Fellow world-class Indianapolis mechanics congratulate Ray Nichels for being named Mechanic of the Year; following his stellar performance of capturing the Pole, Race day Win at Daytona, setting a series of world closed-course speed record at Monza, and capturing the Pole for the3 1957 Indianapolis 500. (from left; AJ Watson, Ray Nichels, George Bignotti, and George Salih)

Films and stills from the Nichels Engineering Archives …

A trackside interview with Pat O’Connor (the Indy 500 Pole-Sitter) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — May 1957

Footage from 1958 of Rodger Ward running the 2nd Nichels Engineering Firestone Test car, with an experimental Nichels Pontiac engine.

Footage from Alabama International Speedway @ Talladega of Nichels Engineering and their #99 Dow Dodge Daytona Charger performing engineering testing. Nichels Engineering was the winner of the inaugural NASCAR race at Talladega in 1969.

The “Region Racers” Series – Rudy Nichels

By: Wm. LaDow

Rudys Place 1.jpg

In 1908, a 10-year-old boy crossed the Atlantic Ocean. He and his father journeyed from Austria with the intent of settling in America.

Though his last name was Puja when he entered Ellis Island, it was soon changed. It’s unclear whether in his pocket rested a few coins or perhaps he was cared for by a kind immigration worker who gave him some change to get a meal, but from that day forward his last name was Nichels.

After establishing their residency in Chicago, a teenage Rudy could often be found at the corner pool hall, or participating in a local “game of chance.” But a few years later, Nichels settled down in the Calumet Region’s Griffith, Indiana, got married and eventually started a family — a daughter and three sons.

Nichels was a born entrepreneur and quickly sensed that the American automobile was fast becoming more of a necessity than a luxury. He made it a point to get involved in any auto-related businesses he could find.

FTIn time he was able to parlay his savings into the purchase of a small Fisk Tire store on Ewing Avenue in South Chicago. So small was the shop that an automobile couldn’t be completely parked under the roof while having its tires changed. Using the slim profits from this business, Nichels in 1930 purchased a restaurant located at the intersection of Fifth Street and Highway Avenue in Highland.

With his wife, Gladys, doing the restaurant cooking, Nichels turned his efforts toward another business, a gasoline service station, and auto repair shop.

q_in_highland_nichel_471942In 1936, he purchased a second restaurant and tavern just two miles east, on the corner of Ridge Road and Cline Avenue. Soon, he had a service station, an auto repair garage, a restaurant and a tavern all on the northwest corner of that intersection, which he christened “Rudy’s Place.”

With his early investment in restaurants and auto repair shops starting to pay off, he began a search for another moneymaking opportunity and uncovered midget car auto racing.

The more Nichels heard about midget car racing, the more he thought it might be a good fit with his other businesses. On Oct. 10, 1937, Nichels decided to take a look at this potential business venture, and with his oldest son, 14-year-old Ray visited the newly constructed Hammond Raceway located at the junction of Sheffield and Calumet avenues. With another 7,000 fans in attendance, Nichels witnessed his first midget car race. It would not be his last. A few weeks later, Nichels purchased his first race car.

At the Hammond, Indiana Speedway 5/8th’s mile track are two Nichels midgets. The car on the left is the #25 driven by Mike O’Halloran and on the right is Teddy Duncan in the #2. Both drivers would eventually be elected to the National Midget Racing Hall of Fame. Kneeling between the Nichels cars are from left: Dale “Tiny’ Worley, Ray Nichels and Rudy Nichels – Nichels Engineering Archives

At the Hammond, Indiana Speedway 5/8th’s mile track are two Nichels Service midgets. The car on the left is the #25 driven by Mike O’Halloran and on the right is Teddy Duncan in the #2. Both drivers would eventually be elected to the National Midget Racing Hall of Fame. Kneeling between the Nichels cars are from left: Dale “Tiny’ Worley, Ray Nichels and Rudy Nichels – Nichels Engineering Archives

From that day on, Rudy threw himself whole-heartedly into auto racing, owning several cars from 1938 through the late 1940s, giving drivers such as Ted Duncan, Tony Bettenhausen, Johnnie Parsons, Paul Russo, Ray Richards and Mike O’Halloran some of the finest midget race cars in the business. All of these drivers eventually became members of the Midget Racing Hall of Fame after capturing a series of track championships driving for Nichels Service. Johnnie Parsons used his 1948 Midwest Championship driving for Nichels as a springboard toward winning the 1950 Indianapolis 500.

Nichels established “Nichels Service” shop at the corner of Cline and Ridge Road as the cornerstone of Midwest auto racing. Working with racing equipment suppliers from across the country he built a superb reputation for racing expertise. Nationally known drivers such as Ronney Householder anchored their race teams and equipment at Rudy’s Place when barnstorming across America.

