Heritage Team A Family Affair
June 17, 2001 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Jim Rathmann Jr. and John Mecom III have a unique gift for their fathers, and it comes in a bright-pink, 200 mph package.
Rathmann and Mecom are the owners of the Heritage Motorsports team in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series with Jeff Ward as driver. Their fathers are Indy-racing legends - Rathmann Sr. as winner of the Indy 500 in 1960 as a driver, and Mecom Jr. as an Indy 500 winner in 1966 as an owner.
"We're racing because our dads did it and did it well," Rathmann Jr. said. "Racing is what my dad loved to do, and I'm in a position to give that back to him.
"This experience has allowed us to find a connection with our dads that has brought us very close. We're excited to get them involved in racing again."
Mecom III would not only like to get them involved, he’d like to get them a win.
"I couldn't imagine anything more fitting than to give my dad and Rathmann Sr. a win on Father's Day," said Mecom III. "Family is very important to this team. It's not the normal stereotype you find in racing, but it's meant everything to us. It's the backbone for the entire team."
Mecom III, Rathmann Jr., Ward and team manager Mitch Davis also have offspring rooting for them on Father’s Day, making it an all-around festive day for Heritage not only on this holiday, but every race day.
"Jimmy (Rathmann Jr.) has three kids, I have four, Mitch has three, and Jeff (Ward) has four, so we have quite a fan base in our families alone," Mecom III said. "I think that's what adds to the strength of this organization. We all have our priorities in place. There's a balance between family and racing."
Ward learned that balance as a child, and he’s carried that over to his family. His wife and kids – three boys and a girl – travel with him throughout the summer.
"My dad raced bicycles in the Tour de France and he raced motorcycles," said Ward, who is ninth in IRNLS points. "One of my earliest memories is with him, riding my first mini-bike. And, now I'm doing the same with my sons.
"It's hard being away from home so much, so having my wife and kids with me at every race makes it easier. Plus, the owners and Mitch all have big families, so they understand about juggling schedules."