|photos from the Howertons|
The Lowe's cashier looked
closely at his credit card.
Are you any relation to Jackie Howerton?
I was at the Hoosier Hundred back in '74'.
'Your dad drove one hell of a race'.
Ricky smiled and thanked the man.
That was more than forty years ago now.
On the ride home from the store,
Ricky's thoughts drifted back to that day.
They were just little kids excited to
watch their dad race.
Ricky & his brother had no idea how
lethal sprint cars can be.
Jackie Howerton said 'The last thing you want
to see is the yellow flag when you're leading
the biggest race of your life by half a lap.'
Worse yet was the Vel's-Parnelli Super Team
of Al Unser and Mario Andretti were
running second and third.
Those two won every race that season so far.
The field closed up for the restart.
Now his lead and his tires were gone.
Jackie Howerton hung it out as hard as
he could for the final few laps,
unleashing all the fury of the 900 horsepower
the turbocharger Offenhauser had to offer
to stay in the lead.
Unser attacked on the last lap by sailing up
the inside entering one. Jackie shut the door.
They bumped wheels going into turns one-two,
with Unser's right front tire hitting
Howerton's oil tank next to the cockpit.
Then hammered down the back straight
at over 160 mph on dirt.
Howerton had led every lap so far.
Jackie told me 'I would rather put my
car in the outfield then let those boys thru'.
Andretti entered the fray,
but maybe reached too far,
only managing to slow Unser's
charge in the last corners.
Howerton hung on for the win.
Jackie started that day as an unknown
but he left a hero.
It was the biggest victory of his career
in front of a sellout crowd.
That day his son Ricky stood on
the podium with his dad.
Ricky when off to school a few years later,
when asked what he wanted to be when
he grew up, he replied 'I want to be a
race car driver like my dad.'
He started racing motocross as a teen.
Then dabbled in kart racing as he went
off to college for engineering.
His dad got a sprint car for him to race
as incentive to stay in school.
Can you imagine the jump from
go-karts to sprint cars?
But Ricky got some strong results
right out of the gate and was
1990 USAC Sprint Car Rookie of the Year.
|RICKY HOWERTON/DRIVER/PHOTO BY STEVE KOLETAR|
His attention in life turned to race fabrication
and the desire to build a street tracker to ride
to work evolved into the bikes they race today.
|Ricky at speed/Koletar photo|
The Indy Fairgrounds always has been a
special place to Ricky Howerton.
He got this crazy idea when getting the race
bike ready for the 2013 Indy Mile.
His son Dillon had been playing trumpet
for a few months and was sounding good.
Why not get Dillon to perform the
National Anthem on Trumpet?
The promoter did not have anyone lined
up and like the idea, but warned that they
had seen this go really wrong before.
They asked for a sound sample and
after hearing it they agreed to it.
So Ricky stepped up Dillion's practice
and coaching for the big day.
In life and racing, there is so much that
can go wrong and rarely does it all go perfectly.
But on a hot August day 11-year-old
Dillion Howerton did a great job performing
the National Anthem. The team of
Dink Glidden, Jeff Gordon, Bo LeMastus
and Collen Howerton with Bryan Smith
at the controls did a terrific job too,
winning the heat race, dash for cash and
the main event.
It was a clean sweep for Howerton Racing & Family.
Standing on the podium again, Ricky
couldn't believe it. Now all these years
later and he is back on the podium with his sons.
When talking with Ricky for this article,
he admitted that his sons are now faster
in a kart then he is. Will his sons Dillon
and Jared follow in the racing footsteps
of their dad, grandfather Jackie or
great-grandfather Angelo Howerton?
Time will tell....