The Borg-Warner Trophy

With the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 right around the corner, we wanted to present to you another excerpt from Lew Freedman’s book The Indianapolis 500: A Century of High Speed Racing. Enjoy the following on the Borg-Warner Trophy. Web Indianapolis 500

The perpetual Borg-Warner Trophy is won by the champion of the Indianapolis 500 each year. Introduced at a pre-race banquet by Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Eddie Rickenbacker for the 1936 race, it is one of the most esteemed trophies in sports. The sterling silver trophy has been measured at five-feet, four inches tall. However, after being placed on a solid base it towers over the men who covet it… Originally weighed at eighty pounds, the trophy has added poundage over the years. The current weight is listed at 150 pounds. While it may have once been a one-man job to lift the trophy it has become a two-person effort. Impressive even at a distance, the cup-like trophy topped by an official waving a checkered flag, the prize is not something easily picked up and moved, but it has made it to the winner’s circle in victory lane every year since 1936. However, the trophy does not ever go far from there, its public appearances pretty much limited to activities at the track. Housed in the Hall of Fame Museum on the Speedway grounds, the Borg-Warner Trophy is not presented directly to the owner and driver of the winning vehicle… They are given much smaller replicas. That practice has been followed since 1988.

The name of the trophy originated with and was paid for by the Borg-Warner Automotive Company (an automobile supply firm) at a cost of $10,000. The trophy is valued at more than $1.3 million now. Annually, following each race, the year, the name of the winner and the average speed in completing the five hundred mile course, are engraved onto the big trophy. In a distinctive touch, the face of the winning driver is etched into the silver and is raised perhaps a half-inch in bas-relief from the surface.

About the Author:

Lew Freedman is author of over 75 books including JUMP SHOT: Kenny Sailors, Basketball Innovator and Alaskan Outfitter.

The Beginning

Web Indianapolis 500The following is an excerpt from Indianapolis 500: A Century of High Speed Racing by Lew Freedman. Enjoy the beginning of this fascinating history.

The first Indianapolis 500 took place in 1911 when the “Average Joe” in the United States did not even own a car for private transportation, or at least one that had an enclosed body and could take him very far. Compared to the cars on the road these days, passenger cars moved at the speed of golf carts, so right from the beginning, just being able to watch a race car speed around an oval at more than ninety mph was breathtaking.

Initially construction of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was not aimed at auto racing, but automobile development. Indianapolis was vying to become the nation’s motor vehicle center, competing against Detroit for the soul of the industry. Detroit had Henry Ford. Indianapolis wanted to lure manufacturers with a splendiferous testing facility. The world’s most famous automobile race was begun as a tenant for the Speedway, which opened its doors in 1909 and successfully attracted crowds well into the thousands for motorcycle racing and other events.

The Speedway itself was a showplace from the start and it took almost no time before the Indianapolis 500 race added more cache to its fundamental reason for being. From its inception – and its reputation only grown and enhanced – the Indy 500 was the longest, most prestigious, most popular, and most exciting automobile race in the world. This new gravel-and-tar track built for $250,000 on 328 acres of what had been farmland six mile west of the city at the (now-famous address) corner of 16th Street and Georgetown Road lured fans fascinated by speed.

Lew Freedman is a veteran newspaper sportswriter and experienced author of more than 75 books. He spent 17 years at the ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS in Alaska and has also worked for the CHICAGO TRIBUNE and PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. Lew is recipient of over 250 journalism awards.

 

3 Keys to Hosting a Kentucky Derby Party

Take a trip down the Bourbon Trail with the Whiskey Professor.

Take a trip down the Bourbon Trail with the Whiskey Professor.

 

Do you want to have a Kentucky Derby party? Of course you do! Big hats and bourbon: a winning combination. It’s a great party theme, and you get to watch the event live on TV. Over the years I’ve noticed the best Derby parties I’ve thrown and attended include betting, cocktails and, of course, a little food. Here are 3 keys to hosting a Kentucky Derby party.

