clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The time Jim Harbaugh jumped into an IndyCar brawl

New, comments

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has had a lot of interesting stories from his life. This one about getting into a brawl after an IndyCar race is just one more to add to the legend.

Christian Petersen

Thursday morning, ESPN's Seth Wickersham posted a fantastic article that took a dive into the mind of San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh. The article featured numerous anecdotes and quotations that provided us a little more context into what makes Coach Harbaugh tick. None of the stories overly surprised me, but it was cool to have a better understanding. If you have not read the article yet, I cannot recommend it enough.

I bring this up again because Tom Lewis from Indy Cornrows (our Indiana Pacers blog) passed along an article detailing another story that is interesting, and not at all surprising. It details the time Jim Harbaugh jumped into the middle of a brawl involving the IndyCar team he partially owned.

Back during his days with the Colts, Jim Harbaugh took on partial ownership of Panther Racing, an Indy Car Series team. One of the team's founders, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles, conducted an interview recently with the Indianapolis Business Journal, and he discussed the incident.

According to Boles, in 1998 or 1999, the team was in Dover for a race. There was a yellow caution flag at one point, and the Panther Racing driving, Scott Goodyear, was hit by another driver who did not realize the yellow flag had come out. Goodyear's crew chief got angry about this, and after the race he went to the driver's motor home and got into a fight with him. Jim Harbaugh was apparently wandering by the motor home, saw one of his guys in a fight, and jumped in without knowing what exactly was going. As Boles put it:

Jim didn't know what had happened or what was going on, he just saw one of his guys in a yellow Pennzoil shirt in a fight and Jim was going to help him out. We did have one other issue like that. Jim was always quick to stand up next to his guys and support them.

Apparently, Coach Harbaugh pulled a hamstring during the fight, and since he was still in his playing career (either with Baltimore or San Diego), that became kind of a big deal. I cannot find any stories about it online. That was still in the relatively early days of the Internet, so it would not surprise me if it was sort of buried. These days, it would have been on TMZ within a couple hours of the fight.

This story just adds to the context of what makes Jim Harbaugh tick. It's a long process, but to use one of his favorite phrases, we're slowly peeling back the onion. It only makes him more fascinating in my mind.