Rudy Nichels shop at the corner of Cline Avenue and Ridge Road in Highland, Indiana in 1947. Working on the two Nichels owned midgets in the front of the garage is 24 year old Ray Nichels. In the back on the right in the white tee shirt is Ronney Householder, who at the time was one of the most respected drivers in racing. He went on to manage Chrysler Corporation’s racing operations from 1955 thru 1972 – Nichels Engineering Archives

Rudy Nichels shop at the corner of Cline Avenue and Ridge Road in Highland, Indiana in 1947. Working on the two Nichels owned midgets in the front of the garage is 24-year-old Ray Nichels. In the back on the right in the white tee shirt is Ronney Householder, who at the time was one of the most respected drivers in racing. He went on to manage Chrysler Corporation’s racing operations from 1955 thru 1972 – Nichels Engineering Archives

The racing business was so profitable that Nichels began promoting and sanctioning races at tracks throughout Illinois and Indiana.

It was during this time that his son, Ray, went out on his own and entered IndyCar racing, eventually competing in 15 Indianapolis 500s and building a Hall of Fame career as one of the nation’s finest mechanics and race car builders.

Rudy Nichels died in April of 1955, leaving a lasting legacy of being one of the first in a long line of Region Racers.

 

Tickets On Sale Now for Popular Holiday Attraction Presented By Fifth Third Bank

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 – Exciting new out-of-car experiences in and around the iconic IMS Pagoda, as well as a new presenting sponsor in Fifth Third Bank and a new philanthropic partnership with Riley Children’s Foundation, have been added to Lights at the Brickyard this holiday season, giving fans, families and friends rare opportunities and memorable nights at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this holiday season.

The popular 2-mile Lights course returns for a fourth year with more glistening lights than ever before! The course will feature over 3 million lights and dozens of colorful displays, and it will run through the IMS infield and historic oval, including the front stretch and world-famous “Yard of Bricks” start-finish line. On select nights in December, after fans take in the beautiful lights and displays, they can exit their car and visit three new experiences that will create a fun evening at IMS.

Plaza Village: Dec. 13-24

The iconic IMS Plaza will be dressed up with seasonal décor and decorated trees, transforming IMS into an unforgettable, Instagram-worthy winter wonderland that visitors will be excited to share with family, friends and social media. The Plaza Village Experience is open to all ticket holders at no additional expense and is the perfect chance for groups of friends and families to sit next to cozy fire pits as they admire the famed IMS Pagoda lit up for the holidays. S’mores kits, seasonal food and beverages, and retail opportunities will be available.

Pagoda Experience: Dec. 13-24

Two new experiences in and around the IMS Pagoda are now available, exclusively for Speedy Pass ticket holders: The Pagoda Lookout Experience and a Santa Claus meet and greet.

The Pagoda Lookout Experience will give fans and friends a rare opportunity to go where few have gone before: inside the iconic IMS Pagoda! This experience will take fans to the holiday-themed eighth floor of the Pagoda for a one-of-a-kind #IMSLights view, with the glowing 3 million holiday lights just below and the distant Indianapolis skyline.

Pagoda Lookout Experience guests of all ages can meet Santa Claus and take photos trackside at the base of the Pagoda. Santa will be decked out in a custom racing suit as he gears up for the 2020 racing season.

Fans who purchased Standard Lane tickets can upgrade to the Speedy Pass on-site to gain access to the Pagoda Experience.

“Each year we continue to grow Lights at the Brickyard presented by Fifth Third Bank for the fans and families that visit IMS during the holidays, and this year’s new fan experiences are just the latest reason that Lights at the Brickyard is a must-see holiday event,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “Between the 2-mile Lights course, the opportunity to hang out in the new Plaza Village and the rare chance to see Indy like never before from inside our famed Pagoda, this will be an experience fans won’t soon forget. Plus, getting to spread some holiday joy by supporting Riley Kids and the Riley Children’s Foundation makes this event so much more meaningful.”

Riley Children’s Foundation Partnership

IMS is also proud to announce Riley Children’s Foundation as its philanthropic partner during Lights at the Brickyard presented by Fifth Third Bank. This partnership will include several opportunities for fans to support Riley and spread holiday cheer. For starters, fans can take part in a “Give 10%, Save 10%” promotion. When fans buy tickets in advance at IMS.com/Riley, 10% of the cost of their ticket will be donated to Riley Children’s Foundation, and they will save 10% on their Lights at the Brickyard presented by Fifth Third Bank Speedy Pass ticket.

