Madison Came Running Presents - Graham Heath:

The Original Text Of This Item Began In 2002 - With Updates.

With Photographs (plus comments) Madison Came Running pays tribute to one of the truly great Motor Sports Champions of Madison, Indiana and the entire Auto & Boat Racing Community.

Graham Heath & Memorabilia Cabinet

Madison Came Running met Graham Heath, at his Madison, Indiana Garage, to collect information about his racing life and to put "The Graham Heath Story" on our Web Page.

MCR found Graham Heath’s racing life and experiences are so extensive they would fill several textbooks, so we decided to put together the following bits and pieces that will, at least, introduce this fascinating personality to our readers.

Graham Heath was born 1924, on a farm North of Brooksburg, in Jefferson County, Indiana and following service in World War II – He began an amazing “Racing Adventure."

His life has "Intersected" with many greats of the Automobile and Motorboat Racing Fraternity, and Madison Came Running mentions a few. There is A. J. Foyt, the Unsers, Parnelli Jones, Pat O'Connor, Tony Hulman and the entire Indianapolis 500 Organization; plus any number of Unlimited Hydroplane Drivers and Champions.

But most of all there is Graham Heath's close friend and long-time-partner “Wild Bill” Cantrell, a legend in his own right, plus another friend, Jon Peddie, who almost “crossed over” in a Hydroplane Graham was “Crew-Chiefing” on the Detroit River in 1983. The list is endless.

The Hydroplane, Madison's Graham Heath had tuned and Madison's Jon Peddie would drive, on the Detroit River that day in 1983, was the "My Gypsy" running at Detroit under the Dobson Movers Sponsorship.

Crew Chief Graham Heath watched as Driver Jon Peddie moved onto the course, and then as Jon accelerated, without warning, the Dobson Hydroplane Exploded!

There is more that could be written about this happening, but for this story we present, to our readers, the aftermath and remains of The (U18) Dobson Explosion in the following composite.

On The Detroit River - 1983 - Courtesy "Johnson Brothers"

John Peddie survived, but The Dobson/My Gypsy Unlimited Hydroplane did not, and as Graham Heath recalled, "She was born in Detroit and died on the Detroit River."

When putting together an item about Graham Heath, it was evident MCR was also writing about Bill Cantrell and Jon Peddie, as the Boat & Auto Racing lives of each of the three is "forever entwined" with the remaining two.

We've touched on the Graham Heath/Jon Peddie relationship in the "My Gypsy" segment, and we'll now move our focus to the Graham Heath/Bill Cantrell part of our story.

During MCR's meeting with Graham Heath a bit of coincidental history was uncovered. For it was on June 22, of 1947 your author and Graham Heath (both and separately) had gone to the Salem, Indiana Speedway, that day, to see another Madisonian, “Wild Bill” Cantrell, drive a Sprint Car on Salem’s notorious high banks.

It was Salem's Inaugural Program. Your author and Graham Heath sat in the wooden grandstand watching Madison's Bill Cantrell, sitting in the Black Number #3 Hal, wearing his "Star" Helmet. It was just prior to race-time and MCR presents the resulting photograph taken with a "Brownie" that day.

Salem, Indiana June 22, 1947

The chance of two Sprint Race Fans meeting in Madison in 2002, who were both at the Salem, Indiana Speedway on that Summer day in June of 1947, to watch this driver from Madison, Indiana, is even less than improbability.

After our "Nostalgia Trip to the Wicked Hills of Salem" - Graham Heath displayed his Kurtis Kraft Racer, recently restored, for our camera. We present this magnificent racing machine from yesterday, and another great racing era, for our readers.

Graham Heath's #5 - Today

The "restored" Kurtis Kraft Racer from the "no roll cage era" led Graham Heath to his photo collection and more stories about his late partner (both) in business and in racing, Bill Cantrell.

Following each "journey-back-in-time" to Salem, Jungle Park, Scottsburg, Franklin or the Indianapolis 500 Graham would enliven each story with a rare photograph from those times, now passed.

Madison Came Running is privileged to have access to two great photos of the days we have just described in our Graham Heath Story.

Our first photo is the Southern Star, a favorite Sprint Car of Madison's Bill Cantrell, and the photograph was taken at a dirt track in Scottsburg, Indiana. "Wild Bill" Cantrell is at the wheel of the Southern Star and ready to race. The year was 1947 -

The Southern Star

Graham Heath's next photo, from yesterday, is a real classic and was taken an unmamed Race Track in Southern, Indiana. In the photo is Graham Heath's friend, Bill Cantrell, sitting in the driver's seat of a Hal Sprint Car.

"Wild Bill" Cantrell - Ready For The Green Flag

Our discussion, at Graham's Garage, quickly moved to his involvement with Madison's Hydroplane and Auto Racing History in general, and as MCR was about to leave Graham Heath's Garage he produced a two additional classic photographs for this story:

The first is a 1963 picture of the piston-engine Miss Madison, along with her uniformed crew. Madison Came Running reproduced the photo for our readers, and the "X" above one crewman is our Personage!

Graham Heath & Miss Madison Crew

The second is a picture of Graham Heath standing beside a 500 Mile Race Indy Roadster taken at the famous Brickyard when he was a member (XX) of the "Federal Engineering Special" Crew.

Graham Heath At The Indy 500

So our story comes to, at least, a pause, and as we turned to walk away from this "Fascinating Motor Sports Person" - We noticed Graham Heath standing with one foot on his Newest Racer!

Graham Heath
"Looking back to Yesterday and perhaps beyond Tomorrow?"

By: Roger Bean


As you read through this article or visit Graham Heath, at his garage, it becomes evident Graham talks little about himself but is a person with "One Thousand Stories" to be told about the Greats of Motor Sport Racing on any number of Auto or Boat Race Courses.

Graham Heath's favorite topic must be Bill Cantrell? He often refers to his friend as "Pappy" Cantrell.

When visiting with Graham Heath be ready for a "trip" around the Hills of Salem or the Indy 500 in an Offenhauser, or he may "put" you in an Unlimited Hydroplane for a fast lap around the "Wild Bill" Cantrell Memorial Race Course on Madison's Riverfront.

Whichever you choose -
Graham Heath will have your attention!

Our personal note, "When Graham Heath talks to this author, he is preaching to the choir."


Jon Peddie?
Read the Jon Peddie Article in Madison Came Running's Racing Stories.

Bill Cantrell?
MCR has a photograph of Bill Cantrell's Memorial Marker in our Oasis Gallery.
It is the "most viewed" photograph on our Web Page.

- "Madison Came Running Pauses" -

"Old Racer" Proudly Sits In Graham Heath's Number #5
"Today Becomes Yesterday"

Turn The Clock To 2008
Graham & His Friend From Salem Speedway - 1947

Graham Heath Died July 11, 2008

Tribute To Graham Heath

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