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Folks Of Interest My memories of IRP

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by ras, May 20, 2021.

  1. ras
    Joined: Apr 28, 2013
    Posts: 63

    ras
    Member

    Reading the post about NHRA moving reminded me of growing up near IRP, or at least that’s what I remember it as. I know this is very similar to the how old are you and tell me a story post but I felt I got a little long winded to be included with the other post. If the moderators don’t think this post fits in this place, please feel free to move or remove as needed.

    My buddies and I grew up a couple of miles north of Clermont Indiana, the now home of Lucas Oil Raceway. But I will always call it the home of IRP, Indianapolis Raceway Park. I am now just shy of 65 years old so some of my memories are just out of the HAMB’s window. During Labor day weekends we could hear the screaming engines calling us from Clermont. As soon as we were old enough to ride our bikes the two miles to Crawfordsville Rd. we would set up camp at the corner of Raceway and 136. The cars passing by on trailers were better than anything we could have dreamed of. Coupes, roadsters, Henry J’s, even slingshots on open trailers. More fat tires and chrome then we knew existed. Cars that shined so bright we could hardly look at them and others that looked like they were painted with shoe polish. We did not have the money to go see the cars race nor did we have parents that had any interest in taking us but man those cars.
     
  2. ras
    Joined: Apr 28, 2013
    Posts: 63

    ras
    Member

    A couple of years pass and now were a little older and a little stronger so we can ride our banana seat stingrays a little farther. I don’t remember the exact year or why we were not in school but I remember it was the Wednesday before Labor Day and all the cars were headed just west of Clermont. I didn’t have any idea what a tech inspection was or why it was so important, there was a line and everybody was waiting in it. But for the first time we were able to walk up to the cars, look inside, see the pebbles stuck to the tires and stand next to that thundering sound. I don’t know how, but no one seemed to care about the three boys on their bicycles following the parade of cars through the gate. Yes, we were inside the gates. We roamed the grounds, watching the cars and crews unload after inspection. We tried to always stay with a group of participants so people might think we belonged. We had no idea how long we had been there. None of us had any money but with all we were seeing, food and water were not what we worried about. Then it happened, over the loud speakers we heard the track is now open for practice. And with that call the frenzy began. Engines were starting, tow-vehicles were pushing, and a new since of excitement emerged. We knew it was late in the day, the sun was hot but we had to stay a little bit longer. As you can imagine a little longer became shadows from the grandstands. It was late and we knew it. We hopped on our bikes and headed home. Looking back the most unbelievable thing to me was that three kids could leave three bikes leaning on a fence all day and the bikes would still be there. On our way home we peddled fast, we had a little over two miles to get our stories straight on where we were and what we were doing all day.
     
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  3. ras
    Joined: Apr 28, 2013
    Posts: 63

    ras
    Member

    Another couple of years had passed, we were now in our early teens. My buddy came screaming down our gravel driveway on his stingray like there was no tomorrow. He had a cousin that raced and the cousin called his mom to see if they could store the race car at his house while they stayed in the motel. There was a Willy’s in his driveway. I couldn’t believe my ears, he had a cousin that raced in the Nationals? I’m sure I had peddled this hard before but I don’t remember when. As I got closer I could see through the hedge row the shape of a blue 40 Willy’s. The hood was up and they were leaning over the fenders pulling the plugs out of an injected big block Chevy. To me it was just like the Stone, Woods, and Cook model I had built years ago. I only got to see the car the one time, and I didn’t see my friends much that holiday weekend. I figured with his new found cousin he had better places to be.
     
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  4. ras
    Joined: Apr 28, 2013
    Posts: 63

    ras
    Member

    I was now just a few months from being sixteen when Labor Day came by this year. Still didn’t have a job or any money but we discovered the tree line across the road and behind the IRP starting lanes. Raceway Park had built a wood fence along the road behind the track but that means nothing when your 15’ high in a tree. I graduated from the stingray, I now rode a 10-speed to the tree line. And I brought a lock, yes the times they were a changing. The three of us were in the trees by daylight, each of us had our own branch. After the track opened we had a few fellow climbers, by midday the branches were full. The younger of the three of us said he was getting tired and headed home, so now we are two. During a lull in the afternoon action I noticed a familiar C-10 driving under me. One of my older friends who had a job had been at the Nationals all day and was heading home. I scurried down to catch up with him. I talked him into giving me the leftover ticket stub he had, no problem. So I go back and holler to my lone companion, I’m going to see if I can talk my way into the track. Look for me to walk by the wood fence when I get in, I will pass the ticket stub through chain link and you can get in a different gate. Minutes later were sitting in the east stands looking into the sun watching the Pro-stock, Funny-Car, and Top-Fuel finals. This was a good year.
     
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  5. ras
    Joined: Apr 28, 2013
    Posts: 63

    ras
    Member

    From the time I got my license until I hit twenty I cannot tell you how many times I was at IRP. We watched NASCAR on the 5/8 oval, before the Brickyard took over. Watched USAC champ cars on the road course, damn those STP turbines were something else, NHRA on the strip, and Good-Guys when it was still just good guys. Showed up to run many Tuesday night grudge races and even a few weekend sanctioned events. The three of us even got together later in life after we all had kids to return to the Nationals. But all my favorite memories involve a stingray bicycle and the what ifs.
     
