, Utah, Pollard died in Indianapolis, Indiana as a result of injuries sustained in practice for the 1973 Indianapolis 500. The car clipped the wall coming out of turn one and did a half-spin as it headed to the grass on the inside of the short chute.
In 1965 at the age of 39 Art got the call to join the show on the Championship circuit which included the Indianapolis 500. Once again it was Portland's Rolla Vollstedt who provided the car. This period of time was the beginning of the rear engine revolution and Vollstedt had prepared a rear engine Offenhauser for the famous 500 mile race. Art made the field with a qualifying time of 157.985 mph but was bumped from the race on the final day of qualifications. His time turned out to be 35th fastest. He qualified for seven USAC races that summer with the best finish being fourth at the Milwaukee 100, an event he would later win. During the last half of that season he drove a car for Jim Rathman that was jointly owned by two of the original Mercury Seven astronauts Gordon Cooper and Gus Grissom. He finished his rookie season in twenty-third place in National Championship points.
The following year, 25 days after his 40th birthday, Art started his first Indy 500 race. His qualifying time of 163.867 mph in a turbocharged Offenhauser put him in 13th position on the starting grid. He was running fourth place at the midway point in the race when he spun out which required a push to restart the engine which cost him a penalty lap that ultimately dropped him to an eighth place finish.
The year that catapulted Art to fame and fortune was 1968 when he qualified one of the STP-turbocars for the 11th place starting position at "the brickyard". With only a few laps left in the race he was running in fourth place and closing on Mel Kenyon and Dan Gurney who were running in second and third, when a tiny fuel pump drive shaft broke and forced him out of the race. At the Milwaukee 200 that same year he qualified for the pole position at a record speed of 119.245 mph. He lead the race for the first 135 miles until his brakes failed. Mechanical problems plagued him for that entire season. He and Mario Andretti both shared a new track record at Phoenix and Art held the lead in the race for the first 45 laps before a universal joint broke.
He drove for Andy Granatelli's STP team again in 1969 but with a conventional V8 engine this time. During the 1970 season he became involved with the ill-fated Art Pollard Car Wash Systems. In '71 he drove for Gilmore broadcasting then returned to the STP team in 1972. Art was in a car owned by Jim Fletcher from Phoenix in 1973.
Mostly because he was 40 years old before he raced at Indy he was regarded as the "old man" on the USAC circuit. One of his most amazing qualities, however, was how youthful he was in both thought and spirit. Because he was relatively young when he was killed he never really did get old and it's interesting to look through the photo history of his racing career at how little he really did age from the time he started racing until his death.
Perhaps his most admirable quality was his ability to take a moment of his time and make everybody he talked with feel important. He really was an extraordinary individual blessed with many rare qualities and talents. His reflexes, coordination and courage were probably God given but he was a kind and decent guy because thats the kind of guy he wanted to be. He seldom, if ever, used profanity, he almost never got angry and he was cool under pressure.
Art Pollard was a credit to the sport of auto racing, everybody who lives here in Roseburg and particularly the membership of the Pacific Racing Association. He is our most famous son andwhether you were priviledged to know him or not you can take pride in the fact that Art was one of us.
The chassis dug into the grass and flipped upside-down, slid a short distance and then flipped back over as it reached the pavement again in turn two, finally coming to a stop in the middle of the track. The total distance covered was 1,450 feet (440 m). The car was demolished. The impact tore off two wheels immediately, and the wings were also torn off during the slide.
Pollard's lap prior to the crash was timed at a speed of 192+ mph. Pollard was rushed to Methodist Hospital in the new Cardiac ambulance. His injuries were reported to include pulmonary damage due to flame inhalation, burns on both hands, face and neck, and a broken arm. He drove in the USAC Championship Car series, racing in the 1965-1973 seasons, with 84 career starts, including the 1967-1971 Indianapolis 500 races. He finished in the top ten 30 times, with 2 victories, both in 1969, at Milwaukee and Dover. He had just turned 46 one week before he died.
* Harry Miller Race Car Designer
Cars built by Miller won the Indianapolis 500 nine times; three more instances were won by his engines running in other chassis. Miller cars accounted for no less than 83% of the Indy 500 fields between 1923 and 1928.
If Offenhauser engines, a re-badged Miller derivative, and the dominant engine at the Indy 500 and on the Champ car circuit in the 1950s and 1960s (although it kept winning until the 1970s) are added, the number of wins at Indianapolis alone increases by 28, with over 200 more elsewhere. It was not until 1981 that an Indy 500 start did not feature a single Miller-derived engine.
Miller started off manufacturing carburetors for passenger and race cars. His involvement with the racing side of his carburettor business led to repairing and later building race cars. After repairing the 1913 Peugeot Grand Prix car which was the state of the art at the time, Miller and his employees, Leo Goosen and Fred Offenhauser designed the Miller racing engine from the Peugeot 4 cylinder, double overhead camshaft, 4 valves per cylinder layout. This began a thoroughbred line of race motors that dominated American racing well into the 1970s.
Miller went bankrupt in 1933. His shop foreman and chief machinist Fred Offenhauser purchased the shop and continued development of the engine as the Offenhauser or "Offy" engine until the start of World War 2. Fred retired from the business in 1946, selling out to two of his racing friends: three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Louis Meyer and Meyer's one-time riding mechanic and highly skilled engine builder Dale Drake.
Meyer and Drake Engineering, with Leo Goosen as chief engineer, continued to develop the Offy throughout the 40s, 50s, and into the 60s; often filling the engine bays of all 33 Indy 500 starters with Offy engines or their close cousins the V8 Novi engines.
After Lou Meyer sold out of Meyer and Drake in the 1960s to form his own company to sell Ford double overhead-cam V8 racing engines in competition with the Offy, Dale Drake and Leo Goosen persevered and reorganized Meyer and Drake as Drake Engineering. After enduring three years of Ford DOHC dominance at Indy, Drake's company prevailed in 1968 with the first turbocharged engine to win at Indianapolis behind Bobby Unser.
Descendants of the Offys (and thus the Millers) in the form of the turbocharged Drake-Goosen-Sparks (DGS) and Drake-Offy engines battled against descendants of the Ford DOHC until the Cosworth DFV and DFX engines originally developed as Formula 1 engines by Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth finally became too powerful at reduced manifold pressure (turbo boost) (artificial limits pushed through by Ford and Chevy as they could not compete with the Head Design of the Offy which could run at much higher boost levels. The Offy was not designed for lower boost levels and by the time they could design an engine with the short notice given them it was to late) limits mandated by the race sanctioning bodies for the Offys to overcome. The last Offy to finish a race at Indianapolis powered Gary Bettenhausen from a starting position of 32nd to a 3rd place finish in 1980.
Cale Yarborough NASCAR ChampionThere are three things Cale Yarborough never said: 1. I need a relief driver. 2. My car isn't comfortable. 3. I don't care who wins the pole position.
William Caleb "Cale" Yarborough was a throwback to the days of Barney Oldfield, Ted Horn, Curtis Turner, and other immortals who drove by the seat of their pants. He was a daredevil, but one with brains and talent.
"I never had a relief driver during my 30 years of racing and that's one record I'm most proud of," says Yarborough, who retired as a driver following the 1988 season. No other driver with at least 500 starts on the Winston Cup tour can make that claim.
One of Yarborough's pet peeves is hearing a driver say the "car isn't comfortable." He has driven more than one ill-handling car to victory. "My problem was I didn't know if it was (handling right) or not. So it didn't make any difference," he said with a laugh. "I know it has to be just right for most of the (drivers). I was hired to drive a race car and I drove it to the best of my ability. I didn't care how it felt. It didn't make any difference. The car had to get the job done whether it was right or wrong. So I just drove it."
There was no one who tried harder than Yarborough to win the pole position. That's the reason he still ranks third today although he retired following the 1988 season. "Running for the pole was like running for a win. I always tried to win. No one remembers who runs second," he says.
Yarborough, who bought a Winston Cup team in September 1986 is still looking for his first win under the title "car owner,". In addition to his NASCAR successes he also raced briefly on the USAC Indy Car circuit because "he wanted to put some grits and gravy in victory lane at the Indianapolis 500."
The 5'7" tall, 175-pound Yarborough was a giant in a stock car. He won 83 of 558 races, an impressive 14.87 winning percentage. It's the fourth best percentage in NASCAR for anyone competing in more than 300 races. His 83 wins are fifth on the all-time list. He also won 70 poles, third on the all-time list.
While winning more than $5 million in prize money, Yarborough accomplished some other impressive statistics. He's the only driver to win the Grand National (now Winston Cup) championship three years in succession (1976-78), and the only champion (1977) to be running at the finish of every race.
Of anyone leading at least 7,500 miles of race competition, Yarborough ranks second with 34,079.9 miles led and first in percentage at 16.0% He's less than 10,000 miles behind Richard Petty, who entered more than twice as many races as Yarborough. He's also second to Petty in leading the most laps (101) in a race.
Despite being a charger in every race, Yarborough failed to finish in only 197 of his 558 races. In 340 races, he led at least one lap; only two drivers have led more races.
Born on March 27, 1939, Yarborough today is working on building a business empire with his wife of 33 years, Betty Jo, and with his three daughters: Julie, Kelley, and B.J. He faced adversity in his younger days, but he always managed to face it and go on to bigger and greater things.
"When I speak to groups, I try to get people to understand that they can do something to change situations they don't like," says Yarborough, who was born in Sardis, S.C., and still lives there.
Paul Page Premier Broadcaster
Paul Page (born November 25, 1945) is an American motorsports broadcaster who was the lead announcer for ABC Sports' coverage of CART and the IRL from 1988 to 2004. He currently is the lead announcer for NHRA.
Page was born in Indiana, but grew up as an "army brat" living in Stuttgart, Germany. Page graduated high school in Highland Park, Illinois. He is married to fellow broadcaster Sally Larvick. He studied at the University of Tulsa. He served six years in the U.S. Army.
Page's broadcasting career began on WIBC in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1968. On December 1, 1977, while doing a helicopter traffic report, Page was nearly killed in an accident, as he crashed near a Speedway, Indiana, high school.
In the 1980s, Paul was also a commentator for the motorsports show American Sports Cavalcade on the cable network TNN, The Nashville Network. While working for TNN, he covered NHRA drag racing, World of Outlaws sprint car racing, AMA supercross, monster truck racing and truck and tractor pulling from TNT Motorsports, and swamp buggy racing, among others.
From 1974-1987, Page served on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network. Page served as a pit reporter from 1974–1976, and as Chief Announcer from 1977–1987. Page served as anchor of auto racing telecasts on NBC from 1978–1987, covering both Indycar, NASCAR, and the NHRA. He also worked on NBC's Sportsworld. Page has many network broadcasting firsts. He called races at the Formula 1 in Long Beach and Ceasars Palace. He also was the announcer on NBC for the 1st CART race in 1979 at Phoenix.
In 1988, Page switched to ABC Sports, and was their lead anchor for CART IndyCar racing, including the Indy 500. During that period, he also worked on NASCAR and IROC broadcasts. Parallel to his work at ABC, Page also worked at ESPN, primarily as the anchor for CART IndyCar telecasts. When the IRL was founded in 1996, he started covering those events as well. His work on the Indianapolis 500 in '88 and '89 garnered Emmy Awards for "Best Sports Special".
Paul gave the opening introduction to Papyrus's IndyCar Racing & IndyCar Racing II video game, released in 1995. Page also was selected to be the short-phrase commentator for the Destruction Derby 2 wrecking/racing video game of 1996.
While working for ABC, he was also their lead AMA Supercross commentator when ABC would cover dirt bike racing.
His place on ABC's IRL coverage was taken by Todd Harris for the 2005 in a move that proved unpopular. Page was reassigned to cover other events for the ESPN family of networks, most notably the X Games, NHRA, and has quietly become a fixture calling the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. He called both IRL and Champ Car races. In 2006, Page split announcing duties with Marty Reid on ESPN's coverage of NHRA Drag Racing, sharing duties with Reid, when Reid was on assignment, ironically calling the Indy Racing League. Page became the full-time anchor in 2007.
In 2009, Page returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network coverage of the 2009 Indianapolis 500. It was Page's first Indy 500 race he covered since the 2004. He had also voiced the race between 1988 and 1998. He was back for the 2010 Indianapolis 500.
Page is currently the lead announcer for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series (formerly known as NHRA PowerAde Drag Racing Series) on ESPN and ESPN2.
In 1989 and 1990, his work was awarded two Emmy's for the coverage of the Indianapolis 500. He also was host / play by play in shows or series that garnered 13 other Emmy's
*Sid Collins The Voice of the 500
Sid Collins (born Sidney Cahn) (July 17, 1922 – May 2, 1977) was an American broadcaster best known as the radio voice of the Indianapolis 500 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network from 1952-1976. He made famous the term "the greatest spectacle in racing."
Born into a Jewish family who owned a convenience store in Indianapolis, Indiana, Cahn changed his professional name to Collins for fear of anti-semitism and discrimination in his chosen field of broadcasting.
Collins worked for WIBC in Indianapolis. One year after he started at WIBC, he became the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) track announcer for the south turn.He became a radio announcer for the track after Bill Slater became ill. He was named the chief announcer in 1952. That year he introduced his "full coverage concept", which replaced a five minute rundown each hour He sent letters to all of the radio stations on their network, but only 26 stations participated The next year 110 stations participated and the number grew until it became 1200 by 1980.With live television coverage of the race prohibited until 1986,Collins' radio coverage drew a large audience every year, and his announcing became synonymous with the race itself. He told the world the deaths, accidents, incidents and crashes during the race. Collins received over 30,000 letters asking for a copy of the eulogy that he gave to Eddie Sachs after Sachs died in a crash on the second lap of the 1964 Indianapolis 500.
He anchored New York's TVS Network auto racing network broadcasting from Trenton, Milwaukee, Langhorne, Castle Rock, and Colorado for two years. He announced national television coverage of the Indianapolis 500 festival parade with Garry Moore, Steve Allen and Bob Barker for Hughes Sports Network. He was the subject of stories in Hot Rod Magazine and The Saturday Evening Post
Collins always signed off by quoting a serious thought or some poetry.
In April 1977, Collins visited the Mayo Clinic where he was diagnosed with ALS. On May 2, 1977, at the age of 54, Collins committed suicide by hanging himself in a closet with a necktie. After hearing of his diagnosis, Collins had confided to friend and successor Paul Page that he was planning on taking his own life. Collins had been scheduled to announce the 1977 Indianapolis 500.
Collins was awarded nine American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters awards as the best auto racing broadcaster in the nation. He was cited by Indiana University's Radio/TV School as an outstanding graduate and was named to the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 1979.
Parnelli Jones Driver Owner 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner
Rufus Parnell "Parnelli" Jones (born August 12, 1933 in Texarkana, Arkansas), is a retired American racing driver and racecar owner. He is most remembered for his 1963 Indianapolis 500 win, and almost winning the 1967 Indy 500 in a turbine car. He is also remembered for bringing the stock block engine to USAC Sprint car racing as one of the "Chevy Twins" with Jim Hurtubise.
In his career, Parnelli Jones won races in many types of vehicles: sports cars, IndyCars, sprint cars, midget cars, off-road vehicles, and stock cars. He is associated with the famous Boss 302 Mustang with his wins using the engine in the 1970s. Jones' son P. J. Jones was also a diverse driver, with IndyCar and NASCAR starts and a championship in IMSA prototype sports cars. His other son Page Jones was an up-and-coming driver before suffering career ending (and life-threatening) injuries in a sprint car at the 4-Crown Nationals, and has been in rehabilitation, working with his father-in-law. Following the death of 1960 Indianapolis 500 winner Jim Rathmann, Jones is now the oldest living "500" winner.
Jones' family moved to Torrance, California, where he grew up (and still lives). He was nicknamed Parnelli by his boyhood friend Billy Calder, who hoped that the Jones family would not discover their son was racing cars as a 17-year-old minor. Jones participated in his first race in a Jalopy race at Carrell Speedway in Gardena, California. He developed his racing skills by racing in many different classes in the 1950s, including 15 stock car racing wins in the NASCAR Pacific Coast Late Model Series.
His first major championship was the Midwest region Sprint car title in 1960. The title caught the attention of promoter J. C. Agajanian, who became his sponsor. He began racing at Indianapolis in 1961.
Jones was named the 1961 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, an honor that he shared with Bobby Marshman. Jones led early in the race and ran among the leaders until being hit in the fact with a stone, bloodying his face, blurring his vision and slowing him to a 12th-place finish.
In 1962, he was the first driver to qualify over 150 mph at the Indianapolis 500, winning the pole position at a speed of 150.370 mph (241.997 km/h). Jones dominated the first two-thirds of the race until a brake line failure slowed him, and he settled for a seventh-place finish.
In the 1963 Indianapolis 500, he started on the pole. This was the year the controversial Lotus-Ford rear-engined cars made their first appearance, and had ruffled the Indianapolis establishment. With Scotsman Jim Clark in a Lotus-Ford closing on Jones in the waning laps, Jones' car developed a horizontal crack in the external oil reservoir. At that moment, driver Eddie Sachs crashed on the oil-slickened racing surface and brought out a yellow caution flag, slowing the field. Agajanian, Jones' car owner, argued with chief steward Harlan Fengler not to issue a black flag, insisting the oil level had dropped below the level of the crack, and that the leak had stopped. As Agajanian pleaded with Fengler, Lotus head man Colin Chapman rushed up to join the conversation and demanded that Fengler follow the rules about disqualifying cars with oil leaks. With the end of the race just minutes away, Fengler took no action, and Jones went on to win. The Lotus-Ford team, while unhappy with the obvious favoritism displayed by race officials toward Jones and Agajanian, also acknowledged Jones' clear superiority in the event. In addition, Ford officials recognized that a victory through disqualification of Clark's biggest competitor would not be well received by the public, so they declined to protest.
Also that year, legendary vehicle fabricator Bill Stroppe built a Mercury Marauder USAC Stock car for Jones. Jones won the 1963 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in the car, and broke the stock car speed record.
In 1964, he won 7 races (and tied for a win) on his way to the USAC Stock car crown. He won the Turkey Night Grand Prix midget car event. Mercury decided to pull out of stock car racing after the season.
He won five of the nine midget car events that he entered in 1966, including the Turkey Night Grand Prix. He finished fourteenth in the final points despite competing in only nine of 65 events.
In 1967, he drove in the Indianapolis 500 for owner Andy Granatelli in the revolutionary STP-Paxton Turbocar. Jones dominated the race but dropped out with three laps to go when a small, inexpensive transmission bearing broke. After 1968, turbine-powered cars were legislated out of competitiveness.
Also in 1967, as part of his stock car contract with the Lincoln-Mercury division of the Ford Motor Company, Jones drove a Mercury Cougar for Bud Moore in the second-year Trans Am series. In April, Jones dueled with teammate, friend and rival Dan Gurney in a brutal 300-mile (480 km), 4-hour event at Green Valley, Texas in 113-degree heat, losing by inches to Gurney.
Stroppe suggested that Jones try his hand at off-road racing in front of a large crowd at a Christmas party in 1967. Jones at first said no, since he had enough of dirt. Stroppe suggested that maybe off-road racing was too hard for Jones, and the challenge started Jones' off-road career. Jones and Stroppe teamed up for the 711-mile (1,144 km) Star Dust 7/11 race across the Nevada desert in early 1968. Jones had never driven or pre-run the Ford Bronco. Jones hit a dry wash at full speed, which broke the wheels and blew out the front tires. Jones would later have a guest appearance in the original film Gone in 60 Seconds featuring him and his Bronco which was stolen in the plot. Jones had become hooked on off-road racing.
