James Garner Got Nailed
by JP [6/03/2006]
Heading over in 2 days for the 2006 F1 weekend.....things have
changed in my 40 years at the Speedway! Now I look forward
to staying downtown, dinner at St. Elmo etc. which was not the
case in '66!
I guess there are a lot of good stories out of 40 years at the
track.....sneaking into the Granatelli/Chapman garages after all
the turbines dropped out, even had my date thrown out for
One story I remember takes place somewhere around the
69/70 500. In those days it was feast or famine. I had free
Penthouse tickets or was relegated to the infield. This time I was
in the first turn infield. Track activities were gearing up to the start
of the race. A race fan next to me was expounding about the
excitement that leads up from the track opening till the start your
engines command. I agreed, the build-up of excitement was
incredible and thats what draws me back to the Speedway each
He said, you know, before the start of last year race he saw
James Garner walking towards turn 1 to watch the start. He
threw a beer can to get his attention and got to chat with the
Maverick/Grand Prix star.
Well its deja vu all over again as James Garner is heading up to
his favorite position to watch the beginning of the race.......well,
to get his attention he picks up a beer can and heaves it towards
Jim. This time it got more than his attention as the can hit him in
Needless to say Mr. Garner was not pleased and had more
than chatting on his mind. He climbed to the top of the fence with
fire in his eyes and pointing to the hapless fan. He decided not to
pursue this poor guy through the tangle of blankets, coolers, cans
and passed out spectators. I think it was far safer for him to drive
the pace car!
I had the desire to go to the 500 for as long as I can remember.
I'd have the radio on during the Memorial Day cookouts, listening
to the excitement but could not get my parents to go to the track!
I had to wait till I had my own car....soon as I was out of High
school, had a summer job, bought a car, then it was the start of
many treks to the Speedway. If I only knew that a high school
classmate had the same desire, his name is Ron Hemmelgarn.
He didn't have a ride over either so he hitch-hiked to Indy!
It wasn't long after seeing Jim Garner in Grand Prix that I was
camping at Watkins Glen......but that another story!
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