Some people are born with steering wheels in their hands and gasoline in their veins. These people have a knack for hopping in any vehicle and instantly bonding with it, making it bend to their will and slip around curves like butter. It doesn’t matter what it is–tractor, pickup, stock car, space shuttle–these people feel at home behind the wheel because the wheel is just an extension of their bodies. One such born motor head is Avon, Indiana resident Chet Fillip, a fixture on race tracks around the United States who is a natural at anything with an engine and four wheels.
From Indy cars to sprint cars, Chet Fillip has driven almost everything in the competitive world of Hoosier racing. Born in 1957, Fillip has been racing since his teenage years in Texas, when he raced stock cars and a modified car of his own at the Arena Park Raceway. He began his professional career in 1982, when he raced in the CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) Championship Car series; he had nine career starts in his three year run with CART, including starts in the 1982 and 1983 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race at the vaunted Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Though he never won a race during his CART years (his best finish was in 10th place in 1985), he gained valuable experience in open wheel racing and paved the way for his later career.
In 1985, Chet Fillip left the CART Championship Car series and hopped in the drivers’ seat of a different vehicle: stock cars. He joined the NASCAR Winston Cup series, where he experienced about the same level of success as he did in CART. He made 24 starts with NASCAR, but his best finish was at 15th position. After two years of NASCAR, Chet Fillip again switched gears and began racing United States Auto Club (USAC) sprint cars. It was with sprint cars that Chet Fillip experienced his greatest amount of success, winning a total of 9 races, including the prestigious Little 500 race at the Anderson Speedway in nearby Anderson, Indiana in 1999.
|Video of Avon, Indiana resident Chet Fillip winning a USAC sprint car race in 1998|
Once again, Chet Fillip decided to diversify his racing portfolio in 2006, when the Premier Racing Association formed. Driving a car he designed and manufactured himself, Chet Fillip won the first championship race in the new series: his first championship in a long 28 years of racing. Despite his age, Chet Fillip is still racing, though now he is part of the Silver Crown series; his latest victory was in 2008, when he won at the Richmond International Raceway. He was 51 at the time, a speed junkie all his life.
Chet Fillip is a jack of all trades when it comes to the most high energy of Indianapolis sports, racing. Beginning his career with stock cars, he eventually would get behind the wheel of CART cars, sprint cars, more stock cars, and, later on, a car of his own design. One of those rare racers who seems bred into the sport, Chet Fillip is a famous Avon person whose love of speed and cars has made for a successful career, both on and off the track.
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