Forrest Lucas and Indianapolis share a mutual love of racing

It's a rags to riches story that could only happen in America, and it's a home-grown Hoosier whom is becoming a legend in his own time who has written it.

Forrest Lucas and Indianapolis share a mutual love of racing

Forrest Lucas' Lucas Oil Company will be the primary sponsor for the Honda-powered No. 55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car driven by rookie Tristan Vautier in the Indy 500 on Memorial Day.

The collaboration marks ten years of partnership between team owner Sam Schmidt and the wealthy Columbus, Indiana-born Lucas, who has made his way from cross-country trucker to mega-bucks innovator in an inspiring story of grit, creativity and self-reliance.

Knowledgeable Indy Lights fans know at a glance the white-bodied open-wheel cars of Lucas and Schmidt with their black and red insignia. Lucas has sponsored the No. 7 Indy Lights entry for multiple championship drivers in the developmental league. His cars have captured the Indy Lights Freedom 100 on Carburation Day, the most coveted trophy in that series.

"We use race cars to get people to look at our products," said Lucas. "In 1990 one of our customers and his son were racing sprint cars. For $500, we painted Lucas Oil on his car and started marketing through motor racing."

Lucas' Indy 500 experience has come in partnership with Sam Schmidt Motorsports also: this year on the primary entry from the team for rookie Vautier. Lucas first partnered with Schmidt in 1993 when his company served as primary sponsor for the Indianapolis 500 entry of driver Richie Hearn.

Tristan Vautier, Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda
Tristan Vautier, Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda

Photo by: IndyCar Series

That opportunity came about during the lean years for IndyCar when there was annual uncertainty about whether enough cars would qualify to create a full field in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. In order to make sure there were 33 cars in the 1993 race Roger Penske lent pole-sitter Gil de Ferran’s backup car to Schmidt for a run. Hearn put the newly-liveried white race car into the 500 by the slimmest of margins and the affiliation of team and sponsor began.

Lucas' rise to prominence in racing has paralleled a successful business career running a private oil-additive and oil lubricant manufacturing company founded in 1989. It was a second start for the 70 year-old Lucas who as a young adult saved every penny he made from driving moving trucks cross-country and parlayed his earnings into a fleet of vehicles.

Lucas' interest in long-distance running gear emerged as a by-product of the needs of his trucking company, which he eventually sold to concentrate solely on oil products for trucks, boats, motorcycles and race cars.

"We are already looking 10 to 20 years ahead," he said. "We've been working with some IndyCar teams on light-oil formulas and friction-free greases."

The company's sponsorship activity spans NASCAR and IndyCar deals, hydroplanes, drag racers and dirt racers--the latter even bearing the company's name as title sponsor. Lucas' biggest sponsorship deal is with the Indianapolis Colts football stadium in downtown Indianapolis. Recently the company has moved into television in an effort to generate its own programming about its racing prowess and, of course, promote its 200 products (mostly lubricants and additives) to fans.

shares
comments
Dario Franchitti surges to top on busy 5th day in Indy
Previous article

Dario Franchitti surges to top on busy 5th day in Indy

Next article

Daly first to hit wall; Munoz quick again on Thursday at Indy

Daly first to hit wall; Munoz quick again on Thursday at Indy
Load comments
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Prime

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and series sophomore Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 22, 2021
How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar Prime

How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar

Marcus Ericsson enjoyed a breakout year in the IndyCar Series in 2021, winning twice and finishing sixth in points with Chip Ganassi Racing. How did he finally unlock the potential that was masked by five years of toil in Formula 1 with Caterham and Sauber/Alfa Romeo?

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win Prime

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win

Saturday, Oct. 16th, marks the 10th anniversary Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Prime

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Jack Harvey’s move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate, but their combined strength could prove golden, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 15, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Prime

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong résumé and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star Prime

2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star

Alex Palou has captured Chip Ganassi Racing's 14th IndyCar drivers' championship, and in truly stellar manner. David Malsher-Lopez explains what made the Palou-Ganassi combo so potent so soon.

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021