BETTING

Betting makes everything more fun. Why do you think Jai Lai has lasted so long? Thanks to technology you can bet on the big race as well as all the other races at Churchill Downs all day long. Remember there’s a race following the Derby too. You can make live bets, get track odds and even see a program of all the races by setting up an account at www.twinspires.com.

COCKTAILS

What’s a party without cocktails? With the Derby it’s all about bourbon cocktails too. The Bourbon Sour Cocktail is great to batch up, and it’s simple. Of course the Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby and has been since Larwin won the race in 1938 with Eddie Arcaro up in the stirrups.

A LITTLE FOOD

You might want to give the food you serve at your party a little Louisville as well. One of our local treats is a spread called Benedictine.

The Kentucky Derby is like the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras all rolled into one event at Churchill Downs. You and your guests will have a blast, and you all just might win some money along the way. Finally, when your guests sing “My Old Kentucky Home” along with the 160,000 attendees of the event, bourbon cocktails at the ready, don’t be surprised if you spot a tear or two in your guests’ eyes.

Bernie Lubbers is the author of Bourbon Whiskey: Our Native SpiritHe travels the U.S. and the world educating people on American Whiskey, and how it weaves through the fabric of Kentucky Bernie barnand America’s history. Bernie especially has a passion for Bottled-In-Bond whiskies and how The Bottled In Bond Act of 1897 and the Taft Decision of 1909 which changed the whiskey landscape here in the U.S.

With his friend and bluegrass musician Hickory Vaught, he wrote and co-performs a live music show/whiskey tasting called; “Bourbon Thru Bluegrass” where folks get to sample whiskies from the style of the 1700’s, through the 1800’s, & then the single barrel and small batch bourbons of today. All throughout the tasting folks simultaneously hear the history of bourbon, enjoy live bluegrass music from that time period, or about that time period, and taste whiskey in the styles of those time periods.

Bernie won Whisky Magazine’s Whiskey Ambassador Of The Year in 2009 for the U.S. and then went on to win Whiskey Ambassador Of The Year International. He was again presented the U.S. Whiskey Ambassador Of The Year in 2012 alongside the legendary Elmer T. Lee. He was also named the U.S. Whiskey Ambassador of the Year in 2016.

Urban Bourbon Trail

Louisville has created something really cool. The city is actually involved as an active partner to promote bourbon tourism and the responsible enjoyment of our native spirit. A few years ago they formed the Urban Bourbon Trail, and it is a shining example of how a city and its thriving food and drink scene can work together to create something special. More than 750,000 people come to visit each year and that number just keeps growing and growing.

Take a trip down the Bourbon Trail with the Whiskey Professor.

Take a trip down the Bourbon Trail with the Whiskey Professor.

To be on the Urban Bourbon Trail list, you must carry a minimum of 50 bourbons in the back bar. Most of the places on the trail carry many more, but 50 is a good start. There’s around 30 accounts that are officially on the list but those change, close or re-open under other names from time to time. For a current list, visit www.bourboncountry.com. You can obtain a passport at any of the accounts, and after you visit part of the trail (or all of the trail!), you get a cool t-shirt or other items to boast of your accomplishment. There are five bars and restaurants that have been proud members of the Urban Bourbon Trail since its inception in 2008.

They include the following:

The Bar at Blu – 280 W. Jefferson St. 502-894-4285.

Bourbon’s Bistro 2255 Frankfort Ave. 502-894-8838.

Brown Hotel Lobby Bar – 335 W. Broadway. 502-583-1234.

The Old Seelbach Bar – 500 4th Street. 502-585-3200.

Proof on Main – 702 W. Main Street. 502-217-6360.

Bernie BarrelBernie Lubbers travels the U.S. and the world educating people on American Whiskey, and how it weaves through the fabric of Kentucky and America’s history. Bernie especially has a passion for Bottled-In-Bond whiskies and how The Bottled In Bond Act of 1897 and the Taft Decision of 1909 which changed the whiskey landscape here in the U.S.

With his friend and bluegrass musician Hickory Vaught, he wrote and co-performs a live music show/whiskey tasting called; “Bourbon Thru Bluegrass” where folks get to sample whiskies from the style of the 1700’s, through the 1800’s, & then the single barrel and small batch bourbons of today. All throughout the tasting folks simultaneously hear the history of bourbon, enjoy live bluegrass music from that time period, or about that time period, and taste whiskey in the styles of those time periods.

