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
Yoshihide Muroya and Takuma Sato
 
Sato Inspires Muroya, Shares in Japanese Joy of Red Bull Air Race World Title
An emotionally overwhelmed Yoshihide Muroya wiped away tears of joy as the reality started to sink in. A jubilant Takuma Sato raised his arms as if vicariously reliving his own euphoric, career-defining moment.
Read More
Yoshihide Muroya
 
Muroya Wins Red Bull Air Race, World Championship in Dramatic Day at IMS
Yoshihide Muroya of Japan flew to his first Red Bull Air Race World Championship in dramatic style Sunday, winning the season-ending event with a track-record run in the final round at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Read More
Melanie Astles
 
Challenger Cup Pilots Bergér and Astles Clinch Historic Firsts in Indianapolis
History was made twice at the Red Bull Air Race season finale on Sunday, 15 October 2017, when Challenger Class pilot Mélanie Astles of France became the first woman to claim a major motorsport win of any kind at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Germany’s Florian Bergér became the first pilot ever to win back-to-back Challenger Cup season championships.
Read More
Melania Astles
 
Perseverance Helps Female Pilot Astles Soar toward Dreams in Red Bull Air Race
Astles, 35, also made history last year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the best finish by a female flyer when she placed a career-best second in the Challenger Cup race. Now she’s in position to rewrite the record books with an unprecedented victory Sunday. The Challenger Class race starts at noon.
Read More
Red Bull Air Race World Championship
 
Australian Hall, Frenchwoman Astles Set Pace in Qualifying for Red Bull Air Race World Championship at IMS
Australian Matt Hall continued his strong weekend by taking the top qualifying spot Saturday in the Master Class for the Red Bull Air Race World Championship event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Read More
Items 15 - 19 of 246
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
 
We've created a new webpage that will help even an #Indy500 first-timer enjoy Race Day like a pro! Check it out:… https://t.co/kB4UhMmAKR
May 21