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
Al Unser, Bobby Unser
 
'The Amazing Unsers' Exhibit on Display Now at IMS Museum
One of the most iconic families in the history of auto racing will be honored with a once-in-a-lifetime exhibit as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum presents "The Amazing Unsers: From Albuquerque to Indianapolis," opening April 9.
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
Parnelli Jones
 
Memory Lane: Parnelli Jones, 1963
All of Jones’ talent was on display in 1963 in the beautiful roadster famously nicknamed “‘Ol Calhoun” that he also drove in the “500” in 1961 and 1962. He won the pole at a record average speed of 151.153 mph and led 167 of the 200 laps for a 33.84-second victory over Lotus star Jim Clark.
Read More
Hulman Terrace Club
 
TAG Heuer Becomes Presenting Sponsor of Hulman Terrace Club
TAG Heuer – a pioneer in motorsports sponsorship for over 50 years – has become a presenting sponsor of the Hulman Terrace Club at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. TAG Heuer already is the “Official Timepiece of the Indy 500” and “Official Timepiece of the Verizon IndyCar Series.” In March 2018, just in time for the start of the season in St. Petersburg, Florida, TAG Heuer announced the extension of its partnership with IMS and the series for the next three years.
Read More
Items 15 - 19 of 2,947