Posted: May 11, 2005 3:06 pm EST

Ready to roll, Campbell gives the thumbs up (Two photos) (~21 col. in.)
by Cynthia Fugate, The Hendricks Co. Flyer, Avon, Ind.
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    Additional Information: Alice Campbell sits on a Sinden Racing 2-seater Indy car. “I like the speed,” she said, “and I’ve always wanted to go fast.”

    CNHI News Service photo by Cynthia Fugate/The Hendricks Co. Flyer, Avon, Ind.


    By Cynthia Fugate
    CNHI News Service

    INDIANAPOLIS — When Alice Campbell was born Sept. 18, 1912, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was still in its infancy. The second Indianapolis 500 Mile Race was still eight months away, but Campbell’s father was already planning for May when Ray Haroon would take the checkered flag.
    “My father was at the first race,” Campbell said. “He always talked about it.”
    Campbell, 92, said she’s never been to a race but has always enjoyed the nearly 31 days of festivities along Speedway roads.
    “I can remember they had a parade and they went by our school at 14th and Belleview and the kids got out and lined up on the street to watch it,” she said. “I thought that was the most exciting thing I’d ever seen.”
    But it wasn’t the parade, the tens of thousands of spectators, or even a favorite driver that she said has had her wanting to visit the famed oval.
    “I like the speed,” she said, “and I’ve always wanted to go fast.”
    Campbell got her wish recently when she climbed in a Sinden Racing 2-seater Indy car. Sitting behind driver Davey Hamilton, the thrill-seeking great-grandmother said she didn’t have any advice for the veteran racer.
    “I don’t tell other people how to drive,” she said.
    Weighing just 100 pounds and standing 4’10” tall, Campbell dressed for the occasion. Sporting a fresh manicure, clip-on pearl earrings, and a string of beads, she showed up at the track in style but was asked to remove the earrings before donning a racing suit for her ride of a lifetime.
    Campbell said she’s always felt the need for speed and continued to ride roller coasters until she was well into her 80s.
    Her daughter, Janet Bloomfield, said, “We quit riding with her.”
    But roller coasters don’t compare to an Indy car, Campbell said, adding that she experienced no nervous stomach or second thoughts — only excitement.
    “This could well be the most exciting thing I’ve ever done,” she said.
    She said family and friends have asked why, at her age, she wanted to do something so daring.
    “I just tell them I’ve always wanted to do it,” she said. “So that’s what I’m doing.”
    While suiting up, she asked Hamilton if he could race 250 mph around the track. Sinden race car drivers don’t go quite that fast, but Hamilton said he’d do his best.
    “You should at least go as fast as your age,” he said.
    Hamilton said that before Campbell, the oldest person he had taken around the track was 82. He usually averages about 180 mph for most riders, but said he would take it a bit slower this time.
    Campbell on the other hand, said she just wanted to go fast.
    “I hope we can go about 250,” she said.
    Suited in red and black racing gear — suit, gloves, boots, and helmet — Campbell climbed into the car and gave the thumbs-up. Her family, including some of her 12 great-grandchildren, watched from Pit Road.
    “I’m more nervous than she is,” Bloomfield said. “Really, I’m a little jealous because I’m not old enough to go.”
    Bloomfield said she first tried to arrange a ride for her mother a year ago, only to find out that because the track was being resurfaced she couldn’t ride until this year.
    It was a slow wish in the making, but when Never too Late and local television personality Dick Wolfsie got involved, it was a green light.
    Never Too Late is an organization that reaches out to people in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospice programs, and adult day care facilities — regardless of age — to help make dreams and wishes come true.
    NTL Director Bob Haverstick said Campbell is a one-of-a-kind woman that simply loves speed.
    “Anything we can do to make her wish come true,” he said.
    Prior to her two laps around the track, Campbell said the fastest she’d driven an automobile was 90 mph.
    “That was on the new highway,” she said.
    Campbell says speed is in her blood and is somewhat of a family passion. Her sister raced midget cars at an old dirt track that was across from the Speedway in the 1930s.
    “She always loved to race,” Campbell said. “But I just wanted to go fast.”
    For more information about Sinden Racing, log onto its web site at www.sindenracing.com. For more information on Never Too Late, log onto its website www.nevertoolate.org.

    — Cynthia Fugate writes for the Hendricks County Flyer in Avon, Ind.

    SIDEBAR:
    1912 Speedway Fast Facts
    Pace car: Stutz driven by Carl G. Fischer
    Speed records: Teddy Tetzlaff set a one-lap qualification record of 84.250 mph. David Bruce-Brown was the fastest qualifier of the year with a speed of 88.23 mph.
    Winner: Joe Dawson won the second Indianapolis 500-Mile Race averaging 78.719 mph in six hours, 21 minutes, six seconds.
    Total purse: $52,225.
    Source: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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