Back in 1964, I was assigned to the racing division of the Humble Oil and Refining Company as a fuel and lube specialist for sports cars, Indy and stock cars. I did this from 1959 through 1968. Our task was to see that all the racecars that used our products were signed up so the company could use the winners as advertising for the “Tiger in the Tank” ENCO promotions. The first use of that promotion was at the Indianapolis 500 in 1963. I was partnered with Earl “Red” Davidson, out of Indy, to mix the various combinations of fuel and nitromethane for qualifying and racing for the Indycars and supply the other racecars with fuel and sponsor decals at races in the Midwest. That year, 1964, stands out for me in that we were on the John Mecom racing team at Road America in Elkhart Lake Wisconsin, for the 500 in September. We had to disguise all the barrels of fuel at that race because the track sponsor was Union 76 and they didn’t like to have a competitive fuel at the track. So, Red, myself and Ray Schroeder drove up to the track from Milwaukee and covered all the barrels of fuel with tape! When we got there, the Mecom Racing Team had a Ferrari 275 LM endurance sports racer to compete in the race. We set about to prepare for the race when we were informed that the transaxle required castor oil for lubrication so we went into Plymouth, Wisconsin, to the drug store to get as much as they had! The mechanics for this racer were from both Italy and North Carolina, and the dialect was something to behold. The racecar had only 65 miles on the clock, so Augie Pabst and Walt Hansgen took it out for some needed testing. When that was over, the team went back to the hotel at Sharps Resort on the lake for a very well needed prime rib dinner, which John Mecom provided for the team. There, I sat down with Walt Hansgen for a review on how to coordinate pit stops for the race. This race was one of many that the Mecom Racing team competed in that year. We were fortunate enough to win that race over the likes of Jim Hall and Roger Penske, and the engineers from Houston, Texas, were given the great news that this race was ours! Needless to say, the fact that a competitive fuel was used to win the race was very disconcerting to Union 76. The victory celebration lasted into the night, and the promotion people at ENCO had a field day! I got to sit in the Ferrari while it was being pushed to victory lane, and that racecar went on to win and compete in events around the world. It was one of the highlights of my time being a fuel and lube specialist for some of the best racecars of their time. Hard to believe it all happened 50 years ago now!
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