Pictured: Tracy Hines, Jerry Coons Jr. flank Dick Jordan and his wife Sue along with Dave Darland, Tony Stewart, J.J. Yeley and Pancho Carter.
In the past six decades the United States Auto Club has gone through a myriad of presidents, board of directors, officials and assorted marketing and public relations people.
But from the early days of putting cages on midgets to the Triple Crown of Indy cars to Indiana Sprint Week, there has been one constant out on West 16th Street. His name is Dick Jordan and every business should pray to have an employee as loyal and dedicated as he’s been to USAC in the past 50 years.
Defining D.J.’s role isn’t easy since he’s held so many positions but it’s accurate to say he’s been the keeper of records, tub thumper and guardian for USAC since he started in 1969 for $150 a week. Whether he was calling in midget results to The Indianapolis Star from a payphone in the infield at a short track at midnight, coming up with a creative way to get some ink on a sprint show or getting first-timers to the track, it was always putting USAC first.
On Wednesday night at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway he was recognized for a life that has revolved around his beloved organization.
The Indiana Racing Memorial Association presented Jordan with a plaque that will be erected in the shadow of the USAC offices just west of the IMS.
D.J. is the 38th recipient of this award but first living member to be honored and it was poignant because the 75-year-old has been diagnosed with in-operable pancreatic cancer. And while the clock is ticking, what transpired at the IMS Museum on Wednesday pretty much made his life complete.
D.J. was hoping some of the drivers he’s befriended throughout the years might show up and it’s safe to say the turnout spoke volumes about the respect the racing fraternity has for him. Tony Stewart, Pancho Carter, Dave Darland, Tracy Hines, Jerry Coons Jr. and J.J. Yeley — the only drivers to win USAC championships in all three divisions — were all in attendance.
The old guard, led by Bill Vukovich, Mel Kenyon, Johnny Parsons, Tom Bigelow, Merle Bettenhausen, Steve Stapp, Spike Gehlhausen, Gary Irvin and Bill Simpson, were front and center as were former USAC midget champs Kevin Olson and Steve Lotshaw and current USAC stars Kody Swanson and Justin Grant, along with midget racer Critter Malone.
Kenny Schrader, the USAC champ who made it big in NASCAR, drove in from St. Louis to shake D.J.’s hand and then got back in his truck and headed home.
Jordan was overwhelmed by the show of support. “This is what it’s all about — friendship — and I’m very thankful all you guys came out. I wish I could just sit here and trade stories and never leave.”
Indy historian Donald Davidson and motorsports author/broadcaster Dave Argabright gave some great perspective on their longtime friend but veteran announcer Pat Sullivan, who spent many years going up and down the highway to USAC races with Jordan, summed up his pals’ path perfectly.
“USAC is burned into Dick’s genetic code,” he said. “He is USAC.”