Thru Noggles Goggles .::. September 26th
Future Indianapolis 500 drivers and winners, Pat Flaherty and Jim Rathmann, both California natives, raced hot rods and stock cars at Chicago ’s Soldier Field before claiming victory in the big one at Indy. Flaherty, who captured the 1949 hot rod title at the Field, would wheel the John Zink Special to victory in the 1956-running of the annual Memorial Day classic. Flaherty, also a champion at the Rockford Speedway, was the fastest qualifier at Indy in ’56, setting a new track record during qualifications. Flaherty made a total of five appearances in the lineup for the annual event—his last being in 1959.
Rathmann, who made his “rookie” 500 start in 1949, captured stock car titles at Soldier Field in both 1951 and 1952. Rathmann came home the winner of the “big one” in 1960 behind the wheel of the Ken-Paul Special. He competed in a total of fourteen 500 milers with seven “top 10” finishes.
The Chicago area had several winning car owners in 500 competition. Mike Boyle, nicknamed Umbrella Mike, owned Wilbur Shaw’s winning Maserati when the Indiana driver captured back-to-back victories in 1939 and 1940. Boyle, who was the business manager of the Electrical Workers Union Local 134, was an Indy car owner for a number of years. Boyle was described as a powerful, cantankerous unionist and a friend of gangster, Al Capone—a definite character in the pages of Chicago history.
Murrel1 Belanger, Crown Point , Ind. businessman, owned Lee Willard’s car when the New York state driver captured the 500 in 1951. After Wallard was badly burned in a sprint car accident right after his big victory, Belanger teamed up with Tony Bettenhausen of Tinley Park , Ill. with the combo winning a total of eight “Champ Car” races in Belanger’s No. 99 during the remainder of the 1951 racing season.
Known as the “Tinley Park Express,” Bettenhausen was pretty much Chicago area racing’s favorite son in the 1950’s and early ’60 when it came to Indianapolis car racing. Bettenhausen made 14 starts in the 500 with his best finish coming in 1955 when he finished second with relief help from “pal” Paul Russo. Sadly, Bettenhausen would perish in a 1961 practice crash at the speedway as he attempted to sort out some handling problems in a car assigned to Russo. Two of Bettenhausen’s sons would also compete in the Indianapolis speed classic with Gary making 21 starts and Tony Jr. making 11 attempts, giving the Bettenhausen family a total of 46 starts at Indy without a win.
More winning car owners include Chicago business executive Dan Cotter, who was co-owner with ace racing mechanic George Bignotti on Tom Sneva’s winning ride in 1983. And you can’t forget Andy Granatelli. Granatelli, who along with his brothers operated a speed shop in Chicago , promoted auto races at Soldier Field for many years. The Granatelli brothers made their first visit to Indy in 1946 as owners with Chicago midget driver Danny Kladis behind the wheel in his only 500 stint. Kladis would be credited with a 21st finishing position. Becoming the head of the STP Corporation, Granatelli, who himself attempted to qualify for the 500 in 1948, was the car owner and sponsor of Mario Andretti’s winning effort in 1969.
Other area car owners that have given Indy a try include Carl Haas, who teamed up with the late Paul Newman, gunning for a 500 victory. A former driver, Dale Coyne joined forces with Chicago Bears football legend Walter Payton, looking to break into the speedway’s victory lane. George “Babe” Tuffanelli and his partner, Jimmy Derrico, were 500 car owners for a number of years in the late 40’s and early 50’s. Derrico, supposedly with backing from area racketeer Tuffanelli, teamed with Pete Jenin in the owning and promoting of Raceway Park in Blue Island for many years.
A number of years before joining up with Bettenhausen for a second place finish at Indy in 1955, Russo and ace mechanic Ray Nichels put together a Indy Car in the basement of Paul Russo’s Hammond , Ind. home. They put together “Basement Bessie” and took it apart to get it out of Russo’s cellar in order to go to Indianapolis in 1950. Russo would end up appearing in 14 races at Indianapolis .
