Where Are They Now? Jimmy Hensley

Published On July 24, 2013 » 1417 Views» By Jan Shaffer » Blogs, Brickyard 400, Where Are They Now?

Jimmy Hensley was a fan of the Indianapolis 500, so when NASCAR’s finest came to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994, it was special.

“One of my biggest thrills was making that first race,” Hensley said. “Eighty-some cars going for 43 spots. It’s the most nervous I’ve been trying to qualify. That was trying.

Jimmy Hensley

“It was awesome. When I was young, watching those Indy cars go around, it was awesome. I’ve always been NASCAR since I’m from this part of the country (Virginia). This year’s Indy 500 was the best race I ever watched … 68 lead changes … you never knew who’d be leading when they came back to the line.”

Hensley, 67, raced in the Brickyard 400 in 1994 and 1995 before retiring to his Ridgway, Va., home after running NASCAR’s truck series in 2001.

Like Dale Earnhardt and others, Hensley was cognizant of the history of the Speedway when he arrived in 1994.

“The first time I went out, it felt something different,” he said. “The history of it … you just got caught up in it. As a kid in the ‘50s, I always watched the ‘500.’ You have four corners up there instead of two. It takes some getting used to. It was kind of awkward. We couldn’t run wide open like the Indy cars, but you try to be fast and smooth at the same time.”

Although he enjoyed watching Indy cars, he didn’t think he’d like to try one out.

“I’m 6-3,” he said. “I don’t think I’d fit.”

Hensley misses the sport.

“I miss racing – parts of it,” he said. “I’m old school in just thinking ‘drive it hard.’ But I miss seeing the people more than anything. I go to (the races) at Martinsville because it’s close to where I live. You do it for 30-some years, it’s like your own family. Sometimes you spend more time with that family than your own family.”

But Hensley isn’t all the way out of racing.

“I mow the grass and have a 9-year-old grandson (Colby Quick) in go-karts, so I don’t do a lot of work,” he said. “He’s doing great. He started when he was four and has already won 101 features. I’ve always been scared starting that early that you can get burned out, but that’s what he wants to do right now.

“They run dirt tracks all the time. His daddy (Cory Quick) sets ‘em up. He’s a tire changer for Bobby Labonte. They go to Missouri, Florida, Tennessee, all over.”

And that’s where Jimmy Hensley keeps his hand in … just a little.

Tags

About The Author


I have seen 50 Indianapolis 500’s live, as a fan and in the media and motorsports PR business, plus two with Tom Carnegie’s son on closed-circuit TV in Kansas City when in college during the 1960s. I started my career as a sportswriter in Danville, Ill., Rochester, N.Y., and Pontiac, Mich., before moving into public relations in 1980. My PR stints took me from Michigan International Speedway to CART. I started Shaffer Communications in 1985 to handle media relations in auto racing and air shows and have worked with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in various capacities, including Daily Trackside Report editor and News Bureau editor, since 1986. My work travels also have taken me to the Iditarod Sled Dog Race in Alaska, Infineon Raceway in California and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, among other places. I’ve also survived working for A.J. Foyt at the Hoosier Hundred! I’ve flown an airplane (straight and level) and driven a sprint car on dirt and a midget on pavement (slowly, with few other people around).
3 comments
Judy Morton Prentice
Judy Morton Prentice

A great guy. My father (Melvin Morton) loved to watch him race. He even watched re-runs. Love and prayers to him and his family.

Gary
Gary

Great article on Jimmy, he's also a hard charger on the golf course. He was a great driver of any type car they put him in, and took care of the equipment.

Roger Miller
Roger Miller

Racing needs more Jimmy Hensley's! That's all I need to sat.