IBJOpinion

LOPRESTI: One Indy 500 race car will be covered with poignant stories

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

mike lopresti sportsSo maybe you’ve heard of Cutters Race Team. That’s the new idea where, for a few bucks, you can help sponsor an Indianapolis 500 race car. So can your neighbor. So can your plumber.

They call it The People’s Car. How’s it going? We’ll get to that in a minute, but first, can you keep a secret?

It concerns Kathie Mason’s surprise for her son Dylan O’Dell. He’s a petty officer, second class, sailing around somewhere in the Middle East on the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman. But come Indianapolis 500 race day, Dylan will be back home again in Indiana, and his name is going to be right there on one of the cars.

Yep, he’s a People’s Car sponsor. Just like his last name was Valvoline. Only, he’s not supposed to know that yet, so this is just between us, right?

The People’s Car is the idea of Jason Godby and Travis Tetrault of Indianapolis. For $100, you get a package including a T-shirt, a towel and your name on the car, perhaps next to Goodyear. You can go as high as $700, with more perks.

Dylan has a $200 package coming, but that’s classified.

“He kind of gets gypped at Christmas because he’s on a ship and I can’t send him a whole lot of stuff,” his mother was saying. “I thought this would be a good welcome home gift, and maybe it’d make up a little bit for Christmas, too.”

Godby and Tetrault are hoping to sign up 10,000 sponsors for $1 million and help woo the masses back to the race, on the theory that maybe it has lost a step or two in recent times.

“We’re just a couple of race fans that are trying to make a difference,” Godby said.

“The track was a great place to be, but there was a feeling it had lost that attraction,” Tetrault said. “How can we bring that back? A great way to do that is to get more people involved, and we thought the best way to do that was to bring along 10,000 other fans who wanted to be connected.”

So how’s it going? Closing in on 10,000 through that www.cuttersrt.com website?

“We’re a little shy of that,” Godby said, not prepared to say what “a little” means.

But sponsors have come from 25 states, Canada, South America.

“We’ve got our own little club down in Brazil,” Tetrault said.

Just lately, the two guys were loading packages for mailing until the middle of the night. And they coughed up their own sponsor payments, too.

“That was part of our deal,” Godby said. “If we’re doing it, we’re still putting our own money in. Travis and I put in our hundred bucks, and we’re up until 2:30 packing everybody else’s packages. It’s been a heck of a ride.”

One thing they didn’t expect was so much emotion to come bouncing back to them from people buying sponsorships with their heart more than their credit card. Many names on the car will be in honor of a child, or in memory of a parent.

“That was kind of shocking,” Tetrault said. “We were just doing this as a way to experience the race a different way, and get a bunch of race fans involved. We found out there was a lot deeper meaning to this.”

And so the name of John Richardville, who did not miss an Indy 500 for 40 years until he lost his fight with cancer, will be on there, at the request of his widow, Sheila. And Skid, the Colorado search and rescue dog, will be a four-legged sponsor, because of his owner, Jill Reynolds.

And Dylan O’Dell will walk off his aircraft carrier in April and get the news. He saw his first race at age 8, and 14 years later, has missed only one since, when he was deployed overseas.

“To see his face is going to be priceless,” said Kathie, who figures this gift will top the previous gold standard in presents to her son: a game for his PlayStation. “I’m going to be very emotional because I know what this race means to him.”

But will the surprise hold, or will some blabbermouth tweeter spill the beans?

“I’ve got my fingers crossed,” she said.

The People’s Car has been getting plenty of business from older fans but would like to reach out to the younger set. There is no driver yet, and if there aren’t enough sponsors for an entire car, one of Sarah Fisher’s entries will carry the names. Cutters Race Team wishes to make it clear this year is just a start—a brainstorm with barely time yet to blossom.

“The main thing we want to get out there to everybody is, we will be back,” Tetrault said. “We want to make sure people understand that we can make this happen.”

Meantime, Dylan O’Dell, fresh from the high seas, will soon get a thrill. So please, don’t mention this to anyone else. Loose lips sink ships, not to mention a mother’s plans.•

__________

Lopresti is a lifelong resident of Richmond and a graduate of Ball State University. He was a columnist for USA Today and Gannett newspapers for 31 years; he covered 34 Final Fours, 30 Super Bowls, 32 World Series and 16 Olympics. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at mlopresti@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • the 500 racing is still great
    While everyone has been complaining about TV ratings and the poor job that ESPN has done since it bought ABC, the Indy 500 racing has been great. While everyone has been complaining about how Tony George and his family screwed everything up, the Indy 500 racing has been great. Stop bitching about stuff and just go to the Indy 500 and enjoy the great racing. Change is going to happen, some good and some bad. The Indy 500 racing has improved every year for the last 5 or 6 years and no one seems to notice. We are lucky to have such a great race in our hometown for all of these years. By the way, the "snake pit" is back, but don't go. You are too old to enjoy it. The music is too loud, the scantily clad girls are too young and your heart will give out! Next, you're going to complain that Tony George forced Jim Nabors to retire this year, and Lloyd Ruby a few years back.
  • Interesting idea
    I like this idea. I might even toss in 100. Part of the reason the Indy 500 has taken a hit is because of horrible management by the family. Tinkering with tradition was just stupid. If it is t broke, don't fix it. Drivers jumping from team to team, new drivers every year, hard to be a fan of a driver if he it she is there for 1 year and then gone. Bring back the "snake pit", bring back the "new track records" and stop screwing with all the rule changes!!
    • Carl Haas could get millions
      for one sticker placed on a car; but that was before someone came along and fixed everything

      Post a comment to this story

      COMMENTS POLICY
      We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
       
      You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
       
      Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
       
      No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
       
      We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
       

      Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

      Sponsored by
      ADVERTISEMENT

      facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
       
      Subscribe to IBJ
      1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

      2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

      3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

      4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

      5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

      ADVERTISEMENT