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Maybe in any other setting, the attorney would have turned down the dare to sample some of the 48 pounds of bacon that had been cooked on the exhaust manifold of a race car.

But this was the carnival-like atmosphere found in the paddock areas at ChumpCar and LeMons races, where family members having a good time and overly aggressive drivers walking around in a dress and high heels with a sign that says, “I am an idiot,” are not uncommon sights.
 

racing-devoeportrait-15c.jpg Indianapolis attorney Curt DeVoe is chief driving instructor with the Central Indiana Region of the Porsche Club of America. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

So when the plate of crispy pork was passed to Curt DeVoe, partner at Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP, he took the dare.

“It tasted good,” he said. “It’s bacon.”

The Indianapolis attorney was at the race not as a spectator, legal adviser or food critic, but as a driver. He is a member of the Wisconsin-based Stinky Rat Trap Racing team which competes in the ChumpCar and LeMons series.

DeVoe is among the lawyers who followed their love of auto racing into the seat behind the wheel. They are busy attorneys with active practices, but on weekends they haul their speed machines to the tracks for a few days of driving fast and jockeying for a better position.

In addition to competing in the two amateur racing series, DeVoe also exercises his driving abilities as the chief driving instructor with the Central Indiana Region of the Porsche Club of America.

William Baten, of Van Winkle Baten in Indianapolis, and John LaRue, in private practice in Muncie, both are professional-level drivers competing in different circuits of the Sports Car Club of America series.

Racing photos and memorabilia decorate their offices and occasionally they do legal work involving racing teams or series. Yet, whatever case they are working on, whatever brief or deposition is due, they always have time to stop and talk about racing.

We all know attorneys have trouble relaxing,” DeVoe said, explaining the attraction to racing. “Ultimately, what I love most about racing is it is the most relaxing thing I can do. When I’m on the track, I can’t think about anything but what I’m doing right then and there. It’s totally absorbing.”

Cars, cars, cars

Fifteen years ago, Baten made a New Year’s resolution and decided to quit dreaming and start driving. Growing up in New Jersey, he had always tuned his television to the Indianapolis 500, but it wasn’t until he was 38 years old that he decided to become a race car driver.
 

racing-baten-15col.jpg As a adult, Indianapolis attorney Bill Baten made a New Year’s resolution to start racing and has since stood on the winner’s podium several times. (Photo submitted)

These days, he competes in the touring class of the SCCA series, driving his 2002 Camaro SS. Although the vehicles’ brands are well-known – BMW, Porsche, Subaru – they are by no means street cars.

Their interiors have been modified with the seats ripped out and roll cages installed, along with other safety equipment. Some drivers push the SCCA rules and tweak their engines to get a little more horsepower.

LaRue competes in open wheel racing in Formula 2000 cars in the SCCA Pro Series. These are sleek machines that have a complicated mix of aerodynamic devices to propel the car to a top speed of 160 miles per hour.

“It’s not the speed,” he deadpanned. “It’s the rate of deceleration that causes the problem.”

Racing a Formula 2000 car is as much about science as driving ability. The team of engineers analyzes the data collected in a series of black box-like recorders that measure things like speed, G-loading, suspension, temperature and pressure. Then they predict the environmental conditions, like heat and air density, that will be present during the race.
 

racing-larue2-15col.jpg Indiana attorneys find an addictive thrill racing cars. Muncie attorney John LaRue has regularly steered his bright red Formula 2000 racing car to first-place finishes in the SCCA pro-series. (Photo submitted)

All this is done so the aerodynamics of the car can be adjusted before the car speeds across the starting line. The races LaRue participates in – 50-mile sprints which take roughly 30 minutes – leave no time for pit stops and readjustments.

Cars that race in the ChumpCar and LeMons series are true jalopies. Not allowed to be worth more than $500, the vehicles are sometimes held together with Duct tape and always creatively attired.

The Stinky Rat car is painted to look like a block of cheese and has a long, stuffed rat hanging out the back end. In the vermin’s mouth is the brake light so the critter smiles at the cars behind every time the car slows down.

Not all about speed

DeVoe always loved motorsports, endlessly drawing racing cars as a youngster, but he went head over heels after taking a ride in a stockcar at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Then he read an article that inspired him to become a driving instructor with the Porsche Club of America.

Now, several weekends each year at Putnam Park Road Course, he and the other instructors teach drivers how to race.

Driving skill, rather than speed, is the key to winning, the attorney racers said. When to brake and how to navigate the turns are among the things drivers must know how to do to be successful.

Baten practices when he can. On race weekends, he gets a little time on the track to hone his skills before qualifying and racing. Also, he has taken lessons from pro drivers, and he has a car simulator complete with a driver’s seat and steering wheel.

Their skill has gotten both Baten and LaRue to the winner’s podium. Included in their successes are LaRue’s winning the 1997 national championship in the Formula Ford Class Pro Series of the SCCA and Baten crossing the finish line first during the 50th anniversary of the June Sprints in Elkhart Lake, Wisc.

“It’s wonderful,” Baten said of winning. “That’s what keeps me so involved in it and excited about it.”

LaRue turned his attention to the Indianapolis 500 in 1998, when he was hired by businessman Dale Pelfrey to put together a team. With LaRue’s high school classmate John Paul Jr. as the driver, Team Pelfrey led for 39 laps before finishing seventh.

The races DeVoe competes in are not so much focused on winning as on the fun of driving. Whether driving the Stinky Rat car or instructing a student, he likes seeing everyone excited and happy.

“Drivers really do have a passion for this,” he said. “That’s what makes us keep coming back.”

Shifting into practice

Over the last five years, Baten has developed what he called a “subspecialty” in mediation and arbitration for the motorsports industry. Oftentimes, teams and owners will choose Baten as a mediator because they feel his racing experience gives him a special understanding of the issues and nuances of their problems.

Even with non-racing parties, Baten looks to motorsports for a quick relief when things turn especially tense during a mediation session. As a way to give the parties a break, he will pop in a video of his racing, made with the cameras mounted to his car.


racing-larue-15col.jpg Muncie attorney John LaRue (leading in this photo) started racing go-karts as a youngster and continues to race the vehicles today. (Photo submitted)

It is not unusual that the racing attorneys have adopted their hobby to their legal practice. Many regularly attend the annual meetings of The Racing Attorney Conference (TRAC), which alternates between Indianapolis and Charlotte, N.C. The conference is organized by the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Sports and Entertainment Law Section and the North Carolina Bar Association.

Conversations among motorsports attorneys sometimes turn to the difficulty of getting young drivers into the sport. LaRue holds a different perspective.

“Unfortunately, the problem is not getting in, it’s getting out,” he said. “There is an addiction to it, the immediacy, the demands, the adrenalin.”•

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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