Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


June 19, 2014

Walker follows dream to Indy

CROSSVILLE — Jerry Walker got bit by the racing bug in 1947 when his dad took him to the celebrated Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch the greatest spectacle in racing, the Indy 500.

Earlier this month, Walker was able to drive his own race car on the 2.5-mile oval circuit after being invited to the inaugural Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational June 4-8.

"Driving one of my vintage race cars on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a life-long dream come true and brought tears to my eyes," said Walker, who lives in Crossville with his wife, Dee.

The Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational included a record 700 vintage cars, representing more than 100 years of motorsports history. Walker exhibited and drove his 1968 Dominique Special at the event.

After Walker was introduced to the sport of automobile racing, he was hooked. He worked at Indianapolis and other tracks in various capacities, from pit crews to security, helping where he could, and he's missed very few Indy 500 races through the years.
Walker was growing up during the heyday of auto racing during the '40s and '50s. He recalls some tracks recording 8,000 to 10,000 spectators on race nights. And though he enjoyed watching races, he didn't venture onto the course.

"I'm not a racer," Walker said. "I was never any good at it. I'm a show-off, but I'm not a racer."

But Walker was drawn to Sprint Cars, powerful cars that seat one person, snugly, in an open-top vehicle. Sprint Cars have powerful engines and are light weight. They're designed for oval dirt or paved tracks typically quarter mile to 1 mile in length.

"When you get in one, you understand why it's called a sprint car," Walker said. "You wouldn't want to spend a lot of time sitting in one of these."

The Walkers bought their first vintage race car in 1998, a replica 1940s Ford Flathead Sprint Car. It's street legal and parts for repair are easier to come by. It's called the Walker Special.
The 1968 Dominique Special was built by A.J. Watson and used in races from 1969 through 1982. Walker has collected memorabilia that includes the car's race history.

Walker is a member of the Midwest Oldtimers Vintage Race Car Club, which offers owners, drivers and fans of the vintage race cars a chance to display their cars at "on track" events, held primarily in Indiana and the Ohio area. Walker has tried to visit all the tracks he loved as a kid and run his cars.

"I've pretty well done it," he said.

But the Indianapolis Speedway event was a special treat for Walker. In addition to taking him back to where it all started, the event brought together hundreds of vintage race car enthusiasts and former Indy 500 winners, on the track and behind the wheel. The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association celebrates the "rolling art" of the those beautiful old cars doing what they were made to do — race.

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