Indy Through The Years

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Chrysler 300M Enthusiasts Club Indy Meet Through The Years

Written By: John Benjamin
Additional Comments By: Mike Brawley & Robert Day

This is a recollection of the eight Chrysler 300M Enthusiasts Club meets held in Indianapolis IN from the meet’s inception. Since 2016 was the last official Indy Meet, this is a recap of all the meets for posterity.

“I put Indy as one of the truly great places on God’s Green Earth; so if one can ever make it out there it is definitely worth the trip and visit. Going there when an event is going on makes it even sweeter.” – A quote from Mike Brawley about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Indy SignsThere were 4 members who attended all 8 Indy meets.
Mike Brawley, Robert Day, Stan Walker and John Benjamin. Each of them took home all of the street signs pictured above.

In The Beginning

Mid 2005:  Some forum threads were started to kick around the idea of a Midwest meet. Some suggested locations were Cincinnati OH, Columbus OH, and Indianapolis IN.

January 2006: A national meet in Kansas City was starting to gain traction and taking shape. It was eventually scheduled for September 14-15-17 2006. The meet was very well attended and the intent was to make it an annual “national” meet because of the central location in KC. It was an attempt to draw members from across the country. Unfortunately, a second KC meet never materialized but the only Kansas City meet was instrumental in making possible the meet in Indianapolis.


May 2006 – “The Birth of a Major Meet”

John & Mike PictureIndy mini-meet with Mike Brawley (BigMike60)and John Benjamin (Beespecial).

In early May 2006, Mike contacted John to meet up at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch qualifications for the Indianapolis 500-mile race. It was there that Mike floated the idea of teaming up to host a 300M Enthusiasts Club meet centered around the activities in May for the race. It was obvious that having a meet on race weekend wouldn’t be feasible but it would work very well on a qualifications weekend. Between Mike, then Club President Ken Eyler, and John Benjamin, the ball started rolling. May 2007 would be the first official 300M Club Indy Meet.


May 2007 – “Brickyard Run”

2007 Lobby SignMike Brawley’s 300M was featured on the 2007 hotel lobby sign.
Mike received the sign at the end of the meet as well.

Sixteen members signed up to attend and only 1 from the list did not show. It was an excellent turnout. Lodging and car show was at the Adam’s Mark hotel. Member Antoni Ortega drove up from Florida with his family. He was the obvious choice for the Most Cruisin’ award. Custom clock faces and key ring lighting were the hot items for parking lot fixin’s.

“You never forget your first time and this was a meet of firsts. Some of the highlights of this meet for me was seeing the expressions on the faces of those who had never been to IMS before and their smiles after they completed the track lap. I got to escort some of the members up to the rare air of the spotter’s platform of the first turn and it felt like being on top of the world. They were also introduced to an Indiana favorite, the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich (christened “the mudflap” by Bob Day). This was also my first time driving on the track too, so doing that and being able to show my friends around the speedway was a real thrill for me.” – John Benjamin

2007 Award winners:

  • Members Choice – Stan Walker
  • Best Interior Mod – James Lee
  • Best Exterior Mod – Rick Stilp
  • Most Unique Mod – Mike Brawley
  • Most Mods – Mike Brawley
  • Most Clean – Bob Day
  • Most Cruisin’ – Antoni Ortega
  • Best in Show – Antoni Ortega
Complete Photo Album
Spotters PlatformView from the spotter’s platform, first turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Spectators aren’t usually allowed up to this area but having a contact that is a senior member of IMS security, aka Yellow Shirts, we were granted some limited time up there.

A collection of pictures from the first Indy meet.

May 2008 – “Brickyard Run II”

2008 Lobby SignJohn Benjamin’s 300M Special was featured on the 2008 hotel lobby sign.
John received the sign at the end of the meet as well.

The second year officially made it an annual meet. We moved to a different hotel, Holiday Inn at the Pyramids. 2008 was the introduction of the ‘Checkered Hat’ and Mike was able to arrange the first of many track photos of our M’s crossing the finish line by longtime IMS head photographer Ron McQueeny. Dress for the Mayors Breakfast is recommended to be black and white. Mike scored some stovepipe checkered hats that some of us wore to the breakfast and around the track. A woman approached Mike and asked if he had another hat she could have to use as a shoe bag. Mike was not impressed with her inquiry. Regardless of the woman’s opinion, the hats made appearances to the remaining meets.

