Checkered Past: One ‘Sick’ Season

No trips to California. No swings through New York. No banquet. This was “The Year From Hell!” Historians will reflect on 2020 well past the next plague. The global pandemic, called COVID-19, brought the world to a grinding halt. Everyone was told to stay home, buy a mask. Prior to 2020, those who hid faces …

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Checkered Past: Two Winners

Halfway to Indianapolis from Fort Wayne is Fairmount, IN. It is an Indiana town like countless Indiana towns, home to fewer than 3000 folks and more churches than stoplights. Yet seven decades ago, the tiny town became “The Birthplace of Cool” because James Dean lived there. The iconic “Rebel Without a Cause” was born in …

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CHECKERED PAST: The Port

Port Royal, Pennsylvania’s sparkling “Speed Palace” is evidence that a beautiful swan can evolve from an ugly duckling. To say that such a beautiful woman scarcely reflects her rough origins is to compare splintered oak to polished steel. The old girl had plenty of personality and atmosphere but today’s heartbreaking half-mile is superior in every …

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Checkered Past: Shark Evolution

“Original Outlaw” is no token term. Originally, auto racing outlaws were those without membership in the austere Automobile Association of America and by proxy, no honest shot at the Indianapolis 500. AAA became USAC in 1956. Rear engines replaced roadsters and sprint car drivers were as welcome as rain. Sprint cars were no longer stepping …

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CHECKERED PAST: Chronicles of Kansas

Kansas conjures various images: “Wizard of Oz” courage, herds of cattle, staunch conservatives, amber waves of grain, “Carry On Wayward Son.” Sunflower State grows no pro sport but college basketball at the University of Kansas holds fanatical appeal and much ESPN money. NCAA championships in 1952, 1988 and 2008 fanned those flames. “Rock chalk, Jayhawk!” …

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CHECKERED PAST: Nine Seconds

To drive a lurching, snarling sprint car across a rutted dirt track has been compared to sitting on the back of a raging bull. Each is an attempt to control what sane people see as uncontrollable. Wichita, Kansas cowboy A.J Shepherd compared the two extreme sports. After busting broncos, Shepherd won CRA and IMCA sprint …

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Checkered Past: Seven Seasons of Sam

Sammy Swindell is an international treasure that rivals have buried both figuratively and professionally. Public relations were always an Achilles Heel and why his Simpson Safety shoes never took root at the Indianapolis 500 or Daytona 500. No one ever questioned his talent or acumen. Sammy would have modified and mastered those machines just as …

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