In 1968, Jones headed a super-roster of seven drivers signed by Andy Granatelli to drive STP Lotus 56 turbine cars in an unprecedented single-team assault on the Indianapolis 500. The deaths of Jim Clark and Mike Spence, plus a serious injury to Jackie Stewart, whittled the entry to four. Jones, testing his reworked 1967 car in practice, was dissatisfied with the car's performance compared to the newer "wedge"-shaped Lotus 56 turbines, and had concluded the car was unsafe. He stepped out of the car, which was subsequently assigned to Joe Leonard, who promptly wrecked the car in practice. Jones retired from driving IndyCars, but later admitted, "If I hadn't already won Indy, they could never have kept me out of that car."
Jones entered the 1968 NORRA Mexican 1000 (now Baja 1000). Jones led until the 150-mile (240 km) marker. The Off-road Motorsports Hall of Fame describes Jones' racing style: "Jones and Stroppe had to find a way to keep their vehicles in one piece. During races Jones would push the vehicles at maximum speeds until they gave way, with Stroppe telling him at top volume the entire time to take it easier on the vehicle."
Jones had a special car fabricated that looked like a Bronco, but had racing parts that could withstand rigorous jarring that off-road vehicles endure. Jones named the vehicle "Big Oly" after his sponsor Olympia Beer. Jones used the vehicle to lead the Mexican 1000 from start to finish in a new record time of 14 hours and 59 minutes.
Jones had major wins in the 1973 season. He won his second Mexican 1000 in 16 hours and 42 minutes. He also won the 1973 Baja 500 and Mint 400 off-road events. Jones had a major accident at SCORE International's 1974 Baja 500, and stepped away from full-time off-road racing to become a race car owner.
Jones raced SCCA Trans Am sedans owned by Bud Moore: Mercury Cougar (1967) and Ford Mustang (1969—1971). Parnelli's dominance of the extremely competitive 1970 season brought Ford the manufacturer's championship.
Jones retired with six IndyCar wins and twelve pole positions, four wins in 34 NASCAR starts, including the 1967 Motor Trend 500 at Riverside, 25 midget car feature wins in occasional races between 1960 and 1967, and 25 career sprint car wins.His fifteen wins is eighth on the all-time in NASCAR Pacific Coast Late Model history.[
Jones started Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing, which won the Indianapolis 500 again as an owner in 1970 and 1971 with driver Al Unser driving the Johnny Lightning special. The team also won the 1970, 1971, and 1972 USAC National Championships.
Jones owned the Parnelli Formula One race team from late 1974 to early 1976, although it achieved little success.
Jones returned to off-road racing as owner of Walker Evans' 1976 SCORE truck, and Evans won the championship. They teamed up for the 1977 CORE Class 2 championship.
Jones owned vehicles that took class wins at the Baja 500 and Baja 1000. His USAC Dirt Car won two championships and the Triple Crown three times.
*Clint Brawner Mechanic Race Car DesignerClint Brawner was born on December 15, 1916 and survived 71 years before taken by cancer. Married to Kay for 38 years, Brawner's life was focused on racing, especially Indy cars.
He contributed enormously to the success of the many race car drivers who steered the cars he prepared, among them Jimmy Bryan, Bobby Ball, Troy Ruttman, Bill Vukovich, Bob Sweikert, Eddie Sachs, Chuck Hulse, Art Pollard, A.J. Foyt, Roger McCluskey, Jimmy Caruthers and Mario Andretti (for whom he was crew chief at Indy in 1969 during Andretti's only win in the 500 mile race). A great observer of racing talent, Brawner gave some of the greatest stars of his era their first shot at the big time.
His protoge, Jim McGee, learned his lessons well and has for many years been one of the top mechanics and team managers in Indy car racing. "Clint was the greatest mechanic to come down the road," said McGee. "He could do more with less than any guy I ever saw. He had a tremendous ability to fix things, forsee problems and know the limitations of equipment. "
As a kid, Brawner worked on the mechanical things that were uniquely necessary for life in Phoenix. A selftaught mechanical genius, he could do it all- build cars, build engines, set cars up and advise the drivers. "He understood how things worked," said McGee. "People like A.J. Watson, Jud Phillips and those guys, whenever there was something they couldn't do or didn't want to do, they'd leave it front of Clint's garage." Brawner's philosophy of "man made it, man can fix it" was appropriate to him alone.
In '64, Brawner, working with McGee, was a major player in the rear engine Hawks which ran through '69, including the car Andretti won the 500 with that year. Eddie Kuzma built the tubs and body work while Brawner and McGee did the rest.
A tireless worker, Brawner worked at racing from early in the morning until late at night seven days per week. For him, the essence of life was his wife, to whom he was very devoted, and his racing cars. His skill, work ethic and focus led to 51 Indy car victories and four poles in the Indy 500.
Brawner was so well respected, he was able to express himself freely without repercussion. McGee remembered, "He was not a politician at all. Ford sponsored us one year and he went up and chewed these guys out about what a [terrible] passenger car they had. They needed to do this, do that to the car. Then we'd go ask the same guys for three or four engines and they'd just shake their head at him." But, Brawner got his engines.
Skin cancer plagued Brawner for much of his life. He wore a bandanna and a straw hat as tools of survival against the disease. Although he thought he had it beaten in the early 80s, on December 23, 1987, it snuffed out the life of one of the greatest mechanical minds in the history of American auto racing.
*Rex Mays Race Car DriverAs a racer, Rex Mays was tougher than his cars; as a person, he enjoyed the reputation of being a fair, honest, and gracious man. Born in Riverside, California in 1913, Rex quickly became the driver to beat at legendary Legion Ascot Speedway in Southern California. He won the AAA Pacific Coast Championship in 1934 and 1935, and his winning ways at Ascot led to his chance to run the big cars at Indy in 1934. His second race at Indy was typical of his luck. He won the pole and led until mechanical problems struck shortly after the half-way point. He was to lead often, but a pair of seconds were his best reward at the speedway.
Although victory eluded him in the 500, he was the first driver e' win the pole three times, and he broke his own record with a fourth pole in 1948. It would be 27 years before AJ. Foyt would finally match that record-41 before Rick Mears would break it. Mays led nine of the twelve races he entered for a total of 266 laps. This was fifth on the all-time leader board at the time and the most of anyone without a victory.
Had Mays ventured to Europe he might have been an early Grand Prix star. He raced in the 1937 Vanderbilt Cup in New York and finished third. Tazio Nuvolari was so impressed with Mays' talent, he reasoned the outcome might have been different had he been behind the wheel of a proper Grand Prix car instead of an old Alfa Romeo. Considering that this was the peak of the German government-sponsored Auto Union and Mercedes dominance of Grand Prix racing, May's thirdthe only top three finish of the year for a non-German car-spoke loudly of his talents.
His America 1 rivals respected his driving skills just as much as the Europeans. After winning the 1941 Indy 500, Mauri Rose told reporter Russ Catlin, "he [Mays] wouldn't let up and I knew he never would. I had the faster car, but one of us was bound to make a mistake. I knew it wouldn't be Mays. I had to let his car beat him." The record books show that Mays won back-to-back National Championships in 1940 and 1941. But they don't show that he raced in an era when money was scarce and good cars even scarcer. Mays raced for the love of the sport.
Mays' postwar exploits were noted for fantastic battles and incidents of personal courage and leadership. At the 1948 Milwaukee race, for example, Mays crashed his own car to avoid hitting Duke Dinsmore, who had been thrown from his car onto the track; Mays proceeded to risk his own safety to direct the oncoming traffic around the helpless driver in the blinding dust. A plaque was placed on the barrier at the Milwaukee Fairgrounds dedicated to Mays' heroics. In later years, the race was named in his honor.
In 1949 Mays was signed to partner Duke Nalon in the Novi Mobil Special at Indy. The pair easily took first and second in qualifying; it was the seventh time Mays had started from the front row. The railbirds were ecstatic: Rex Mays was behind the wheel of the mighty Novi, the fastest driver in the fastest car. Speedway President Wilbur Shaw was quoted as saying "Rex Mays is the man who will tame that car. Rex is the complete driver and the only thing that can keep him from winning this race is the car. If that car is worthy of him then it is the first one." Sadly, both Mays and Nalon were out by the 50th lap as a result of mechanical failures.
'The 1949 race was Mays' last trip around the Brickyard. later that year, he was battling for position on the 13th lap at a Del Mar event when a wheel caught a rut and flipped, throwing him from the car. His tragic death, just over a year after that of good friend, and fellow Hall of Famer, Ted Horn, convinced his fellow drivers that seatbelts were a vital safety feature. Mays left behind Dorothy, his wife of 16 years, and two small children.
At the time of his death, Mays had been looking forward to the return of big time racing to his California home. His spirit saw that come to pass, as his legacy was carried on in the Rex Mays 300 held at Riverside International Raceway in the late 1960's, just a few miles from his old neighborhood. Big time racing in the form of Indy cars had returned to Southern California and Rex Mays was a leader once again.
* Wally Parks The father of drag racingWally Parks is the father of drag racing. Those eight words fall far short of describing the contributions this incredibly active octogenarian has made to American motorsports. His foresight and determination have helped make what was once considered racing's outcast into one of its most successful forms of entertainment. Arguably the largest participant form of motorsports in the country, Parks had the guts to fight local opposition to a standstill during the sport's formative years, and has since overseen the introduction of everything from television to prominent series sponsorships as what was once little more than a backwater activity blossomed into a very professional undertaking.
A born hot rodder, Parks returned home after serving in the Pacific campaign in World War II to be elected president of the Southern California Timing Association, the organization that sanctioned racing on California's dry lake beds. Shortly thereafter he went to work with another lakes racer, Robert E. Petersen, on a new publication entitled Hot Rod Magazine. While Petersen managed the growing company's business affairs, Parks used his journalistic skills to help make the fledgling publication grow into a substantial venture. At the same time he watched with growing concern as hot rodders began to race on the streets of Southern California, knowing it was only a matter of time before everything he and other serious rodders were working toward would be buried beneath an avalanche of public displeasure. The result was the formation of the National Hot Rod Association, which today, with almost 80,000 members, is the largest motorsports association in the world.
In this very limited space it's impossible to list the contribution Parks has made to motorsports. After leaving Petersen Publishing in 1963 to take over the NHRA operation full time, Parks was soon named a director of ACCUS-FIA, of which he's still a vice-chairman. Parks was the first Ollie Award winner on the Car Craft Magazine All-Star Drag Racing Team, which recognizes an individual's career-long contributions to drag racing. The SEMA Man of the Year in 1973, Parks was also enshrined in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega in 1992.
Unlike many others in important positions, Parks has never shied away from admitting his mistakes, but in his case those mistakes have been few and far between. His ability to see coming trends in motorsports almost before they've broached the horizon line has helped keep the NHRA a viable and constantly growing organization. During his tenure the NHRA has become the owner of three of the nation's most influential race tracks, while "National Dragster" has become the most polished and widely circulated house organ publication in motorsports. Parks was, of course, its first editor.
Under Park's leadership NHRA drag racing has become an activity professional enough to attract the nation's most forward-thinking marketing executives, while at the same time remaining "down home" enough to encourage literally thousands of participants to race at their local tracks week after week. From a few temporary drag strips located on abandoned airports the sport has grown to include almost 200 tracks from coast to coast, many of them multi-million dollar facilities purpose-built to efficiently handle the almost 1,000 entries and as many as 100,00-plus spectators who assemble for one of today's 19 NHRA National events.
Donald Davidson Indianapolis Motor Speedway historian
Donald Davidson is the current historian of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the only person to hold such a position on a full-time basis for any motorsports facility in the world.
British born, Davidson first learned of the Speedway when he became passionately interested in Grand Prix motor racing in the mid-1950s. It didn't take long for his interest to transfer over to the Indianapolis 500, plus other forms of American oval track racing. He came to the Speedway in 1964 after writing to radio announcer Sid Collins and amazed the crowd by being able to recite the record of every driver who had ever competed in the "500." He came back in 1965 and was hired by the United States Auto Club as statistician, a position he held for 31 years. As of January 1998 he officially became the historian of the Speedway. He is also now the longest-serving commentator on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network staff, having served in at least some capacity on every radio broadcast of the Indianapolis 500 since 1965.
Davidson returned to the Speedway to attend the race in 1965. He reunited with Sid Collins and the Radio Network staff. He joined the staff as a popular fixture, and sought permanent employment in Indianapolis.
A few days after the 1965 race, he secured a job as a full-time statistician at USAC.
In 1966, Sid Collins arranged for Davidson to host a 15-minute daily semi-radio program on 1070 WIBC during the month of May. The program was called "Dial Davidson," and allowed phone-in callers to ask Davidson questions about the Indianapolis 500.
In 1967, Davidson was unable to continue the program because he was going through basic training in the National Guard. He missed a considerable part of the month of May at Indy in 1967, but was able to attend the race and serve on the radio network broadcast.
After management changes at 1070 WIBC in 1970, the station vastly increased their coverage of the Indianapolis 500 for 1971. Davidson was invited back to host a one-hour nightly quiz show about the Indy 500. The show was unnamed for the first two to three years, although Lou Palmer called it "Do it to Donald" and Chuck Riley called it "Stymie the Limey." Callers won prizes if Donald did not know the answer.
After a few seasons, the show evolved from a call-in quiz show to a caller-based question & answer talk show. Davidson began fielding the callers' questions, preferably of a nostalgic nature, about the history of the Indianapolis 500. By the late-1970s, the program adopted the name The Talk of Gasoline Alley (in reference to the nickname of the garage area at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway). Davidson was often invited (most often by now-deceased team owner Jonathan Byrd) to broadcast the program from one of the garages, and mechanics were usually heard in the background working on the cars.
Eventually, the show was expanded to two hours, with the second hour carried on Network Indiana. Starting in 1994, the program began to be added to the station's evening programming when events other than the 500 began to be held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including the week in July/August for the Brickyard 400, the weekend involving the F1 U.S. Grand Prix, from 2000-2007, as well as the Moto G.P. beginning in 2008. Starting in 2006, the program has also been available as a podcast.
In 2008, after 37 years on 1070 WIBC, the station was reorganized, and the program moved to 1070 The Fan.
On May 27th, 2010, Davidson was inducted as a member of the Auto Racing Hall of Fame at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
As chief historian for USAC and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Davidson has written, or contributed to numerous books about auto racing and the Indianapolis 500. His earlier contributions include the annual Carl Hungness 500 Yearbooks and magazine articles. In 1974 and 1975, he wrote a short-lived series of Indianapolis 500 yearbooks entitled "Donald Davidson's 500 Annuals." During the month of May for numerous years, Davidson penned a daily column in the Indianapolis Star about Indianapolis 500 history.
After many years of helping others with their books on the Indianapolis 500, Davidson wrote his own, put out through the publishers of Autocourse, entitled Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500, co-authored by Rick Shaffer.
Davidson has appeared on numerous television programs, including SportsCentury, and Indy 500 The Classics on Speedvision.
Davidson is a lecturer at IUPUI and offers a regular class in motorsports history in the fall.
*Ernest Schlausky A.K.A. CROCKY WRIGHT* Motorsports Pioneer
Ernest Schlausky, A.K.A. “Crocky” Wright, one of midget car racing’s most respected historians and a widely beloved icon within the sport
A passionate devotee of midget car racing for more than three quarters of a century, the New Jersey-born Crocky probably did more that any other individual to chronicle the history of midget racing on the East Coast. A prolific writer, even into his late 70s, he wrote literally hundreds upon hundreds of articles for a variety of weekly racing papers over a period of several decades (typically, merely in return for credentials at the pit gate) in addition to a number of books. He authored an ambitious six-volume history of East Coast midgets; a stats-filled hard-cover history of the fabulous short-lived late-1930s high-banked Nutley (New Jersey) Velodrome; a 1961 tribute to the life and career of the then recently fatally injured Johnny Thomson (for which Crocky turned all of the proceeds over to Thomson’s widow); a similar effort shortly thereafter praising injured driver Rex Easton (turning all of the proceeds over to Easton’s family), in addition to a variety of midget racing yearbooks, biographies on other drivers, a history of East Coast three-quarter midget racing, some fiction work, and even his own fascinating and sometimes amusingly irreverent memoirs, which nevertheless contained some surprisingly haunting and tender passages.
Crocky, who was honorably discharged after four years with the 762nd Tank Battalion in the Pacific theater during WWII, aspired to be a driver himself, dabbling with it off and on over a period of more than 20 years, mostly with the American Racing Drivers Club. He never achieved much success, but he could still say that, yes, he did indeed race against Len Duncan, Dutch Schaefer, Ernie McCoy and even a very young Mario Andretti.
When Crocky first became enamored of midget racing in the late 1930s, he was actually an even bigger devotee of “night” motorcycle speedway racing on cinder tracks. His hero was Emerson “Crocky” Rawding, an East Coast standout who briefly raced in England before having to leave his equipment behind in the rush to jump on a States-bound ship when war was declared in September, 1939. Not only did Ernie Schlausky assume his hero’s nickname, but he also copied the black and white checkered paint job of Rawding’s helmet, turning it into a trademark of his own.
While motorcycle speedway was never successful in returning after WWII, Crocky did take part in some of the futile attempts to revive it. He had better luck as a stunt man, performing as a member of a troupe formed by another leading speedway rider, “Putt” Mossman. Under Mossman’s guidance, Crocky perfected the stunt of crashing a motorcycle through flaming boards, something he introduced to a whole new audience at the Indianapolis Speedrome at age 70, and again at what was then Indianapolis Raceway Park at age 77. Crocky was very proud that some of his accomplishments were documented along with those of Evel Knievel in an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. In 2004 Crocky was presented the prestigious “Jim Blunk Award” at the USAC National Awards Banquet in recognition of his contributions to USAC Midget racing.
Crocky championed the cause of numerous drivers over the years, most famously Tony Stewart, who Crocky discovered as a 16-year-old three-quarter midget driver in Rushville, Ind. in 1987. He soon became Stewart’s volunteer “PR” person, a fact the eventual multi-USAC, IRL and NASCAR champion never forgot. When Crocky himself was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in a 2005 ceremony at Sun Prairie, Wisc., who should walk into the room just as the induction was taking place but Stewart himself, having gone out of his way to fly a considerable distance from a NASCAR engagement for the purpose of surprising his longtime friend.
A.J. WATSON CAR DESIGNER
A. J. Watson was a car builder and chief mechanic from 1949 through 1984 in the Indianapolis 500, winning the race seven times, which leaves him tied for the record for most wins by a builder.
A native of southern California, Watson came to Indianapolis in 1948 but missed the race. He returned the following year with a home-built car that failed to qualify. For the next 11 years, his cars not only qualified but were leaders in many years. From 1955 to 1958 he was associated with the John Zink team, and from 1959 on with Bob Wilkes. His cars dominated the race through 1964. Although he continued entering cars for another two decades, he was never able to regain the commanding position of his heyday.
In 1964, with many teams following Lotus's example and moving to rear engined "funny cars", Watson built a pair of cars based on Rolla Vollstedt's successful car. These worked reasonably well but could not reproduce the success he had with his front-engined "roadsters". He built monocoque rear-engined cars in 1966 and 1967 with ever-decreasing success.