2008 Award winners:

  • Most Custom Interior – Stan Walker
  • Most Clean – Bob Day
  • Best in Show – Bob Day
  • Most Cruisin’ – Bob Day
  • Most Custom – Tom Romans
  • Best Exterior Modification – Tom Romans
  • Most Unique Mod – Tom Romans
  • Members Choice – John Benjamin
Complete Photo Album
Famous Black & White HatsRobert Day (FIREM), Mike Brawley (BigMike60), and John Benjamin (beespecial)
showing off those special hats!

May 2009 – “Brickyard Run 3”

2009 Lobby SignBob Day’s 300M was featured on the 2008 hotel lobby sign.
Bob received the sign at the end of the meet as well.

The track lap washed out by rain. Weather was cool and windy for the Show ‘n Shine. Mike invited a friend from law school, Jim Druker to fly in from NY and join us for the weekend. This year had some alternative activities away from the track for those that preferred to visit some yards and spend some time together wrenching on their rides. Outside of the meet, the Indy bug bit Bob so hard that he stayed in town to attend his first Indianapolis 500 mile race. During the week he attended Community Day at the track and was able to clock another 2 laps on the track and 1 lap of the track behind the seats, on foot! His feet are probably still hurting. In addition to the signs, Mike also provided many goodies and giveaways that turned into an Indy tradition. Stan’s (swalker) obsession with Danica Patrick, (an Indy driver), never panned out to meeting her.

2009 Award winners:

  • Best in Show – Bob Day
  • Most Cruisin’ – Bob Day
  • President’s Choice – Mike Brawley
  • Member’s Choice – Rick Stilp
  • Most Original – Josh Flinchum
  • Most Clean – Stan Walker
Complete Photo Album

May 2010 – “Brickyard Run IV”

2010 Lobby SignTony Ruotsalainen is from Finland and his M was voted Ride of the year for 2009.
His M also was featured on the hotel lobby sign so the sign was shipped to him.

This meet had Alan Wittstein and his son Seth and Travis Mitchell as first time attendees. This was the first year that race qualifying was combined into 1 weekend so that forced us to have to share the hotel parking lot with another (bigger) group that always comes in for Pole Day. They weren’t car guys so we didn’t really interact with them, too bad for them. 2010 saw the introduction of the “checkered belt”. Another one of Mike’s giveaways that are still worn to other meets.

Mike’s law school friend that attended in 2009 made a return trip in 2010. When leaving the Speedway to go to the Indy airport for the flight to NY after the meet, he locked his keys in the rented Camry. He had to hurry to make it to the airport and was about to break the car window in order to get the keys and airport. He and Mike spied some ‘yellow shirts’ up in the parking lot so Mike asked if any of them could help to get the car open. Turned out that two of them were retired cops and they got into a race to see who could get the car open first. Took one of them about 20 seconds with a slimjim to get it open. Jim made the airport and his plane on time and probably saved himself $300-$400 by not breaking the glass.

To paraphrase Forest Gump, “Indianapolis weather in the month of May is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” some years are cold and wet, other years blazin’ hot. This year we had both. Cool enough for a jacket on Friday but temps were in the 80’s Saturday and Sunday. Alan got introduced to the IMS “yellow shirts” while climbing on the bleacher railings trying to get that signature pic.

2010 Award winners:

  • Most Cruisin’ – Alan & Seth Wittstein
  • Best in Show – Cory Grimm
  • Most Clean – Bob Day
  • Most Original – John Benjamin
  • Member’s Choice – Travis Mitchell
  • Director’s Choice – Mike Brawley
Complete Photo Album

May 2011 – “300M Brickyard Run 5”

2011 Lobby SignCory Grimm’s 300M Special was featured on the hotel lobby sign
Cory received the sign at the end of the meet as well.

The year of the “Faithful Five”. A rather laid back meet this year with smaller than previous attendance. This is the only year track lap pics were taken from the outside edge of the track with the Pagoda in the background. Bob managed to stay in town again for his 2nd Indy 500.

2011 Award winners:

  • Best of Show – Cory Grimm
  • Most Clean – Bob Day
  • Most Original – John Benjamin
  • Members Choice – Travis Mitchell
Complete Photo Album
2011 Indy Meet Writeup

May 2012 – “300M Brickyard Run 6”

2012 Lobby SignAlan Witstein’s 300M Special was featured on the 2008 hotel lobby sign.
Alan received the sign at the end of the meet as well.

This meet saw 2 members new to the meet, Ron Bishop and Kent Vice. Both with ties to Indiana, Ron grew up in Indianapolis but is now living in Ohio and Kent is a resident of Lafayette IN. Originally, there were 12 signed up but 2 dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. John was one of the beneficiaries of Bob’s “Mobile Garage” getting instruction on how to do a brake fluid bleed and flush.

