||Our First Scheduled Guest
The team was founded in 1983 when Simon decided to bring his sponsorship from Vermont American to a new team of his own creation. He saw an immediate boost in performance as he qualified for the Indianapolis 500 for the first time since 1980 and was noticeably more competitive than he was with the Leader Card team. In 1985 Simon brought in Brazilian Raul Boesel to drive full-time as he scaled back his own racing to a part-time schedule, occasionallyning Boesel in a second car. Simon only competed in four races in 1986 as Boesel drove the team's primary car to 17th in points and was competitive in nearly every race. A number of other drivers made part-time appearances in Simon's other entry as Dick Simon Racing became one of the premier teams for pay drivers. This trend continued in 1988 which would be Simon's final year of racing as Arie Luyendyk replaced Boesel in the team's full-time entry. In 1989 Scott Brayton joined Luyendyk as the team fielded a pair of full-time fully funded entries for the first time. Luyendyk finished 10th in points while Brayton finished 15th. Luyendyk left the team for 1990 and was replaced by Japanese rookie Hiro Matsushita while Brayton again finished 15th. Matsushita took his Panasonic funding elsewhere for 1991, leaving Brayton to drive a single Simon entry to a respectable 12th place points finish. Brayton, Matsushita, and Boesel returned to the team in 1992 and Boesel finished 9th in the championship while Brayton finished 15th again. The team also fielded a car in the Indy 500 for female rookie Lyn St. James who became the second woman to compete in the race. St. James returned for a partial schedule in 1993 while Brayton and Boesel drove the full-time cars to 15th and 5th place points finishes respectively, with Boesel capturing 3 runner-up finishes. In 1994 Matsushita again returned to the team as Boesel continued in the other car, this time finishing 7th in points. In 1995 the team signed Dean Hall and Formula One veteran Eliseo Salazar to drive the team's two cars and they were joined in April by rookie Carlos Guerrero. Hall left the team after failing to qualify for the Indy 500 while Salazar and Guerrero managed 21st and 30th place points finishes respectively.
The team finished its years in CART without winning a race, but captured two poles, both by Boesel at the Milwaukee Mile in 1993 and 1994.
As an owner, Simon had a stellar record of his rookie drivers successfully qualifying for the Indy 500. As a tradition, Simon cars frequently made the effort to be "first car(s) on the track" at Indy on the opening day of practice, a popular ceremonial honor.
In 1996 Dick Simon sold much of the team's cars and assets to Team Scandia founder Andy Evans and Simon was listed on many of the team's entries in the new Indy Racing League as Simon/Scandia Racing. It was during that year that Scandia set a race record by having 7 of their cars qualify for the Indianapolis 500.
Dick Simon returned to the IRL in 1999 with Stephan Gregoire who competed in a full schedule but failed to qualify for the Indy 500 and finished 15th in points. Gregoire returned in 2000 and finished 14th in points and was joined in the Indianapolis 500 by Lyn St. James who began her IndyCar career with Simon 8 years earlier. Both cars made the race and while St. James wrecked early in the race, Gregoire finished 8th. Gregoire was set to return for a full season in 2001, but after the team again failed to qualify for the Indy 500, the team shut down in May of that year.
When his own team failed to qualify at the 2001 Indy 500, on race day Simon was hired to be the team strategist for Robby Gordon at A.J. Foyt Enterprises.
Then there is Dick Simon Marine that lead to Dick Simon.Yachts. Everything around Dick Simon seems to be perpetually in motion. There’s an audible hum that surrounds the man, a palpable, vibrating energy that screams possibility. Who else but a guy whose enthusiasm is so contagious would even think of buying and reviving a boat brokerage business in the middle of the worst economy of our lifetimes – and be excited about it? But in May of 2009, Dick and his wife Dianne, moved back to Dana Point, California and started Dick Simon Yachts, today a busy brokerage with a half dozen agents and a reputation for superior service that could only have come from someone larger than life.
||Our Third Scheduled Guest
Rodger Ward Jr.