Bernie won Whisky Magazine’s Whiskey Ambassador Of The Year in 2009 for the U.S. and then went on to win Whiskey Ambassador Of The Year International. He was again presented the U.S. Whiskey Ambassador Of The Year in 2012 alongside the legendary Elmer T. Lee. He was also named the U.S. Whiskey Ambassador of the Year in 2016.

How to Make a Bourbon Cocktail

What’s a party without cocktails? With the Derby it’s all about bourbon cocktails too. So here are a few suggestions on how to make a bourbon cocktail:

Take a trip down the Bourbon Trail with the Whiskey Professor.

Take a trip down the Bourbon Trail with the Whiskey Professor.

Bourbon Sour

Get a can of frozen concentrated lemonade, and put that in the container. Then fill that same can with water, and add it to the container. Then fill that same can with pulp free orange juice and add that to the mix. Finally, fill the lemonade can with bourbon. Repeat all the steps as needed to fill up the container (or pitcher), and then all that’s left to do is fill glasses with ice, pour and serve.

Bourbon Lettuce and Tomato Cocktail

It’s just a Bloody Mary using bourbon instead of vodka. You see vodka only adds alcohol to a Bloody Mary, but bourbon brings alcohol AND flavor to this classic drink. I use Evan Williams Black Label 86 proof bourbon in mine. The five years of aging and 86 proof bring some good barrel notes to complement and enhance the Bloody Mary’s ingredients. If you want to get cute, garnish it with a baked slice of thick bacon!

Dawn at The Downs Cocktail

This is your elegant morning option. In a champagne flute pour one ounce of bourbon (I like Elijah Craig 12 for a little more spice or Evan Williams Single Barrel for a little more vanilla flavor), and then fill the rest of the glass with Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider. You can garnish with an apple slice to give it a little extra “oomph.”

And for the main attraction, The Mint Julep, check out Bourbon Whiskey: Our Native Spirit 3rd edition!

Bernie_lubbersBernie Lubbers, known as “The Whiskey Professor,” is the Global Whiskey Ambassador for the family owned and operated Heaven Hill, in Bardstown and Louisville, Kentucky. Heaven Hill is the largest American owned bourbon company and holds 25% of the world’s aging bourbon. Bernie won Whisky Magazine’s  “Whiskey Ambassador of the Year” in 2009 and 2012 for the U.S. and the 2009 “Whiskey Ambassador of the Year International.”

Hidden Talent

Inside the Steelers’ draft room at Three Rivers Stadium with (from left to right) Bill Nunn Jr., Dick Haley, director of player personnel, V. Tim Rooney, a nephew of Art Rooney Sr., and Art Rooney Jr., vice president. Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Inside the Steelers’ draft room at Three Rivers Stadium with (from left to right) Bill Nunn Jr., Dick Haley, director of player personnel, V. Tim Rooney, a nephew of Art Rooney Sr., and Art Rooney Jr., vice president. Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

By Andrew Conte, author of The Color of Sundays, in this blog post, he brings to light the hidden talent.

Championships are made in the late rounds.

Everyone knows about the first-round picks, the guys sitting in the green room waiting for their name to be called. The only suspense centers on what team exactly will choose them — not whether anyone will.

Many NFL insiders knew about “Mean” Joe Greene before the 1969 draft. A defensive tackle, he attended the University of North Texas, a small, but racially integrated school. The Steelers chose him with the team’s first pick, fourth overall.

Then 234 picks later, in the 10th round of the same draft, the Steelers also chose L.C. Greenwood, another defensive line player, who was a student at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, an historically black college. He had been overlooked by every NFL team — many times.

Together, Greene and Greenwood made up half of the Steelers’ famous “Steel Curtain” front four.

The other half came together two years later. Dwight White, from East Texas State (now Texas A&M University at Commerce), went in the fourth round, 104th overall.

The Steelers found the final piece, Ernie Holmes, at Texas Southern University, an HBCU, in the 8th round, 203rd overall.

