Sumar Racing: Terre Haute’s team

If you lived in the greater Terre Haute area in the 1950s, chances are you were a fan of the Sumar Racing Team.




If you lived in the greater Terre Haute area in the 1950s, chances are you were a fan of the Sumar Racing Team.

Bitten by the racing bug, friends Chapman S. Root and Donald E. Smith bought in 1952 the Bardahl #18, a 3000 Series Kurtis Kraft, which had been driven by Sam Hanks to a third place finish in the Indy 500 earlier that year. With the $6,000 purchase, the team — named for their wives Susan Root and Mary Frances Smith — was formed.

The following year, the rookie team with a rookie chief mechanic and rookie driver Jimmy Daywalt qualified in 21st place, finished the race in the sixth spot and earned Daywalt Rookie-of-the-Year honors.

Through 1960, the blue-and-white machines often paced the pack. The team ran in sanctioned events at Milwaukee, Langhorne, Phoenix, DuQuoin, Las Vegas, Sacramento and Monza, Italy.

Other drivers for Team Sumar included Pat O’Connor (killed in the first lap of the Indy 500 in 1958), Marshall Teague (killed at Daytona in 1959), Johnnie Parsons, Dick Rathman, Johnny Boyd, Bobby Grim and Gene Hartley.

Smith served on the Indy Racing League board of director’s and was CEO of First Financial Corp. A noted philanthropist, the late Root was president of Associated Coca-Cola and grandson of C.J. Root who developed and manufactured the original Coca-Cola bottle.



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