From 1969 until 1977, Watson ran Eagles and then built a small series of highly derivative new 'Watson' cars in 1977, 1978 and again in 1982 based on Lightning and March designs before retiring. He is frequently listed on the Indy 500 entry sheet as the "race strategist" for PDM Racing, though his role with the team is largely honorary.
*Fred Offenhauser Automotive Engineer
Fred Offenhauser was an automotive engineer and mechanic who designed the Offenhauser racing engine, nicknamed the "Offy", which dominated competition in the Indianapolis 500 race for decades.
Offenhauser began working in the shop of Harry Arminius Miller in 1913 at age 25, when the state of the art double overhead cam, four valve per cylinder Peugeot Grand Prix car, an engine design which would be contemporary even today, won the Indianapolis 500. Miller named Offenhauser the head of Miller's engine department in 1914. Bob Burma was campaigning the engine that year, but when World War I made it impossible to get parts, Miller's shop got the job of maintaining it. The design so impressed Miller and Offenhauser that they designed an engine on largely similar principles.
In 1917, Offenhauser designed and built Barney Oldfield's famous "Golden Submarine".
In 1919, Leo Goossen joined Miller’s shop and Offenhauser became plant manager. Miller's company went bankrupt in 1933. Offenhauser bought the patterns and equipment from Miller, and began developing the engine with Goossen.[ The engine experienced great success at the Indianapolis 500, with 24 victories in 27 years. Offenhauser himself was not frequently seen in Indianapolis.
In 1934, Offenhauser built his first 97 cubic inch engine for midget car racing. The car won its first race in Curly Mills' car.
Offenhauser sold the business in 1946 to Louis Meyer and Dale Drake. Meyer and Drake continued producing the motor using the Offenhauser name.
*GRAHAM HILL INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER WORLD DRIVING CHAMPION
Norman Graham Hill was a British racing driver and two-time Formula One World Champion. He was born in Hampstead, London.
Graham Hill is the only driver to win the so-called Triple Crown of Motorsport.
After serving in the Royal Navy as an Engine Room Artificer, Hill re-joined Smiths Instruments. He had been interested in motorcycles but in 1954 he saw an advert for the Universal Motor Racing Club at Brands Hatch offering laps for 5 shillings. He made his debut in a Cooper 500 Formula 3 car and was committed to racing thereafter. Graham joined Team Lotus as a mechanic soon after but quickly talked his way into the cockpit. The Lotus presence in Formula One allowed him to make his debut at the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix, retiring with a halfshaft failure.
In 1960, Hill joined BRM, and won the world championship with them in 1962. Hill was also part of the so-called 'British invasion' of drivers and cars in the Indianapolis 500 during the mid-1960s, triumphing there in 1966 in a Lola-Ford.
In 1967, back at Lotus, Hill helped to develop the Lotus 49 with the new Cosworth-V8 engine. After team mates Jim Clark and Mike Spence were killed in early 1968, Hill led the team, and won his second world championship in 1968 . The Lotus had a reputation of being very fragile and dangerous at that time, especially with the new aerodynamic aids which caused similar crashes of Hill and Jochen Rindt at the 1969 Spanish Grand Prix. A crash at the 1969 United States Grand Prix broke his legs and interrupted his career.
Upon recovery Hill continued to race in F1 for several more years, but never again with the same level of success. Colin Chapman, believing Hill was a spent force, placed him in Rob Walker's team for 1970, sweetening the deal with one of the brand-new Lotus 72 cars. Although Hill scored points in 1970 he started the season far from fully fit and the 72 was not fully developed until late in the season. Hill moved to Brabham for 1971-2; his last win in Formula One was in the non-Championship International Trophy at Silverstone in 1971 with the "lobster claw" Brabham BT34. But the team was in flux after the retirements of Sir Jack Brabham and then Ron Tauranac's sale to Bernie Ecclestone; Hill did not settle there.
Hill was known during the latter part of his career for his wit and became a popular personality - he was a regular guest on television and wrote a notably frank and witty autobiography when recovering from his 1969 accident, Life At The Limit. Hill was also irreverently immortalized on a Monty Python episode ("It's the Arts (or: Intermission)" sketch called "Historical Impersonations"), in which a Gumby appears asking to "see John the Baptist's impersonation of Graham Hill." The head of St. John the Baptist appears on a silver platter, which runs around the floor making putt-putt noises of a race car engine.
Hill was involved with four films between 1966 and 1974, including appearances in Grand Prix and Caravan to Vaccarès, in which he appeared as a helicopter pilot.
Although Hill had concentrated on F1 he also maintained a presence in sports car racing throughout his career (including two runs in the Rover-BRM gas turbine car at Le Mans). As his F1 career drew to a close he became part of the Matra sports car team, taking a victory in the 1972 24 Hours of Le Mans with Henri Pescarolo. This victory completed the so-called Triple Crown of motorsport which is alternatively defined as winning either:
*JOHN "JACK" BRABHAM WORLD DRIVING CHAMPION
John Arthur "Jack" Brabham, racing driver who was Formula One champion in 1959, 1960 and 1966. He was a founder of the Brabham racing team and race car constructor that bore his name.
Brabham was a Royal Australian Air Force flight mechanic and ran a small engineering workshop before he started racing midget cars in 1948. His successes in midgets and Australian and New Zealand road racing events led to him going to the United Kingdom to further his racing career. There he became part of the Cooper Car Company's racing team, building as well as racing cars. He contributed to the design of the mid-engined cars that Cooper introduced to Formula One and the Indianapolis 500, and won the Formula One world championship in 1959 and 1960. In 1962 he established his own Brabham marque with fellow Australian Ron Tauranac, which became the largest manufacturer of customer racing cars in the world in the 1960s. In 1966 Brabham became the only man to win the Formula One world championship driving one of his own cars.
Brabham retired to Australia after the 1970 Formula One season, where he bought a farm and maintained various business interests, which included the Engine Developments racing engine manufacturer and several garages. As of 2008, he is the oldest surviving Formula One world champion.
HENRY " SMOKEY" YUNICK* NECHANIC CAR DESIGNER
Henry "Smokey" Yunick was a mechanic and car designer associated with motorsports in the United States.
Yunick was deeply involved in the early years of the NASCAR, and he is probably most associated with that racing genre. He participated as a racer, designer, and other jobs relating to the sport but was best-known as a mechanic, builder, and crew chief. He was renowned as a crotchety, crusty, opinionated character who "was about as good as there ever was on engines," according to Marvin Panch, who drove stock cars for Yunick and won the 1961 Daytona 500. His trademark white uniform and battered cowboy hat, together with a cigar or corncob pipe, were a familiar sight in the pits of almost every NASCAR or Indianapolis 500 race for over twenty years. In 1990 he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
MARION "MICKEY" THOMPSON * DRAG RACER OFF ROAD RACING CHAMPION
Marion Lee "Mickey" Thompson was an American off-road racing legend. He won many championships as a racer, and later formed sanctioning bodies SCORE International and Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group (MTEG). He also raced in dragsters and land speed record automobiles.
Thompson was born in Alhambra, California. He was known universally as "Mickey." In his early twenties, he worked for the Los Angeles Times newspaper while becoming involved in the new sport of drag racing. He developed a brilliant career as both a driver and an innovative automotive technician; later as a designer, manufacturer and seller of racing and performance equipment. In addition to being a drag racing champion, Mickey Thompson set more speed and endurance records than any other man in automotive history. He is credited with designing and building the first slingshot dragster and for creating the signal starting and foul light systems used in drag racing. In 1968, he redesigned the Funny Car, and his vehicle went on to win the 1969 NHRA Springnationals and Nationals for driver Danny Ongais.
In 1960, at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Thompson achieved international fame when he became the first American to break the 400mph barrier hitting 406.60 mph surpassing John Cobb's one-way Land speed record of 402mph. In his long career, Thompson raced everything from stock cars to off-road vehicles and engineered numerous competition engines. He went into the performance aftermarket business in the early 1960's and then, in 1963 he created "Mickey Thompson Performance Tires" that developed special tires for racing including for Indianapolis 500 competitors. In 1965 he published "Challenger: Mickey Thompson's own story of his life of speed."
Thompson founded SCORE International in 1973, a sanctioning body to oversee off-road racing across North America. He and his wife Trudy formed the "Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group" (MTEG) which ran an indoor motocross and off-road vehicle racing show and competition that brought the sport from the back-country terrain to stadiums in the heavily populated metropolitan areas.
Thompson also was noted for being the first manager of Lions Drag Strip near Long Beach, California in 1955.
* Bill France Jr. NASCAR EXECUTIVE AND PROMOTER
William H.G. “Big Bill” France yanked stock car racing from liquored-up, backwoods brawls, cleaned it up and turned it into a legitimate sport. Then he handed the baton to his oldest son who took the sport to unimaginable heights.
For 32 years or so, starting in January of 1972, William C. France, known to all as Bill France Jr., was the “go-to’’ guy at the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing.
When you look at France’s reign, you can gain a greater appreciation for what the man did for the sport of stock car racing.
He took a sport popular only in the Southeast and turned it into a national phenomenon. Now NASCAR, with a fan base of 75 million folks, is nipping at the heels of the NFL in terms of national popularity.
When France was appointed president by his father, NASCAR racing was a regional sport. The majority of Winston Cup Series events were not on television and those that did get air time were mixed into sports anthology shows such as ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.”
In a groundbreaking live, flag-to-flag broadcast, France had a breakthrough when he signed a deal with CBS Sports in 1978 to televise the 1979 Daytona 500.
The race produced astronomical ratings due in part to winter weather conditions in the Midwest and Northeast (keeping people in front of their TVs) and a spectacular finish on the track in Florida. Richard Petty won when Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough crashed each other out on the final lap, then exchanged punches at the scene of the accident.
Soon after, Winston Cup and Busch Series broadcast rights started selling like crazy to sports-minded cable networks such as ESPN, TNN and TBS. Under France’s direction, NASCAR got its first taste of big-league attention when it signed an NFL-like $2.4 billion television contract with FOX, NBC, and Turner in 1999. The contract took effect in 2001.
After the manufacturers’ wars of the 1950s and 1960s, Detroit had cooled to NASCAR racing in the 1970s and that led France to look for new money outside the automotive corporate sector.
Beginning with R. J. Reynolds, Bill France Jr. brought a host of non-automotive related corporations into sponsorship positions with NASCAR, which boasts some of the most brand loyal fans on the planet.
Race cars, which once plugged only spark plugs, oil and gas companies, have now become high speed billboards for wireless phones, home improvement centers and laundry detergent.
France’s three top priorities on the competition side of the company were always safety, close finishes and holding the line on expense.
The $20 million NASCAR Research and Development Center officially opened last spring in Concord, N.C., to help pursue France’s three goals, with safety a paramount issue.
While other forms of racing have advanced technology, NASCAR uses the same simple engine components that were available in the 1950s. You won’t find fuel injection or turbo systems in stock car racing.
France believes low tech keeps the competition close and saves race teams vast amounts of money.
France also has guided NASCAR through several patches of troubled waters.
At the height of the energy crisis in the mid-1970s, France shortened the 1974 Daytona 500 to 450 miles to show its concern for the country’s gas predicament.
In the 1980s France again battled Capitol Hill on a tax bill that would have done away with most business leisure expense deductions, which would have been disastrous for NASCAR’s corporate clients.
Presently, France has stepped out of the limelight at NASCAR and turned the day-to-day management of the sanctioning body over to his son and his lieutenants.
Nevertheless, he still figures to shape auto racing as chairman of International Speedway Corp., which boasts 12 major racing facilities.
Did France achieve all he set out to do as NASCAR czar all those years?
"I did what I was supposed to do with a lot of help from a lot of people," he continued. "I got some recognition for it and some credit for it, which quite frankly should slide on down the line to the people who came up with the idea.
*Carl Fisher American entrepreneur Founder Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Carl Graham Fisher) was an American entrepreneur. Despite having severe astigmatism, he became a seemingly tireless pioneer and promoter of the automotive, auto racing, and real estate development industries.
Regarded as a promotional genius for most of his life, in the late 19th century, he became a bicycle enthusiast and became involved in bicycle racing and later auto racing. After being injured in stunts, he helped develop paved racetracks and roadways. An Indiana native, Fisher operated what is believed to be the first automobile dealership in the United States and he helped organize the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In 1913, Fisher conceived and helped develop the Lincoln Highway, the first paved road planned across the entire United States. A convoy trip a few year later by the U.S. Army along Fisher's Lincoln Highway was a major influence upon then Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower years later in championing the Interstate Highway System during his presidency in the 1950s.
Carl Fisher followed the east-west Lincoln Highway in 1914 with the conception of the north-south Dixie Highway, which first led from Indianapolis, and eventually extended in several northern branches from the Mid-West U.S. at the Canadian borders to southern mainland Florida. Under his leadership, the initial portion was completed within a single year, and he led an automobile caravan to Florida from Indiana.
At the south end of the Dixie Highway in Miami, Florida, Fisher became involved in the successful real estate development of the new resort city of Miami Beach, built on a largely unpopulated barrier island and reached by the new Collins Bridge across Biscayne Bay directly at the terminus of the Dixie Highway. Fisher was one of the best known and active promoters of the Florida land boom of the 1920s. By 1926, he was worth an estimated $100 million, and redirected his promotional efforts when the Florida real estate market bubble burst after 1925. His final major project, cut short by the Great Depression, was a "Miami Beach of the north" at Montauk, located at the eastern tip of Long Island, New York.
His fortune was lost in the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression in the United States which followed shortly thereafter. He found himself living in a small cottage in Miami Beach, doing minor work for old friends. Nevertheless, years after his fortune had been lost, at the end of his career, he took on one more project, albeit more modest than many of his past ventures, and built the famous Caribbean Club on Key Largo, intended as a "poor man's retreat."
Although he had lost his fortune and late in life considered himself a failure, Fisher is widely regarded as a very successful man in the long view of his life. He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1971. In a 1998 study judged by a panel of 56 historians, writers, and others, Carl G. Fisher was named one of the 50 Most Influential People in the history of the State of Florida by The Ledger newspaper. PBS labeled him "Mr. Miami Beach." Fisher Island, one of the wealthiest and most exclusive residential areas in the United States, just south of Miami Beach, is named for him.
Tom Carnegie Chief announcer at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for 60 years.
Few of us can honestly say we’ve contributed to the lexicon of a sport, but one man certainly has: Phrases like: “Heeeezzzzzz ON IT!” Or, “It's a newwwww track rrrrecord!” Or, “Mario is slowing on the backstretch!”
All courtesy of Tom Carnegie, the announcer at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for 60 years.
“He is one of those rare individuals who created a persona that can be imitated, but can never be duplicated,” says the subject of one of those trademark phrases, Mario Andretti. “He represents so many exciting moments in motor racing.”
Through the myriad changes in motorsports, Carnegie's voice is one of the few constants. After a couple of artificial hips and artificial knees, he shows no signs of slowing.
Carnegie, a native of the Kansas City area, had hoped to play professional sports until a viral fever hospitalized him for months and weakened his legs to the point where he knew he'd never play with the pros. But even as a young man, Carnegie had those pipes, and it led him to broadcasting. He ended up in Indiana, and his narration of a car parade caught the ear of Indy 500 officials. He called his first Indy 500 in 1946. Until then, he'd seen only one race, and that was in Illinois while on vacation. It took 10 years, he says, before he was comfortable with the job.
Throughout the years, Carnegie has had a front-row seat for triumph and tragedy. In the early days, injuries and fatalities occurred on a regular basis. After losing many friends in racing, perhaps most notably one of his best friends, racer Jim Clark, Carnegie learned why many people in motorsports try not to get too attached to drivers.
Carnegie considers the advances in safety to be the most positive change he's witnessed. “We didn't know anything about safety then. Danger was just a fact of life.”
Dramatizing the dramatic has been Carnegie’s challenge—and his forte. And not only on race day. For decades, his descriptions of the relentless quest to break speed barriers built main event sized crowds—for time trials!
Still, the last Sunday in May was Carnegie’s Main Gate to immortality.
For 61 Memorial Day Weekends, Tom Carnegie’s calendar was full. As were the calendars of hundreds of thousands of fans, for whom it just wasn’t Indy until they heard those phrases, those Carnegie-isms.
Phrases that, Carnegie says, “just happened. I never intended to patent any of them.” Maybe he should.
After the 2006 race, Tom Carnegie put down the Indianapolis Motor Speedway microphone for the last time. The Indy 500 will never be the same
“When he is no longer in the announcer’s booth, there will be a huge void,” says Mario Andretti. “You cannot say that about too many individuals in life. He is an intricate, exciting part of our sport and of the biggest spectacle in racing, the Indianapolis 500.”
*Henry Ford Race Car innovator
Few automakers are more closely associated with motorsport than Ford Motor Company.
That commitment began with the entrepreneurial zeal of its founder, Henry Ford. In the earliest days of the automobile, many people worked on motor carriages, and a variety of trials, tests and races were held that attracted widespread attention. Ford noted the acclaim and enthusiasm automobiles brought, so he built his first cars to establish his name through motorsports. He also noted the prize money, sometimes as large as $10,000.
Oliver Barthel and Ford built a racer for the October 10, 1901, races sponsored by the Detroit Driving Club. When it came time for the feature, preliminary races had taken so much time that the main 25-lap race was shortened to just ten laps. To the starting line came three entrants: Henry Ford aboard his racer, the famed Alexander Winton on his and another driver who discovered a mechanical problem and withdrew. Ford had never raced before, but fortune was in his favor after Winton's machine began leaving a trail of smoke after three laps. Racing had indeed brought what he wanted-acclaim. But the experience was such that Ford retired as a competitive driver, saying, "Once is enough."
That success led to the formation of the Henry Ford Co. on November 30, 1901. The company didn't go in the direction Ford wanted, so he left to join forces with Tom Cooper, the foremost cyclist of the time, in building a much more aggressive racer, the 999. Because of its potential speed, Ford became concerned about his driver's safety. But he need not have been too concerned: his driver, 23-year-old Barney Oldfield, had already proven himself in bicycle racing. Oldfield practiced at Grosse Pointe the week before the occasion of the next race, the Manufacturer's Challenge Cup held October 25, 1902.
Four drivers started; again, the main opposition was Winton. Oldfield led from the start, as he opened up 999 and didn't let off. His lead grew to the point of lapping the two lagging cars, and Oldfield soundly beat Winton, who dropped out on the fourth lap. Ford's 999, with its 70, perhaps 80 horsepower, was described as "low, rakish, and makes more noise than a freight train." It was in that machine that two things happened: Oldfield made Ford famous and Ford made Oldfield famous. Both went on to become the most recognized figures in early motoring-Ford as a builder, Oldfield as a driver.
The excitement that Henry Ford's products generated became the source of explosive growth in motorsport throughout the 20th century. Today, Ford is the only automaker that can claim victory in the Indy 500, Daytona 500, 24 hours of LeMans and Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, the Monte Carlo Rallye and the Baja 1000. That commitment is certain to continue in the future, given Ford's ongoing, global support of virtually all forms of motorsport. Henry would certainly have been proud.
* Ralph Depalma Indianapolis 500 winner and racing pioneer
Ralph DePalma was an Italian-American racecar driving champion, most notably winner of the 1915 Indianapolis 500.