Nunn plaque: Steelers scout Bill Nunn Jr. helped the team find many of its late-round draft picks during the 1970s. A plaque with his name and face now hangs outside the draft room door. Photo courtesy of Andrew Conte

Nunn plaque: Steelers scout Bill Nunn Jr. helped the team find many of its late-round draft picks during the 1970s. A plaque with his name and face now hangs outside the draft room door. Photo courtesy of Andrew Conte

Those four men, cobbled together mostly from later rounds, went on to comprise what would become one of the most-famous NFL defensive lines in history.

Even the Steelers’ famed 1974 draft hinged on the team’s later picks. That year, the team found four hall-of-famers with its first five choices: Lynn Swann, in the first round, 21st overall; Jack Lambert, in the second round, 46th; John Stallworth, fourth round, 82nd; and Mike Webster, fifth round, 125th.

After the draft ended that year, the Steelers picked up Donnie Shell, an undrafted free agent from South Carolina State, another HBCU. He nearly missed having a shot at the NFL but ended up playing in five Pro Bowls and winning four championships.

Andre Conte also wrote, Breakaway: The Inside Story of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Rebirth

A Special SinC Day at Barnes & Noble

By MB Dabney

9780976336198_Racing_can_be_Murder2As a longtime member of the Speed City chapter of Sisters in Crime, I can attest that we love mysteries. We love reading them, we love writing them, and we love talking about them and sharing that love with others.

So we are particularly looking forward to an event on Saturday, April 9, at the Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Shops at River Crossing on east 86th Street on Indy’s north side. it will be a special SinC day at Barnes & Noble.

With the support of our publisher, Blue River Press, and in conjunction with the Barnes & Noble store, we are hosting a book fair, workshop and book signing featuring cozy mystery author Susan Furlong. Furlong, who is national member of Sisters in Crime, will hold a workshop in the morning to discuss the craft of mystery writing, including basic plotting for a mystery, as well as talk about her personal journey to publication. Her latest book, Rest in Peach – the second in The Georgia Peach Mystery series – was published April 5.

“We are so happy to have a writer of Susan’s stature at this event,” says Speed City chapter president Cheryl Shore. “It will be such a special day.”

But the chapter isn’t finished.

Speed City SinC authors worked with Blue River Press on several sports-themed anthologies – Racing Can Be Murder (2007), Bedlam at the Brickyard (2010) and Hoosier Hoops and Hijinks (2013) – and the chapter published a history-themed anthology, Decades of Dirt, last August. And the chapter is proud to be working with Blue River Press on an art-themed anthology, The Fine Art of Murder, scheduled for publication this fall.9780981928999_bedlam_at_the_Brickyard

Many of the local authors from those anthologies, in addition to Furlong, will be on hand to talk mysteries and to sign copies of the books in the afternoon.

Speaking as a member of Sisters in Crime – I’m a Mister Sister and vice president of the local chapter – we love events like this book fair because it supports our mission of educating people regarding mysteries, and encourages women and men to read and write mysteries.

It is also Educator Appreciation Day at the Barnes & Noble store, with teachers getting an additional discount. And a portion of the proceeds from sales on Saturday will go to support programs of the Speed City chapter of Sisters in Crime.

The fun starts at around 11 a.m. with the workshop and, following a break for lunch, will resume at 2 p.m. with book signings and further discussions with local authors.

The store is located at 8675 River Crossing Boulevard in Indianapolis, Indiana.HoosierHoopsCover9781935628293

MB Dabney is the author of The Missing CD, from the anthology, Bedlam at the Brickyard; and The Missing Medallion from the anthology, Hoosier Hoops and Hijinks.

 

 

 

Writing Irish

Proud and doomed, Irish rogue cannoneers  fighting against their former comrades-in-arms.

Proud and doomed, Irish rogue cannoneers fighting against their former comrades-in-arms.

If I had known what fun it is “Writing Irish,” I would have started half a century ago.

Maybe I was so slow to go Irish due to my Scots blood. Our bookshelves at home were loaded with Burns, Scott, MacDonald and Stevenson. Mighty bards and storytellers, but a different branch of the Gaels.

