Logan's Run

The ownership ranks of professional racing are dominated by fast cars and big money. What's a chiropractor from St. Louis doing in a place like this?

He's raced an Indy car just once, finishing 10th in Charlotte, N.C., two years ago. If all goes well, he'll be rocketing around a 1.5-mile oval at slightly more than 200 mph sometime tomorrow afternoon in a car that weighs less than a Chevy Metro.

Reeves seems far from crazy, though he has a lot of gray hair for a guy who's 33 years old. When the radio host says he's gone 130 mph on a motorcycle, Reeves says that's too fast for him -- "There's no way I'd go 100 on a motorcycle," he says. "I'd have to be strapped in." But speed is in Reeves' blood. He grew up a few blocks from Turn 3 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, this sport's mecca. He got started in go-karts when he was 7. Until recently, a driver in the Busch series, a stock-car circuit one step below NASCAR's top Winston Cup series, Reeves now lives in North Carolina. He knows the Atlanta track from racing other kinds of cars here, so he's not starting totally from scratch. What does he think of Logan's car? Reeves, whose last race was in a pickup, smiles.

"I haven't even seen the car yet, to be honest," he says.

Jim "Doc" Logan's car on the track in Atlanta.
Howard Martin
Jim "Doc" Logan's car on the track in Atlanta.
"Look at all these people around this car. There's enough here to eat it." — Joe Alexander, longtime racing-team owner
Howard Martin
"Look at all these people around this car. There's enough here to eat it." — Joe Alexander, longtime racing-team owner

Sitting in his office on Natural Bridge Road near the University of Missouri, Logan doesn't look like the kind of guy who can run with the likes of Foyt and Unser. He answers the phone himself and doesn't have a receptionist. The carpet is ivory shag, his '80s-era computer uses 5.25-inch floppy disks and a Band of Gypsies LP leans against the combination tape-player/record player. There's an unframed poster of a 1985 Cadillac Allante, the same model Logan drives every day, usually 8-10 mph over the speed limit. There are also framed photographs of race cars he's owned. His desk is a mess, a morass of papers relating to racing and his chiropractic practice with a few Hot Wheels and Matchbox toy cars threatening to fall off the edges. He has diplomas from Columbia College, where he studied nutrition, and Logan College of Chiropractic (the name is coincidental).

The late football great Walter Payton was once part-owner of an Indy car, but Logan is the first African-American to lead a team by himself. "I like to call my own shots," he explains. "This is my dream. It's my personal thing."

Now 55, Logan grew up in North St. Louis. He commuted across the city to attend O'Fallon High School, which had a vocational program where he learned to work on engines. As a young man, he served in the naval reserves as an airplane mechanic assigned to Glenview Naval Air Station in Illinois and built planes at McDonnell Douglas. He ended up a chiropractor almost by chance. "I used to go by Logan College all the time," he says. "It had my name spelled out in big concrete letters on the grass there. And I just said, 'One day I'm going to see what that is.' And one day I did." He has two grown sons and a wife who, he says, supports his racing endeavors but prefers to stay in the background. "She thinks it's fine," he says. "She likes the idea that I'm doing it. She used to love it when the kids raced, but now that they're not racing, she doesn't really like to be in the activity, because she thinks she gets in my way. I move pretty fast."

Logan bought his first race car in 1978, when his two sons began racing open-wheel midget cars on dirt tracks. They've since lost interest, but Logan's appetite has only gotten bigger. He was soon racing more powerful sprint cars and in 1992 graduated to Silver Crown cars, an open-wheel class that runs on dirt or pavement and is considered a stepping-stone to Indy. Logan is strictly an owner -- he has never driven most of the cars he's owned, not even for fun. The fastest he's been clocked is 148 mph at a closed-track driving school in Las Vegas.

His love of racing and lack of money prompted a foray into car design about 10 years ago. Logan is the inventor of Formula 350, a car for Indy dreamers on budgets. Named for the General Motors engine that keeps costs down, the car has never caught on -- the only model ever produced is sitting in the Granite City garage where Logan keeps his sprint cars, which are now for sale. The world's only Formula 350 sits on a General Motors chassis, once used on regular old Buicks and Chevys and widely available in junkyards for $200, as is the GM automatic transmission. The rear end is out of a Jaguar; the tube frame is standard-issue racing stuff; the engine is modified to produce 450 horsepower; the aluminum skin costs $50 a sheet and comes already painted, with three sheets enough to finish the job. All told, such a car can be cobbled together for around $10,000. "Auto racing is so darn expensive that I was trying to think of a way where the average guy could go to the track, if you're not serious about becoming the next Mario Andretti but just want to have some fun," he says. "You're not going to go 200 mph. At most, you're going to go 120 mph. Instead of the car weighing 1,400 pounds, the car's going to weigh 2,000 pounds. So what? Who cares? You're going to be safer."

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