IRL: l Heritage Motorsports Dad's tribute

(Indianapolis, IN) For the owners of Heritage Motorsports it's Father's day every race day. In tribute to the legendary careers of Jim Rathmann, Sr. and John Mecom, Jr., their sons, Jim Rathmann, Jr. and John Mecom III founded the team in their ...

(Indianapolis, IN) For the owners of Heritage Motorsports it's Father's day every race day. In tribute to the legendary careers of Jim Rathmann, Sr. and John Mecom, Jr., their sons, Jim Rathmann, Jr. and John Mecom III founded the team in their honor.

With 75 years of racing experience wrapped in the Rathmann and Mecom families, the team has big goals for the future and vibrant memories of the past.

"We're racing because our dads did it and did it well," said Rathmann, Jr. "Racing is what my dad loved to do, and I'm in a position to give that back to him."

Rathmann, Sr. began his professional racing career in the 1940s and raced in 14 Indianapolis 500s. He won the Indy 500 in 1960.

"This experience has allowed us to find a connection with our dads that has brought us very close," said Jim Rathmann, Jr. "We're excited to get them involved in racing again."

The Mecom family boasts four decades of racing experience, which includes an Indy 500 victory in 1966. John Mecom, Jr. owned the Mecom Racing team, which included drivers such as A.J. Foyt, Graham Hill, Mario Andretti, Rodger Ward, Roger Penske, Al Unser, Sr. and Jackie Stewart.

"My dad has loved racing his whole life," said Mecom, III. "He's the reason I wanted to get involved with motorsports. I could not ask for a better mentor or partner than my dad. He pushes everyone around him to perform at a higher level."

In their inaugural season, the Heritage Motorsports team is ranked ninth in points. After beginning the season with a pole and top 10 finishes in the first three events, the team suffered mechanical problems at Indy and Texas. They are now striving for their first win at Pikes Peak on Father's Day.

"I couldn't imagine anything more fitting than to give my dad and Rathmann, Sr. a win on Father's Day," said Mecom III. "Family is very important to this team. It's not the normal stereotype you find in racing, but it has meant everything to us. It's the backbone for the entire team."

Heritage Motorsports is piloted by IRL veteran driver, Jeff Ward, who was also influenced to race by his father.

"My dad raced bicycles in the Tour de France and he raced motorcycles," said Ward. "One of my earliest memories is with him, riding my first mini-bike. And, now I'm doing the same with my sons."

Ward's entire family, including his wife, three boys and little girl, travel to every race with him throughout the summer.

"It's hard being away from home so much, so having my wife and kids with me at every race makes it easier," said Ward. "Plus, the owners and Mitch (Davis, Heritage Motorsports team manager) all have big families, so they understand about juggling schedules."

Among the team's owners, manager and driver there are 14 children rooting for Heritage Motorsports.

"Jimmy (Rathmann, Jr.) has three kids, I have four, Mitch (Davis) has three and Jeff (Ward) has four, so we have quite a fan base in our families alone," said Mecom, III. "I think that's what adds to the strength of this organization. We all have our priorities in place. There's a balance between family and racing."

It did not take long for the Heritage Motorsports team to find their balance in the IRL. Since the team's debut in March, they have been a major force in the league. In thanks and celebration of their sons' dedication to Heritage Motorsports, Rathmann, Sr. and Mecom, Jr. had replicas of their own Indy 500 winning rings made. They presented the rings to their sons as a gift on race day before the Indianapolis 500.

"The people involved in this team have an amazing heritage in motorsports," said Rathmann, Jr. "I think our rings are symbolic of that. They represented our dads' successful pasts and their hopes for our futures. We have a strong background of success to look back on and a lot to look forward to. Our dads became racing legends, and now with their help, we're making our mark on the racing community. And, maybe one day I'll help my son make his mark on racing."

-HM

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jeff Ward , Mario Andretti , Rodger Ward , Roger Penske , Graham Hill , A.J. Foyt , Al Unser