He was born to a winner, but Rodger Ward Jr. has succeeded in his own way.
The man whom he’s named after won the Indianapolis 500 in 1959 and ‘62. During his 15-year 500 career, Rodger Ward also had six top-five finishes and seven in the top 10.
Junior was 17 the first time his father won the big race.
“It was a highlight,” Rodger Ward Jr. said. “(My brother and I) thought we were so cool.”
Looking back, Ward says being the son of an Indianapolis 500 champion afforded him the opportunity to meet many famous people. He talked football with Johnny Unitas and had dinner with Apollo astronauts. People like Roger Penske and Tony George could pick him out in a crowd.
But that stature also helped fuel his already self-destructive irresponsibility.
“I was way too impressed with myself for not having accomplished anything,” Ward said of his youth. “‘What did you do?’ Well, I was his son. That doesn’t cut much grass.”
That mindset partly explains why Ward didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps.
“My racing career is so limited that you had to read the small print,” he said.
Ward was a motorcross champion in his native Southern California and did a little Go Kart racing here. But he was never willing to pay his dues to be a race car driver.
“I wasn’t truly focused and responsible enough — when I was at the age to develop the talent — to do it,” Ward said. “People with the attention span of a gnat don’t belong in a race car.”
He was owner of a tire store in SoCal with his father when a friend offered him a job selling printed circuit boards. Ward ameliorated that into his own business as an electronics distributor. He moved that here in 1990.
“When I first moved to Indiana, I’m going up (State Road) 136 and a couple kids are crossing the road,” Ward said. “One of them is carrying a gas can. He sets it down, pulls a candy bar out of his pocket and starts splitting it with whomever he was with, picked up the gas can, and started going again. We had to slow down and almost stop to avoid hitting them. There were two or three cars that had to do that. Nobody honked and yelled and screamed.
“Right away I realized there was something different about here than there. I’m much impressed. I really like Indiana.”
But it’s the church, of all things you’d expect with this guy, that Ward considers his passion. About 10 years ago, the district superintendent of the Methodist Church called asking him to be a pastor.
“I’m pretty crusty, so it didn’t really occur to me that that call would ever come,” Ward said. “People always talk about ‘The Calling.’ I said I’d do it. Next thing you know they send you to four weekends of school, pat you on the butt, and out you go.”
Ward now leads the Methodist churches at Mace and New Ross in Montgomery County. The Calling, he’s found, is equally fun and challenging. But most of all, it’s rewarding.
Sure, Ward’s met many famous people. But he’s become comparably enamored with the woman of modest means, with four young children, who recently finished school to become a registered nurse. And with the 90-year-old man who still sleeps in the room he was born in. And with the four generations in one family that gather every year at the 4-H fair.
“Who’s the richest man in the place? The guy watching all this happen,” Ward said. “Those are values you don’t learn to appreciate in Southern California without someone browbeating you. Those are the values I really like about Indiana.”
As much as Ward is removed from his past, he’s still a regular at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Up until three years ago, he had a radio program on WKLU called “Auto Sport Radio.” He still goes to the race every year too. Unlike before, though, he doesn’t have a favorite in the field.
“I just want to see a good car race,” he said.
And even though Ward never followed his father into the winner’s circle, or even onto the track, he has no regrets.
“Will Rogers said you find a job you like, you’ll never work another day in your life,” Ward said. “That’s me. I’ve never had a job I didn’t like.”
||Our Second Scheduled Guest
Eliseo Salazar is a Chilean racing driver. He participated in 37 Formula One World Championship Grand Prix (debuting on 15 March 1981) scoring a total of three championship points. Salazar currently participates in the Chilean national rally championship.
