The celebration of one impressive Indy 500 streak Sunday also will mean the unfortunate end of another for Ed Justice Jr.
For 75 consecutive years, his family has been involved in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing as crew members, mechanics and (most recently) sponsors.
There will be three cars in the 104th Indy 500 (the Meyer Shank Racing entry of Jack Harvey and Dreyer & Reinbold’s cars for Sage Karam and JR Hildebrand) that will carry associate sponsorship from Justice Brothers, a distributor of oil additives, industrial lubricants and cleaners used in car care.
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But when the green flag drops, there won’t be a member of the Justice family at the Brickyard for the first time since 1946 when Justice’s uncle, Zeke, worked on winner George Robson’s car.
“I won’t be alone,” said Justice, the company’s president and CEO whose personal streak of more than 40 Indy 500s also will be snapped. “ I know a lot of people that it’s going to end their streak. But it’ll be an asterisk, that’s for sure.
“Big picture, everybody is healthy in our family. I’ve been to thousands and thousands of races in my life, and it’s not going to hurt me to miss one. Even as much as I’d love to be there and see our friends. We’re all going through a very, very interesting time, and it’s a tough time for so many. Nobody is coming out of this without a scar. You’ve got to look at the big picture. I’m just thankful that we’re healthy.”
Justice is looking forward to an Indy 500 viewing party Sunday at the family’s private automotive collection beside company headquarters in Duarte, California.
With some big-screen TVs nestled in a showroom filled with the family’s race car connections to IndyCar, drag racing, IMSA, sprint cars and NASCAR (as well as a 1955 Corvette, ’57 Thunderbird and other vintage street cars), it’ll serve as a suitable surrogate for walking the grid at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Just ahead of the balloons, the flyover and the command to start engines, mingling on the morning of race day is Justice’s favorite part of the Indy 500.
“When you walk the pit lane, it is like the crossroads of the racing world,” he said. “You’ll see anybody and everybody in the industry. It’s unbelievable how you just get to renew friendships. I’m really going to miss that.
“I was standing next to Jackie Stewart one year, and he said to his guests, ‘I’ve been all around the world, and I’ve stood in the Vatican when the Pope comes out, and this is the only thing that comes close to that type of excitement.’ ”
— Justice Brothers (@JusticeBrosInc) August 20, 2020
His family’s history in racing is filled with electric moments across virtually every major racing series in the country. The company has backed winners of the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Pikes Peak Hill Climb, as well as winners in drag racing, off road and rallycross.
It also sponsored NASCAR Hall of Famers Tim Flock, Lee Petty, Red Byron, Buck Baker, Curtis Turner and Fireball Roberts (Eddie and Len Wood recently sent Justice an autographed Dan Gurney Galaxie diecast).
Justice Brothers started its sponsorship history at the Indy 500 in 1949 with No. 69 driver Bayless Leverett (shown in the photo above). A year later, the company was on the entry of winner Johnnie Parsons with Frank Kurtis’ team.
Other drivers sponsored by the company: Jim Rathmann, the Granatelli brothers, Johnny Rutherford, A.J. Foyt, P.J. Jones, Andretti Autosport, Eddie Cheever, Steve Kinser, Buddy Rice, Buddy Lazier and Jeff Ward.
“We’ve always been involved with all the major legends at the speedway,” Justice said. “Our family is sort of like Forrest Gump. We just happened to be standing where racing history happens.”