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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. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  2. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  3. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  4. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  5. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

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