Author Archive
Stories written by Bob_Gates

French Showgirl Became A Popular Racing Driver

DRIVER’S SEAT: French driver Helle Nice behind the wheel of an early era racing car. (Bob Gates Collection Photo)

Born Mariette Helene Delangle in a small French village, she grew up disgruntled with the slow-paced French-country lifestyle. She wanted excitement, and, at 16, pursued that desire in Paris. Attractive, slim, athletic, she changed her name to Helle Nice and found fame as a model for “risqué” postcards, and as an exotic dancer.

West Coast Ace Veith Made 11 Indianapolis 500 Starts

IN THE HUNT: Bob Veith was a contender to win the 1958 Indianapolis 500. (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Photo)

Bob Veith raced in 11 Indianapolis 500s. He never won, but that mattered little. Just competing in the 500 fulfilled his dreams and, he believed, defined him as a driver — and with good reason.

Armstrong Teens Climbing Motorsports Ladder


With a new racing season looming, be prepared to hear a lot of the name Armstrong. Articulate, photogenic and young, the Armstrong boys represent everything desired in today’s sponsor-driven racing world.

Ruttman Stages Impressive Indianapolis Comeback

CLASSY WHEELMAN: Troy Ruttman, with team owner J.C. Agajanian in 1952, enjoyed another dazzling Indy run in 1954. (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Photo)

Three months after Troy Ruttman took the 1952 Indianapolis 500 as the youngest winner in the iconic track’s history, he severely injured his right arm in a freak sprint-car accident at Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Traco Engineering Shop Was ‘Organized Confusion’

PROVEN WINNER: A.J. Foyt navigates the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track in his Traco Special sprint car. (Bob Gates Photo Collection Photo)

There was a time when a small, brick-front building in an industrial section of L.A., lodged between Helen’s Café and Jim Narin’s Machine Shop, housed the most important race shop in America.

Eleanor’s Dance

DEDICATION: Eleanor Vogler (second from left) presents Tracy Hines with a plaque after winning last season's USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series Rich Vogler Classic at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway. (John Mahoney Photo)

The Rich Vogler Scholarship Fund, now in its 21st year, has provided $350,000 to more than 300 deserving kids from racing families. They’ve been children of officials, mechanics and others connected with racing, and the recipients include Sarah Fisher and Ryan Newman.

Rindt’s Career Cut Short By Fatal Monza Crash

Jochen Rindt catches some air aboard a Team Lotus Formula One entry. (Bob Gates Photo Collection Photo)

Jochen Rindt’s magnetic charisma and his fearless, passionate, win-or-leave-it-all-on-the-mat style captured the imagination of the media, the fans and his peers alike.

A Strong Foundation

Kenny Irwin, Jr. (NSSN Archives Photo)

Kenny Irwin, Jr. died just more than 10 years ago — July 7, 2000, during NASCAR Cup practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Stewart won the New England 300 that weekend and dedicated his victory to his fallen buddy.

Cannonball Baker’s Racing Legacy Lives On

BIKES AND BEYOND: Cannonball Baker aboard an Indian motorcycle during the early 1900s. (Bob Gates Collection Photo)

Cannonball Baker is an iconic name in the annals of motorcycle racing. The early 20th century rider was one of the sport’s first true heroes, possessing a celebrity that transcended his field of endeavor. His renown was such that President Herbert Hoover once said, “More people know Cannonball’s name than mine!”

Mann Breaking Stereotypes On Path Up Open-Wheel Ladder

Pippa Mann picked up her first Firestone Indy Lights triumph this season. (Bret Kelley/IndyCar Photo)

Pippa Mann’s 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season was momentous, often tough, sometimes disappointing, occasionally jubilant. Driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, she captured three poles, including Indianapolis, and won at Kentucky. Despite breaking her left hand at Edmonton and sitting out a race while it healed from surgery, she finished fifth in points.


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