Born in Troia Apulia, Italy, DePalma's family emigrated to the United States when he was eight years old. As a young man of twenty-two, he began racing motorcycles before switching to the automobile dirt track racing circuit in 1909, the year that the American Automobile Association established the national driving championship.
DePalma was immediately successful in car racing. In 1911, DePalma won the first Milwaukee Mile Championship Car race. However, he is still remembered for the dramatic manner in which he lost the 1912 Indianapolis 500. After leading for nearly 196 of the 200 laps, his Mercedes cracked a piston and with only 2 laps remaining, he and his mechanic had to push the car across the finish line to take twelfth place. He went on to earn the U.S. national driving championship that year, but was almost killed in an accident at on October 5th at the Milwaukee Mile during the 400-mile Vanderbilt Cup. Hospitalized for a considerable time, he recovered and was back to racing the following spring.
In 1912 and again in 1914, DePalma won the Elgin National Trophy at Elgin, Illinois and in 1914 he scored what he called his greatest victory when he beat Barney Oldfield to capture the Vanderbilt Cup in Santa Monica, California. DePalma had been let go by the Mercer Automobile Co. racing team in favor of the great Barney Oldfield and in a Mercedes "Gray Ghost," DePalma showed he was a master tactician in beating Oldfield's much faster car. Things got even better that year when he again won his second U.S. national driving championship. The following year, 1915, he drove to long-awaited victory at Indianapolis.
Ralph DePalma was an intense competitor but one of the most popular racers with his fellow drivers and the fans because of his good sportsmanship, a quality he displayed on and off the track. In June 1917 he lost to Barney Oldfield in a series of 10 to 25 mile match races ath the Milwaukee Mile. On February 12, 1919 at Daytona Beach, Florida, he drove a Packard to a world speed record of 149.875 mph over a measured mile. International competition began following the adoption of the three liter engine limit in the U.S. and Europe in 1920. DePalma began the year driving for the French manufacturer, Ballot. His Ballot vehicle was one of the fastest qualifiers at the 1920 Indy but bad luck dogged him in the race. However, DePalma traveled with other Americans to Le Mans to compete in the French Grand Prix. There, he finished second to the Dusenberg driven by fellow American, Jimmy Murphy.
Ralph DePalma had a small role in the 1920 Hollywood film, High Speed and in 1924 played the part of the Champion in an action/drama written by Wilfred Lucas titled Racing for Life. In 1923, he established the DePalma Manufacturing Company in Detroit to build race cars and engines for automobiles and aircraft.
Ralph DePalma retired from racing after a career in which he competed in 2,889 races, winning an astonishing 2,557. He died in South Pasadena, California in 1956 and was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. The Mercedes in which he narrowly lost the 1912 Indianapolis 500 remains on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.
DePalma was the brother of 500 competitor John DePalma and the uncle of 1925 Indy winner Pete DePaolo.
* Benny Parsons NASCAR Winston Cup Champion
Wicked-looking black clouds boiled ominously over Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, 1980 as darkness approached.
In the press box, gallows humor prevailed.
"I imagine this is what the End Of Time sky will look like," someone said.
Lightning bolts blazed in the distance.
There also was great electricity on the track.
Benny Parsons and Darrell Waltrip were locked in an exciting, tense battle for victory in a race then known as the World 600.
The lead see-sawed, it seemed, almost every time around the 1.5-mile layout between the two drivers, who were two laps ahead of their nearest challenger.
They swapped the front spot eight times in the final 26 laps, four times in the final 10.
Parsons managed to pull ahead on the 399th of the 400 laps and then held off Waltrip by half a car-length to triumph in what many observers rate the most thrilling finish in the history of the Charlotte track, which dates to 1960.
That victory, plus the 20 others he scored at NASCAR's top level in a two-decade career, have earned 1973 Winston Cup Series champion Benny Parsons induction into the Motorsports Hall Of Fame of America.
His 12 superspeedway wins include the 1975 Daytona 500, the 1978 Rebel 500 at Darlington, the 1984 Gabriel 400 at Michigan International Speedway and the '84 Coca-Cola 500 at Atlanta.
NASCAR's roster of drivers is replete with relative rags-to-riches stories. Few are more compelling than that of Benny Parsons.
Benny grew up far back in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in a beautiful, remote cove known as Parsonsville.
He lived in a log home with his great-grandmother, helping the elderly lady with her chores. Benny's parents had moved to Detroit for work following World War II, but he stayed behind to attend Millers Creek High School, where he played football.
Another sport he loved was stock car racing, and Benny seldom missed watching from the grandstand when the NASCAR stars competed at the local track, North Wilkesboro Speedway.
After graduating from high school, Benny joined his parents in Detroit, where his father operated a cab company. Benny began working at a service station. One night some fellows towing a race car behind a pickup truck stopped at the station for fuel en route to an area short track. They invited Benny to come along and he climbed into the bed of the pickup. When the regular driver didn't show up, Benny took the wheel of the race car that night.
Thus began a driving career that was to produce that Winston Cup championship in '73, one of the sport's most memorable.
Parsons crashed early in the season-finale at N.C. Motor Speedway at Rockingham, much to the dismay of a very partisan crowd. At that time Benny lived at nearby Ellerbe, N.C., where he was president of the local school's Parent-Teachers Association.
In a remarkable development, members of other teams rallied to help make repairs and get Parsons' badly damaged car rolling again so that he could amass enough points to win the title. He was able to complete 308 of the race's 500 laps, finished 25th and edged Cale Yarborough by 67 points.
That rivals came to his rescue is a measure of the respect that the personable Parsons, now 64, has commanded throughout his racing career.
Benny never rated himself a strong qualifier, but he was fastest in time trials 20 times. And among his notable achievments is becoming the first NASCAR driver to officially qualify in excess of 200 mph when he hit 200.176 at Talladega Superspeedway in 1982, taking the pole for the Winston 500.
After his retirement as a driver in 1989, Benny became a member of ESPN's NASCAR telecast team and won an Emmy for his prowess as an analyst. He now provides expert commentary on NBC's NASCAR telecasts.
In looking back on a wonderful driving career, Benny Parsons touchingly rates among his favorite accomplishments a short track triumph in 1979. That win came in the Holly Farms 400 at little North Wilkesboro Speedway, only 15 miles or so from that old log home at Parsonsville.
* CHRIS ECONOMAKI SPEED SPORT NEWS FOUNDER AND PUBLISHER
CHRIS ECONOMAKI is a legendary American motorsports commentator, pit road reporter, and journalist. Chris Economaki has been given the title "The Dean of American Motorsports.
Economaki was born in Brooklyn, New York. Economaki’s father was a Greek immigrant and his mother a great-niece of Robert E. Lee. He saw his first race at age 9 at the board track in Atlantic City. He was immediately hooked on the sport. He once attempted driving a midget car at a cinder track in Pennsylvania. "It wasn’t for me," says Economaki. "It was a really frightening experience. That was the first and last time I drove in competition
He started his career at age 13 selling copies of National Speed Sport News newspapers. He wrote his first column at age 14 for the National Auto Racing News. Economaki became the editor of the National Speed Sport News in 1950. He began writing a column called "The Editor’s Notebook", which he continues to write over fifty years later. He eventually became owner, publisher, and editor of the National Speed Sport News. His daughter Corinne Economaki is the current publisher. The newspaper is considered "America’s Weekly Motorsports Authority".
He has co-written an autobiography called Let 'Em All Go: The Story of Auto Racing by the Man who was there.
SHIRLEY MULDOWNEY NHRA LEGEND 1ST WOMAN TO WIN MAJOR EVENT
SHIRLEY MULDOWNEY the "First Lady of Drag Racing" was the first woman to receive a licence to drive a top fuel dragster by the NHRA. She won the NHRA Top Fuel championship in 1977 in 1980 and 1982. After a crash in 1984 she was sidelined for a long period but returned to the circuit in the late 1980s. She continued to race, mostly without major sponsorship, throughout the 1990s in IHRA competition as well as match-racing events. She returned to the NHRA towards the end of her career, running select events until her retirement at the end of 2003.
Muldowney's success came in the face of enormous opposition from those who felt drag racing was no place for women. Don Garlits, the "Big Daddy" of drag racing, has said about her:
Muldowney was described by longtime drag racer Fred Farndon as the "best 'natural' driver (top fuel or funny car), no question".
She was nicknamed "Cha-Cha" - a name chosen by car owner and then boyfriend Connie Kalitta. She later dropped the moniker, stating: "There is no room for bimbosim in drag racing."
Shirley Muldowney is married to Rahn Tobler, who was her crew chief. After Muldowney's retirement, Tobler became crew chief for the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster of Doug Kalitta Connie Kalitta's nephew.
DON PRUDHOMME NHRA DRIVER
Don 'Snake' Prudhomme is an American dragster racer, who won the NHRA funny car championship four times in a thirty-five-year career. He was the first funny car driver to exceed 250 mph. He retired in 1994 to manage his own racing team. With driver Larry Dixon, Prudhomme's team won the top fuel championship in 2002 and 2003. Known for his yellow 1970 Plymouth Barracuda in which he raced rival driver Tom " Mongoose" McEwen in his red 1970 Plymouth Duster, later both drivers gained more attention from the Hot Wheels versions that were released in 1970. Hot Wheel celebrated their 35th anniversery in 2003 with a two day event.
STEVE KINSER 17 TIME WoO CHAMPION " KING OF THE SPRINTS"
Steve is a professional sprint car racer. He has won 20 championships in the World of Outlaws (WoO) series, and currently drives the #11 Quaker State car. Kinser left the World of Outlaws in 2006 to compete with the new National Sprint Tour series.
Steve also finished 14th in the 1997 Indianapolis 500. He has been a perennial competitor in IROC winning a race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1994. He also finished a career best 6th in IROC points in 1994.
He began the 1995 season as a full-time NASCAR Winston Cup driver for Kenny Bernstein, but he was released after only five starts after a best finish of 27th and average finish of 35th.
GEORGE BIGNOTTI 7 TIME INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER CHIEF MECHANIC
A. J. Foyt won 27 races in cars prepared by Bignotti while other drivers who scored wins for him included Al Unser, Gordon Johncock, Tom Sneva, Joe Leonard, Wally Dallenbach, Rodger Ward, Graham Hill and Jud Larson.
George also holds the record for most victories for a chief mechanic in the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race - seven! His cars won in 1961, 1964, 1966, 1970, 1971, 1973, and 1983 driven by Foyt, Hill, Unser, Johncock and Sneva.
He started as a race car owner in the San Francisco area and in 1954 made his debut as a crew member at Indianapolis.
In 1956, teaming with co-car owner Bob Bowes, he scored his first Indy Car win in the 100-miler at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix. I he driver was Jud Larson.
A. J. Foyt joined the team in 1960 and USAC National Championships ensued, both in 1960 and 1961. A. J. also grabbed the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, but in the summer of 1962 they decided to part company. Reforming as a team before the end of the year, they immediately stormed back to the winners circle and ended up second in the point standings. Piling up 27 victories in just five seasons, they again claimed the USA National Championship in 1963 and 1964.
Following a final split with Foyt in 1965, Bignotti collaborated with John Mecom on what evolved into the Vel s Parnelli Jones superteam , comprised of drivers Al Unser, Mario Andretti and Joe Leonard. George subsequently led a heavily revamped Patrick Racing Team starting in 1973 and the Dan Cotter team beginning in 1981, enjoying a measure of success with each.
*COLIN CHAPMAN INFLUENTIAL DESIGNER, INVENTOR AND CAR BUILDER
Colin was an influential designer, inventor, and builder in the automotive industry. In 1952 he founded the sports car company Lotus Cars. He studied structural engineering at University College, London where he joined the University Air Squadron and learned to fly. After graduating in 1948, he briefly joined the Royal Air Force. His knowledge of the latest aeronautical engineering techniques would prove vital towards achieving the major automotive technical advances he is remembered for. His Formula One Team Lotus won seven World Championships and the Indianapolis 500 between 1962 and 1978. The production side of Lotus Cars has built tens of thousands of relatively affordable, cutting edge sports cars. Lotus is one of but a handful of British performance car builders still in business after the industrial decline of the 1970s
*LEE PETTY LEGENDARY NASCAR DRIVER
Lee Petty was one of the pioneers of NASCAR and one of its first superstars.
Lee Petty was thirty-five years old before he began racing. He began his NASCAR career at NASCAR's first race at Charlotte Speedway (not Charlotte Motor Speedway). He finished in the Top 5 in season points for NASCAR's first eleven seasons. He won the NASCAR Championship on three occasions and the inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959.
In that inaugural Daytona 500 race, Petty locked horns with Johnny Beaucamp during the final laps of the race. The finish was so close that evne though Johnny was declared the unofficial winner, it took 3 days to decide the winner. In the end, with the help of the national newsreel, Petty was officially declared the winner and cemented his place as one of stock-car racing's all time greats.
BOBBY UNSER 3 TIME INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER
Bobby is the brother of Al Unser and Jerry Unser, the father of Robby Unser, and the uncle of Al Unser, Jr. and Johnny Unser. Often under-rated, he was an astute and occasionally very rapid exponent of the subtle art of oval racing. He is one of seven drivers to win the Indy 500 three times and one of only two to have won the 500 in three different decades (1968, 75, 81).
Bobby was apart of one of the most controversial finishes in Indy 500 history. In lap 149, during a caution period, Bobby and Mario Andretti made their pit stop and headed back to the race, the problem was Bobby passed 8 cars during the caution, while Mario passed 2 cars himself, a subject that was heatily debated on ESPN Classic's Big Ticket episode in 2000. Unser won the race, but was stripped the next morning to the 2nd place finisher Mario Andretti, but Unser got his win back in October 1981.
Bobby was the 1975 IROC champion.
Bobby Unser won the USAC Indy car championships in 1968 and 1974. He also competed in the 1968 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International, driving for the BRM team.
He also drove in 3 NASCAR Grand National races from 1969 to 1973 with a best finish of fourth.
*JIMMY BRYAN USAC NATIONAL CHAMPION
Jimmy was born in Phoenix, Arizona, Bryan died in Langhorne, Pennsylvania as a result of injuries sustained in a champ car race. He drove in the AAA and USAC Championship Car series, racing in the 1952-1960 seasons with 72 starts, including each year's Indianapolis 500 race. He finished in the top ten 54 times, with 23 victories.
Bryan won the 1958 Indianapolis 500 and the 1954(AAA), 1956 and 1957(USAC) National Championship.
As the Indianapolis 500 counted as a round of the Formula One World championship from 1950 to 1960 his career is credited with participation in 9 grands prix, with 1 win, 3 podiums and 18 championship points scored. (Note that drivers who won the Indy 500 only are often not listed in totals of Grand Prix winners, as the race's inclusion in the World Championship was largely symbolic, with very few F1 drivers taking part.)
He died after a crash in a Champ car race at Langhorne Speedway in 1960, on the same day that two drivers were killed in the Belgian Grand Prix, making the day one of the most tragic in racing history.
*EDDIE SACHS SPRINT MIDGET DRIVER
Eddie Sachs was a United States Auto Club driver who was known as the "Caped Crusader of Auto Racing" and "Clown Prince of Auto Racing" for his personality at the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.
His career included eight USAC Championship Trail wins, 25 top-five finishes in 65 career AAA and USAC starts, including the 1958 USAC Midwest Sprint Car Championship, in a career which included consecutive pole positions (1960-1961) in the Indianapolis 500, coming closest to winning the race in 1961 but falling short by one position.
Sachs and sports car driver and Indy rookie Dave MacDonald were killed on the second lap of the 1964 Indianapolis 500 in a fiery crash involving seven cars, which resulted in the USAC ban on gasoline and the switch to methanol-alcohol fuel.
*TONY BETTENHAUSEN AAA NATIONAL CHAMPION
Tony won the National Championship in 1951 and 1958. He is a member of numerous Halls of Fame.
He was born in Tinley Park, Illinois. He was nicknamed the "Tinley Park Express" in honor of his hometown.He was nicknamed "Tunney" after heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney. "Tunney" later became "Tony."
Bettenhausen was part of the "Chicago Gang" with Duke Nalon. They toured tracks in the Midwest and East Coast of the United States.
He drove in the AAA and USCAC Championship Car series, racing in the 1941 and 1946-1961 seasons with 121 starts, including 14 in the Indianapolis 500. He finished in the top ten 74 times, with 21 victories.
He won the track championship at the Milwaukee Mile in 1942, 1946, and 1947. He was the Chicago Raceway Park champion in 1941, 1942, and 1947.
He won the 1959 Turkey Night Classic, and the Hut Hundred in 1955 and 1956.
He won the National Championship in 1951 after recording eight victories and two second place finishes in fourteen events. He announced his retirement from all racing but the Indianapolis 500 after the season. He decided to return full-time for the 1954 season. He was involved in a midget car wreck in Chicago. He suffered head injuries after striking a concrete wall. He was in critical condition for several days.
In 1958 he became the only driver to win the national championship without a win. He was assured the title with a second place finish at Phoenix. He finished second in the national championship to Rodger Ward in 1959.
Bettenhausen was killed in 1961 in a crash at Indianapolis while testing a car for Paul Russo.
As the Indianapolis 500 counted as a round of the Formula One World championship from 1950 to 1960 his career is credited with participation in 11 grands prix, with 1 podium and 10 championship points scored.
*MAURI ROSE 3 TIME INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER
Mauri was born in Columbus, Ohio.
He started from the pole position driving a Maserati in the 1941 Indianapolis 500, but spark plug problems put him out of the race after sixty laps. He then took over the Wetteroth/Offenhauser car being driven by Floyd Davis that had started in 17th place and won the race. In 1947 and 1948, Rose captured back-to-back Indy 500's driving a Deidt/Offenhauser
Mauri Rose made his fifteenth and final Indianapolis 500 start in the 1951 race which that year was part of the Formula One circuit. Knocked out from an accident after 126 laps, the forty-five-year-old Rose retired to a home in California. For the 1967 race, officials of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway invited him to drive the Chevrolet Camaro Pace Car.
While his career in racing was filled with success, Rose considered his most important accomplishment to be his invention of a device that made it possible for amputees to drive an automobile.
*RAY HARROUN 1ST WINNER INDIANAPOLIS 500
He was born on January 12, 1879 in Spartansburg, Pennsylvania.
He participated in the original setting of the record from Chicago to New York in 1903, and the re-taking of that record in 1904. He and four others drove in shifts non-stop to establish the record of 76 hours at the end of September, 1903. That time was bested by another team nearly a year later, and in October 1904, the Columbia team re-set the record at 58 hrs, 35 min. That record stood for nearly two years. Other drivers in both years included Bert Holcomb (who was in charge of the runs), Lawrence Duffie (Demonstrator of the Gasoline Dept of Electric Vehicle Company, which manufactured Columbia cars), and Harry Sandol. In 1903, the fifth driver was David R. Adams; in 1904 it was Eddie Bald.
Nicknamed the "Little Professor" for his hand in creating the Marmon Wasp. Harroun is best known for winning the first running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 30, 1911. He is known to have started at least 60 AAA-sanctioned races, during the years 1905-1911. (Statistics on some of the shorter races document only the top three finishers, so some starts resulting in lower finishes may not be known.) From 1909 to 1911, Harroun drove primarily for the team operated by Indianapolis-based auto maker, Marmon. However, at least one 1909 race result shows him driving a Buick. And, statistics from 1905 through 1908 show him driving cars described as "Harroun Custom" and "Harroun Sneezer."