2012 Award winners:

  • Members Choice – Cory Grimm
  • Sight & Sound – Travis Mitchell
  • Best in Show – Bob Day
Complete Photo Album
2012 Indy Meet Writeup

May 2013 – “Miles of Memories”

2013 Lobby SignRon Bishop won the drawing for the lobby sign.

The meet saw its best attendance yet with 17 members signed up to come and a change in hotel to the Hampton Inn in Brownsburg. 2012 was going to be the last Indy Meet but at the 2012 Carlisle meet some promises were made to attend, so John and Mike were persuaded to host another Indy meet in 2013.

There were 8 members with people accompanying them that were new to this meet. Club President Keith and 1st lady Lindsey and Lindsey’s dad Stan, Chris Carpenter, Robert Knapp, Evan Oliver, Bill Hoppe, Matt Wheeler, Justin Hopkins, and all the way from Russia, Igor Nechaev. Bill Hoppe made the trip with Bob Day and was introduced to the concept of ‘dustless snacks’ in Bob’s car.

Track and local tour guide duties were performed by Bob Day standing in for John while on the mend from surgery. Club Prez Keith was introduced to pickled eggs brought by John’s turn 1 crew that included his son-in-law Kyle and Kyle’s dad among many others. The ‘sleep is optional’ mantra was in full bloom this year as most pulled an all-niter removing the pin-striping from Chris Carpenter’s ride.

First lady Lindsey and her dad Stan were blown away as they entered the track through the tunnel. “It’s like Disneyland for race cars!” – Lindsey

“This was the best meet I never got to attend. Recovery from major surgery prevented my complete attendance but I pushed the boundaries of my recovery and stamina to show up at the hotel to for the Show ‘n Shine awards. I was also treated to a surprise appearance to my house by several of my closest friends. That visit was so welcome and it certainly took a lot of the sting out of missing most of the meet.” – John Benjamin

2013 Award winners:

  • Sight & Sound – Robert Knapp
  • Most Cruisin’ – Igor Nechaev
  • Best in Show – Bob Day
  • Indy’s Choice – Keith Jarvis
Complete Photo Album
2013 Indy Meet Writeup
Allpar at the 2013 300M Enthusiasts Club Indy Meet
2013 Indy Group PictureGroup shot of the largest number of attendees at an Indy meet ever!

May 2014 – “It’s Deja vu all over again”

2014 Lobby SignCraig Campfield won the drawing for the lobby sign.

The swan song for official 300M club meets at Indy. 2013 was to be last but Mike and John were coaxed out of retirement once again for ‘just one more’.

Thursday Bill Hoppe flew in to Indy from PA and was retrieved at the airport by John. He was treated to the ‘nickel tour’ of the city and a visit to local brew pub. Friday was pretty much a washout for attendance at the track so we filled our time at the hotel by performing some mods and dodging the rain and sleet. Cory brought some HID headlights to sell and they were quickly snatched up by Mike and installed by the crew. The track lap that was to be ‘The Last One’ almost didn’t happen. But after some ‘choice expletives’ toward some track officials by John we were allowed onto the track for our lap. Later found out that one of the people that was the recipient of that ‘less than stellar’ behavior by John was none other than the director of the 500 Festival. Oops!

2014 Award winners:

  • Indy Meet Favorite, Most Outstanding Ride in Attendance – Nicholas Armentrout
  • Most Custom, Overall Custom Design – Justin Hopkins
  • Best Mod, Most Unique Modification – John Benjamin
Complete Photo Album
2014 Indy Meet Writeup

May 2016 – “300Ms at Indy. The 100th Running”

2016 Lobby SignNick Armentrout won the drawing for the lobby sign.

The swan song for official 300M club meets at Indy. 2014 was to be last but Mike and John were coaxed out of retirement once again for ‘just one more’ to celebrate the 100th running of the race. .

A week before the meet the weather forecasts leading up to the start of the meet wobbled back and forth from 80% chance for rain on Friday and Saturday to 10-20% chance. Way to make a commitment Mother Nature! As it turned out we once again ran the gamut of weather choices for the duration of IndyMeet. But, in true 300M Club fashion, we prevailed over the less-than-desired weather and had a great time. With non LH cars, Mike showed up with his new Corvette, Stan W with his bad ass Challenger, and Lloyd with his SRT-8 300C. Read more of the writeup below.

2016 Award winners:

  • Favorite LH (Most outstanding LH in attendance and May ROM winner) – Joe Daley
  • Indy Meet Favorite (Most outstanding ride in attendance) – Stan Walker
  • Most Custom, Overall Custom Design – Robert Waikel
  • Best Mod, Most Unique Modification – John Benjamin
Complete Photo Album
2016 Indy Meet Writeup
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