Herk’s Record Run
The fourth day of qualifications – 1960 – I was nine years old. My older brother (14 years older) had two Mister Softee trucks. He was privileged to have them at the Speedway during the month of May. One was behind Tower Terrace near Gasoline Alley and the other was stationed inside turn two. Because of this I was at the track everyday that I didn’t have to be in school. I loved it.
On the last day of qualifications we arrived early as usual. It was overcast and threatening rain. There were still several positions to fill the field, so if the weather held we should see a bunch of qualifying attempts. The first in line was a driver that I remembered from the previous year’s Hoosier Hundred, Jim Hurtubise. He had driven my hero Johnny Thomson’s pink number three that day. This day he had what I thought was the most beautiful car I had ever seen; two-tone candy purple number 56.
I was on top of the ice cream truck in turn two when Hurtubise took to the track. I’ll never forget the announcement of the first lap; “. . . it’s a NEW track record, one-hundred and forty-eight miles per hour.”
WOW! He broke the track record by quite a bit for those days. A rookie that I had barely heard of. The second lap was announced and it was even faster, now it was one-hundred and forty-nine! Could he hit a hundred and fifty? That was impossible,wasn’t it?
After the second lap was announced my brother, who I thought was at the truck by Gasoline Alley, is pounding on the side of the truck I was jumping up and down on.
“Hey, can you believe this? Listen, here comes the third lap announcement.”
It was even faster! Another new track record. There seemed to be electricity in the air. It nearly makes my eyes well up with tears as I write this. I’m sure nothing had ever excited me that much in my young life.
Then as he’s exiting turn four Tom Carnegie says “OH NO, he’s lost it . . no, he’s straightened it out?” That made the fourth lap just a little slower than the third, but it was still a four-lap average of over 149 miles per hour.
Thank you Jim Hurtubise, wherever you are.