Harroun's race wins included: a 1910 100-mile race at the Atlanta Motordrome; the 1910 200-mile Wheeler-Schebler Trophy Race (at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway); the May, 1910, 50-mile Remy Grand Brassard Race (also at IMS); three races at Churchill Downs (home of the Kentucky Derby); three races at the original Latonia Race Track; and races at tracks in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Long Island and Memphis. He is best known for winning the first Indianapolis 500, driving a Marmon.
Harroun won a total of 8 races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the second-most of any driver in the 100-year history of the track. (The only driver with more victories at IMS is Johnny Aitken, with 15 wins in 1909-1916.)
During the years that Harroun was driving, the AAA designated some races each year as "championship" events. However, there was no actual year-long championship, and no points were awarded. In 1927, points were assigned retroactively, and champions were designated for those years. At that time, Harroun was designated the champion for the 1910 season.
At the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911, his use of what would now be called a rear-view mirror, rather than the riding mechanic specified in the rules, created controversy, but was ultimately allowed. Harroun went on to win at an average speed of 74.602 miles per hour (120.060 km/h). Harroun, who came out of retirement to race in the first 500, would not race after 1911. Harroun's historic Firestone-shod yellow #32 Marmon "Wasp," in which he won the Indianapolis 500, is on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.
After retiring from racing, Harroun continued engineering work for Marmon, and later for the Maxwell racing team.In 1917, Harroun started his own automobile company in Wayne, Michigan, where a street is now named for him. In 1927 he joined Lincoln Products. He continued to work in the automotive industry until his retirement at age 79. He died on January 19, 1968
DAVID " THE SILVER FOX" PEARSON 3 TIME NEXTEL CUP CHAMPION
David was Known as the "Silver Fox", he debuted on the Grand National racing circuit in 1960 and earned Rookie of the Year honors that same season. He went on to win the NASCAR Championship in 1966, 1968 and 1969. Pearson ranks as one of the greatest of all NASCAR drivers and his duels with Richard Petty are legendary. Between August 8, 1963 and June 12, 1977, they finished one/two on sixty-three occasions, with Pearson coming out on top with thirty-three victories. Their most famous encounter came at the 1976 Daytona 500 when the two were running bumper-to-bumper on the final lap. They slammed hard against each other's front fender and both hit the wall. Petty's damaged car spun off the track just twenty-five yards from the finish line and the engine quit running and he could not get it to restart. All Petty could do was sit in his famous #43 and watch as Pearson's wrecked #21 limped across the finish line to claim victory.
Pearson won the "Most Popular Driver" award in 1979 and 1980. After twenty-six seasons in racing, he retired in 1986. He finished his career in second place behind Richard Petty on NASCAR's all-time win list with 105, and second in all-time pole positions.
Pearson is one of eight drivers in NASCAR history to win a Career Grand Slam, by winning the sport's four majors; Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Buddy Baker are the other six to have accomplished the feat.
*MARK DONOHUE SPORTS CAR DRIVER
Mark was an racecar driver known for his ability to set up his own race car and drive it consistently on the absolute limit. Donohue is probably best-known as the driver of the 1000+ bhp “Can-Am Killer” Porsche 917-30.
Donohue met an experienced race driver named Walt Hansgen while running in SCCA events around the country. Hansgen quickly realized that Donohue had unbelievable talent as a driver, but more importantly, had an incredible working knowledge of vehicle mechanics and dynamics thanks to his engineering background. Hansgen befriended Donohue, and even provided an MGB for Donohue to race at the 1964 Bridgehampton 500-mile SCCA endurance event, which Donohue won. In 1965, Hansgen invited him to co-drive a Ferrari 275 at the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race. This would be Donohue's big break into international sports car racing. Hansgen and Donohue combined to finish 11th in that race.
Mark paricipated in The Indianapolis 500 for several years and won the 1972 Indianapolis 500 driving for Roger Penske
Midway through the 1975 F1 season, Penske abandoned the troublesome PC1 and started using the March 751. Donohue had recently arrived in Austria for the Austrian Grand Prix following the successful closed-course speed record attempt in Alabama just a few days earlier. During a practice session for the race, Donohue lost control of his March after a tire failed sending him careening into the catch fencing. A track marshal was killed by debris from the accident, but Donohue didn't appear to be injured significantly. However, a resulting headache worsened and after going to the hospital of Graz the next day, Donohue lapsed into a coma from a brain hemorrhage and died.
DON " BIG DADDY" GARLITS NHRA CHAMPION
Don is considered the father of drag racing. He is known as "Big Daddy" to drag racing fans around the world. A pioneer, with the help of T.C. Lemmons, and after he lost a portion of his foot in a drag racing accident, he perfected the design rear-engine "top fuel" dragster (notable because it put the most explosive parts of the dragster behind the driver) and was an early endorser of a full-body, fire-resistant suit. He was the first drag racer to officially surpass 170, 180, 200, 240, 250, 260, and 270 miles per hour; he was also the first to top 200 in the 1/8 mile.
Drag Racing was a California-based sport. Don Garlits, being from Florida, was the outsider who came in and beat them at their own game. He was sometimes referred to as the Floridian, before permanently adopting the nickname, "Swamp Rat," which also became the theme for each generation of his innovative dragster designs. Such is his uniqueness.
Garlits was the first driver to win three National Hot Rod Association national titles and three world championships, the last coming at the age of 54. He won a total of 144 national events. On October 20, 1987, His home-built Top Fuel dragster, Swamp Rat XXX, the sport's only successful streamlined car, was enshrined in The Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C., which also houses The Spirit of St. Louis and NASA's first manned space capsule.
"Big Daddy" was compelled to retire due to separated retina, a product of the 4g deceleration produced by a Top Fuel Dragster's chutes.
AL UNSER SR. DIRT TRACK MASTER 4 TIME INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER
Al is a former American automobile racing driver, the younger brother of Bobby Unser and father of Al Unser, Jr.. He is the second of three men to have won the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race four times, the fourth of five to have won the race in consecutive years, and is the only person to have both a sibling (Bobby) and child (Al Jr.) as fellow winners. Al's brother Jerry and nephews Johnny and Robby have also competed in the 500.
His father Jerry Unser and two uncles, Louis and Joe, were also drivers. Beginning in 1926 they competed in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, an annual road race held in Colorado.
Joe Unser became the first member of the Unser clan to lose his life to the sport, killed while test-driving a FWD Coleman Special on the Denver highway in 1929.
Al's oldest brother Jerry became the first Unser to drive at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, qualifying 23rd and finishing 31st in the 1958 Indianapolis 500. However, tragedy struck the next year when he was killed from injuries sustained in a fiery crash during a practice session.
Middle brother Bobby drove in his first Indianapolis 500 in 1963, becoming in 1968 the first member of the family to win, and in 1983 son Al Unser Jr. drove in his first.
While driving the Johnny Lightning Special and winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1970 and 1971 for Vel's Parnelli Racing, a team owned by Vel Melatich and Parnelli Jones, he had Mario Andretti and Joe Leonard as his team mates.
He began racing in 1957, at age 18, initially competing primarily in modified roadsters, sprint cars and midgets. In 1965 he raced in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time and finished ninth.
He won the Indy 500 in 1970, two years after his brother, Bobby. During the race, he led for all but 10 of the 200 laps and averaged 155.749 miles per hour. His quick pit stops were a factor in the victory. That season he won a record 10 times on oval, road and dirt tracks to capture the United States Auto Club national championship.
In 1971 he won the Indy 500 again, starting from the fifth position with an average speed of 157.735 mph.
Unser's bid to become the first three-time consecutive Indy 500 champion was thwarted when he finished second to Mark Donohue in the 1972 Indianapolis 500.
Starting 1978 Indianapolis 500 from 5th position in an FNCTC Chaparral Lola, he was considered a long shot. He took the lead on lap 75 and won following the fortuitous engine failure of challenger Danny Ongais, averaging 161.363 mph.
*BILL VUKOVICH SR. 2 INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER
Bill was of Serbian descent, known variously as "Vuky", "The Silent Serb" and "The Mad Russian" for his intense driving style, and called by several of his generation the greatest driver ever encountered
Before he began Indy racing, Vukovich drove midget cars for the Edelbrock dirt track racing team. In 1952, his sophomore year in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 500-Mile Race, he quickly moved up from his starting position in the middle of the third row to take the lead, and led 150 laps in dominant fashion before suffering steering failure on the 192nd of the 200 laps. He returned to win the race in consecutive years, 1953 and 1954, but was killed in a chain-reaction crash while holding a 17-second lead on the 57th lap of the 1955 event.
Vukovich was exiting the second turn, trailing three slower cars — driven by Rodger Ward, Al Keller, and Johnny Boyd — when Ward's car swerved as the result of a strong gust of wind. Keller, swerving into the infield to avoid Ward, lost control and slid back onto the track, striking Boyd's car and pushing it into Vukovich's oncoming path. Vukovich's car struck Boyd's, became airborne, and landed upside down after going over the outside backstretch retaining wall, killing him. Vukovich was the second of two not only former winners but also defending champions of the race to have died in competition, following Floyd Roberts in 1939, and the only former winner to have been killed while leading. Coincidently, Robert's car was also hurdled over the backstretch fence during his fatal accident.
As the Indianapolis 500 counted as a round of the Formula One World championship from 1950 to 1960, his career is credited with participation in 5 grands prix, with 2 wins, 19 championship points and 1 pole position scored. However, it should be noted that Indianapolis' inclusion in the championship was largely symbolic and the Indy drivers rarely entered any other Formula One races. Because of this Indy winners are often not listed in totals of Grand Prix winners and especially in statistics tables. As an example, Vukovich has an F1 winning percentage of 40%, which puts him just behind the 5-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio (47%). In percentage of lap-leader statistics in the history of Indianapolis, Vukovich holds for multiple-500-mile-race competitors a decisive record 485 laps led out of a possible 685 (70.8%).
His son, Bill Vukovich II, and his grandson, Bill Vukovich III, also competed in the Indianapolis 500, with Vukovich II taking second in 1973, and Vukovich III being named Rookie of the Year in 1988.
*JIMMY CLARK 2 TIME F-1 CHAMPION AND INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER
Jimmy was a Scottish Formula One (F1) racing driver. Twice World Champion, he was the dominant driver of his era.
He was born James Clark Jr. into a farming family at Kilmany House Farm, Fife, the youngest child of five, and the only boy. In 1942 the family moved to Edington Mains Farm near the town of Duns in Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders. He was educated at primary schools, first in Kilmany and then in Chirnside, and then following three years of preparatory schooling at Clifton Hall near Edinburgh he was sent to Loretto School in Musselburgh, near Edinburgh.
Although his parents were opposed to the idea, Clark started his racing career driving in local road rallies and hill climb events driving his own Sunbeam-Talbot, and proved to be a fearsome competitor right from the off. By 1958 Clark was racing for the local Border Reivers team, racing Jaguar D-Types and Porsches in national events, and winning 18 races.
Then on Boxing Day 1958, Clark met the man who would launch him to superstardom. Driving a Lotus Elite, he finished second to Colin Chapman. Chapman was sufficiently impressed to give Clark a run in one of his Formula Junior cars, and the rest, as they say is history.
After Aston Martin's F1 programme fell through, Clark was a free agent. Colin Chapman snapped him up for his F1 squad, and Clark made his debut in the 1960 Dutch Grand Prix. Throughout his F1 career from 1960 to 1968 Clark drove only for the Lotus team. He developed a near telepathic relationship with Chapman, which contributed to their outstanding success together. Chapman's innovative and nimble designs combined with Clark's skills at the wheel made for a nearly unbeatable force. 1962 saw Clark battling Graham Hill who drove for BRM for the World Championship in Chapman's brilliant Lotus 25, but in the final race an oil leak caused him to drop out just as victory seemed a formality.
His first Drivers' World Championship came driving the Lotus 25 in 1963, winning seven out of the ten races and Lotus its first Constructors' World Championship. That year he also competed in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time, and only the oil on the track from winner Parnelli Jones' car prevented him from winning, as he finished in second position and won Rookie of the Year honours. In 1964 Clark came within just a few laps of retaining his crown, but just as in 1962, an oil leak from the engine robbed him of the title, this time conceding to John Surtees. Tyre failure put paid to that year's attempt at the Indianapolis 500. He made amends and won the Championship again in 1965 and also the Indianapolis 500 in the Lotus 38. He had to miss the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix in order to compete at Indianapolis, but made history by driving the first mid-engined car to win at the fabled "Brickyard," as well as becoming the only driver to date to win both that race and the F1 title in the same year.
At the same time, Clark was competing in the Australbasia based Tasman series, run for older F1 cars, and was series champion in 1965, 1967 and 1968 driving for Lotus. He won 14 races in all, a record for the series.
The FIA decreed from 1966, new 3-litre engine regulations would come into force. Lotus were less competitive. Starting with a 2-litre Coventry-Climax engine in the Lotus 33, Clark did not score points until the British Grand Prix and a third-place at the following Dutch Grand Prix. From the Italian Grand Prix onward Lotus used the more complex BRM H16 engine in the Lotus 43 car, with which Clark won the United States Grand Prix. He also picked up another second-place finish at the Indianapolis 500, this time behind Graham Hill.
During 1967 Lotus and Clark used three completely different cars and engines. The Lotus 43 performed poorly at the opening South African Grand Prix, so Clark used an old Lotus 33 at the following Monaco Grand Prix, retiring with suspension failure. Lotus then began its fruitful association with Ford-Cosworth. Their first car, the Lotus 49 featuring the most successful F1 engine in history, the Ford-Cosworth DFV, won its first race at the Dutch Grand Prix, driven by Clark. He won with it again at the British, United States and Mexican Grands Prix; and, in January 1968, at the South African Grand Prix. He had established himself as the dominant driver in the dominant car, save for its reliability.
Jim Clark's 1967 Italian Grand Prix drive in Monza is regarded one of the greatest drives ever in F1. After starting from pole, he was leading in his Lotus 49 (chassis R2), when a tyre punctured. He lost an entire lap while having the wheel changed in the pits. After rejoining 16th, Clark then showed his genius by driving at his own limit, something which is not required when leading. He ripped back through the field, progressively lowered the lap record, eventually equalling his pole time of 1m 28.5s (233.9 km/h), to regain the lost lap and the lead. He was narrowly ahead of Brabham and Surtees starting the last lap, but his car had not been filled with enough fuel for such a performance - it faltered, and finally coasted across the finish line in third place. This performance is considered unmatched in the long history of F1.
Other examples for his skills are his drive in a Lotus 23 sportscar during the 1962 1000km Nürburgring race or the qualifying for the 1967 German Grand Prix, when he took pole position by nine seconds and more.
The 14.2-mile Nürburgring-Nordschleife circuit brought out the very best in Clark. In the 1962 1000km he drove the small Lotus 23, fitted with a 1500 cc Lotus-Ford twin-cam engine. On a patchily damp track, he outperformed the similar-powered Porsche 718 and the more powerful cars from Ferrari, with drivers like Phil Hill, Dan Gurney and Willy Mairesse at the wheel, and led with nearly 2 minutes outright until, affected by fumes from a broken exhaust, he went off course into the bushes.
Jim Clark also raced at Crimond in the North East of Scotland on 16th June 1956 in his very first car race he was behind the wheel of a DKW "sonderklasse".
Amazingly though, despite his mercurial talent, Clark never won at Monaco. He came close once in 1963 only to be stopped with 22 laps to go with a broken gearbox.
On 7 April 1968, however, Jim Clark's life and driving career was brought to a premature and tragic end. He was originally slated to drive in the BOAC 1000km sportscar race at Brands Hatch but instead chose to drive in a minor Formula 2 race for Lotus at the Hockenheimring in Germany, mostly due to contractual obligations with Firestone. On the fifth lap, his Lotus 48 veered off the track and crashed into the trees, killing him instantly. The cause of the crash was never definitively identified, but investigators concluded it was most likely due to a deflating rear tire. Colin Chapman was devastated and publicly stated that he had lost his best friend. As a sign of respect, Chapman ordered the traditional green and yellow badge found on the nose of all Lotus road cars to be replaced with a black badge for a month following Clark's death. The 1968 F1 Drivers' Championship was subsequently won by his Lotus team-mate Graham Hill, who pulled the heartbroken team together and held off Jackie Stewart for the crown, which he later dedicated to Clark.
Clark achieved 33 pole positions and won 25 races from his 72 Grands Prix starts in championship races. He is remembered for his ability to drive and win in all types of cars and series, including a Lotus-Cortina, with which he won the 1964 British Touring Car Championship, IndyCar, NASCAR, driving a Ford Galaxie for the Holman Moody team, Rallying, where he took part in the 1966 RAC Rally of Great Britain in a Lotus Cortina, and nearly won the event before crashing, and sports cars. He competed in the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1959, 1960 and 1961, finishing 2nd in class in 1959 driving a Lotus Elite, and finishing 3rd overall in 1960, driving an Aston Martin DBR1.
He was also able to master difficult Lotus sportscar prototypes such as the Lotus 30 and 40. Clark had an uncanny ability to adapt to whichever car he was driving. Whilst other drivers would struggle to find a good car setup, Clark would usually set competitive lap times with whatever setup was provided and ask for the car to be left as it was.
He apparently had difficulty understanding why other drivers were not as quick as himself. After his death, Clark's father told Dan Gurney that he was the only driver his son ever feared. When Clark died, fellow driver Chris Amon was quoted as saying, "If it could happen to him, what chance do the rest of us have?"
Jim Clark is buried in the village of Chirnside in Berwickshire. A memorial stone can be found at the Hockenheimring circuit, moved from the site of his crash to a location closer to the current track.
*GASTON CHEVROLET DRIVER INVENTOR
Gaston was a French-born racecar champion driver and automobile manufacturer.
Born near Beaune, in the Côte-d'Or département of France where his Swiss parents had emigrated to a few years earlier, he was the younger brother of Louis (1878-1941) and Arthur Chevrolet (1884-1946). After brother Louis emigrated to the United States and earned enough money, he sent for Gaston and Arthur to join him. Once there, Gaston worked as an automotive mechanic and joined his brother in auto racing.
In 1916, Gaston Chevrolet became a partner with his brothers in the Frontenac Motor Corporation. Driving a Frontenac race car, he competed in the 1919 Indianapolis 500, finishing in tenth place while brother Louis finished seventh. The following year, Gaston Chevrolet broke the European dominance at the Indianapolis Speedway, winning the race in a redesigned Monroe-Frontenac. In the process, he became the first driver in the history of the 500 mile race to go the distance without making a tire change. Following his victory at Indianapolis, he competed in several more events, winning a 100-mile match race against Tommy Milton and Ralph Mulford. With winter, racing moved to the West Coast and at the Los Angeles Speedway board track in Beverly Hills, California Gaston Chevrolet was killed when his racecar crashed on lap 146.
Gaston Chevrolet is interred next to his brothers in the Roman Catholic Holy Cross and Saint Joseph Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana.
KENNY BERNSTEIN NHRA CHAMPION
Bernstein won two NHRA top fuel championship and was NHRA funny car champion four times. He was the first driver to win the NHRA championship in both divisions. In 1992 he was the first drag racer to exceed 300 mph in competition. He was an innovator of corporate sponsorship in drag racing, and his team's deal with Budweiser, which earned his cars the name of 'Budweiser King', is the longest running sponsorship deal in motorsports history.
