Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

May 24, 2013

Local race fan to drive in Indianapolis 500 Festival parade

Amanda Browning
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Greensburg resident and race fan Dennis Dickman received a surprise call Monday evening asking him to drive his 2011 Camaro pace car in the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade this weekend.

Andy Wolf, an Indianapolis resident who is responsible for securing pace cars to drive in the parade, thought of his friend, Dickman, when he was looking for cars this year. Dickman gleefully accepted and began preparing to cross one dream off his list.

Dennis Dickman has been a huge fan of the Indianapolis 500 for years and he attends every event he can, when his work permits. Dickman is a Decatur County farmer and he takes his work seriously. But when the fields are taken care of and he has time to play, he turns to his hobby - racing.

Dickman collects pace cars from the Indy 500. He currently owns six pace cars and his newest acquisition, the 2011 Camaro from the last year Dan Wheldon won the race, is slated to transport either Governor Mike Pence or Indianapolis 500 Festival Committee Head Ted Dickman in the parade this weekend. Dickman co-owns the car with his daughter, Sarah Saylor.

When Dickman purchased the car two years ago, General Motors invited him to meet Dan Wheldon at the track. Wheldon took Dickman and his wife, Mary, for a couple of laps around the track, traveling at speeds over 140 miles per hour. Dickman said it was an unforgettable experience, made more so by the fact that Wheldon died in a crash just a few months later.

When asked what she though about her husband being invited to drive in the parade, Mary Dickman said, “I’m very happy for him, he deserves this. He loves to share his cars with other people and has made some wonderful friends doing it. These cars have brought some fantastic times to our family.”

Dennis said he has a busy weekend planned. Some friends who share his love of the Indy 500 and fellow pace car owners have come in from out of state and will be spending Friday evening with the Dickmans to visit before heading to Indianapolis on Saturday for the parade and the race on Sunday.

The Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade has become one of the most-watched parades in the country and an estimated 300,000 spectators will line the streets of Indianapolis to watch the event. The parade is the only event that has taken place every year since the inception of the Indianapolis 500 Festival in 1957.

Dickman will be in esteemed company, as the 33 starting drivers of the Indy 500 will be serving as honorary grand marshals of the parade. In addition, there will be numerous well-known celebrities, elaborate floats, gigantic helium balloons, marching bands, patriotic units, and costumed characters making their way through the streets of Indianapolis to herald the arrival of the world’s largest single-day sporting event.

The parade will be telecast locally on WISH-TV and nationally on NBC Sports Network.  

Interested people can tune into the race to see one local man living his dream of driving in the parade in a beautiful orange and white 2011 Camaro.

Viewers may want to keep an eye out for Dickman, who is sure to have a smile on his face as he is in the thick of things in the hours leading up to the historic race.

Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111 x7004