Famous Indy 500 Pace Car driver dies (Update)

UPDATE Added video of accident below.

People scattered as Palmer loses control of the Dodge Pace car in 1971
People scattered as Palmer loses control of the Dodge Pace car in 1971


Eldon D. Palmer, 87, died on June 30, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana after a sudden illness. Born October 31, 1928 in Starke County, Indiana, he was the son of Francis W. & Vada Terry Palmer. He is survived by his loving wife of over 65 years, Elaine (Zaring), and children Patricia (John) Nichols, Don (Carolyn) Palmer, Barbara (William) Tait, and Marsha (Guy) East. He was so proud of 13 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren, and a wonderful extended family. His sister, Judith Moore survives, and brothers, Wayne, Wendell, and Otis Palmer, and sister Barbara Champlin preceded him in death.

Eldon attended a one room school house near Bass Lake, Knox High School, and Butler University. After graduating, he married Elaine in 1950. After one year of teaching school, he opened a used car lot. He and Elaine set down roots in Indianapolis. He founded Palmer Dodge in 1958, Kenworth Truck Center in 1965, and in 1975 purchased a bare bones Pebble Brook Golf Course in Noblesville. Today, Palmer Trucks employs nearly 500 people in various locations, and Pebble Brook is a beautiful 36-hole golf course. He loved the front lines of building businesses and sales, growing capable employees, developing strong relationships with customers and associates, and creating beautiful spaces for people to work and play.

Eldon Palmer had a keen eye for potential in people and in business. On both fronts, once his laser focus zeroed in on a project or a person in need, there was no turning back or stalling around. He was willing to move mountains to resolve a problem. Goals and strategies were essential, but nothing compared to his personal involvement and action. Success and age never stopped him from giving his family, friends, and projects his direct attention and effort. Eldon cherished friends of all ages from all walks of life: believing in each person's goodness and potential, pushing for excellence, never giving up over time and adversity.

Mr. Palmer made a dedicated example of humble stewardship through many valuable organizations, but wanted to focus on the gift not the giver. Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, and Faith Presbyterian in Cape Coral, Florida provided warm church homes. He loved his Butler University roots and was a dedicated Bulldog fan decades before it was "cool." Along with many others over the years, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Motor Cycle Drill Team and the neighborhood mission Community Caring and Sharing made him proud and warmed his heart.

Palmer takes down a media stand full of journalists, injuring 24, one serious
Palmer takes down a media stand full of journalists, injuring 24, one serious

The community will likely remember his business success or the Indy 500 pace car accident. His family and friends will remember his timeless zest for life, his kind and generous heart, and how truly and dearly he loved us. "We were lucky…"

Memorial contributions may be made to the St. Vincent Foundation 8402 Harcourt Road Indianapolis, IN 46260 or Butler University Athletics In Memory of Eldon Palmer 510 W. 49th Street Indianapolis, IN 46208 (www.butler.edu.gifts)

Family and friends are invited to gather Tuesday, July 5 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Second Presbyterian Church. A funeral service will be held on Wednesday, July 6 at 11:00 a.m. at Second Presbyterian Church. Please visit flannerbuchanan.com to sign the online guest register. Arrangements entrusted to Flanner and Buchanan-Carmel.

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