Also, IMS will host “Toy Tuesday” each Tuesday during Lights at the Brickyard presented by Fifth Third Bank. When fans bring toys to donate to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, they will receive $5 off their Standard Lane ticket. Toys must be brand new, unwrapped, latex free and non-toxic, and toys cannot be handmade or contain glitter.

Lights at the Brickyard presented by Fifth Third Bank is open Nov. 27-Jan. 5. Operating hours are 6-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays and 6-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. The Plaza Village and Pagoda Experience will be available Dec. 13-24 during normal hours of operation.

Admission prices are unchanged from last year. Standard Lane admission will be $25 per car on Mondays-Wednesdays and $30 per car Thursdays-Sundays at the gate. Vehicles with 15 or more passengers will be charged $50 at the gate, with Standard Lane access. Standard Lane admission can be purchased only at the gate, with each admission valid for one drive through the displays per vehicle.

The popular Speedy Pass can be purchased at its lowest price now at IMS.com for $40 per car until Nov. 26. Starting Nov. 27, online and on-site prices will be $50 Monday-Wednesday and $60 Thursday-Sunday. Speedy Pass not only gives fans exclusive access to the Pagoda Experience, but it gives participants the quickest access to the course by skipping the longer lines and arriving through a special entry near the IMS golf course.

Fans are encouraged to share their experience on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #IMSLights.

Fans can visit IMS.com for more information on Lights at the Brickyard presented by Fifth Third Bank, and IMS.com/Riley for more information on Toy Tuesday and how to support the Riley Children’s Foundation at IMS.

— Jim France Will Serve as Chairman & CEO —

Lesa France Kennedy Will Serve as Executive Vice-Chair

in New, Unified Company Under Steve Phelps’ Leadership

 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 18, 2019) – NASCAR today announced that it has successfully closed its acquisition of International Speedway Corporation (“ISC”), merging its operations into one, the new company moving forward. The new company will remain based in Daytona Beach, Florida and will continue as NASCAR. As part of this process, ISC has been delisted from NASDAQ.

In leading the new, combined company, Jim France will serve as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, with Lesa France Kennedy as Executive Vice-Chair. Steve Phelps has been appointed President and will oversee all operations of the merged entity.

“The merger of NASCAR and ISC represents a historic moment for our sport,” France said. “There is much work ahead of us, but we’re pleased with the progress made to position our sport for success. Delivering for our race fans and partners is job number one and we look forward to doing that better than ever for years to come.”

The merger represents an important step forward for NASCAR as the sport creates a unified vision to embrace its long history of exciting, family-oriented racing experiences while developing strategic growth initiatives that will drive the passion of core fans and attract the next generation of race fans.

“This sport has meant so much to our family and we are committed to leading NASCAR through this next chapter of growth,” said France Kennedy. “Combining the two companies will allow us to capture the best aspects of both operations. Our stronger organization will allow us to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities to grow the sport over the next decade plus.”

As part of the new organization, the Board of Directors will consist of France, France Kennedy, Mike Helton and Gary Crotty, Chief Legal Officer. Phelps’ direct reports will represent executives with deep industry experience, including Ed Bennett, Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer; Jill Gregory, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing and Content Officer; Craig Neeb, Executive Vice President & Chief Innovation Officer; Steve O’Donnell, Executive Vice President & Chief Racing Development Officer; and Daryl Wolfe, Executive Vice President & Chief Operations and Sales Officer. In addition, Helton and John Saunders will serve as senior advisors under the new leadership structure.

“With great racing across all of our series, an exciting 2020 schedule on tap, and the Next Gen race car in development, we are better positioned than ever before to lead the sport into a new era of growth,” said Phelps. “We have a strong, experienced leadership team in place with incredibly dedicated employees at every level throughout our organization. Our best days are ahead of us and our new organization is going to allow us to better deliver great racing to our fans everywhere.”

Advising NASCAR on this transaction were Goldman, Sachs & Co. LLC as exclusive financial advisor and Baker Botts L.L.P. as legal counsel. Dean Bradley Osborne Partners LLC served as financial advisor and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz as legal counsel to the ISC special committee. Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP served as legal counsel to ISC and BDT & Company served as financial advisors to the France family.

About NASCAR

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series™), three regional series, one local grassroots series, three international series and the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, Americrown Service and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (“NASCAR”).

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 – Motorcycle road racing will return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after a five-year absence as the MotoAmerica Series will compete Aug. 21-23, 2020, at the Racing Capital of the World.

MotoAmerica last raced at the Brickyard as a support event of the MotoGP World Championship in August 2015, the last time motorcycles have competed on the IMS road course.

MotoAmerica will bring motorcycle racing back to IMS in 2020 with all five of its classes showcased in the Championship of Indy.