He retired in 2002 and currently runs a car for his son Brandon Bernstein. However, he has announced that he will return to racing in the Monster Energy Dodge Charger funny car in 2007.
Bernstein owned King Racing, a NASCAR team in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He is also the only owner to record victories in NASCAR, the NHRA, and Indy Car racing.
*RODGER WARD 2 TIME INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER
Rodger won the 1959 and 1962 Indianapolis 500. He also was the 1959 and 1962 USAC Championship Car champion.
Born in Beloit, Kansas, Ward died in Anaheim, California. He drove in the AAA and USAC Championship Car series, racing in the 1950-1966 seasons with over 150 starts, including the 1951-1964 and 1966 Indianapolis 500 races. He finished in the top ten in more than half his starts, with 26 victories.
Ward was the oldest living winner of the Indy 500, and, at the time of his retirement, was the only driver to be in the top 10 of all Indianapolis 500 statistics.
Before Indy racing, Ward drove midget cars for the Edelbrock dirt track racing team. He was also the 1951 AAA Stock Car champion.
Ward raced in the 1959 United States Grand Prix and the 1963 United States Grand Prix and, as the Indy 500 was a Formula One race from 1950-1960, is credited with participating in 12 grands prix with 1 victory, 2 podiums and 14 championship points.
MARIO ANDRETTI F-1 DAYTONA 500 AND INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER
Mario was born in Montona d'Istria, Italy (now Motovun, Croatia) is an Italian American racing driver, and one of the most successful Americans in the history of auto racing.
During his career, Andretti won four Champ Car titles, the 1978 Formula One World Championship, and the 1979 IROC championship. To date, he remains the only driver ever to win the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, and the Formula One World Championship.
In the USA, the name Mario Andretti has become synonymous with speed, similar to Stirling Moss in the UK and Barney Oldfield in the early twentieth century in the United States.
Andretti began racing cars in 1959, just after his family had moved to the United States, on dirt oval tracks near Nazareth, Pennsylvania, in an old Hudson. His twin brother, Aldo Andretti, raced on the same tracks in the same car (at different times), but quit after an accident. Andretti placed 3rd in the Indianapolis 500 in his first year.
Mario made his debut in the U SAC series in 1964, and won the championship the very next season. He took part in many different categories of racing including drag racing, and by 1969, he had won the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500 and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Andretti also started driving in Formula One, taking the pole for his first race at Watkins Glen in 1968, and winning his first race in 1971 for Ferrari. By the mid-1970s, Andretti started to focus on Formula One, driving for Parnelli Jones's fledgling Parnelli Formula One team and Colin Chapman's famous Lotus outfit. In 1977, at Long Beach, he became the only American to win the United States Grand Prix West, in the Lotus 78 "wing car". With the revolutionary "ground effect" Lotus 79 of 1978, Andretti won six races in 1978, and took the title—a bitter-sweet victory in the light of the death of his teammate Ronnie Peterson, whom Andretti had grown to regard as a close friend. However, Andretti would find little success after 1978 in Formula One, failing to win another race in that series. In the following year, 1979, he was summarily outclassed by his Argentinian teammate Carlos Reutemann. In 1980, he was paired with Italian ace Elio de Angelis. Again, Mario was usually beaten by his team-mate. Nearly two years later, hired by Ferrari to enter the final two races of the 1982 season, he took an impressive pole position at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza (the Italian-born Andretti's success causing what Nigel Roebuck said was the loudest roar the famous circuit had ever seen), just as he did at Watkins Glen in his debut race in 1968.
He returned to Champ Cars in the 1980's, and won his fourth title in 1984, the first series title for Champ Car owner, sports car driver, and actor Paul Newman. His last victory in that class came in 1993. Andretti kept racing to try to win the only important missing award—the 24 hours of Le Mans, but failed to do so. His best finish is 2nd in 1995, and 3rd in 1983 (Porsche 956), both with his son Michael.
Mario ran only a few NASCAR races, but he captured the crown jewel in the series by winning the 1967 Daytona 500 for legendary car owners Holman-Moody.
Andretti also made the saying "Mario is slowing down!" famous at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While no one doubts his credentials as one of the greatest drivers in the history of motorsports, Andretti's futility at Indy is also, unfortunately, legendary.
In the 1985 Indianapolis 500, he was passed by Danny Sullivan who then spun in front of him, pitted on his own caution, and then passed Mario again to go on for the win. His frustration came to a head in the 1987 Indianapolis 500 when he dominated the month of May and led most of the race but was taken out by an electrical problem.
Mario finished all 500 miles just five times with the 1969 Indianapolis 500 victory included. Andretti suffered broken ankles in the 1992 Indianapolis 500 crashing hard in turn four during the race. His last race at Indy was the 1994 Indianapolis 500.
While shaking down a car for his son in tire testing at Indianapolis before the month of May in 2003, Andretti survived a horrifying accident. His car hit a piece of debris left on the track by another car and went flying end over end between turns one and two. The crash was captured by a local television station helicopter. Luckily, the car landed right side up and Andretti walked away from the crash with very minor injuries.
For all his greatness and legendary skill, Andretti, and, by extension, the Andretti family, will long be associated with what many consider to be simply bad luck at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500.
Both of Mario Andretti's sons, Michael and Jeff, are also involved in auto racing, and Michael has won the Champ Car title as well. As of 2003, he was Champ Cars' winningest driver. Mario's nephew, John, has had success in both Champ Cars and NASCAR, winning races in both series. His grandson, Marco, won a championship in Champ Cars' "Stars of Tomorrow" kart racing series, before moving into the Star Mazda single-seater series. Marco is currently running his first full season in the Indy Racing League (IRL), driving for his father Michael's Andretti-Green Racing Team, and upon finishing second in the 2006 Indianapolis 500, became the first third-generation-recipient of the race's Rookie of the Year Award, following in the footsteps of both his father and grandfather.
Mario Andretti and son Michael Andretti both reside today in their respective close sitting mansions overlooking the town of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, from the north side of the town, home to Mario Andretti and his family since the 1950's. Andretti continues day-to-day work as a spokesman for Texaco and Firestone (his longtime sponsors). He is also something of a spokesman for CART, although he has been spotted at IndyCar races recently as he watches over his grandson Marco.
*JOHNNIE PARSONS SR AAA NATIONAL CHAMPION AND INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER
Johnnie won the Indianapolis 500 in 1950.
As the Indianapolis 500 was included in the Formula One World Championship from 1950 to 1960, he is credited with participation in 9 grands prix, debuting on May 30, 1950, with 1 race victory, 1 podium, and a total of 12 championship points.
Parsons had the dubious distinction of being the only Indianapolis 500 winner to have his name misspelled on the Borg-Warner Trophy. Silversmiths carved "Johnny" instead of "Johnnie." The error was corrected posthumously when the trophy was restored in 1991. Ironically, he had a son named Johnny who competed at Indy a dozen times.
MEL KENYON " KING OF THE MIDGETS "
Mel began his racing career in 1954 racing Chevy Coupes. Then, in 1958, Mel began his historic career in the midgets that continues today (as of June 2006).
In that span, he has raced to unprecedented accompishments in the series, which includes: seven USAC Midget Championships standings, eight runner ups in the USAC Midget season points standings, 111 USAC Midget Feature wins, three NAMARS midget championships, and over 380 midget feature wins in all.
Mel's first career race came in a USAC Champ Car race in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. The engine in Mel's car blew up, and sent oil all over his car and his firesuit. After losing control of the car, Mel hit the wall, and was knocked unconscious while two cars slid in the oil and ran straight into Mel's fuel tank.
As a result of the accident, Mel lost all of his fingers on his left hand. Along with his brother and father, Mel designed a special glove that would fit on to his hand and hook on to the steering wheel.
In addition to his midget racing exploits, Mel captured four top-5 finishes in his eight career starts in the Indianapolis 500. Kenyon finished 5th in 1966, 3rd in 1968, 4th in 1969, and 4th in 1973.
*WILBUR SHAW 1ST 3 TIME INDIANAPOLIS 500 SAVED INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Wilbur Shaw won the Indianapolis 500 race three times, in 1937, 1939 and 1940. In the 1941 race, Shaw was injured when his car crashed; it was later discovered that a defective wheel had been placed on his car.
During World War II, Shaw was hired by the tire manufacturer Firestone to test a synthetic rubber automobile tire at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which had been closed due to the war. He was dismayed at the dilapidated condition of the already-historic racetrack. Then-owner Eddie Rickenbacker, the famed World War I flying ace and president of Eastern Air Lines, was not exactly sentimental about the track, of course. When the United States entered World War II, ending racing at Indianapolis and elsewhere for the duration, Rickenbacker essentially padlocked the gates and let the great race course slowly begin to disintegrate.
During a meeting soon after the tire test, Rickenbacker informed Shaw that what was left of the track would be demolished and the land turned into a housing subdivision ... unless Shaw could find someone else who might have other ideas. Little did Rickenbacker know that he had presented a challenge to a man who relished challenges.
Shaw immediately began looking for a "savior" for his beloved Speedway, and in short order was introduced to a man who lived not too far from Indianapolis; a man who had the resources to do virtually anything. In Terre Haute, Indiana, Tony Hulman had inherited his family's business, Hulman & Company, a wholesale grocer and producer of coffee and baking powder, and he made a fortune by raising the country's level of consciousness about the company's mainstay baking powder -- Clabber Girl.
A lifelong fan of automobile racing in general and the "500" in particular, Hulman listened with great interest to what Shaw had to say. Despite what Hulman saw amongst the weeds and deterioration when Shaw took him to Indianapolis, he purchased the Speedway from Rickenbacker in November 1945 for the sum of $750,000.
As a reward for his efforts to revive the Speedway, Shaw was anointed as its president, where he would have complete day-to-day control over the track. To this job, Shaw brought his extensive knowledge of the business of auto racing, something Hulman would admit that he himself didn't have, and Shaw's hard work only cemented the reputation of the "500" as the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
It seemed as though Shaw and Hulman had a "Midas touch" at the Speedway. Hulman poured money into improvements, and Shaw delivered the world's greatest automobile race to enthusiastic crowds, which grew in number by the year. The Indianapolis "500" of the late Forties and early Fifties was a very special event through the work of Hulman and Shaw, although Hulman was always sure to point out that it was Wilbur putting it all together.
Sadly, at the height of his power in the racing world, Shaw was killed in an airplane crash near Decatur, Indiana on October 30, 1954, one day before his fifty-second birthday. The pilot, Ray Grimes, and artist Ernest Roose were also killed.
BOB GLIDDEN ONE OF top NHRA Winning DRIVERS
Bob Glidden is an American drag racer. He was retired from Pro Stock racing in 1997 and returned in 2010. Glidden retired as the driver with the most wins in National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) history at that time (a feat recently topped by 15 time Funny Car champion John Force), and he is currently the third most successful drag racer (85 National Event wins) in the history of the NHRA behind Warren Johnson (97) and John Force (132). Glidden's ten Pro Stock championships included five in a row beginning in 1985.[ Among his numerous accomplishments, Glidden won nine straight NHRA national races in 1979 and was the No. 1 qualifier 23 times in a row, including the entire 1987 season. At one point, he won 50 eliminations rounds in a row.
Glidden almost became the first driver in a doorslammer to reach 200 miles per hour when he ran 199.11 miles per hour at an International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) race in Darlington, South Carolina. However, a Top Sportsman car driven by Bill Kuhlmann ran 202 miles per hour later that evening. He has won several IHRA races and won one IHRA championship.
Glidden began his drag racing career in the 1960s in a Ford 427 Fairlane. He is most closely associated with Ford cars, a manufacturer that used throughout his career. In 1968 he changed to a 428 Cobra Jet Mustang. He started out in Stock and moved up to Super Stock. He was sponsored by Ed Martin Ford, where he worked as a mechanic. He was a frequent winner in Division 3 before turning Pro in 1972. In those days, the series included participation in both national and divisional races.
He sold his two Super Stock Mustangs late in the season 1972, and purchased a Pinto Pro Stock from Jack Roush and Wayne Gapp. He quit his job at Ed Martin Ford to race full-time. In his first Pro race, he finished second to Bill Jenkins at the final Supernationals of the 1972 season. Glidden had his first national win the following season at the U.S. Nationals. His 9.03 second run at a national record 152.54 miles per hour (mph) was fastest qualifying time in the fastest Pro Stock field. He beat Gapp in the event finals. 1974 was his second full season in Pro Stock. He won three events including the Springnationals and U.S. Nationals. That season he set the record for the lowest elapsed time (e.t.) and the highest speed (8.83 seconds and 154.90 mph respectively) at a Division 3 event at Bowling Green, Kentucky. The feat earned him 400 bonus points towards the championship. He had a 8.81 second qualifying run at the U.S. Nationals to lower his e.t. record, and he beat Gapp in the event finals. These wins contributed to his come-from-behind win to beat rivals Gapp and Wally Booth for the season championship.
Glidden followed with a banner year in 1975. He had five top qualifier runs and eight top speeds during the season. He used three cars during the season. While in a midseason slump, he reacquired his 1974 Pinto. His seven events wins (including the Winternationals, World Finals, Gatornationals, and Fallnationals) helped propel him to his second straight Winston title. He set low e.t. six times.Glidden had an off year in 1976, finishing sixth in the points.He finished second in 1977 behind Don Nicholson.
Glidden returned for his third Winston title in 1978. He started the season in his Ford Pinto, winning at the season opening Winternationals and at the Cajun Nationals. The end of the season was in his Ford Fairmont, which took event wins at races including the Summernationals. The car finished the season undefeated in five national competitions. He had seven national victories that season, tying Don Prudhomme for the most that year. The seven wins broke the previous Pro Stock single season record of six wins set by Jenkins. He earned a record 16,035 points and lower the national e.t. record time to 8.59 seconds.
Glidden retired his undefeated Ford Fairmont in 1979 in favor of a Plymouth Arrow. He opened the season with a victory at the Winternationals, and did not lose a round until June. The streak ended 14 races races and 50 rounds when he fouled in the second round at the Mile-Hile Nationals. He won seven national events, earning the maximum points at four events by setting low e.t., qualifying number one, and setting the top speed at each event. He also earned maximum points in his four divisional events.
Glidden chased Lee Shepherd for the 1980 Winston title all season, leading the points standing only after the final race. He won his fifth overall and third straight championship at the final event. He caught a break when Shepherd broke his transmission in the second round. Glidden set the low e.t. and top speed in his final round win to earn the maximum points and the season championship. Shepherd won the 1981 to 1984 Pro Stock championships. Glidden received a new Ford Thunderbird in the middle of the 1984 season, and it quickly became the dominant car on the Pro Stock circuit.Glidden led the 1985 points standings from start to finish, winning five national events. It was his sixth Pro Stock championship.
Glidden started the 1986 season out slowly. His Winternationals and Gatornationals ended in early round loses.After winning the semifinals of the Southern Nationals in April, his parachute was caught by a gust of wind. His Thunderbird spun, hitting the opposite guardrail. The car did six barrel rolls as it was destroyed. Glidden was unhurt. He returned at the Cajun Nationals with a different car. His first victory of the season came in July at the Mile-High Nationals. It was the first of his three straight victories. He won six of the last seven events to win his seventh Winston title.
In 1987 Glidden won eight races including his 60th national win. He ended his season with five straight wins and his eighth Pro Stock championshipHe reached the finals ten times that season, winning a record 42 rounds of competition. He qualified number one in all 14 events. His two season streak ended at the 1988 Gator Nationals with 22 straight top qualifiers. His 1988 season was similar to 1987. After struggling early in the season, he won five of the last seven races en route to his fourth straight title. He retired his Thunderbird after 19 national victories in favor of a Ford Probe at the Supernationals.The cars set a national e.t. record at 7.277 seconds, the quickest Pro Stock run in NHRA history. He used the Probe to win at the Fallnationals, which was his 67th career victory.
Glidden dominated to win his tenth and final championship in 1989. He started the season on a strong note, winning five of the first seven events and seven out of the first eleven.He won nine times that season, ending the 1980s with 49 wins
Glidden won three events in 1990, one event in 1991, two events in 1992, and two events in 1993. He won his 85th and final national event at the Mopar Nationals in 1995, after missing most of the 1995 season due to open heart surgery during the off season. Glidden retired after two events in the 1997 season. He was dissatisfied with his sponsorship arrangement.After retiring, he worked on Ford's motor program for its Winston Cup program He has been the crew chief for numerous drivers since his retirement. He returned to the driver's seat for Steve Schmidt's team at the 1998 U.S. Nationals, but he failed to qualify for the event that he won nine times.
He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2001, a panel ranked him fourth in the National Hot Rod Association Top 50 Drivers, 1951-2000. The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America inducted Glidden in 1994
ROGER PENSKE 14 TIME INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNING CAR OWNER
Roger is the owner of a very successful automobile racing team Penske Racing, the Penske Corporation, and other automotive related businesses.
He also is one of the corporate directors at General Electric and was chairman of Super Bowl XL in Detroit, Michigan. He is a 1959 graduate of Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.
Starting in 1958, Penske purchased, raced and sold race cars, and was very successful both financially and on the track.
By 1960, he was a well known race car driver (Sports Illustrated SCCA Driver of the Year), winning prestigious races until 1965, when he retired as a driver, to concentrate on the business of owning and running a successful race car team. Interestingly enough, although Penske competed in two Formula One Grand Prix, and won a NASCAR Pacific Coast Late Model race at Riverside in 1963, he never ran the Indy 500.
His team first competed in the Indianapolis 500 in 1969, winning that event 14 times between 1972 and 2006, and their first NASCAR win was in 1973. His teams have won many races in the subsequent years. He closed his European-based Formula One business in 1977. In 1982, he became the Chairman of the Penske Truck Leasing business.
Penske Racing now operates a NASCAR team comprising Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, and his development driver Billy Wease. They also operate an Indy Racing League team composed of Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish, Jr. Previously, they ran cars in the CART series that included some of the best drivers of the time, including Gary Bettenhausen, Tom Sneva, Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser, Al Unser, Al Unser, Jr., Emerson Fittipaldi, Rick Mears, Danny Sullivan, Paul Tracy and Gil de Ferran.
ANDY GRANATELLI STP FOUNDER DRIVER
Anthony "Andy" Granatelli (born March 18, 1923; Dallas, Texas) was the CEO of STP (motor oil company) and a major figure in automobile racing events.
Along with brothers Vince and Joe, Andy first worked as an auto mechanic and 'speed-shop' entrepreneur, modifying engines such as the 'flathead' Ford into racing-quality equipment. During World War II, he became a promoter of automobile racing events, such as the "Hurricane Racing Association," which combined racing opportunities for up-and-coming drivers with crowd-pleasing theatrics. Hurricane events, according to Granatelli in his autobiography They Call Me Mister 500, included drivers who were experts at executing—and surviving—roll-over and end-over-end crashes, and also an ambulance that not only got caught up into the race but also ejected a stretcher (with a dummy on it) into the way of the racers.
In 1946, the three brothers entered the first of several Indianapolis 500's, as the Grancor racing team. They did their own mechanical work, and brought innovations like fully independent suspension, yet never made it to "Victory Lane." In 1948, Andy decided to try to qualify as a driver, and nearly did so, but a horrendous crash during his qualifying run ended that part of his career.
