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Central Indiana attorney John LaRue
Indiana Attorney Continues Deep Racing Involvement through SCCA Runoffs at IMS
Central Indiana attorney John LaRue is back at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for another chance to win the Sports Car Club of America’s National Championship Runoffs.
LaRue won class titles in 1997 and 2016, although neither event was held at the Racing Capital of the World, and at age 58 remains competitive against the likes of Simon Sikes, a USF2000 driver whom he beat in this summer’s June Sprints at Road America.
Like many of the more than 900 competitors this week at IMS, LaRue not only drives the car, he raises his operating funds and serves as the lead mechanic.
LaRue has more than 35 years of professional motorsports experience in various capacities, with his amateur driving career always mixed in. His hair is whiter and thinner than it once was, but he can still wheel his red Citation with a Zetec engine, so he continues to do it.
“What else is there to do?” he said, laughing earlier this week in the Speedway’s B31 garage used by Chip Ganassi Racing during the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. “People say, ‘How do you get (involved) in racing?’ The problem is, how do you get out of it?”
LaRue has been attending Indianapolis 500s since 1973, getting his first opportunity to be involved with a team in 1998. That year, he helped Shawn Bayliff sign a deal with Dale Pelfrey’s new team – Team Pelfrey -- but Bayliff was unable to pass his rookie test. LaRue called Danny Ongais to drive the No. 81 Dallara/Oldsmobile, but a suspension failure in practice led to a Turn 3 crash that required significant tub repair.
With Ongais concussed and unable to return to the car, LaRue turned to John Paul Jr., who had been three years ahead of him at Delta High School near Muncie, Indiana. Paul delivered solid returns, qualifying 16th, leading 39 laps (second only to the 76 of race winner Eddie Cheever) and finished seventh after the clutch failed on the final pit stop.
LaRue was never so deeply involved with an INDYCAR team, although he did consulting work with Paul and PDM Racing co-owner Paul Diatlovich over the years. More recently, LaRue has executed legal work through his Muncie-based law firm to help young drivers, and the firm’s website lists association with Indy Lights points leader Kyle Kirkwood and last year’s Indy Pro 2000 champion Sting Ray Robb, among other young drivers.
LaRue also leads CarbonTech, a primary supplier of carbon brakes to IMSA Prototype DPi machines.
“And I do whatever else comes my way,” he said.
LaRue serves on the SCCA rules committee, which has made some cost-saving changes to the class in which he participates. The result: This week’s field has more than 30 competitors. When the Runoffs were last held at IMS, in 2017, there were 14 entries, LaRue said.
“The changes we’ve made speaks to the acceptance of the rules,” he said.
Meanwhile, LaRue continues to succeed as a competitor. He has two event titles in his career – in in the Formula Ford and Formula Continental classes – and his recent June Sprints championship was his third in the prestigious event.
LaRue has owned and raced this car since 2007, continuing to refine it. In the 2017 event at IMS, the car got hit in the fourth corner of the 30-minute race, so he is eager for redemption.
If LaRue wins his race Saturday, he will celebrate, for sure. But for a man who has stood alongside a car on the grid for the “500,” the gratification doesn’t figure to be the same.
“A lot of guys (in these Runoffs) say they’re racing at Indy and they can’t take that away from me, and yes, for me it’s surreal that I’m here running at the track with facilities that are second to none,” he said. “But until you line up here on Memorial Day weekend, walk out in a fire suit with the stands full or you’re here when the bomb goes off at 6 o’clock in the morning on Race Day, it’s different.
“This is good, but that’s Indy.”
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