News & Multimedia

Top 10 Moments of 2017 - #9: Ken and John

Editor's Note: This is the second of a series of 10 vignettes in which IMS Senior Communications Manager Paul Kelly picks his top 10 moments of 2017 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 veteran John Andretti is beloved by fans due to his common touch and always-affable nature. He is quick to sign autographs and pose for pictures, and even quicker with a smile.

But it was hard for Andretti and his fans to hide their concern when Andretti came to IMS in mid-May to give the media an update on his grave fight against Stage 4 colon cancer and to promote regular colon screenings through the hashtag #CheckIt4Andretti.

Andretti was in the race for his life. He knew it, and so did everyone else. But there was one man that day at IMS who understood what Andretti was about to face perhaps more than anyone. He wasn’t a race driver. He wasn’t a celebrity.

He was a Yellow Shirt – longtime IMS Safety Patrol member Ken DeLion.

DeLion, in his 23rd year on the Safety Patrol, continued to work at the track in his customary spot at the south pit gate even though he was diagnosed with colon cancer in late 2015. He learned that Andretti was at the track in early May of this year, and he told a writer interviewing him that he wanted to meet John and encourage him.

A meeting between the two men was arranged, and it took only a few jokes about their shared chemotherapy treatments for the famous race driver and the Yellow Shirt to form a bond of friendship.

Ken and John talked for about 20 minutes about their treatment, about their hopes and fears and about their shared experience as race fans and cancer patients. It was a moment of human magic unlike few others this year at IMS.

Andretti has undergone multiple surgeries and finished his chemotherapy treatment in early November as he battles toward remission. Sadly, DeLion passed away July 13 in his hometown of Lafayette, Indiana.

But an unlikely meeting between two men from different walks of life – but with the shared bond of a love for racing and a battle against cancer – was one of the most heart-warming human experiences of the year at IMS in 2017.

Please take time to read this beautiful feature story by Phillip B. Wilson about Ken and John’s meeting in May. It still tingles the spine and soothes the soul after multiple reads. Read now.


Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
Day 9
 
Top 10 Moments of 2017 - #9: Ken and John
DeLion, in his 23rd year on the Safety Patrol, continued to work at the track in his customary spot at the south pit gate even though he was diagnosed with colon cancer in late 2015. He learned that Andretti was at the track in early May of this year, and he told a writer interviewing him that he wanted to meet John and encourage him.
Read More
Related Media
Indianapolis 500
 
Month of May at IMS To Be Featured in Exciting Super Bowl Regional TV Commerical
The pageantry, excitement and tradition of the Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be featured in a regional advertisement airing on NBC’s telecast of Super Bowl LII on Sunday, Feb. 4.
Read More
Team Penske Rolex 24
 
Penske Shows Impressive Personal Endurance at Rolex 24
When his cars crossed the finish line Sunday, Jan. 28 at Daytona International Speedway, Roger Penske climbed down from the timing stand, hardly the worse for wear.
Read More
Rolex 24
 
Ganassi Earns Milestone Victory at Rolex 24 with Help from Dixon, Briscoe
Ganassi scored his 200th victory as a team owner in all forms of motorsports Sunday, Jan. 28 when one of his Ford GTs – the No. 67 shared by Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook – outlasted the other Ganassi entry to win the GT Le Mans class at the Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance sports car race.
Read More
Scott Dixon
 
Two Easy Cures for Winter Racing Blues This Weekend
The major North American racing season finishes right before Thanksgiving with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Then the holidays arrive with all of their joy, hustle and bustle, leaving you little free time. But once the New Year arrives, it hits you. That “Man, I miss watching live racing” feeling. Problem is, the NASCAR season doesn’t start until late February at Daytona. IndyCar, Formula 1 and MotoGP don’t start until March.
Read More
Helio Castroneves
 
Castroneves Just Misses Pole Position in Maiden Rolex 24
Helio Castroneves’ transition from Indy cars to sports cars nearly began with a pole position Thursday at Daytona International Speedway.
Read More
Items 6 - 10 of 587
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact IMS Sales Department at (317) 492-8739 or email at hospitalitysales@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
It's Pole day on @CrownRoyal Armed Forces Weekend & we can't wait to see you! Check out details on the day: https://t.co/yKQ6Db3YRK
May 21