“The very first motor race at IMS was a motorcycle event in 1909, and we’re proud to welcome the return of two-wheeled racing at the Speedway with MotoAmerica in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “Wayne Rainey and everyone at MotoAmerica has done a great job reinvigorating motorcycle road racing in the United States, and we can’t wait to see the best American and international riders produce some of the best competition anywhere next August at the Racing Capital of the World. This will be a great weekend of racing and entertainment for all of our loyal fans.”

Cameron Beaubier, who has since earned three MotoAmerica Superbike titles, won both of the Superbike races in 2015 at the Speedway, beating Roger Hayden by .040 of a second in race one and just .015 of a second in race two. Beaubier’s current Yamaha Superbike teammate, Garrett Gerloff, won the Supersport class by just .036 of a second over Bobby Fong.

“We are thrilled to be headed back to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a MotoAmerica round next year,” said MotoAmerica President Wayne Rainey. “Being there along with MotoGP in 2015 was a great experience, and our races were extremely close and exciting. Now we get the chance to go back with all of our classes in a standalone event, and that’s a real privilege. It also shows just how far our series has come since our first year. Our riders who didn’t get the opportunity to race at Indy back in 2015 will be pumped to get the chance to race there. We also know that our fans will be just as excited to visit an iconic racetrack in a truly motorsports-driven city. Not too many know this, but our final deal to secure the rights to the series was finalized at the Brickyard – right there in the Pagoda, at the home of U.S. motorsports. So, it’s gratifying to be returning there to race again.”

The MotoAmerica event at IMS also will take place on the same weekend as the popular Motorcycles on Meridian festival Saturday evening, Aug. 22 in downtown Indianapolis. The annual event is hosted and planned by Downtown Indy, Inc.

Ticket information will be available soon at IMS.com for the MotoAmerica round in August 2020.

— Chicago Cubs and Indiana Pacers among Clients of Award-Winning Chicago-Based Agency —

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 – INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have named Chicago-based Schafer Condon Carter (SCC) as their comprehensive creative agency of record, charged with developing aligned national promotional campaigns surrounding the NTT IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

SCC, founded in 1989, creates award-winning campaigns and strategies for a diverse, impressive range of local, regional and national clients in sports and consumer products, including the Chicago Cubs, Indiana Pacers, Indiana Fever, Procter & Gamble, Danone, Portillo’s restaurants and more.

The first campaigns of the multiyear partnership will be unveiled before the start of the 2020 IndyCar racing season.

“SCC is the right choice to help the INDYCAR and Indianapolis 500 brands gain an even greater national profile and continue their trend of year-over-year growth in media consumption and ticket sales,” said Mark Miles, president and CEO of Hulman & Company, the parent company of INDYCAR and IMS. “SCC’s outstanding work speaks for itself, with its creativity and energy earning many national awards, recognition and success for all kinds of clients. We believe they can help us more effectively and aggressively position the NTT IndyCar Series, our teams and drivers and all of our world class sporting events at IMS.”    

SCC will work to elevate the brands and accelerate the momentum of the NTT IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, closely aligning the synergies and strategies between the world’s most competitive racing series and the world’s largest single-day sporting event.

One particularly recognizable campaign SCC executed for the Chicago Cubs is the “Fly the W” campaign that was a hallmark of the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 world championship season.

“We are extremely honored to have been selected by INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to become their strategic and creative partner,” said David Selby, CEO of SCC.  “The opportunity to help steward and grow the iconic INDYCAR and Indianapolis 500 brands are exceptional.  They are unique in the world of sport, and among an elite group of brands with such rich history and legacy.  All of us at SCC look forward to playing a critical role in elevating their positioning and driving deeper fan engagement with the NTT IndyCar Series, the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge and all of the exceptional events and experiences at IMS.”

SCC is an independent creative and technology agency that connects humans and brands through insight-fueled experiences. A simple mission drives SCC’s entrepreneurial, people-first, results-obsessed culture – We work for humans. SCC’s work is based on deep human insights and an understanding of the communities and cultures within which brands compete.

SCC’s integrated practices include SCCdigital, SCCprism, SCCdesign, SCCmedia, & MAKE247 content studio. The company operates a private equity portfolio, SCCventures, with holdings in the food & tech sectors. SCC is privileged to work with outstanding partners that include Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, The Chicago Cubs, Ideal Industries, Portillo’s Restaurants, Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market & Solo Cup.

The independent agency is a fully integrated shop employing over 120 creative, energetic, passionate professionals based in the eclectic West Loop neighborhood of Chicago. To learn more about SCC, visit www.schafercondoncarter.com