“I was way too impressed with myself for not having accomplished anything,” Ward said of his youth. “‘What did you do?’ Well, I was his son. That doesn’t cut much grass.”
That mindset partly explains why Ward didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps.
“My racing career is so limited that you had to read the small print,” he said.
Ward was a motorcross champion in his native Southern California and did a little Go Kart racing here. But he was never willing to pay his dues to be a race car driver.
“I wasn’t truly focused and responsible enough — when I was at the age to develop the talent — to do it,” Ward said. “People with the attention span of a gnat don’t belong in a race car.”
He was owner of a tire store in SoCal with his father when a friend offered him a job selling printed circuit boards. Ward ameliorated that into his own business as an electronics distributor. He moved that here in 1990.
“When I first moved to Indiana, I’m going up (State Road) 136 and a couple kids are crossing the road,” Ward said. “One of them is carrying a gas can. He sets it down, pulls a candy bar out of his pocket and starts splitting it with whomever he was with, picked up the gas can, and started going again. We had to slow down and almost stop to avoid hitting them. There were two or three cars that had to do that. Nobody honked and yelled and screamed.
“Right away I realized there was something different about here than there. I’m much impressed. I really like Indiana.”
Rodger and his wife June have retired and are living in Manhattan Beach, California. The thrill of IndyCar racing is still in their bones so they travel to a number of events every year with Indianapolis being at the top of their list.