Granatelli eventually became very visible in the racing world in the 1960s as the spokesman for STP oil and gasoline treatment products, appearing on its television and radio advertisements as well as sponsoring racecars. He clad his pit crews in white coveralls with the oval STP logo scattered all over them, and once wore a suit jacket with the same STP-laden design.
His cars became a significant presence at the Indianapolis 500. While he first gained notoriety by re-introducing the legendary Novi, his most famous entries were his turbine-powered cars in 1967 and 1968. In both years, he endured the excruciating frustration of seeing probable race-winners fail near the end; Joe Leonard's breakdown in the Lotus 56 with 10 laps remaining in 1968 had been topped the previous year when Parnelli Jones, leading comfortably with just three laps to go, suffered the failure of a six dollar transmission bearing in the STP-Paxton Turbocar and retired, handing a sure victory to A.J. Foyt.
He was finally rewarded with an Indianapolis 500 winner in 1969. After his innovative Lotus 4-wheel-drive car was destroyed in practice upon establishing itself as one of the most dominants cars to date, his driver Mario Andretti, nursing the burns from the Lotus crash, won at the wheel of a year-old backup car. Before Andretti could be traditionally kissed in 'Victory Lane' by the Queen of the "500 Festival," Granatelli got there first, and his joyful kiss on Andretti's cheek is one of the 500's most memorable images.
He fielded cars in the Indy 500 until 1991.
He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2001. Granatelli was inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2011.
One of the last things Rocky Marciano did before his death was a car commercial. The world heavyweight champion (1952–1956) was on a visit to Chicago. He was coming from a dinner at Granatelli's home where he reportedly gave Granatelli's son boxing lessons after he was being picked on in school. Marciano died hours later in a plane crash.
Andy Granatelli was famous for purchasing the small automotive repair chain Tuneup Masters. He renamed the company "Andy Granatelli's Tuneup Masters" and opened locations in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah. This was done largely through the acquisition of other small automotive chains. The company was never franchised and remained privately held until the late 1980s, when it was sold to Cardis (Carquest Autoparts). Cardis, a Cerritos-based distributor and retailer of automotive parts, bought TuneUp Masters from Granatelli's group in a cash and stock deal then valued at up to $53 million, with at least $40 million paid in cash. At the time of sale they had approximately 150 stores. Andy followed the marketing success of his STP decal branding by affixing the TM decal to every car serviced. The chain was famous for offering complete automotive tune-ups for $49.95, flat rate, with no extra charges for parts. This was a popular price and led to tremendous growth throughout the 1980s. Eventually the chain was sold, probably due to the increasing complexity of cars, and the difficulty of offering comprehensive service for such a low price. The business model was changed from flat-rate to a base flat-rate, with additional charges for a list of add-ons such as air filters. This business model was much less effective, because the cost to customers rapidly increased.
STP, the engine oil additive which Granatelli made famous, stands for "Scientifically Treated Petroleum", according to Granatelli's autobiography, They Call Me Mister 500. A common STP slogan has been, "STP, The Racer's Edge".
Granatelli was the man responsible for the STP sponsorship of racecar driver Richard Petty. The 30-plus-year sponsorship almost did not happen because Granatelli wanted the car painted solid red. Petty was adamant that they team would use the Petty Blue they were known for. An agreement was reached that the car would be half red and half blue. When Petty was given the contract there was a line that said Petty would receive an extra $50,000 on top of the $250,000 if he would paint the entire car red. Petty crossed out the line and put RP beside of it, saying he was not going to stop using his signature blue. After having much success sponsoring Petty, Granatelli made a deal with Petty that as long as he drove a race car STP would sponsor him, the longest sponsorship in the history of NASCAR.
RICK MEARS 4 TIME INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER
Rick is the third of three men to have won the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race four times (1979, 1984, 1988, 1991), and the current record-holder for pole positions in the race with six (1979, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991). Mears is also a 3-time Champcar national champion (1979, 1981 and 1982).
Mears was raised in Bakersfield, California, and began his racing career in off-road racing. He switched to Champcar racing in the late 1970s, making his debut for the small Art Sugai team, driving an obsolete Eagle-Offenhauser. His speed attracted the attention of Roger Penske. Although at the time Penske Racing had the services of Tom Sneva and Mario Andretti, Andretti was also racing in Formula One with Lotus at the time and Penske wanted another young driver who would focus exclusively on American racing. For 1978 Mears was offered a drive in nine of the eighteen championship races, including the Indianapolis 500.
Mears qualified on the front row at Indy, but did not lead a lap and retired at half-distance with a blown engine. Two weeks later, at the Rex Mays 150 at Milwaukee, he bounced back to win his first race. He added another win another month later at Atlanta and rounded off the year with his first road course win at Brands Hatch as the USAC cars made their first, and last, visit to England.
In 1979 the National Championship sanction changed from the USAC to Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART), and Mears emerged as the driver to beat. At Indianapolis he won his first "500" by virtue of staying at the front of the field and taking the lead as other drivers dropped out with mechanical problems. This intelligent and patient approach was to become Mears trademark style.
Three wins and four seconds in the eleven CART-eligible races was easily enough to wrap up his first championship. Mears worst finish in 1979 was fifth. 1980 the revolutionary ground effect Chaparral put every other team on the back foot and Mears had to be content with 4th place overall and only one win, scored at Mexico City.
1981 and 1982 saw Mears at the top of his game, both in terms of speed and consistency. Ten wins in two years were enough for another two championship titles. At the 1982 Indy 500 he came within .16 of a second of adding a second Indy win. In a rare mistake the team loaded too much fuel during Mears' final pit-stop and the delay put him behind Gordon Johncock. The photo-finish would stand for ten years as the closest finish to an Indy 500.
For 1983 the Penske team would acquire the famous yellow colours of Pennzoil but a recalcitrant chassis meant the team had to rely on consistency over speed. Although teammate Al Unser took the title, the team switched to the March chassis for 1984. This would prove a blessing and a curse as Mears scored his second Indy win that May but suffered severe leg injuries later in the year in a crash at Sanair. The March chassis, like most contemporary open-wheel racing cars, sat the driver far forward in the nose, with little protection for the legs and feet.
In 1980 Mears had tested a Formula One Brabham. However, as he was expected to bring money to the team, rather than receive a salary, he declined the offer. After 1984 his F1-level of speed on road-courses was blunted by the injuries to his right foot and the 1985, 1986 and 1987 years were relatively quiet seasons by Mears' standards, with only two wins, both scored at Pocono, a tri-oval track.
In 1988, after several years using the March chassis, the Penske team were ready to unleash their new car, the PC-17, and a potent new Chevrolet racing engine. The new car powered Mears into an exclusive club; the three-time Indy winners. Like his previous wins it was a triumph of speed and patience. Mears eventually won by a clear two laps as he was the only front-runner who hadn't run into problems. A year later he took a record-setting fifth pole position at Indy, but retired from the race with mechanical gremlins. Emerson Fittipaldi took the 500 and also beat Mears to the Championship in the last race at Laguna Seca, despite Mears winning that race.
Fittipaldi joined Mears at Penske for 1990, but the year belonged to Al Unser, Jr., who scored six wins. 1990 would be Mears' last in the Pennzoil livery as Marlboro stepped-up their sponsorship of the team.
Twenty laps from the end of the 1991 Indianapolis 500 it looked like Mears was set to be the runner-up behind Michael Andretti. However, when a subsequent yellow flag period erased Andretti's 15 second lead, Mears gained the lead as Andretti opted to pit for new tyres. It would be a short-lived lead as Andretti passed Mears around the outside into the first turn.
But Mears was not beaten. A lap later he returned the favour with his own breathtaking outside pass and shot back into the lead. Turning up his turbo-boost he then pulled away to win a fourth Indy 500, making him one of only three individuals to win the event four times. In August 1991 at Michigan he won his last race. At the 1992 Indy 500 Mears broke a wrist in a crash during practice and then crashed out of the race for the first time in his career. He raced only another four times in 1992 and announced his retirement from driving at the Penske team's Christmas party.
As of 2005 Rick Mears continues to work as a consultant to Penske racing, the team with which he won all of his Champcar races.
He is the brother of Roger Mears and the uncle of Casey Mears.
*Louie Meyer first three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500
July 21, 1904 – October 7, 1995) was an American Hall of Fame race car driver who was a three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500.
He was born in lower Manhattan, New York on July 21, 1904. He was the son of French immigrants, Meyer was raised in Los Angeles, where he began automobile racing at various California tracks.
He went on to become the first-ever driver to win the Indianapolis 500 three times, capturing the prestigious race as a rookie starter in 1928 (though having driven as a relief driver for Wilbur Shaw the year before), then again in 1933 and 1936. Louis Meyer started the tradition of drinking milk (buttermilk at the time) in victory lane at the 1933 Indianapolis 500 race, when he drank a glass of milk. Following his 1936 Indianapolis 500 victory, he drank from a glass milk bottle instead, as most race winners have done since. Following the suggestion of former race winner, Tommy Milton, that year he became the first driver to receive the Pace Car as part of the race winnings. Louis Meyer won the United States National Driving Championship in 1928, 1929 and 1933.
Meyer's wife June did not even know he was racing in the 1928 Indianapolis 500. Earlier in the day she was in Pennsylvania picking up a wrecked car and after that went to see her brother-in-law Eddie Meyer race in Reading. She found out about her husbands victory after the track announcer in Reading asked the crowd to give a big hand to Eddie Meyer, the brother of the Indianapolis 500 winner.
He died on October 7, 1995 in Searchlight, Nevada, aged 91, where he had been living in retirement since 1972. He was interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.
Meyer's son Louis (Sonny) Meyer, Jr. assisted him in engine work at his race shops, and worked on the various DOHC Ford engines in USAC racing, including building 15 Indianapolis 500-winning engines. Grandson Louis III (Butch) built Oldsmobile Aurora engines for Team Menard in Indy Racing League IndyCar Series competition, winning the 1996-97 (18-month season) and 1999 championships before becoming the current Indy Pro Series director. When he was 90, after he retired racing from being thrown out of his car, he would drive jet skies and motorcycles and eventually died in 1975. He was not related to fellow driver Zeke Meyer.
*ANTON " TONY" HULMAN OWNER INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Anton " Tony" Hulman was a businessman from Terre Haute, Indiana and graduated from Yale University in 1924. His business, Hulman & Company, produces Clabber Girl Baking Powder, which Tony made popular through the use of clever advertising in the 1930s.
Born into one of Terre Haute's wealthiest families, young Tony was raised in one of the city's finest homes and seemed destined to enter the family business. He was educated at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and Worcester Academy in Massachusetts. A stellar athlete with a trim physique, Tony excelled in the high hurdles and the pole vault at Worcester.
Upon his graduation from Yale in 1924, the young Hulman returned to Terre Haute to take his place in the family business, a place he would have to earn. His father, Anton Hulman, Sr., instructed the people of Hulman & Co., "Don't give Tony a place in the business. Let him work for it."
By 1926, Tony was the company's sales manager, and by 1931, at the age of 30, management of the whole company passed from father to son.
Hulman is probably best known for buying the dilapidated Indianapolis Motor Speedway from a group led by World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker immediately after World War II. Influenced by three-time Indy 500 winner Wilbur Shaw (who became the track's president in the early years of the Hulman regime), Hulman made numerous improvements to the track in time for the race to be held in 1946.
Following Shaw's death in a plane crash on October 30, 1954, Hulman stepped into his soon-to-be-familiar role as the "face" of the Speedway. Ever popular with drivers and fans alike, the normally shy Tony relished the job.
He is famous for starting the tradition of launching the Indianapolis 500 with the command, "Gentlemen, start your engines!" Into the 1970s, despite the fact he'd given the command so many times before, he would always practice it extensively beforehand, and on race day, he would invariably pull a card from the pocket of his suit as he stepped to the microphone. Over the years, many have wondered what was written on that card. On it were the words of the starting command written in the following manner: "GENNNNNTLEMENNNNN, STARRRRRT YOURRRRRR ENNNNNNNGINES!" Luke Walton, who was the Speedway's announcer during Hulman's early years at the helm, had previously been a radio announcer and worked extensively with Tony to make sure he got it "just right," thus the card with its "stretches" to ensure each word was delivered with the proper emphasis!
*WILLIAM " BILL " FRANCE SR. FOUNDER NASCAR
Bill was the co-founder of NASCAR, the sanctioning body of United States-based stock car racing.
France was familiar with Daytona Beach's land speed record history when he moved his family from Washington D.C. to Daytona in 1935 to escape the Great Depression. He had less than $100 (US) in his pocket when they left D.C.. He set up a car repair shop in Daytona.
On March 8, 1936, the first stock car race was held on the Daytona Beach Road Course, promoted by local racer Sig Haugdahl . The race was marred by controversial scoring and huge financial losses to the city. France finished fifth.
Haugdahl talked with France, and they talked the Daytona Beach Elks Club to host another event in 1937. The event was more successful, but still lost money. Haugdahl didn't promote any more events.
France took over the job of running the course in 1938. There were two events in 1938. Danny Murphy beat France in the July event. France beat Lloyd Moody and Pig Ridings to win the Labor Day weekend event.
There were three races in 1939. There were three races in 1940. France finished fourth in March, first in July, and sixth in September.
France was busy planning the 1942 event, until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. France spent the World War II working at the Daytona Boat Works. Most racing stopped until after the war. Car racing returned to the track in 1946.
France knew that promoters needed to organize their efforts. Drivers were frequently victimized by unscrupulous promoters who would leave events with all the money before drivers were paid. On December 14, 1947 France began talks at the Ebony Bar at the Streamline Hotel at Daytona Beach, Florida that ended with the formation of NASCAR on February 21, 1948. He built the Occoneechee Speedway in 1947.
By 1953, France knew it was time for a permanent track to hold the large crowds that were gathering for races at Daytona and elsewhere. Hotels were popping up all along the beachfront. On April 4, 1953, France proposed a new superspeedway called Daytona International Speedway. France began building a new 2.5 mile superspeedway in 1956 to host what would become the new premiere event of the series – the Daytona 500. The event debuted in 1959, and has been the premiere event since.
He later built the Talladega Superspeedway which opened in 1969.
He served as Chairman and CEO of NASCAR. R.J. Reynolds became the title sponsor in 1970, a moved that changed the name of the series from "Grand National" to "Winston Cup". Reynolds convinced France to drop all dirt tracks and races under 100 miles from the NASCAR schedule in 1972, a move that defined the "modern era" of the sport. Big Bill then turned the reigns of NASCAR over to his son Bill France Jr. France kept an office at the headquarters until the late 1980s
RICHARD " THE KING" PETTY 7 TIME NASCAR CUP CHAMPION
Richard is a renowned former NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver. He is most well-known for winning the NASCAR Championship seven times (Dale Earnhardt is the only other driver to accomplish this feat, but with 76 victories and a lone Daytona 500), winning a record 200 races during his career, winning the Daytona 500 a record seven times, and winning a record 27 races (ten of them consecutively) in the 1967 season alone. (A 1972 rule change eliminated races under 250 miles in length, reducing the schedule to 30 [now 36] races.) Petty is arguably the greatest NASCAR driver of all time. He also collected a record number of poles (127) and over 700 top-ten finishes in his 1,185 starts, including 513 consecutive starts from 1971-1989. He also won seven Daytona 500s and nine Most Popular Driver awards.
Petty is a second generation driver. His father, Lee Petty, won the first Daytona 500 in 1959 and was also a NASCAR champion. Richard's son, Kyle Petty, is also a well-known NASCAR driver. Tragically, Richard's grandson, Adam Petty, was killed in an accident at New Hampshire International Speedway on May 12, 2000. Meanwhile, Adam's brother Austin works on day-to-day operations of the Victory Junction Gang camp, a Hole in the Wall Gang camp established by the Pettys after Adam's death.
ANTHONY JOSEPH " A.J." FOYT FIRST 4 TIME INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER
A.J. is considered by many as the greatest American automobile racing driver of all time.
He joined USAC Championship Car series racing in 1957, and, in 1961, he became the first driver to successfully defend his points championship and win the Indianapolis 500 race. He raced in each season from 1957-1992, starting in 374 races and finishing in the top ten 201 times, with 67 victories.
Ford engines were widely expected to dominate the 1964 Indianapolis 500. Foyt hoped his Offenhauser engine would be able to keep up with the Fords. Foyt lapped the field to win the race. The race is known for a lap 2 crash that claimed the lives of Dave MacDonald and Eddie Sachs.
The track doctor at a 1965 Riverside International Raceway race pronounced Foyt dead at the scene of a severe crash, but fellow driver Parnelli Jones revived him after seeing movement. Foyt suffered severe chest injuries, a broken back, and a fractured ankle.
In the 1967 Indianapolis 500, Parnelli Jones' turbine car was expected to easily defeat the field of piston engines. Jones lapped the field, but his car expired with a few laps left in the race. Foyt had to weave through five wrecked cars down the final front stretch to win the race, a race that took two days to complete.
In the 1977 Indianapolis 500, Foyt ran out of fuel, and had to make up around 32 seconds on Gordon Johncock. Foyt made up 1.5 to 2 seconds per lap by turning up his boost, which risks blowing up the motor. Johncock's motor broke just as Foyt had caught him, and Foyt passed for the win.
He won at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 4 times. In 1961, 1964, 1967, 1977
Foyt only needed 10 races to get his first NASCAR victory. Richard Petty dominated the 1964 Firecracker 400 until he went out with engine problems. Foyt swapped the lead with Bobby Isaac for the final 50 laps of the summer event at the Daytona International Speedway. Foyt passed Isaac on the final lap to win the race.
Foyt ran out of gas near the end of the 1971 Daytona 500, and Petty passed him for the win. Foyt again had the car to beat in the 1972 Daytona 500, but this time he succeeded. Only three drivers led during the race.
Foyt won the 1971 and 1972 races at the Ontario Motor Speedway for Wood Brothers Racing. The track was shaped like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 1972 race was his last NASCAR win.
DAN GURNEY F-1 NASCAR AND INDY CAR DRIVER
Dan Gurney is one of the most important figures in the history of American auto racing. He was born in Port Jefferson, New York, but moved to California as a teenager. He has been a driver, a car manufacturer and a team owner at racing's highest levels since 1958. He is one of only four US-born drivers to win a Formula One Grand Prix other than the Indianapolis 500, and the only one to win in a car of his own manufacture. (The other three are Richie Ginther, Phil Hill and Peter Revson)
Gurney also won races in the Indy Car, NASCAR, Can-Am and Trans-Am Series. In 1967, after winning the 24 hours of Le Mans together with A.J. Foyt, he spontaneously sprayed champagne while celebrating on the podium. Apart from starting this tradition, he also was the first to put a simple extension on the upper end of the rear wing. This device, called Gurney flap (or wickerbill), increases downforce with minimal airflow disturbance.
After driving a Ferrari at Le Mans in 1958, Gurney was invited to take a test run in a works Ferrari, and his Formula One career began with the team in 1959. In just four races that first year, he earned two podium finishes, but the team's strict management style did not suit him. In 1960 he had six non-finishes in seven races behind the wheel of a privately-entered BRM.
After rules changes came in effect in 1961, he teamed with Jo Bonnier for the first full season of the factory Porsche team, scoring three second places. After Porsche introduced a better car in 1962 with an 8 cylinder engine, Gurney broke through at the French Grand Prix at Rouen-Les-Essarts with his first World Championship victory - the only GP win for Porsche as an F1 constructor. One week later, he repeated the success in a non-Championship F1 race in front of Porsche's home crowd at Stuttgart's Solitude race track. Due to the high costs of racing in F1, Porsche did not continue after the 1962 season, though. While with Porsche, Gurney met a team public relations executive named Evi Butz, and they married several years later.