But I should have been infected young by all those great Irish authors I read in school — Swift, Moore, Shaw, Yeats, Joyce — who kept Literature classes from being dull.

And I should have taken clues from all those rowdy Irish newspapermen I worked with as a young journalist, who kept the newsroom alive with eloquence and laughter. It was never dull there, either. Language was music.

But always the slow learner, I was in my seventies and had written a dozen books before I ever came up with an Irishman for a protagonist. I created Paddy Quinn as a lowly Army camp errand boy in the Mexican War, in my novel Saint Patrick’s Battalion.

Irish immigrants were hated and abused in the United States in those days, and many Irish soldiers deserted the American Army to fight on the side of Catholic Mexico. The boy Quinn saw all that drama happening.

Paddy had learned to read, and he scribbled in a diary and a sketchbook, and evolved toward manhood in that war writing, and, therefore, thinking big. He was on the way to becoming a somebody instead of just a scorned servant.

And because he was of the bardic Irish race, he had certain characteristic strengths, talents, and weaknesses that made me feel young

again. By the end of that novel, I was so hooked on writing Irish that young Quinn grew up to be a famous Civil War correspondent in my next novel, Fire in the Water.

It was issued last fall by this publisher — who happens to be, by the way, a cheery Irishman by the name of Doherty.

A Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to us all — with a tip o’ the hat to me own St. Andrew.

~ James Alexander Thom

 

Jim & Dark RainJames Alexander Thom is an Indiana-born Marine veteran, and was a newspaperman, magazine freelance writer, and Indiana University Journalism School lecturer before he became a full-time historical novelist known for his thorough research in archives and in the field. His American frontier and Indian war novels have won national awards and sold more than two million copies. Two were made into television films. Thom’s family history drew him to the Civil War era. His namesake was killed in the Battle of Fredericksburg, and his great grandfather survived the deathly Andersonville prisoner-of-war camp. Several years as Ohio River historical lecturer for the Delta Queen line provided technical knowledge and riverboat lore for this book. Some of his books include Follow the River 9780345338549, The Art & Craft of Writing Historical Fiction 9781582975696.

The NFL Combine & The Color of Sundays

The Color of Sundays tells this uniquely American story by tracing Bill Nunn Jr.’s life story.

The Color of Sundays tells this uniquely American story by tracing Bill Nunn Jr.’s life story.

Note: With the NFL Combine taking place Feb. 23-29 in Indianapolis, Andrew Conte, the author of The Color of Sundays, takes a look back at the importance of finding just the right players — and seeing the intangibles that cannot be measured. His book follows the story of Bill Nunn Jr., a talent scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers who identified black college football players in the 1960s and 1970s that other teams did not notice.

 

Everyone sees the confetti falling on the Super Bowl winner – but few notice where championship teams begin.

The process takes place in quiet, distant moments when NFL scouts start looking for talented athletes. Most use timers, measuring sticks and notepads to evaluate college players across the country. But the best scouts also have an eye for talent, an ability to detect qualities that cannot be measured.

The Steelers’ Bill Nunn Jr. worried about today’s scouts. They’re all too connected, he said. They travel in packs. They look at the collegiate rankings. They have a better sense than ever before what other scouts are seeing and thinking. By comparing notes and looking at online evaluations, these scouts can fall into the trap of looking only at the same players as other scouts. In a effort to avoid the embarrassment of missing a player that others are following, they overlook the player no one else sees.

Nunn boasted that he often spent a week or longer on the road without checking in. No calls to the office. No calls home. No email, Internet or social media either, of course.

Instead, he traveled the country using his own eye – and his unparalleled contacts – to find undiscovered talent. Alone, he had to determine which men had the potential to play in the NFL. Even if a college player could run, jump and tackle, Nunn had to figure out whether he had the hunger and desire for the game. Or whether he had distractions that could keep him from reaching his full potential. For sure there were many failures, but history shows that Nunn ranks among the greatest ever in this ability.

To me, Nunn’s greatest discoveries were not the L.C. Greenwoods or the John Stallworths. Those were players that others had noticed too; Nunn was just better at evaluating their true worth.

