Remembering Jack Sharpe (Lobo 1)
Reprinted from Friday, August 13th Weekly Program
By: John Houghton (Announcer)
Jack Sharpe retired from racing in the 1960s but name still comes easily from the lips of fans from that era. While I never personally met Jack Sharpe, fans have told me time and time again of his influence on racing not only at this speedway, but at tracks across the region. When the speedway received a phone call last night informing us of his passing, it was time to break into the archives to find out a bit more about a person who meant so much to so many.
The general information about Jack Sharpe is fairly well known to die-hard Delaware and super modified fans. His name is often spoken with the legendary drivers of the time (Daniels, Lennox, Howard, Wilson, Trepanier, Truman, Hogan and more). What proved harder to come by were the details about the legend.
Most of Sharpe’s biographical information is pulled from an old London Free Press article that was donated to the track through the speedway History Project. The article pulls no punches: “Jack Sharpe was written off for dead on the warm night of June 10, 1966. His racing car – Lobo 1 – a powerful super modified open-wheeler, had just taken nine heart-stopping flips down the front straight at Brodie’s Delaware Speedway after scrubbing wheels with a competitor”.
Sharpe, 39-years old at the time, was a driver who was set in his ways. He refused to wear a shoulder strap saying that by not doing so it enabled him to move more freely in the car. It was this free movement that resulted in career ending injuries of broken bones and a severe head injury. Safety equipment at the time was not nearly as advanced as it is today. While racing is itself inherently hazardous, in the early days the idea of ‘risk management through safety equipment’ would have been seen as an odd concept.
Sharpe, however, was no quitter. He fought to live and he had to learn to walk again following the crash before returning to his job as an auto mechanic the following December. Doctors thought he would never walk again. Sharpe proved them wrong.
At the time the article was printed Sharpe had over 287 trophies to his credit. His biggest win was reported at an event called the North American Stock Car Championship, a 100-mile race at a dirt track in Columbus, Ohio on September 22, 1957.
For the character of the man himself, track owner at the time Hugh Brodie said Sharpe was “very quiet, reserved and shy. However when he got on the track, he changed. He wanted to win. He was very cute. He had a reputation as a clean driver, but he could be dirty if he had to be. He always came out smelling like a rose.”
Tonight we pause to remember Jack Sharpe and his powerful legacy at Delaware Speedway. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and all who knew him.
*Editors Note: A memorial was held on Friday evening at the track prior to the races. Thank-you to all the fans who joined Delaware Speedway and the family of Jack Sharpe in remembering his legacy. Additional arrangements are being made in private, there is no public funeral service planned.