Press release courtesy of Mike Pollard
Art Pollard Playground
Back in Art Pollard's heyday, it wasn't just a smooth PR or photo op, it was a genuine affection for the kids. Things were different then.
It was just a genuine bond between the personable Oregon racer, who came to Indianapolis racing rather late in life, and Indianapolis kids known as "very tough cases" in treatment at the state psychiatric facility.
Art Pollard first visited Larue Carter in May 1968.
It was the beginning of something very special.
Pollard returned every spring, quietly stopping by to visit the kids in the evening, sharing a story or two, and bonding with them. A hospital doctor at the time said Pollard just seemed to click with them.
When Art died at the wheel of his racer, the children at Larue lost a true friend in 1973, but his legacy contiues to this day.
He left behind $25,000 in donations, and the Art Pollard Fund was established to help fund yearly visits to the track for the children.
On May 22nd 2003, Members of his family, the 42 kids at the hospital and dozens of staff watched as the Family and Social Services Administration's John Hamilton named an acre playground for Art Pollard. Then came the annual Art Pollard picnic.
John, 14, a skinny kid in a black Jeff Gordon T-shirt, who was into anything fast with wheels and an engine, was totally excited.
"It's awesome," he said, posing for a picture with his friends in front of the newly dedicated playground.
Mike Pollard, Art's son, and his cousin Brad Pollard, were in attendance for the ceremony.
Indy also has a lot of good memories of Pollard. Attorney Forrest Bowman III and retired sports announcer James A. Wilson are trustees of the fund. They've got lots of Pollard stories.
The best recollation came from David Harrison, the graying volunteer coordinator at Larue Carter.
"We have never generated a lot of friends in the community," he explains. "People are uncomfortable around mental illness. There is so much stigma."
"Art didn't see stigma. He saw kids as kids." For that, he will always be a winner."
Photo courtesy of Mike Pollard
Art Pollard Tribute Site established April 2, 2002