Honoring our own

Proposal presented to
rename street to honor Peddie family

‘Peddie Way’ would be short
section of Madison’s First Street

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(January 2009) – Champion race car drivers are a rare breed of individuals. Successful Unlimited hydroplane drivers are also a rare lot. A man who is a winner in both sports could truly be called unique. Madison, Ind., native Jon Peddie is that man, and friends have lobbied city officials to honor his achievements.

John Peddie

Photo provided

John Peddie was a successful race
car driver before he became the
driver of the Miss Madison in 1978.

John Peddie

A proposal was presented to Madison’s Public Board of Works to rename a section of First Street between Central Avenue and West Street “Peddie Way,” in honor of Peddie and his family’s dedication to the community.
“Peddie and his family deserve this honor for their continued commitment to our community,” said Joe Johnson, longtime family friend. Johnson is the American Power Boat Association Vintage Representative for Region 7, and he was the race chairman for the Madison Regatta for several years. He presented the proposal for the street renaming to the Public Board of Works on Nov. 3.
Peddie was the only native Madisonian to ever drive the city-owned Unlimited Hydroplane, Miss Madison. His best finish in the hydroplane came in 1978, when he placed second in the APBA Gold Cup at Owensboro, Ky., with a victory in the third heat.
His father, Paul, was also involved in boat racing. He participated in the very early stages of racing that would later become known as the Madison Regatta.
His mother, Anna, was Deputy Recorder for Jefferson County and Recorder for two terms. His grandfather and Anna’s father, Kirby Buchanan, was County Recorder before her.
“It would be a great honor and a nice gesture for the Peddie family,” said Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong, who serves on the Public Board of Works. “They have done a lot for the community.” He said Madison City Council “is looking into the proposal.”
Johnson cited other similar street “renamings” in Madison, including Shamrock Lane along East Second Street, McCormick Lane along West Second Street, and Tommy Thevenow Way along Vernon Street.
Peddie’s auto body shop is situated along the section of First Street that would carry his name if the City Council approves the measure. Peddie has operated the shop for more than 37 years at that location. The shop sits just one block from the Ohio River and the race course on which he loved to compete.
Prior to becoming the driver of the city-owned Miss Madison in 1977, Peddie had earned a name and numerous awards as a race car driver on a variety of regional and national circuits. “When I was a teen, all of my friends were going into the service,” said Peddie, 65. “They wouldn’t take me, so some buddies helped me put together a car.”
Peddie raced late model cars, rails and sprint cars on both paved and dirt tracks. He traveled to Florida, Texas, New York, Georgia, Kansas and Kentucky to race. He was the track champion at local tracks in northern Kentucky, North Vernon, Ind., Salem, Ind., and Brownstown, Ind.
Dave Johnson, avid hydroplane enthusiast and Joe’s brother, said, “Peddie had become a well-established race car driver, and his solid reputation was well earned.”
When he signed on to pilot the Miss Madison, Peddie had never driven a hydroplane. He is the last man in the sport to drive an unlimited that didn’t come up through the limited class of boat racing, according to Joe Johnson.
“I used to come down to the river and listen to the roar of the hydroplanes when I was just a kid,” said Peddie. “I always wanted to drive one.”
He got his chance when Miss Madison Board President Bob Hughes decided to give him a try. “I just kept bugging him, until he gave me a shot,” said Peddie. He always believed the board let him drive the boat because they were looking for a new hydroplane. “If they hired a hometown boy, the city would get behind them and get a new boat,” believed Peddie. “I was terrified, but excited that I was going to get my chance.”
“Many thought Jon would fail,” said Dave Johnson. Well, he didn’t.
Instead, in 1977 he went on to win Rookie of the Year honors in the Unlimited Class. He piloted “The Hurrying Hoosier” to a fourth-place finish in that year’s National High Points; he finished third overall at San Diego and fourth in six races that season.
Over the next few years, Peddie piloted several other hydroplanes. His last race was the 1983 Detroit Thunderfest. The boat he drove crashed in splinters during a test run, but Peddie was not seriously injured.
Although long retired from any kind of racing, Peddie still has the spirit of a racer. “It didn’t make a difference to me if I made a penny,” said Peddie. “I just wanted to drive. That feeling has never left.”

Back to January 2009 Articles.



Copyright 1999-2015, Kentuckiana Publishing, Inc.

Pick-Up Locations Subscribe Staff Advertise Contact Submit A Story Our Advertisers Columnists Archive Area Links Area Events Search our Site Home Monthly Articles Calendar of Events Kentucky Speedway Madison Chautauqua Madison Ribberfest Madison Regatta