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  6. ras
    Joined: Apr 28, 2013
    Posts: 63

    ras
    Member

    I’ll end with this last bit of hoodlum life. If you had ever lived near a large racing event in the late sixties to early seventies the weekend leading up the big race you will understand this next little bit. The nightlife surrounding the track becomes a world of its own. Age does not matter and innocence is lost quickly. For three young men we thought this was a perfect environment to go cruising. Driving from Clermont to IRP during a Nationals evening was more like guiding a car through a gauntlet of people. Occasionally the mass of people would part and you would see a wet spot in the road and a couple of the more experienced attendees waiting with liquid refreshments for the drivers and their tires. After a couple of passes we had the bright idea to try a side by side burnout. One east bound, one west bound, I got the west bound. It took a couple of passes to get our timing right but finally it happened. There we are locked axle to axle, tires smoking, engines screaming, and because of the direction I am pointed I see flashlights coming through the crowd, cops. No way to get my buddies attention so I get out of the throttle to find some traction and head west. Days later I see the Billy club marks on his car, he got away. But not without some minor damage.

    I have not been back to IRP since Good Guys left, it’s just not the same. But that’s okay neither am I.
     
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  7. Great stories man,,,,,just great !
    Those days are gone,,,,sadly,,,,,,but at least you lived it !

    Tommy
     
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  8. Great stories! I spent many labor day weekends at IRP too. We camped across the train tracks almost in line with the track. The parties where epic!
     
    loudbang likes this.
  9. B.A.KING
    Joined: Apr 6, 2005
    Posts: 3,746

    B.A.KING
    Member

    We are about the same age. You made feel as if i was there.Many thanks my friend:)
     
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  10. Fordors
    Joined: Sep 22, 2016
    Posts: 3,540

    Fordors
    Member

    OK @ras , you have the best thread of the day as far as I’m concerned.
    I can relate to the story of you being 15 and getting in with a ticket stub, I have a sort of similar story but I was a little older, I was 59 at the time. Two friends and I drove down from the SW suburbs of Chicago in 2008, one of my pals had the idea we could drive into IRP when the pros were practicing. We turn off of Rt. 136 about 10 AM and there are two guys at the main gate. Naturally they stop us and ask what’s up? Luke, the driver says we have some stuff in the back of the truck for John Force Racing, they wave us in and never look in the back of the pickup. We had about four hours of fuel cars and Pro Stock making runs, the few other people in the stands were with the Pro teams!
    Sometimes it pays off to have a lot of nerve ;)
     
  11. das858
    Joined: Jul 28, 2010
    Posts: 728

    das858
    Member

    Great stories of IRP, I spent many great Labor day weekends at the U.S. Nationals during the '70's , '80's and '90's. Had some of the best days of my life there .
     
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  12. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 10,969

    gnichols
    Member
    from Tampa, FL

    And some of us other weird-o's remember the oval track! (and even the road course!) Thursday Night Thunder!
     
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  13. koolbeans
    Joined: Apr 12, 2015
    Posts: 620

    koolbeans
    Member

    Yo, easy on the weirdo theme here.
    A..I raced the road course twice a year from 66 thru 73.
    B...believe this....raced an F stock Boss 302 at the Indy Nationals in '70. First round finals....got my ass whooped by the Smothers Brothers racing team. 12.30 to my 12.38.
    C...never did the oval.

    Sent from my XT1710-02 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
  14. carcruse
    Joined: Aug 20, 2007
    Posts: 845

    carcruse
    Member

    31racewaypark.jpg My Avatar:
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2021
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  15. 40Standard
    Joined: Jul 30, 2005
    Posts: 5,840

    40Standard
    Member
    from Indy

    miss Super Chevy & Goodguys shows at IRP
     
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  16. John Stimac
    Joined: Jan 15, 2008
    Posts: 559

    John Stimac
    Member

    Raced my red coupe there in the shootouts at the Goodguys event, maybe over four or five years !cid_766AE975D0644F168EA77FE23B71D6F3@JohnPC.jpg
     
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  17. KevKo
    Joined: Jun 25, 2009
    Posts: 575

    KevKo
    Member
    from Motown

    I will always call it IRP as well. I was there in the mid-70's when the last front-engine Top Fuel cars ran. That was when Top Fuel was 32 cars. I don't know if there are even 32 Top Fuel cars in existence now. Saw Mongoose beat Snake too. Great memories.
     
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  18. 20th Century Chevy
    Joined: Aug 8, 2008
    Posts: 260

    20th Century Chevy
    Member

    Great thread and even better stories!!! Here are a few pictures of our hometown heroes from Washington, IN. The Moody & Jones C/GS team. Sadly we have lost Sam and Mac Jones, but Dale Moody is still alive and doing pretty well. These guys were pretty dominant in there class in the early 60's, picking up multiple US Nationals titles.
    Moody & Jones Indy '05.jpg
    MoodydJonesVsReiderWeilerAtThe64Nationals.jpg Moody&Jones......INDY.jpg Moody & Jones-Mack.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2021
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  19. 20160216_123345.jpg
    Just a little more nostalgia
     
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