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The Journal Gazette

  • Courtesy Jasper Case will be racing at Baer Field Motorsports Park's opening weekend Saturday. Case has been racing in northeast Indiana since 1966.

Friday, April 21, 2017 1:00 am

Baer Field brings back old favorite

69-year-old Case to drive iconic pink car as track opens season

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

If you go

Where: Baer Field Motorsports Park

What: Open Wheel Modifieds, Late Model Sportsman, Street Stocks, Mini Stocks, Stock Compacts

When: Gates open 10 a.m.; practice begins at noon; qualifying at 2:30 p.m.; racing at 4:15 p.m.

Grandstand admission: $12 for 15 and older; $6 for ages 9-15; ages 8 and younger free

Pit passes: $25

A familiar face to local race fans will be out at Baer Field Motorsports Park as it opens its 54th season Saturday.

Jasper Case, 69, will be behind the wheel of his car painted the color that gave him the nickname “Pink Panther.”

Case first started racing in 1966 when his cousin Johnny Jones broke his neck during a race. For many, this would have been a deterrent, but for Case's desire for competition, it filled the need quite nicely.

“(Jones) asked me go to the races to watch. I loved it,” Case said. “I went home and installed the roll bars in a 1957 Plymouth to race.

“When I got started, you did everything yourself: the motor, paint, decals, roll bars. Now you have help with everything you do. Technology has taken over. The money involved in these cars today is massive, and with sponsors harder to come by, drivers have to pay a lot more out of their own pocket.”

Case started his racing career with a yellow car and switched to pink around the mid-1970s.

“The guys who helped me were a lot of young guys, they said if I painted it pink, they said they'd quit,” Case said. “I wanted to see if they would.”

While racing at Avilla Speedway after the debut of the pink car, Case recalls a kid who loved the Pink Panther, so Case started racing with a stuffed animal riding shotgun. His following has grown since then.

“This will be 51 years that I've raced,” Case said. “The nice thing, we did a autograph session (at the beginning of April), it was surprising to me, these people they walk up to me and quite frankly they look as old as I do, 'My dad would take me to the races, and I loved the pink car.' ”

Case was inducted into the Avilla Speedway Hall of Fame before the track closed and into the Angola Speedway Hall of Fame.

The thing he's looking forward to most about this upcoming season, though: winning.

“Going out and being competitive is my passion,” he said. “Pingpong, pool, horseshoes, basketball. That's how I'll always be. You should never go out there and expect to lose a race. It's about having fun, talking to friends and family, and watching one of the most entertaining sports around.”

The entertainment has come with its price over the years for Case, who has no shortage of stories concerning race moments, injuries, accidents, among others.

“I hit a tree at Baer Field at 120 miles per hour, passenger side between the wheels,” he said. “I was lucky. If the car would have hit anywhere but where it hit, it would probably kill me outright.

“Most people think I'm a nut,” he added with a laugh.

Case is unsure just how long he will continue racing, but he knows it won't continue forever.

“It's not because I don't think I can do it anymore, I don't want to race if I can't be competitive,” he said. “I have simple philosophies: Whatever it is you get from it, it takes work. Appreciate every day you get up. Every day I get up and take off and start doing things and if I can do things and I don't hurt, I'm just upbeat. Just be appreciative when you can.

“I think a positive attitude gets you a long way. You don't have negatives. You plant them in the garden, you get weeds back. Plant positive things, you get fruit of your labor.”