Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Truesports Team Owner Jim Trueman Dies Of Cancer - June 11, 1986

May 25, 1935 – June 11, 1986
Jim Trueman
(Photo; columbus.gov)
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
Trueman was a businessperson, champion racecar driver, racing team owner and owner of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He began driving sports cars in 1962. He entered the Can-Am series and drove through the 1970s. He won 125 races in 23 years. He won the SCCA national championships in 1975 and 1978.
(Photo; teamterrificracing.net)
 Jim Trueman collecting a checkered flag at the 1975 Runoffs.

One of Jim Trueman's first business interests was Deibel's, a German-style restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. In 1972, Trueman opened his first Red Roof Inn motel. Soon he had three. The business was very successful, and by 1986, there were at least 155 motels in the chain.

On October 1, 1981, Trueman purchased Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a race track near Lexington, Ohio. Immediately he began improving the facility. The track welcomed the CART series back in 1983. The facility became one of the most popular road racing tracks in the United States, hosting also IMSA, Grand-Am, IROC, SCCA, motorcycle racing, vintage events, and various other races.

Trueman used his riches from the motel business to expand his auto racing interests. He signed on Red Roof Inns to sponsor Vern Schuppan in the 1981 Indianapolis 500. Schuppan finished a strong third. In 1982, Trueman switched from Can-Am to CART and experienced instant success.

In 1985, Trueman was diagnosed with cancer. He kept his illness secret for many months.  At the 1986 Indianapolis 500 Trueman spent the entire month of May at the track, but was visibly frail and quiet.
(Photo;"Jimtrueman1986" by Doctorindy (talk) - self-made. Via Wikipedia)
Trueman during practice at the 1986 Indy 500

The race was originally scheduled on his 51st birthday, but rain delayed the race. Bobby Rahal's car was fitted with a "Happy Birthday JRT" decal to celebrate. The following Saturday, May 31, 1986, the race was finally run. With two laps to go Rahal passed Kevin Cogan on a restart, and held on to win. The emotional Rahal nearly broke down in victory lane.
(Photo credit: omninate via photopin cc)
Bobby Rahal's March/Cosworth - 1986 Indianapolis 500 winning car.

In victory lane, Trueman stood up and took the traditional milk for winning Indy. Several years later, ABC television reporter Jack Arute revealed that Trueman whispered in his ear "I can go now." Later that year, Rahal won his first CART championship, and successfully defended it the following year. In 1988, Rahal won the last race the Truesports team ever won, the Quaker State 500 at Pocono

On Thursday June 5, 1986, five days after the victory, the city of Columbus held a victory parade downtown. Trueman was too sick to attend. Six days later he died at the age of 51.

The rookie of the year award in CART was named in his honor.

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