RACER: Robin Miller on Mel Kenyon
Monday, 02 March 2015
Mel Kenyon is all-time leader in victories (111) and championships (seven) in USAC's midget division but he'll be as remembered for his comeback as much as his achievements.
A year after claiming his initial midget title, Kenyon was badly burned in the 1965 Indy car race at Langhorne, Pa., losing all the fingers on his left hand. Following a few months recovering at the burn center in San Antonio, he and brother Don, his chief mechanic for life, invented a glove that affixed to the steering wheel and that's how he raced the next five decades.
Using that special device in an Indy car didn't prove to be a handicap, either, as Miraculous Mel made his Indy 500 debut in 1966 and finished fifth in one of those great comeback stories. He was third in 1968, fourth in 1969 and fourth again in his last Indy start in 1973.
But midgets were his passion and he captured USAC championships in 1966, 1968, 1974, 1977, 1981 and 1985 – a year after being inducted into the National Midget Racing Hall of Fame.
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