After racing in the British F1 Championship in 1980 with a Williams FW07, and winning in Silverstone, he moved to Formula One in 1981, with March. He switched midseason to Ensign, and finished 6th in the Dutch Grand Prix. In 1982 he drove for ATS, and finished 5th in the San Marino Grand Prix, a race where only 7 teams entered due to the FISA-FOCA war. His most noted career moment in Formula One came when he collided with the overtaking race leader Nelson Piquet in the 1982 German Grand Prix. After both drivers got out of their stricken cars, the angry Piquet started to punch and kick Salazar. Salazar did not respond to the assault due to the friendship with the Brazilian driver, who helped him in his first European experiences as a driver. Months later Piquet apologize to Salazar over the phone, after being told by a BMW mechanic that the engine in his car was about to expire anyway, and that Salazar avoided BMW the embarrassment of an engine failure at their home race. (BMW officials were in attendance). In 1983 he entered six races with RAM Racing, but the car was very slow and he only managed to qualify twice. He finished 14th in Jacarepagua and retired in Long Beach with gearbox failure.
After the Chilean economic crisis in the early years of the 1980's, Salazar had to leave F1, and competed with little success at the Formula 3000 championship and the South American Formula Three Championship in some races. He began to race rally in Chile, becoming the champion of the 1985 hill-climbing season in Chile in a Toyota Corolla XT.
In late '80s, Salazar drove some races in the FIA World Sport Prototype Championship. His best result was 1st place at the C-1 class in the '88 Fuji 1000 km in Japan with a Spice SE88C Ford car of the BP Spice Engineering. Thanks to his contacts with Tom Walkinshaw, he joined the Jaguar Silk-Cut factory team, to dispute the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In the 1989 race, the Chilean, with Alain and Michel Ferte, achieved the 8th place with the Jaguar XJR-9; but his best result would be winning the 1990 event of the historic race in a Jaguar XJR-12, but after driving several hours in the No. 3 car, he was forced to leave his seat to the British driver Martin Brundele, who received the chequered flag, and Salazar was forced to move to the No. 4 car, which retired at 20 hours with mechanical problems (Brundle's original car, the No. 1, was pulled out at 14 hours for electrical problems). For that particular fact, he was named the 1990 Sportsman of the Year by the prestigious British magazine Autosport.
After years with no competition, working as a co-host in the TV show "Video Loco" (Amnerica's Funniest Videos' Chilean version), Salazar received an opportunity to join the Ferrari-Momo factory team for the 1994 IMSA Sport Prototype championship in the WSC World Sport Car) series, with the Italian Gianpiero Moretti. He raced at the Exxon World Sports Car Championship in 1994 and 1995 with several races won and podiums with the Ferrari 333 SP. Those results were good enough to pull him to the Indy Car World Series.
He signed a contract with the Dick Simon Racing in 1995 to race in the CART Indy Car World Series, with a strong debut at the Indy 500. With a Lola-Cosworth, he started 33rd and finished 4th in the Cristal-Copec-Mobil 1 No.7.
When the IRL and CART split in 1996, Salazar chose to compete in the new series. He became a regular top driver at Indy 500 with four Top 10 results. His best result at Indianapolis was in 2000, when he started and finished on 3rd place, at the wheel of a G-Force-Oldsmobile Aurora for A.J. Foyt Enterprises.
In 1997, Salazar earned his first and only victory in IRL racing, at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, racing for Team Scandia. That year, he also made his only start at a NASCAR sanctioned race, finishing 17th on the Watkins Glen International road course, in the Craftsman Truck Series.
2000 and 2001 were the best years in the IRL for Salazar, finishing 4th and 5th in those championships, with five top 5 results in 2000. In 2002, he suffered a serious accident testing at Indianapolis, and was forced miss several races. After much consideration Salazar decided to retire from Indy Car racing and focus on Sports Cars.
Salazar later joined the American Le Mans Series, where he raced in a Porsche 911 GT3 and a Ferrari 360.
||Our Fourth Scheduled Guest