The green flag will wave at the Huntington County Historical Museum on May 17, when Huntington’s Chuck Homier offers an insider’s account of his involvement with the Greatest Spectacle in Racing — the Indianapolis 500.
Homier became one of Huntington’s most successful entrepreneurs in the 1990s. His business led him to become a car sponsor — and even a pit crew member — in five Memorial Day classics. Along the way, he developed an enduring friendship with members of what is considered the first family of American auto racing — the Unsers.
In his presentation, “The 200-Mile-an-Hour Billboard,” Homier will reflect on his association with some of the most prominent drivers and teams in what was then the Indy Racing League. His company, Homier Tools, sponsored entries for driver Johnny Unser at Indianapolis from 1996 through 2000. Through his support for Johnny, Homier became friends with several members of the Unser family, including the late Al Unser Sr. — a four-time “500” victor — two-time winner Al Jr., and Al Sr.’s brother Bobby, who won at Indianapolis in three different decades.
After building a thriving business selling tools through traveling truckload sales, Homier saw a sponsorship association with the “500” as a great way to promote his wares, building on the nationwide prominence of the race and the credibility it offered. He traveled to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on a rainy day in early May, 1996, to talk with various racing teams about joining them as an associate sponsor. He struck a deal with a team that had Johnny Unser as one of its drivers, and the Unser connection was forged.
The Unser family asked Homier to be a charter member of the board of its racing museum in Albuquerque, N.M. He has served in that capacity for two decades, and has helped negotiate the museum’s impending relocation to Lincoln, Neb.
Homier will recount highlights from the time he and his wife Pam spent in the exciting, high-stakes world of auto racing in a program that will begin at 7 p.m. at the museum, 315 Court St. The program is free to Historical Society members, and there is a $3 admission fee for non-members. Light refreshments will be provided.
For more information, contact the museum at 356-7254 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.