Pat Vidan was one of auto racing’s most iconic figures of the 1960s and 1970s and one of the sport’s finest ambassadors. He was Chief Starter for the Indianapolis 500 races from 1962 through 1979 (after being Bill Vandewater’s assistant from 1958-61), as well as for numerous other major United States Auto Club races. The nattily dressed, white-dinner-jacketed Vidan flagged races with considerable flair, grace, and showmanship. Until safety issues dictated otherwise, he worked from the actual track surface, dropping to one knee at the conclusion of an elaborate flag-twirling routine every time a competitor roared past his green or checkered flag.
The muscular, multi-talented Portland, Oregon, native resided for many years in the town of Speedway, Indiana, where he operated a health studio frequented by numerous Indianapolis 500 drivers, some of whom owned helmets painted by Vidan. A one-time trapeze artist and motorcycle stuntman, he was much in demand as a speaker. His repertoire included a racing-related lightning cartoon act that delighted both children and adults.
Courtesy of Indianapolis Motors Speedway Museum