Kenny St. John, 75, who passed away Sept. 13, brought modern-day Figure-8 racing into a new and exciting era at the Indianapolis Speedrome.
Mentored by the late Sonny Thompson, St. John became the king of the new high-horsepowered Figure-8 with two track championships and the World Championship Figure-8 endurance race five consecutive times from 1978 through 1982, including a record 512 laps completed in 1981 that still stands.
St. John also raced and won several Outlaw Figure-8s at the Speedrome against winged late models built by Whiteland’s C.J. Rayburn and Michigan’s Ed Howe among others in Outlaw Figure-8s at the Speedrome. He also competed in a few American Speed Association races during his illustrious racing career.
His Figure-8 duels with the late Wayne Arnold at the Speedrome are legendary for their fervor and sportsmanship. They were racing for a 50-lap Figure-8 in their heyday one night when St. John spun Arnold for the lead with less than two laps remaining. St.John slowed, waited for Arnold to recover, and they raced for the coveted win.
No matter where he raced, St. John respected each of his competitors and always acknowledged the crowd after winning races. He was inducted into of the Indianapolis Speedrome Hall of Fame following his retirement.
St. John also served as the chief steward of the national General Tire Figure-8 series following his retirement. During that three-year series, St. John fittingly had the drivers’ interests at heart.
For several decades, he served as an ambassador of modern-day Figure-8 racing.
St. John was born July 9, 1948 to the late Marvin and Ramona (Hargraves) St. John. He attended Manual High School and married Mary “Lou” Carrico who died Aug. 4, 2017.
He was the owner of a body shop in Indianapolis and the Benton County Speedway. He is survived by daughter Shannon who is married to World Figure-8 winner Doug Greig, and two more children and two grandchildren, two brothers and a sister and two great-grandchildren. His brothers Tommy and Mike St. John also were Figure-8 competitors. He also was preceded in death by three sisters.
Funeral services were held Sept. 20 at Shirley Brothers Washington Memorial Chapel, 9606 E. Washington Street. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to the Indiana Organ Donor Network.