Other area drivers with more than a couple starts at Indianapolis include Dennis “Duke” Nalon, who raced in ten 500 classics. Nalon, a former area steel mill worker, was best known as one of the drivers of the Novi Indy racers with Nalon winning pole position honors in both 1949 and 1951 behind the wheel of the powerful and sometimes erratic Novi engine-powered racing machines.
Emil Andres, a cousin of Tony Bettenhausen and one of the area’s leading “champ car” and midget racers, was in the starting lineup for the 500 on nine occasions with his best finish being a fourth in 1946. Going way back into the early days of the speed classic, Chicago racing ace Cliff Woodbury would make four starts with his best finish being a third in 1926. Woodbury was an area dirt track racer at tracks long forgotten. Stutz driver Gil Anderson called Chicago home and was in six Indianapolis races with his best finish being third way back in 1915.
Jimmy Snyder, former milkman and tavern owner, was among the top midget racing drivers in the country in the late 1930’s and was a four time starter in the Indy classic before 1939. That year saw Snyder grab pole position honors and then finish second in the 500-mile chase. At the top of his game, Snyder was killed in a racing accident during a minor midget racing program in downstate Illinois less than a month after his greatest Indy ride.
Chuck Rodee, whose real name was Charles Rodeghier, was a top midget racer on “national” circuits and made two 500 starts. A product of Chicago area midget racing, Rodee also competed in the first 300-lap stock car race at Raceway Park in 1948. Rodee, who died from injuries suffered in a crash during a warm-up lap prior to his attempt to qualify for Indy 500 in 1966, had his best “500” finish in 1965 with a 28th place finish.
Other area drivers that competed in the “500” include Gary, Indiana’s Pete Romcevich with one start and a 12th place finish in 1947; Hammond’s Joe Thomas with three starts and a best finish of eighth place in 1920; Leslie “Bugs” Allen, who made one start in 1930, finishing ninth; Percy Ford with one start in 1921 and an eighth place finish and Jon Herb with two starts and a best finish of 27th in 2001.
Chicago resident Samuel P. Dickson competed in the first “500” in 1911 as a riding mechanic for driver Arthur Greiner. Unfortunately, Dickson died from injuries suffered in a lap 12 accident during the inaugural 500 race.
Over the years, countless others attempted to participate in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” with only a chosen group making the grade.
IndyCar driver Rubens Barrichello says he will participate in a stock car race in Brazil in December. Barrichello will earn more than $100,000 for competing but will donate the money to charity.
Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star has these racing updates:
[Helio Castroneves (left) jokes with Penske teammate Will Power before the running of the 96th Indianapolis 500 on May 27at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. / Matt Kryger / The Star file photo]
A longer IndyCar schedule will be announced Sunday, but that’s just the start of the things that will be different for Indianapolis-based open-wheel racing in 2013. From drivers to teams to engines to the tracks they compete on and the manner in which races are staged, IndyCar’s senior officials have plenty to discuss at the retreat taking place this week in Jackson, Wyoming.
Ryan Hunter-Reay’s re-signing is the first step toward settling the driver lineup. The next step should be Graham Rahal with his father’s team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Rubens Barrichello and Ryan Briscoe are the other top free agents. Barrichello is headed to Honda, likely with Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Briscoe’s options figure to start with the Ganassi Racing ride vacated by Rahal. He also could land as Rahal’s new teammate at RLLR. The wild cards for the Ganassi seat – or perhaps a second seat on Bobby Rahal’s team – are Justin Wilson and Takuma Sato.
As for the seat vacated by Briscoe, Team Penske president Tim Cindric said it will come together late if it comes together at all. Otherwise, three-time runner-up Will Power will have only Helio Castroneves as a teammate. Team Penske hasn’t been a two-car team since 2009.
On the team side, there are indications that KV Racing Technology, which might end up as a one-car team with Tony Kanaan driving, could form an alliance with HVM Racing, which is out of its Lotus deal. EJ Viso has talked about starting his own team.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard has been talking about having 19 events for more than a month, but to achieve that means staging a doubleheader or two.
