Galen Fox is fighting back.
March 17 was a typical day, and Galen was busy in the engine shop. He spent much of the afternoon working on pistons and rings, spending time at the mill and the lathe. He took time to chop some wood for the stove and was generally up and around with vigor, just like so many days before.
But late that night the silent assassin came creeping, reshuffling his world like never before. A stroke, spreading darkness where before there was light. When Galen blinked his eyes open, everything was different.
Now, at age 83, Galen is fighting to regain his vigor and mobility and life.
Across the vast spectrum of racing personalities over the past 50 years, Galen Fox is one of the bona fide good guys. A championship mechanic, a skilled engine builder, a psychologist for complex racing personalities, Galen did it all.
Among his fellow mechanics, he was a respected rival. More importantly, among younger racers and mechanics he was a trusted mentor and friend, someone who truly cared about others and their well-being.
His easy, down-to-earth demeanor hid the fiery competitor that lurked within. He began his career on the dirt tracks of southern Indiana and later wrenched at Indianapolis and beyond. His 20-year association with Dick Hammond and the Genessee Beer Wagon brought a USAC National Sprint Car title with Sheldon Kinser at the wheel, and more recently Galen successfully campaigned a USAC Silver Crown car driven by Dave Darland.
Galen began talking about retirement some 20 years ago, but never quite got around to it. Instead, he scaled back only a little as he continued work at the Foxco Engineering shop.
The good news is that, although his body is hurting, Galen’s mind is as sharp as ever. That’s important, because this would be an ideal time for Galen to realize how vital he has been to the sport and to his countless friends.
Galen is a good example of why doing your best work is important. He touched some of the greatest race cars of his generation, winning frequently and always setting the bar high.
He counseled and guided a great number of young racers who sat in the seat of his car. Galen also took the time to encourage other racers, not because they were driving his car; he did it simply because he was kind.
His easy smile and sense of humor made it easy — and fun — to hang around him. Galen’s wit could be sharp and earthy, his country roots mixed with a wise and experienced worldview.
Galen loved to smile and point out the personality traits of a typical racer. Oversized sensitive ego, with a tendency to show off, coupled with an insatiable desire to win. Galen shared that desire to win, and he quickly learned that a successful driver needed the right mindset. So there he was as counsel, soothing and reassuring when needed, edgy and motivating when that was best.
It worked out pretty well. Not only did Dr. Fox coax several drivers to greatness, but there was something else: the men who came and went left their association with a forever friendship, relishing their time together and speaking in reverent and loving tones of the country mechanic from southern Indiana.
I’ve been blessed to know many people. Galen is among the finest and it pains me to know that he and his family are hurting. These are not easy times, but they can’t possibly overshadow the great career and relationships Galen cultivated.
Hang in there, Galen. A bunch of us are in your corner, cheering you on.
Messages and cards will reach Galen at 7821 N Fox Hollow Rd., Bloomington, IN, 47408, and e-mail at G.Foxco56@yahoo.com.