Kennedy Tank & Manufacturing Co. president
Kennedy Tank & Manufacturing Co.’s passionate involvement with the Indianapolis 500 dates back to the early days of the race.
My grandmother, Ellen Kennedy, once told me that she dated Joe Dawson, who won the second Indy 500, which was held in 1912. I am not sure if my grandfather attended the first race, but I suspect he did as a 16-year-old with his father. My dad, William E. Kennedy Jr., attended his first race in 1930 and didn’t miss one until 1989.
Kennedy Tank, a family-owned company, first sponsored a car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1936, and George Barringer drove it to an eighth-place finish. The business continued sponsoring cars through 1954, with a top finish of second place by Les Anderson in 1947.
Kennedy Tank was the primary supplier of fueling tanks at the IMS from the early 1950s to mid-1990s. Colin Chapman and Jim Clark of Lotus visited our Southside plant in 1965 to discuss the option of installing a venturi in the tank outlet to speed the flow of fuel into a car. Kennedy Tank obliged, and Lotus was the only team with that equipment installed in the pit tanks.
The Lotus team won the race that year. The next year a tough competitor named A.J. Foyt called my dad and told him that he wanted a pit tank like Chapman’s with a “g-- d--- funnel in the end of it.”
I am the author of “The Official Trivia Book of the Indianapolis,” which is in its third edition. I have also written “Indy Recaps the Short Chute Edition, now in its fifth edition. These books are sold primarily through the IMS.
As the result of a picture on one of the covers, the Kennedy Tank Special that ran in the 1948 and ’49 races was found and refurbished; it’s housed at the company’s headquarters, 833 E. Sumner Ave.
Sunday’s 100th running of the Indy 500 will be my 54th consecutive race.