Detroit Grand Prix chairman Bud Denker has made no secret of his interest in having Saturday and Sunday races, but he hadn’t received confirmation from Bernard or ABC as of Monday afternoon. Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and the return of street racing in Houston are the other top candidates for two races in the same weekend.
The temporary road course in Edmonton was dropped from consideration last week, and the Houston race at Reliant Park (Oct. 4-6) has been added. Also expected to come on board is Pocono (Penn.) Raceway, an oval track that last hosted Indy cars in 1989 (won by Danny Sullivan), and probably a new street race in Providence, R.I.
There have been rumblings of a return to Kentucky Speedway, but that hasn’t been confirmed. The discussed road course race at the new NOLA Motorsports Park (south of New Orleans) might have to wait until 2014.
The other issues
First-year race director Beaux Barfield created a stir by stopping the season-ending race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., with eight laps left to clean up Tony Kanaan’s accident and ensure an exciting finish.
The decision worked as intended as Ed Carpenter swept past Dario Franchitti for the lead on the final lap, with Takuma Sato crashing in a bid to pass champion-to-be Ryan Hunter-Reay in Turn 2. But many believe it set a tricky precedent for the future. How IndyCar outlines parameters for such a decision will be a key part of Barfield’s reshaping of the rulebook.
Off the track, IndyCar must address declining television ratings. According to Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal, IndyCar pulled its lowest viewership to date on NBC Sports Network, averaging 292,000 viewers, down 27 percent from 402,000 in 2011 and 62 percent from the 778,000 it averaged in its last year on ESPN in 2008. ABC races were down 17 percent from last year.
Planning for a new tire contract for 2015 is another front-line topic. Firestone wants to extend its current deal, but IndyCar is believed to be interested in Continental Tire with help from Hoosier Racing Tire, which is based in Lakeville, Ind. (south of South Bend).
As for bodywork kits that were supposed to be in place this year to differentiate the cars, IndyCar must decide if it’s willing to force them on the team owners who say they are not worth the extra expense.
Four items from the SSPF newsletter:
The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation hosted nearly 20 guests from Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA as part of its “Day at the Races.” The group consisted of about 10 SCI veterans from all corners of the military and their guests, who got a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the IndyCar Series race weekend.
The group took a tour of the paddock and visited the Sam Schmidt Motorsports garage for an up-close look at the cars and to meet the team. In addition, everyone was treated to lunch at Panther Racing’s hospitality area, sponsored by the National Guard. The day was capped off when Sherman Tucker presented Sam with a plaque thanking the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation for its dedication and support of the Bay Area & Western Chapter of the PVA.
SSPF also recognized the countless efforts of the entire Holmatro Safety Team with the Silent Hero award for their unparalleled skill and efficiency providing trackside support at every IZOD IndyCar Series event. As an expression of gratitude, each member of the Safety Team was presented with a brand new laptop donated by HP.
Numerous IndyCar Series drivers were in attendance to support SSPF and watch the awards presentation, including Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe, Will Power, Katherine Legge, Ana Beatriz, Townsend Bell and Simon Pagenaud. In addition, Sam Schmidt Motorsports’ Firestone Indy Lights drivers Victor Carbone, Tristan Vautier and Oliver Webb were on hand for the event. Indy 500 legends came out to celebrate as well; past drivers in attendance included Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser and Arie Luyendyk.
On September 8, SCI Fighting Impairment (SCI-FI) held the First Annual SCI-FI 5K Run, Walk, ‘N Wheel in Gettysburg, Pa. Brad Sanders, who has been a C5 Quad since a wrestling accident in 2005, started SCI-FI with his sister, Nicole, because she was looking for a 5K race in Pennsylvania to benefit SCI. Since they could not find one for Nicole to compete in, they decided to take matters into their own hands and create their own 5K fundraiser. Brad chose the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation as the recipient of all the proceeds due to their diligent efforts in finding a cure for paralysis. SSPF understands the need for a cure, not only for those recently injured but for those who have been affected for years. Since it was a first-year event, Brad set his goal to raising $10,000 at the inaugural event.
