It has been a tough couple of weeks for members of the racing community in central Indiana.
Last week, at the age of 74, Dick Jordan — who worked tirelessly for the United State Auto Club since 1968 — passed away.
Jordan might not be a name or face the average racing fan was familiar with, but they certainly knew his work.
But for those in the pit areas for USAC events around the country and for members of the news media, Jordan was well-known and respected.
For all those years, Jordan would work long hours sending out and posting stories and results for almost all of the USAC events.
He traveled extensively from race to race, many times working in a car on results while someone else drove from state to state.
I have known Dick for more than four decades, and like many in the news media he was a mentor in many ways.
Most times, there was a warm smile and handshake, but don’t bother him when he was busy working.
The other thing I will always remember was Dick’s ability to recognize talent in a young up-and-coming driver in the open-wheel ranks.
“Watch this young guy,” he would relate. “He’s going places.”
During Pay Less Little 500 week, we would frequently exchange telephone calls because Dick always wanted to know who was quick in qualifying and ask the inevitable question regarding how many teams were at Anderson Speedway.
Fittingly, Jordan is a member of both the National Midget and National Sprint Car Halls of Fame, and Anderson Speedway hosted the inaugural Dick Jordan Classic for the Kenyon Midgets, and the accolades streamed in following his passing.
Dick was a great friend, and a lot of people will miss seeing him at race tracks around the Midwest and that sly smile when he had something good to relate.
Two of the important people in bringing Legends and Thunder Roadsters to Anderson Speedway and central Indiana also passed away in recent weeks.
Larry Fritz raced in open wheel for many years and brought both divisions to central Indiana.
Marty Griffith, known as “Magoo” to his many friends, passed away suddenly.
Griffith was a friend to his competitors, always lending a helping hand, and raced for the fun of it.
His fellow competitors commented Griffith always raced them clean and with respect, a trait missing in many younger drivers today.
All three men played vital roles when it came to racing in Indiana and all will be missed by their many friends.
IN OTHER RACING NEWS
I visited the Indianapolis Speedrome last Friday to observe a new division compromising Ford Crown Victoria cars.
Although the car count was good, many of them were damaged during an oval race and probably didn’t compete in the Figure-8 feature.
It reminded me of an attempt several years ago by Anderson Speedway to start a “Pure Stock” division without success.
The division appears to be working at the Speedrome. Not sure it would be successful at Anderson.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.