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The Sports Beat

By George Thomas


THE BANNERS of Wabash will be flying high at the starting line of the 500-mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway May 31.  They’ll be in the person of Jimmy Daywalt, who only a year ago drove in his initial 500-Classic.


Daywalt, whose ultimate dream in life is to win the Memorial Day race, the top achievement in the auto racing world, certainly is making great strides in reaching that pinnacle of success.  When they lined up for the 1953 500-miler Daywalt was back in the seventh row, but this year when they move up to the starting mark the handsome Wabash driver will be in the first row along with record-smashing Jack McGrath and Jimmy Bryan, the Arizona cowboy.


McGrath burnt up the 2 ½ mile Indianapolis speedway oval Saturday in qualifying, but the 28-year old local driver wasn’t far behind.  McGrath shatter the late Chet Miller’s record of 139.034 with a sizzling 141.033, but Daywalt better the old mark with a 139.789.  So did Bryan with a 139.665.


In that throng of thousands of sun-baked fans were many of Jimmy’s staunchest supporters, the racing followers form his hometown, Wabash.  Their hears pounded as the new Sumar Special, owned by Chapman Root of Terre Haute and piloted by Daywalt, whirled around the curves, along the backstretch and down the straightaway in front of the Pagoda.


And when it was over they applauded clear and loudly and when the race is over May 31 they’ll be the same ones who will be there cheering for Jimmy, no matter what the outcome is.  To them he has already reached the top and they’re going to place along the all-time Wabash greats – The George Mulles, the WAA, the Red Milliners, the Larry Marks and the many others who have given Wabash its acclaim as a “sports town.”


Perhaps young Jim will be the greatest of them all.  It’s a strenuous effort to pilot a race car for 500 miles.  It takes guts, determination, confidence or what have you, but this writer will tell you one thing, Jimmy Daywalt has them all.  To top it off he’s a gentleman and what we know about it, that’s what good athletes are made of whether they drive a race car, are a race jockey or kick a football.


So, Mr. Daywalt, we believe you know how you stand with Mr. and Mrs. Wabash and Junior Wabash.  Just remember our hearts are out to you and you’ll always be part of our memories in sports.