Brad received overwhelming support and as a result was able to surpass his goal and raise $11,378.77. He’s already looking toward next year.
“It was a great experience,” said Sanders after the event. “We raised five times what we expected and next year our goal will be $15,000. I want to thank Ida Cahill, the participants, volunteers, sponsors, and my family for such great support.”
The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation will host its 7th annual Racing to Recovery Golf Tournament on Monday, October 29, at Spanish Trail Country Club in Las Vegas. The event will feature a Scramble Format with a 10:00 a.m. tee-off. Players will be treated to a day of golf and a post-round cocktail reception and award ceremony, all to raise money for the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation.
In addition, registration for the golf tournament includes a complimentary ticket to the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation Welcome Reception at Mob Attraction Las Vegas inside the Tropicana Hotel on Sunday, October 28, from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. At the reception, guests will experience a fun and interactive look into the world of organized crime with authentic mob characters and never-before-seen artifacts. The evening will also feature a live and a silent auction, as well as complimentary beverages and appetizers.
To register or for more information, contact email@example.com or call 317-236-9999.
Thank you for your interest and dedication!
You can help support the work of SSPF by making a donation. Please call 317-236-9999 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Ida Cahill, CEO/President Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation
Through an e-mail yesterday, the 65 TNG readers (and their guests) who have RSVP’d for Saturday’s Race Chaser luncheon were notified. (If you registered but did not get such a notice, please notify TNG immediately. Otherwise, sorry, we’re full. Owner Harold Cottongim says that 65 is his max for our particular side room. )
Co-chair Barry Hindman was under the weather so our luncheon assistant Paul Powell met me there last evening to finalize details of this luncheon. To speed things along once again, there will be four menu items from which to choose. They are:
1. Harold’s Pulled Pork $7.50
2. Pork Tenderloin $7.50
3. Pit Stop Burger $6.95
4. Chef Salad $7.50
One of the following side items may also be selected: mac & cheese, slaw, French fries, or bbq beans. Your drink selection is additional. Please have your main entrée in mind and, once there, indicate so by circling the item number on the paper at your place setting, It would also be helpful to have your first name at the top. This will obviously speed us through the ordering process. We will begin gathering at noon with orders being taken at 12:30 and will begin the serving at 1pm. The program may even start while you’re still eating in order to give plenty of time for Pancho and The Bopper to share. Thanks.
“National Speed Sport News” reports on an event that is our biggest conflict this Saturday and will be another reason to speed the luncheon along:
John DaDalt slides through a corner during USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series action at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway. (John DaDalt Photo)
This Saturday’s Fall Nationals/Pretty In Pink sprint-car race, co-sanctioned by USAC and the Midwest Sprint Car Series, offers $10,000-to-win as well as USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series appearance points to all USAC competitors.
The Lawrenceburg race supports breast cancer awareness and stars from both racing series will compete on the three-eighths-mile action-packed dirt oval.
Dave Darland, Jon Stanbrough and Bryan Clauson enter the event as the USAC sprint-car point leaders, separated by 64 points.
Darland’s runner-up finish in last Saturday’s 30-lap 4-Crown Nationals feature at Ohio’s Eldora Speeday expanded his lead over Stanbrough, who finished 13th. Clauson was fifth in the 30-lapper.
Tracy Hines scored his 43rd career USAC National sprint-car win at Eldora, passing Pancho Carter for fourth in the all-time USAC list. He led all 30 laps in his MP Environmental Services DRC/Stanton to beat Dave Darland, Chris Windom, Chase Stockon and Bryan Clauson.
The new track built for Formula One’s U.S. Grand Prix was given the go-ahead for the Nov.18th race. Circuit of The Americas today announced that it has been declared ready to host the 2012 Formula One United States Grand Prix by Charlie Whiting, who directs racing, safety and technical matters for the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the sanctioning body that oversees international motorsport.
The track, located a few miles southeast of downtown Austin, Texas, passed its pre-race inspection.
The U.S. Grand Prix will be F-1’s first race in the United States since 2007. It was previously held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway