Skip to content

Fifty-one-year-old Autographed Souvenir Program

May 30, 2018



Fifty-one-year-old Autographed Souvenir Program


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



In May of 1955, I went to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time.  Following in the tracks or footprints of my dad, I have been a fan of motor racing ever since my first visit to the Brickyard.  A number of members of my extended family have also been race fans.  Not only did we go to the Speedway–“The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”–we went to sprint and midget races on dirt tracks.


During my early years of going to race tracks, drivers from the United States typically worked their way up the ranks to the Indy 500 by winning midget-car races and then sprint-car races (not to be confused with NASCAR).  Even after participating in the United States Auto Club (USAC) Championship races, many drivers continued to race in the USAC sprint tracks.  One of the most well-known “Silver Crown” sprint races was and still is the Hoosier Hundred, also in Indianapolis, but at the track of the Indiana State Fairgrounds (where this year’s race was run on May 24).


During the years that we attended the dirt-track races, I recall that having reserved seats close to the track most often resulted in spectators’ going home covered with not only dust, but clumps of dirt.  Fortunately, in 1967, our family’s reserved seats for the Hoosier Hundred were higher up in the bleachers.  Several years earlier, my dad and I had begun a collection of souvenir programs of the Indianapolis 500; so, of course, I had to add a program of the Hoosier Hundred to my collection.  Since Mario Andretti had won the Hoosier Hundred in 1966, a black-and-white photo of his then very young face was inside an oval on the cover of the program.  Despite the dust clouds in the air and the coolers of food and beverages at our feet, the official program had to remain in mint condition for my collection.


After A.J. Foyt won the Hoosier Hundred in 1964 and 1965, Andretti earned the checkered flag the next two years–prior to his one win at the Indy 500 in 1969.  One of the celebrities who also saw Andretti win the 1967 Hoosier Hundred was William Shatner, who was in the midst of starring in the first version of Star Trek on television (1966-1969).


Although I watched Star Trek in those early years, I would have been more interested in an autograph of Andretti, Foyt, or another famous driver than in an autograph of William Shatner.  Nevertheless, when we left the stands and track area after the 1967 Hoosier Hundred, someone in the family noticed a black limousine across the driveway.  “That’s William Shatner in that limousine!” my young aunt exclaimed.


“Should we ask him for his autograph?” asked my older sister.


After some discussion, we finally decided that the youngest cousin–Lisa, age eight–should request the autograph.


Having received brief instructions and some encouragement from her relatives, Lisa, representing our entire family, unabashedly walked across the drive to the polished limousine.  My extended family and I watched as Lisa walked directly to the driver’s window–not the window of the back seat.  The eight-year-old who had not watched Star Trek on TV, proudly smiled and gave the two official programs to the chauffeur and asked him for his autograph!


Fortunately, the chauffeur handed the two programs to Mr. Shatner.  The television star signed both programs and handed them back to the chauffeur who returned them to Lisa.


While we tried to stifle our laughter, Lisa nonchalantly walked back to our gathering.  Then, I realized that William Shatner had boldly signed his name directly across the picture of Mario Andretti’s face on the front cover of my official program.


Over fifty years later, I still have in my collection this Hoosier Hundred program with Shatner’s autograph.  However, I have never forgiven “Captain Kirk” for lowering the rank of my once mint-condition official program of the 1967 Hoosier Hundred.


Happy June!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow (who will be the focus of next week’s blog post on WORDWALK)


May 30, 2018, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Sue McKendry permalink

    Alice–It just wouldn’t be Memorial Day weekend without your posts about the Indy 500. This one is my favorite so far–and I sure don’t blame you for preferring Andretti’s unmarred photo to Shatner’s autograph, but then I never was a Star Trek fan. And we see way too much of Shatner these days with his insurance ads. I’m not a racing fan either, but must admit I always thought Andretti was a very handsome man.–Sue

    • Hi, Sue–Many thanks for reading this post and sharing your perspectives!

      Talk with you soon!  Enjoy the cooler weekend–Alice and Willow

  2. Alice, I think I may have read this somewhere, but it’s worth reading a second time. My younger brother was also a Star Trek fan, especially after the first movie came out, and he wouldn’t have cared where ⠠⠺⠊⠇⠇⠊⠁⠍ Shatner put his autograph.

    • Hi, Abbie–Approximately two years ago, I wrote an earlier version of this post for one of our large-group critique sessions.  So, yes, you had read a version of this piece previously.

          Thanks for your comment about your brother and for the the “like” on this post.

      Take care–Alice

      • You’re welcome, Alice. I’ll soon be leaving for a writers’ conference in Dubois and won’t be back until early Sunday evening. Have a great weekend.

  3. Katherine Binole permalink

    I read to Lisa who remembers asking me,”which one is he” and I just pushed her forward. I also read to Bill. He does not remember this. He did say Shatner became far more popular and famous than Andretti. It brought back good memories for all of us going to time trials in Indy, dirt track races and eating at Big Shoes BBQ after dirt track races.

    The memory of Indy time trials that made Bill and I laugh for years was the time mother and daddy babysat kids. We went with another couple. She was bringing fried chicken and I was bringing my potato salad. Bill packed cooler with beer and potato salad. When we got ready to eat, Bill took out container and opened lid–SURPRISE! Instead of potato salad, it contained cut up raw chicken mother was to fix for dinner! Needless to say, we all laughed , as did a few rows in front of us and behind us! Aunt Kathy

    • Hi, Aunt Kathy–I was delighted to find a comment from you on this blog post.  I am so glad to have your perspective on this post; also, I am especially glad that you added the anecdote about the lunch surprise at Indy qualifications.  What a story!  I only vaguely recall this incident.

      Many thanks from Alice and Willow!

  4. Carole permalink

    Thanks to your family’s additional interest in dirt track racing, my first opportunity to attend such an event was with you and them at the Terre Haute track. I don’t remember the funny autograph story, but admire your knowledge and how you have remained such a faithful and dedicated race fan through the years.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: