Posted 15 November 2012 - 17:15
In 1986 Sherman Armstrong, the Indy and Sprint car owner, was in dire financial straits. He filed personal bankruptsy and later Chapter 11 for his company Sherm Inc, which had debts of over $3 million. It all came to a head three years later when he was arrested and charged with embezzlement of $700,000 from the pension fund of Armstrong Mould. He faced nine felony counts in all. Does anyone know the verdict in his case?
Jack Ingram, the Busch late model driver, was found guilty of assaulting Ronnie Pressley with a deadly weapon. The weapon in question? His car! The incident took place in 1986 at New Asheville Speedway. Ingram claimed that the ‘accident’ occurred as a result of brake failure, which was a trifle inconsistent with eyewitness reports that he turned his car round on the track and deliberately rammed Pressley head-on. Ingram also faced a charge of assaulting a police officer following the incident.
Grant King was a respected Indycar builder and crew chief………until 1990, that is, when he was charged with ‘altering’ and selling stolen cars. It was alleged that he was part of a theft ring which had stolen more than 130 cars. Prior to their resale, the cars were temporarily housed at the premises of his crane company in Indianapolis. He was facing 30 years on the wrong side of the city. Again, does anyone know the result of the trial.
First Dean Lindsey was arrested for armed robbery at a filling station, then two months later he was arrested again, this time for a criminal spree against Bob Hawks and his auto body shop. The spree consisted of a number of incidents during 1997 including drive-by shootings, unlawful use of weapons and arson – the body shop was burned to the ground. His 15 year sentence effectively put an end to his career as a Sprint car team owner.
One of the most successful Sprint car pairings was that of Doug Wolgang and DP Motorsports. The team was owned by Danny Peace and his girlfriend Louise Lovell. This ended in 1990 when a jury found her guilty of embezzling $2.5 million of HUD (Housing, Urban and Development) government funds, some of which had been syphoned into the Sprint car team. Her punishment amounted to 6½years detention and, strangely, the confiscation of her furniture.
Don’t mess with 63 year-olds was the message from New Smyrna Speedway in 1984. After the night’s racing was over, two men approached the track owner, Clyde Hart, and proceeded to beat him up. He managed to struggle free and shot them, killing one and injuring the other. The dead man was thought to be a relative of a driver whom Hart had banned from the track two months earlier following an altercation, so the motive for the attack was thought to be retribution rather than robbery. The shooting was being treated as self defence, not a criminal misdemeanor.
Johnny Parsons Jr, who finished fifth in the 1977 Indianapolis 500, was the son of the 1950 winner. In 1982 there was talk of Johnny Jr facing ‘morals charges’ in association with two 15 year old runaway girls. I don’t know what became of that, but in 1984 he pleaded guilty to charges that he had touched an 8 year old girl ‘inappropriately’. As a result he received a one year suspended jail sentence.
In 1980, Danny Smith’s World of Outlaws Gambler Sprint car was stolen from a parking lot in Dallas. The towing vehicle and trailer, which contained the car, were found shortly afterwards, both completely burned out. The car, which was not among the remains, was not discovered until 1982. It was suspected that some of its parts had been sold to other WoO teams.
A couple of years later, Paul Lotier’s Sprint car was stolen from the parking lot of his motel in Daytona Beach. This would have been devastating to him as he was the sole owner of the car. However the chassis and various parts were found a week later in Tennessee and although many parts were missing, he was back racing not long afterwards.
There were two sides to Bob Tezak. One was the racer’s friend. His company, International Games, owned the rights to the card game UNO, which had amassed sales of $75 million by 1990. With this brand he sponsored Tim Richmond in both Nascar and Indycars and helped fund the fledgling World of Outlaws Midget organization from 1981-85. In 1990 he purchased Doug Shierson Racing and won the Indianapolis 500 with Arie Luyendyk at the wheel. He even sponsored Tony George in Formula Supervee. But there was another, darker side to Bob Tezak. It all began to emerge when, in 1991, his transporter and Indy Lola were confiscated by the police in settlement of money that he owed to Luyendyk. Then, in 1992 he was indicted for arson on two counts, the torching of his Crest Hill bowling alley and the offices of the Will County Private Industry Council in 1987. He was allowed to go free on bond, but he was not only on bond, by then he was on cocaine. Things got worse when it was learned that he had made a death threat against his former daughter-in-law and her boyfriend. Finally, it all came out in court in 1994 when Tezak was found guilty of trying to arrange the killing of two witnesses against him, insurance fraud following the Crest Hill arson and attempting to prevent a Federal probe into his affairs (the Will County arson). He was sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined $1.25 million.
In 1988 Salt Walther confessed to writing bad checks at local Dayton supermarkets. In lieu of a conviction he entered a drug treatment program. Four years later he was arrested for the theft of a golf cart, which he sold for $1,000. He had been using it in the pits and paddock of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during May 1991.
Kenny Weld was not only an extremely successful Sprint car driver, but his whole family was steeped in racing tradition. However it all began to unravel in 1981 when Kenny was found to be in possession of drugs after he had tried to board a plane at Indianapolis carrying a firearm. As a result he was placed on probation. Then, in March 1983, the police arrested him as he fled from a house which was found to contain cocaine valued at $5 million. Two others were also arrested in the bust which was the culmination of a six-month investigation, which had begun when it was learned that Weld was attempting to purchase submachine guns. In sentencing him to 25 years in prison with a fine of $50,000, the judge said, “You are the person responsible for the largest cocaine sale operation in this area.”