It is amazing that three gals who I grew up with and graduated from Southport High School with had fathers who were involved with the race.
Betty Jo McCrary-Ball’s father, William R. “Bill” McCrary, served as director of racing for Firestone Tire.
Sue Ellen Schuster-Jenson’s dad, Frank Schuster, sponsored IndyCars for several years. The family owned and operated Troy Oil Co. for many years.
Nancy Wilcox-Vittorio-DeBaun’s father, Howdy Wilcox II, drove to second-place finish in 1932 and was a charter member in the Champion Spark Plug 100 Mile an Hour Club.
I have been meeting with people while putting together this edition. One day I had lunch with Nancy and Wendy Barth-Servies. Wendy was the 500 Festival queen in 1986. Her mother, Diane Hunt-Barth, was queen in 1961.
Joe Langley was a chief mechanic at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for years, and he worked out of a small garage behind his house on Madison Avenue. I don’t believe that any of Joe’s cars won the race, but I’m sure that one of his cars won a pole.
My dad operated a Sunoco station on Madison Avenue just north of Epler Avenue. One morning I was driving north on Madison when I heard a loud noise and my car shuddered. Shortly after arriving at our station and opening for business, Joe Langley pulled up in an IndyCar. Since these cars don’t have headlights, I didn’t see him on the road, but I had heard the roar when we passed each other.
He needed to borrow our service truck to drive back to his shop and get the external starter to restart the car. Long story short ... he had to adjust things on the engine to keep it running so I had to sit in the car. It ended up that I had to drive the car back to his shop because its engine would die when we tried to slide me out of the driver’s seat and slide him in.
I stopped by to see Pat Kennedy, a fourth-generation family member to lead Kennedy Tank and Manufacturing Co., last week. The company has sponsored IndyCars and for a number of years and provided the standing fuel tanks for the race cars. Pat has just published an updated book about the race.
A few years ago the Southport/Perry Township Historical Society presented “Perry Township’s Contributions to the Indianapolis 500.” IMS historian Donald Davidson was our master of ceremonies. Since we have been receiving requests to do it again, we might tackle it in a couple of years.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools.