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500 Flashback | Where Are They Now: Howdy Holmes

One of the most fan-friendly drivers in recent history, Howdy Holmes was the 1979 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year.

Of course, Holmes didn’t have much competition for the 1979 honor, in fact, as the only rookie in the race, he didn’t have ANY competition for the coveted award. Holmes was the last winner of the award under its’ original sponsor, Stark & Wetzel meats. The meat company, with the distinctive “whistle” jingle, was a mainstay on the Speedway Radio Network broadcasts. The following year American Fletcher National Bank took over sponsoring the award, and kept it until 1988.

Holmes drove in six Indianapolis 500’s, and is probably best-known for his front-row start in 1984. Holmes can be seen in the traditional front-row photo that year, between defending “500” champion, and teammate, Tom Sneva, and eventual 1984 winner Rick Mears.

That front-row start came just over a month after Holmes posted his best career IndyCar finish, a 2nd place at Phoenix.

Holmes best finish at the Brickyard was 6th in 1983.  He drove in 74 career IndyCar races from 1979 through 1988.

Today, he is president and CEO of Chelsea Milling Company, which manufactures the world-famous Jiffy Mixes. Holmes’ grandmother, Mabel White Holmes invented the ubiquitous baking product.

Holmes is one of many former drivers who return to the Speedway each May to visit with fans and friends. 


- Mike Thomsen of | @Thomsen500

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