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
Rossi Long Beach
 
Rossi Capped Perfect Home State Weekend with Long Beach Victory
Alexander Rossi sought redemption for the one he felt got away at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The Andretti Autosport driver made up for it in dominant fashion, completing a nearly flawless weekend with a flawless drive to win today’s race.
Read More
IMS President Doug Boles and Indy 500 veteran Sarah Fisher help announce the new Midway enhancements in style at IMS
 
Sarah Fisher, Doug Boles Kart Across Yard of Bricks
View Photos
IMS Midway
 
Variety of Exciting, Fan-Friendly Enhancements Added to IMS Midway in 2018
A wide array of exciting new features are being added to the Fan Midway for the Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including karting in partnership with Speedway Indoor Karting, simulators and virtual reality displays.
Read More
Josef Newgarden
 
Newgarden Wins Under The Lights in Phoenix
The defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion beat rookie Robert Wickens by 2.9946 seconds on the ISM Raceway 1.022-mile oval to collect his eighth career victory. Newgarden, in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, was among eight lead-lap drivers who made a pit stop for a new set of Firestone tires during the race's second caution period when Ed Jones hit the Turn 4 SAFER Barrier on Lap 229 of 250.
Read More
Jordan King
 
Rookie King Eager To Make Most of Shortened ‘Month of May’ in INDYCAR Grand Prix
Series rookie King will drive in the INDYCAR Grand Prix on May 11-12 as part of his 11-race program on road and street courses with Ed Carpenter Racing. Once the checkered flag flies on the IMS road course Saturday, May 12, King will hand the keys for the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet to team owner Ed Carpenter, who is driving that machine in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on Sunday, May 27.
Read More
Items 11 - 15 of 873