NASCAR-WCUP, BUSINESS: Brickyard 400: Sponsor Has Deep Speedway Roots
31 July 1998INDIANAPOLIS, -- Jim Gardner III has a small role in this week's Brickyard 400 as an associate sponsor on the Midwest Transit Chevrolet driven by rookie Dan Pardus, but his association with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been a long one.
Gardner's father, Jim "Radio" Gardner Jr., was a mechanic on the famed Novis in the Indy 500 and was around the track in May for 65 years. He brought his son to the track for the first time in 1946, when the younger Gardner was 10.
Seventeen years later Gardner III changed the right-rear wheel on Jimmy Clark's Lotus during the famed Scotsman's first two 500's. Later, he worked with Dan Gurney and his All-American Racing team.
Then he switched to NASCAR and helped Elmo Langley for 35 years. Now he has moved from Cleveland to Charlotte, N.C., and is a car owner in ARCA with Pardus as his driver. He purchased NASCAR star Kenny Schrader's equipment when Schrader started a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team.
"Radio would turn over in his grave knowing I was spending all his money as a car owner," said Gardner III with a laugh.
Gardner Jr. earned his unusual nickname because he had one of the first radio stations in Kentucky when he was 12 years old. Radio first met Lou Welch, builder of the famed Novis, in 1928 and worked under chief mechanic Jean Marcinac during the reign of the powerful machines.
Gardner III earned his own fame as a football player. He played offensive guard for Duke University and the Cleveland Browns, opening holes for Jim Brown in the early 1960s. He wore No. 75.
Gardner was asked for his reaction to the Indianapolis Colts signing rookie quarterback Peyton Manning to a contract valued at $48 million Wednesday.
"More power to him," Gardner III said.
"I signed a contract in 1960 for $12,000. But it only was for 12 weeks. One-thousand dollars a week was pretty good money in 1960."
BRICKYARD 400 NOTEBOOK
Event schedule: The fifth annual Brickyard 400 starts at 12:15 p.m. (CDT) Aug. 1. Pole Day qualifying starts at 1:30 p.m. July 30. Qualifying for starting positions 26-36 begins at noon July 31.
Broadcast schedule: The Brickyard 400 will be broadcast live on ABC and the IMS Radio Network at 1 p.m. (EDT) Aug. 1. ESPN's "On The Grid" prerace show starts at noon (EDT) Aug. 1, while the IMS Radio Network prerace show starts at 12:30 p.m. Aug. 1.
ESPN will televise Pole Day live from 2:30-4 p.m. July 30. ESPN2 will offer live Pole Day coverage from 4-5 p.m. July 30 and live second-day qualifying from 1-2 p.m. July 31.
The IMS Radio Network will broadcast live on Pole Day from 2-4 p.m. July 30. Qualification wrap-up shows will be broadcast from 6-6:30 p.m. July 30-31, with hourly reports both days starting at 11:15 a.m.
ESPN and ESPN2 also will provide thorough coverage of Brickyard 400 practice and race previews July 31. Practices will be shown on ESPN2 from 6-7 p.m. July 31. The "Before They Go Green" preview will be shown on ESPN from 7:30-8:30 p.m. July 31.