Gurney was the first driver hired by Jack Brabham to drive with him for the Brabham Racing Organisation. While Brabham himself scored the maiden victory for his car at the 1963 Solitude race, it was Gurney again who took the team's first win in a championship race, in 1964, again at Rouen. In all, he earned two wins (in 1964) and ten podiums (including five consecutive in 1965) for Brabham before leaving to start his own team.
In 1962, Gurney and Carroll Shelby began dreaming of building an American racing car to compete with the best European makes. Shelby convinced Goodyear, who wanted to challenge Firestone's domination of American racing at the time, to sponsor the team, and Goodyear's president Victor Holt suggested the name, "All American Racers", and the team was formed in 1965. Gurney was not comfortable with the name at first, fearing it sounded somewhat jingoistic, but felt compelled to agree to his benefactor's suggestion.
Their initial focus was Indianapolis and Goodyear's battle with Firestone, but Gurney's first love was road racing, especially in Europe, and he wanted to win the Formula One World Championship while driving an American Grand Prix Eagle. Partnered with British engine maker Westlake, the Formula One effort was called "Anglo-American Racers." The Weslake V12 engine was not ready for the 1966 Grand Prix season, so the team used outdated four-cylinder 2.7-liter Coventry-Climax engines and made their first appearance in the second race of the year in Belgium. Gurney scored the team's first Championship points by finishing fifth in the French Grand Prix at Reims.
The next season, the team failed to finish any of the first three races, but on June 18, 1967, Gurney took a historic victory in the Belgian Grand Prix. Starting in the middle of the first row, Gurney initially followed Jim Clark's Lotus and the BRM of Jackie Stewart. Clark encountered problems on Lap 12 that dropped him down to ninth position. Having moved up to second spot, Gurney set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 19. Two laps later, he and his Eagle took the lead and came home over a minute ahead of Stewart.
This win came just a week after his surprise victory with A.J. Foyt at 24 hours of Le Mans, where Gurney spontaneously began the now-familiar winner's tradition of spraying champagne from the podium to celebrate the unexpected win against the other Ford GT40 teams.
Unfortunately, the victory in Belgium was the high point for AAR as engine problems continued to plague the Eagle. He led the 1967 German GP at the Nurburging when a driveshaft failed two laps from the end with a 42-second lead in hand. After a third place finish in Canada that year, the car would finish only one more race. By the end of the 1968 season, Gurney was driving a McLaren -Ford. His last Formula One
*DALE EARNHARDT 7 TIME NASCAR CUP CHAMPION
Dale Earnhardt was best known for his career driving stock cars in NASCAR's top division. He was born in Kannapolis, North Carolina, to Ralph Lee Earnhardt and Martha Coleman. Earnhardt had four children, Kelley King, Taylor, Kerry, and Dale Jr. His widow, Teresa Earnhardt (whom he married in 1982) is the owner of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., the race team and merchandising corporation Earnhardt founded with her in the 1990s.
Earnhardt is best known for his success in the Winston Cup Series. He won seventy-six races, and his seven championships are tied for most all-time with Richard Petty. His highly aggressive driving style made him a fan favorite and earned him the nickname "The Intimidator."
Earnhardt died in a last-lap crash during the 2001 Daytona 500, the fourth NASCAR driver to die in the nine months since Adam Petty's death in May 2000. Due in large part to overwhelming fan outcry, NASCAR began an intensive focus on safety that has seen the organization mandate the use of head-and-neck restraints (currently, only the HANS device is approved for competition), oversee the installation of SAFER barriers at all oval tracks, set rigorous new rules for seat-belt and seat inspection, develop a roof-hatch escape system, and develop a next-generation race car built with extra driver safety in mind, dubbed the Car of Tomorrow.
Dale Earnhardt began his Winston Cup career in 1975, making his first start at the Charlotte in the longest race on the Cup circuit, the World 600. Earnhardt drove an Ed Negre car and finished 22nd in the race. Earnhardt would compete in 8 more races until 1979, when he would join Rod Osterlund Racing, in a season that would see a rookie class of future stars - Earnhardt, Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte.
In his rookie season, Earnhardt would win four poles, one race (at Bristol), 11 Top 5 finishes, 17 Top 10 finish, and finish 7th in the points standings, in spite of missing four races because of a broken collarbone, winning Rookie of the Year honors.
In his sophomore season, Earnhardt, now with a 20-year old Doug Richert as his crew chief, would begin the season winning the Busch Clash. With wins at Atlanta, Bristol, Nashville, Martinsville, and Charlotte, Earnhardt easily won his first Winston Cup championship.
In 1981, after Osterlund sold his team to J. D. Stacy during the season, Earnhardt left for Richard Childress Racing, where he would finish 7th in the points standings, despite not winning. The following year, under Childress' suggestion, he joined car owner Bud Moore for the 1982 and 1983 seasons. During the 1982 season, Earnhardt would struggle; while winning Darlington, he failed to finish 15 races, finishing 12th in the points standings, which would tie a career worst finish. In 1983, Earnhardt would rebound, winning his first of 13 Twin 125 Daytona 500 qualifying races. Earnhardt would record wins at Nashville and at Talladega, finishing eighth in the points standings.
After the 1983 season, Earnhardt would return to Richard Childress Racing. During the 1984 and 1985 seasons, Earnhardt would visit victory lane six times, at Talladega, Atlanta, Richmond, Bristol (twice), and Martinsville, finishing fourth and eighth, respectively.
The 1986 season would see Earnhardt win his second career Winston Cup Championship and the first owner's championship for RCR, winning five races, ten Top 5 finishes, and sixteen Top 10 finishes. Earnhardt would successfully defend his championship the following year, visiting victory lane eleven times and winning the championship by 288 points over Bill Elliott. In the process, Earnhardt would set a NASCAR modern era record of four consecutive wins and won five of the first seven races. The 1987 season also would see Earnhardt earn his nickname "The Intimidator" after spinning out Elliott in the final segment of The Winston.
The 1988 season would see Earnhardt racing with a new sponsor, GM Goodwrench, replacing Wrangler. It would be during this season that Earnhardt would garner a second nickname, "The Man in Black", owing to the black paint scheme in which the #3 car was painted. He would win three times in 1988, finishing third in the points standings behind Bill Elliott and Rusty Wallace. The following year, Earnhardt would win five times, but a late spinout at North Wilkesboro arguably cost him the 1989 championship, as Rusty Wallace would edge Earnhardt for the championship.
The 1990 season started with another disappointing result in the Daytona 500. Speed Week started auspiciously with victories in the Busch Clash and his heat of the Gatorade Twin 125's. Near the end of the 500, he had a 4 second lead when the final caution flag came out with a handful of laps to go. When the green flag came out, Earnhardt was leading Derrike Cope. On the last lap, Earnhardt ran over a piece of metal at the final turn, cutting a tire. Cope, in an upset, won the race while Earnhardt finished 5th. The #3 Goodwrench Chevy team took the flat tire that cost them the win and hung it on the shop wall. Apparently, this strategy worked, because Earnhardt won nine races. He also won his 4th Winston Cup title, beating out Mark Martin by just 26 points.
The 1991 season saw Earnhardt win his 5th Winston Cup championship. He scored just 4 wins, but took the title by 195 points over Ricky Rudd. One of the biggest highlights of the season for Earnhardt was scoring the win at North Wilkesboro. Harry Gant, who had tied Earnhardt's mark of 4 consecutive wins and was going for a 5th, lost the brakes late in the race, giving Earnhardt the chance he needed to make the pass for the win.
After winning his second set of consecutive titles, Dale Earnhardt was determined to make it 3 in a row, but Ford's new engine and aerodynamic package for the Thunderbird dominated, winning 13 consecutive races from the end of the 1991 season into the first nine races of 1992. Earnhardt's only win in 1992 came at Charlotte, in the prestigious Coca-Cola 600, ending the 13-race win streak for the Ford teams. Earnhardt would finish a career-low 12th in the points for the 2nd time in his career, and the only time he had finished that low since going to RCR. At the end of the year, longtime crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine left to become a driver. Andy Petree took over as crew chief.
Hiring Petree turned out to be beneficial, as the #3 GM Goodwrench Chevy returned to the front in 1993. Earnhardt once again came close to a win at the Daytona 500, dominating throughout Speedweeks before finishing 2nd to Dale Jarrett on a last-lap pass. Earnhardt would score 6 wins en route to his 6th Winston Cup title, including wins in the Coca-Cola 600 and The Winston at Charlotte, and the Pepsi 400 at Daytona. Earnhardt beat Rusty Wallace for the championship by 80 points.
In 1994, Earnhardt achieved a feat that he himself had believed to be impossible - he scored his seventh Winston Cup championship, tying the legendary Richard Petty. Earnhardt was very consistent, scoring 4 wins, and winning the title by over 400 points over Mark Martin. Although Earnhardt would continue to dominate in the seasons ahead, this would prove to be the last Winston Cup title of his career.
Earnhardt started off the 1995 season by finishing second in the Daytona 500 to Sterling Marlin. He would win 5 races in 1995, including his first road course victory at Sears Point and the prestigious Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a win he called the biggest of his career in 1995. But in the end, Earnhardt lost the title to Jeff Gordon by just 34 points.
Earnhardt began 1996 with a repeat of 1993 - he dominated Speedweeks only to finish second in the Daytona 500 to Dale Jarrett for a 2nd time. Earnhardt won early in the year, scoring consecutive victories at Rockingham and Atlanta. In late July at Talladega, he was in the points lead and looking for his eighth title despite the departure of crew chief Andy Petree. Late in the race, Ernie Irvan lost control of his #28 Havoline Ford Thunderbird, igniting a frightening crash that saw Earnhardt's #3 Chevrolet hit the tri-oval wall head-on at nearly 200 miles per hour. After hitting the wall, Earnhardt's car flipped and slid across the track, in front of race-traffic. His car was hit in the roof and windshield, and the accident led NASCAR to mandate the "Earnhardt Bar", a metal brace located in the center of the windshield that reinforces the roof in case of a similar crash.
Rain-delays had cancelled the live telecast of the race and most fans first learned of the accident during the night's sports newscasts. Video of the crash showed what appeared to be a fatal incident, but once medical workers arrived at the car, Earnhardt climbed out and waved to the crowd, refusing the be loaded onto a stretcher despite a broken collarbone, sternum, and shoulderblade. Many thought the incident would end his season early, but Earnhardt refused to give up. The next week at Indianapolis, he started the race but exited the car on the first pit stop, allowing Mike Skinner to take the wheel. When asked, Earnhardt said that vacating the #3 car was the hardest thing he'd ever done. The following weekend at Watkins Glen, he drove the #3 Goodwrench Chevrolet to the fastest time in qualifying, earning the "True Grit" pole. T-shirts emblazoned with Earnhardt's face were quickly printed up, brandishing the caption, "It Hurt So Good." Earnhardt led most of the race and looked to have victory in hand, but fatigue finally took its toll and Earnhardt ending up 6th, behind race winner Geoff Bodine. Earnhardt would not win again in 1996, but he still finished 4th in the standings behind Terry Labonte, Jeff Gordon and Dale Jarrett. David Smith would leave as crew chief of the #3 team at the end of the year to become team manager of the new #31 Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse RCR entry of Mike Skinner (NASCAR) as a teammate to Earnhardt and Larry McReynolds would replace him.
In the 1997 season, Earnhardt went winless for only the 2nd time in his career. The only (non-points) win came during speedweeks at Daytona in the Twin 125-mile qualifying race, his record 8th straight win in the event. Once again in the hunt for the Daytona 500 with 10 laps to go, Earnhardt was taken out of the Daytona 500 by a late crash which sent his car upside down the backstretch. Earnhardt would hit the low point of his year when he would black out early in the Mountain Dew Southern 500 in Darlington, causing him to hit the wall. He would go to the hospital and be cleared to race, but had no idea what caused it. Despite no wins (all of Chevrolet's wins were by Hendrick Motorsports -- Ford won all other races in 1997, Pontiac won once) the RCR team finished the season 5th in the final standings, with no DNF's.
After 20 years of disappointment in the Daytona 500 Earnhardt finally won the race in 1998. He started Speedweeks by winning his Twin 125-mile qualifier race for the ninth straight year. On race day, Dale showed himself to be a contender early. But at halfway, it seemed that Jeff Gordon had the upper hand. But by lap 138, Earnhardt had taken the lead, and thanks to a push by teammate Mike Skinner, he would not lose it. Earnhardt beat Bobby Labonte to the checkered flag in the race. Afterwards, there was a large show of respect for Earnhardt, in which every crew member of every team lined pit road to shake his hand as he made his way to Victory Lane. Earnhardt then drove his #3 into the infield grass, starting a trend of post-race celebrations. He spun the car twice, throwing grass and leaving tire tracks in the shape of a #3 in the grass. Earnhardt then spoke about the victory, saying "I have had a lot of great fans and people behind me all through the years and I just can't thank them enough. The Daytona 500 is over. And we won it! We won it!" Unfortunately, the rest of the season would not go as well. He slipped to 12th in the standings halfway in the season, and Richard Childress decided to make a crew chief change, taking Mike Skinner's crew chief Kevin Hamlin and putting him with Earnhardt while giving Skinner Larry McReynolds. Earnhardt was able to climb back to 8th in the final standings.
Before the 1999 season, fans had started talking about Earnhardt's age and thinking that with his son Dale Jr. getting into racing that Earnhardt might be contemplating retirement. Earnhardt swept both races for the year at Talladega, leading most observers to conclude that Earnhardt's talent was limited to the restrictor plate tracks, which requires a unique skill set and an exceptionally powerful car to win. But half-way through the year, Earnhardt began to show some of the old spark. In the August race at Michigan International Speedway, Earnhardt led laps late in the race and nearly pulled off his first win on a non-restrictor plate track since 1996.
One week later, he provided the sport with one of its most controversial moments.
At the August Bristol race, Earnhardt found himself in contention to win his first short track race since Martinsville in 1995. When a caution came out with 15 laps to go, leader Terry Labonte got hit from behind by the lapped car of Darrell Waltrip. His spin put Earnhardt in the lead with 5 cars between he and Labonte with 5 laps to go. Labonte had four fresh tires and Earnhardt was driving on old tires, which made Earnhardt's car considerably slower. Labonte caught Earnhardt and passed him coming to the white flag, but Earnhardt drove hard into turn two, bumping Labonte and spinning him around. Dale went on to collect the win while spectators booed and made obscene gestures. "I didn't try to turn him around, I just wanted to rattle his cage", Earnhardt said of the incident. Earnhardt would finish 7th in the standings that year, and looked like a contender again.
In the 2000 season, Earnhardt had a resurgence, which some attributed to neck surgury he underwent to correct a lingering injury from his 1996 Talladega crash. He scored what many considered the 2 most exciting wins of the year - winning by .006 seconds over Bobby Labonte at Atlanta, then gaining seventeen positions in four laps to win at Talladega, claiming his first No Bull 5 million dollar bonus. Earnhardt also enjoyed strong second-place runs at Richmond and Martinsville, tracks where he'd struggled at through the late '90s. On the strength of these performances, Earnhardt took the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo to 2nd in the standings. However, poor performances at the road course of Watkins Glen, where he wrecked coming out of the innerloop, and mid-pack runs at intermediate tracks like Lowe's and Dover denied Earnhardt of the coveted eighth championship title.
Always a media favorite, in the weeks before the 2001 Daytona 500, Earnhardt stirred up controversy by skipping the annual fan and media preview event, drawing ire from fellow driver Jimmy Spencer. Two weeks before the Daytona 500, Earnhardt kicked off the annual Speedweeks at Daytona by competing with his son, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., in the Rolex 24, a twenty-four hour sports car race which utilizes the Daytona International Speedway's infield roadcourse. The father-son duo were part of a four-man driving team, each taking turns driving the #3 Chevrolet Corvette in two-hour shifts. Earnhardt seemed to enjoy this new style of racing immensely, and the involvement of the Earnhardts brought a surge of publicity to the event and to American sports car racing in general.
Despite the early start, Speedweeks would be a disappointment for Earnhardt, who had a long-running tradition of winning at least one race during the two-week season kick-off. Earnhardt finished second to Tony Stewart in the Budweiser Shootout, a seventy-lap exhibition race for drivers and teams who won a pole position during the previous year, and also for any previous winner of the Shootout. Earnhardt was also denied victory in the Gatorade Twin 125 qualifying race in which he participated; the finishing order of the Twin 125s determine the starting order for the Daytona 500. Earnhardt had won every Twin 125 event he competed in during the 1990s, and was leading on the final lap in 2001 when Sterling Marlin pulled off a slingshot pass going down the backstretch, denying Earnhardt victory. In the IROC event held prior to the Daytona 500, Earnhardt was leading late in the race when he was accidentally spun out. He managed to control the IROC car in spectacular fashion, driving through the track's infield grass at speeds well over 150 miles per hour, but victory was again stolen from the 49 year old Earnhardt.
Taking it in stride, Earnhardt appeared relaxed and confident in television interviews on the morning of the 2001 Daytona 500.
When the Daytona 500 started, Earnhardt showed early promise, leading the race and running up front for most of the event. During a pit stop, Earnhardt made contact with the #36 car of Ken Schrader. Though the incident didn't cause any damage, it would later prove ironic.
A multicar wreck late in the race eliminated several cars in spectacular fashion. Tony Stewart, who had beaten Earnhardt in the Budweiser Shootout, found his car tumbling wildly down the backstretch. As it tumbled, Earnhardt managed to weave his way through wrecked cars and come out unscathed. The race was stalled to facilitate cleanup of the track, and when the race resumed, it was Earnhardt and DEI drivers Earnhardt, Jr. and Michael Waltrip who were running up front. As the laps wound down, Waltrip was leading Junior and Earnhardt.
Going into the final turn during the last lap, Earnhardt's car seemed to slow. There was contact between the back bumper of Earnhardt's car and the nose of Sterling Marlin's. Earnhardt’s car spun off the track's steep banking, onto the flat apron, and then turned sharply up the track, toward the outside retaining wall. For a moment, it looked like Earnhardt would hang onto the car and drive to a top-five finish, but another car - the #36 Pontiac driven by Ken Schrader - rammed Earnhardt's Chevrolet in the passenger door and spun the car nose-first into the wall. Earnhardt's #3 hit at a critical angle at nearly 150 miles per hour. The left-rear wheel assembly broke off the car on impact. The hood pins severed and the hood flapped open, slamming against the windshield as the car slid slowly down the track. To most observers, the crash looked minor, and certainly not as dramatic as his famous 1996 wreck at Talladega, when Earnhardt's car was pelted several times in the roof and windshield as it rolled across the track.
While Michael Waltrip raced toward the checkered flag to claim his first victory, with Junior, close behind, the cars of Earnhardt and Schrader slid off the track's asphalt banking toward in the infield grass just inside of turn four. After climbing from the wreck of his car, Schrader was the first person to approach Earnhardt's car post-crash. As medical crews converged upon the crash scene, a Fox reporter asked Schrader about Earnhardt's condition. "I'm not a doctor," Schrader said solemnly. Hours later, at a NASCAR press conference, it was announced to the world what millions already feared from Schrader's somber reply - Dale Earnhardt was dead.