Instead, his greatest finds were Sam Davis from Allen University, Glen Edwards from Florida A&M and Donnie Shell from South Carolina State University. All three were undrafted free agents from historically black colleges and universities. If Nunn had not discovered them – and the Steelers given them a chance – they likely would have stopped playing football. Instead, they combined to win 10 Super Bowl rings.

And everyone saw the confetti falling on their shoulders.

Web AndyPick up your copy of The Color of Sundays by Andrew Conte (Blue River Press 2015). Andrew is also the author of Breakaway: The Inside Story of the Penguins Rebirth (Blue River Press 2011).

Read more from Andrew Conte at https://andrewcconte.wordpress.com/  

A Tribute to Abraham Lincoln

By James Alexander Thom

Presidential politics have always been vicious, slanderous and brutal, and often ridiculous.  This isn’t something new.

Photo courtesy FreeImages.com/Jonathan Kendrick

Photo courtesy FreeImages.com/Jonathan Kendrick

Abraham Lincoln was easy to mock, as a gangly, homely, back-country bumpkin. And he was surely hated and scorned more in his presidential tenure than anyone else was, before or since, because he got into office at this country’s cruelest moment, when Americans were eager to kill each other over their beliefs. That hatred cost him his life, in the instant form of a pistol bullet, fired by a man who was deranged by hatred.

That bullet killed him as four years of personal agony had not been able to do, although a part of him died every tragic day that he was in the White House. Lincoln was a moody, tortured man, in person. Though he hated war, he spent his entire time in office having to make the decisions that resulted in the deaths and maimings of hundreds of thousands of his fellow Americans. The casualty reports of any given day tormented him almost to despair.

I have pondered on Abe Lincoln for eighty years. Much of my life was shaped by him, even when I didn’t yet understand that. I grew up in the Union he gave his life and soul to preserve. Many of my ancestors gave their lives and souls to serve his goals. As a professional writer, I judge Lincoln as the best writer who was ever President of this country, or maybe any country. Shakespeare couldn’t have written the Second Inaugural Address better.

And as a man who likes and needs to laugh pretty often, I understand that humor is our survival kit in the hardest times. I am sure it was Lincoln’s. That tragic, tortured man was a famous joker. Someone once said that while the Confederate women gathered to sew uniforms for the Rebs, Yankee women gathered to make up funny Lincoln stories.  But he made up plenty of his own, often at his own expense. I often envision him as “Abraham winkin’.”  Once when a political opponent accused him of being two-faced, Lincoln said, “I leave it to my audience. If I had two faces, would I be wearing this one?”

I’m happy that I lived long enough to get around to writing about Lincoln.

He doesn’t actually appear alive in any scene of my novel, Fire in the Water, but his spirit is the force that drives the book’s whole narrative, and inspires the protagonists to stay alive through the hardest hours of their lives.

That is my tribute to Abraham Lincoln, who, like me, grew to adulthood in Southern Indiana, and, like me, was born in a log cabin.

–James Alexander Thom, novelist

 

James Alexander Thom is the author of Follow the River, Long Knife, From Sea to Shining Sea, Panther in the Sky (for which he won the prestigious Western Writers of America Spur Award for best historical novel), Sign-Talker, The Children of First Man, The Red Heart and Saint Patrick s Battalion. Thom is an inductee of the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame. His thoroughly-researched historical novels have sold more than two million copies. He was the inaugural winner of the Indiana Author Award in 2009. Two of his novels were made into television movies, by Hallmark and by Ted Turner. A Marine veteran, Thom lives in rural Owen County with his wife, Dark Rain, with whom he co-authored Warrior Woman. He is now at work on another American Indian novel, and a memoir. His newest novel is Fire in the Water the continuing adventures Paddy Quinn.

Prize-winning and New York Times bestselling historical novelist James Alexander Thom, compassionately creates these two pilgrims as eyewitnesses of the Sultana tragedy.

Prize-winning and New York Times bestselling historical novelist James Alexander Thom, compassionately creates these two pilgrims as eyewitnesses of the Sultana tragedy.