---- — After nearly 20 years of covering and announ-cing races at the Kokomo Speedway, I thought I had finally overcome my fear of public speaking. I mean, there are many nights that I do Victory Lane interviews with more than a thousand people in the grandstands.
Last week, at the induction of Bill Lipkey to the Howard County Automotive Heritage Hall of Fame at the Ivy Tech Convention Center, those old fears crept back in.
It wasn’t because of the amount of people in attendance, rather, it was who was in attendance.
It was a potpourri of folks that I grew up respecting and those who have earned my respect with all they have accomplished since I’m now considered an adult (although many might argue that).
Walking toward the convention center it was hard to miss the Midwest Old Time Vintage Car display in the jam-packed parking lot. Then, to have a lengthy conversation about the old days with Tom Chalk — all of that was before even entering the building.
Once inside there were countless people on hand that I’ve admired including Steve Butler, Jim Lipkey, Kent Evans, USAC’s Jason McCord, Mayor Greg Goodnight, Mike Karichoff, the O’Connor family, Spencer Racing, Tim Bookmiller and all the members of HCAH just to mention a few.
Although going in I knew I was to present one of the Inspiration Award to the O’Connor family for their contributions and continued efforts to make the Kokomo Speedway one of the most popular dirt track venues in the country, having seen everyone on hand, I’ll admit for the first time in years, I just about froze.
In the end, I murmured through my part and Evans did a remarkable job as keynote speaker, telling of his relationship with Mr. Lipkey and recounting numerous tales from years past. The former track owner who took over the reins from the Lipkey family in 1994 spoke candidly about how Mr. Lipkey influenced him over the years.
To say that one thing was a particular highlight wouldn’t be fair.
The whole night was a highlight. From the nostalgia in the parking lot as well as inside the Convention Center to watching former track owner Albert Miller’s widow being presented with a second Inspiration Award was touching.
Especially cool was talking with Butler and Scott Ronk, the car owner for Parker Price-Miller, in the parking lot following the festivities.
Butler, who today still looks like he could go out and contend for a championship, talked about his career and his Indianapolis 500 experience.
While driving home it occurred to me just how special the night was. For that, I would like to thank Gary Loveless, Dan Bell, Chuck Showalter, Dave Griffey, Steve Ortman, Vern Graves, Bob Gollner and all the others on the board for allowing me to be a part of such a special night. Also, to all of the other fine folks who were on hand and made the night what it was.
It was one that I won’t ever forget.
Brett Bowman may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the sports department.