LONGTIME INDY 500, LUYENDYK SUPPORTER MILLER DIES AT 86 INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 16, 2006 -- Arie Luyendyk found more than two victories at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after coming to the United States from his native Holland to race in the 1980s.
LONGTIME INDY 500, LUYENDYK SUPPORTER MILLER DIES AT 86
INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 16, 2006 -- Arie Luyendyk found more than two victories at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after coming to the United States from his native Holland to race in the 1980s. He also acquired a second father.
"In a way I've always called Dickie my American dad," Luyendyk said after learning of the death of his longtime friend and associate, "because that's what he was to me."
Luyendyk was referring to Richard Lawrence "Dick" Miller of Albion, Ind., who passed away on the morning of Aug. 14 at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Parkview Hospital. He was 86.
"He fathered over me and I sensed he liked doing that," Luyendyk said. "Next year is not going to be the same without him."
Miller was public relations director for Provimi Veal Co. in Waukesha, Wis., a longtime sponsor of Luyendyk. He handled the trackside hospitality for the company and this brought on his association with the driver from the Netherlands. Their relationship has lasted over the years and last May Miller was involved as Luyendyk's son, Arie Jr., qualified for his first "500."
Miller, past president of the 500 Oldtimers Association, attended his first Indianapolis 500 in 1930 and became deeply involved during the 1950s when he owned a clothing store in his hometown of Wabash, Ind. One of the top drivers of that era was Jimmy Daywalt, also a native of Wabash and Miller's close friend.
Daywalt finished sixth in the 1953 race and was named rookie of the year. Miller attended both the race and the Victory Banquet.
"I looked at these fellows at the Victory Banquet, and a bell rang," he said. "To me, these guys look terrible, they need to be dressed up. So I got the idea maybe I could do something."
The following year after the banquet Miller approached Speedway owner Hulman and proposed a $1,000 wardrobe for the winner "so we can get these guys dressed properly."
Bob Sweikert, the 1955 Indy champion, became the first driver to make the journey to Wabash in north central Indiana to be outfitted. The award today doesn't sound like much, but in the 1950s it was quite a prize. He received three suits, ties, shirts and other items, all name brand clothing. Over the years Indy winners like Rodger Ward, A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones and Mario Andretti were among the clothing recipients.
Scotsman Jimmy Clark won in 1965 but initially said he could not appear at Miller's shop because he was scheduled to return to England. However, when he and car owner Colin Chapman flew to Detroit after the race, Ford officials told them it was a nice affair and they should attend. Chapman liked the entire program so well that after Clark selected his clothing they stayed for the banquet.
What made that year so special was that since Clark said he wasn't going to be able to appear, Miller invited rookie of the year Andretti to take his place and be outfitted. Thus two drivers cleaned out his racks. Andretti won Indy in 1969 and made a return visit.
Foyt was the only driver to pick up new clothes on three occasions. But by the time he had won a fourth "500" in 1977, Miller had ended his involvement in the program.
Miller sat in the Pagoda press box with his father as a 10-year-old in 1930. He only missed one Indianapolis 500 thereafter when daughter, Mary, graduated from Manchester College. However, he did listen to the radio broadcast.
Over the years, Miller worked for Tony Bettenhausen, the Andretti's and Nigel Mansell, as well as Luyendyk, doing hospitality and other behind-the-scenes activities. He was a charter member of the United States Auto Club, Motorsports Hall of Fame in Novi, Mich., the Championship Auto Racing Teams series, the Vintage Car Association, and he was an Indianapolis 500 Hall of Fame selection committee member. He also refereed high school basketball for six years.
Miller also acquired the gifts each year that were handed out to the Oldtimers club members attending the annual May banquet. He was deeply involved in Wabash city politics and activities. He once ran for mayor of the community.
Born April 5, 1920, he married Mary Jane Martin on Aug. 19, 1944. He was a graduate of Wabash High School and the Kahn Tailoring Co. in Indianapolis.
Survivors include his wife, daughters Jane Ann Marteeny and Mary Kathryn Tipton, a brother Jack, six grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
10:30 a.m. (ET) Aug. 18
Grandstaff-Hentgen Funeral Service, Wabash Chapel.
Calling will take place from 4-8 p.m. on Aug. 17 at the same site.
Online condolences may be may be delivered on the funeral service's Web site, at www.grandstaff-hentgen.com. Memorial contributions can be made to the Wabash County Historical Museum.