Living Lucas Style

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Dave Calabro/Eyewitness Sports

By now you've probably heard the name, but how much so you really know about the owners of Lucas Oil?

Charlotte and Forrest Lucas are now living the "suite" life watching Colt's games from executive suites high above the field. But life wasn't always like this. Their humble beginnings started in Southern Indiana's Jackson County.

Forrest was working two jobs trying to build his own trucking company. He was fed up with equipment breaking down and it was then that he realized he needed to develop better oil products. Lucas Oil Company was born.

"I was trying to fix my own stuff. I put this and this together and I can fix that and it worked,"  Forrest explained. "And it will do this; then we got to selling it and we have a whole line of products." 

It wasn't long before Forrest hit the road selling his products with wife Charlotte along his side. "He's the brains and I'm the pencil pusher," she said. They pushed the Lucas Oil products. It worked and the business exploded.

The "down to earth" couple who've been through their ups and downs over the past 23 years together reflect on their soaring success.

"Rags to riches. We were broke. We put everything we had into this (business). Every penny, but we never went in debt" said Forrest. "No one would loan us (any money). We have always been debt-free." His wife Charlotte added, "Now everyone wants to loan us money."

Fast forward 17 years and now Forrest is the head of a multi-million dollar company with plants in Corydon Indiana and California. The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) became a way to showcase the business. Their son Morgan competes in the top fuel division. It's a family affair. In fact, Charlotte gets behind the wheel, too.

Football fans
Racing is their favorite sport but football is now a close second. Forrest Lucas will shell out more than $100 million for the naming rights of the new Indianapolis Colts stadium.

The Colts motorcycle is another Lucas creation. They make top of the line custom bikes in Brownsburg, Indiana. Lucas says the locally-built bikes should be available next year. "When you ride it you want something nice and safe and trouble free," he said.

Forrest and Charlotte Lucas enjoy more than just fast engines and speed. They enjoy the quiet life as well.  When it's time to get away, this couple doesn't jet-set to the tropics. They hop on their private jet and go down south to their ranch in Wheatland, Missouri.

Forrest spent millions to renovate there race track at Wheatland. Now the Lucas Oil Speedway is the nicest dirt track in the country. "We started renovations and got carried away," he laughed.

Just down the road is their ranch that they call a slice of heaven. They bought the property because it reminded them of southern Indiana where they both grew up.

Forrest likes to get creative with the landscape. "We do a lot of bulldozer art out here! (It's) my favorite thing to do. I love to come out and find a spot then make something pretty out of it."

Being a bulldozer artist requires lots of space, but he probably has a large enough canvas - about 13,000 acres. Always thinking about business, Forrest claims it is worth it. "It's an investment. I justify it by that, but maybe I went crazy. Somebody asked me what do you collect and I said nothing but Missouri!"

From beautiful open plains to untouched woods the Lucas Cattle ranch is also dotted with 20 homes. Forrest never gets tired of driving on his property but admits it's so big that he hasn't seen all of it yet. "I explore all the time I have not seen it all, takes a long time to see it all. I am constantly finding new places to see."

Forrest, who grew up raising cows, decided to start his own company. Doing things his way, seven years later the Lucas Cattle Company is one of the nation's top breeders with more than 3,000 in his herd.

While there he took me along to help feed "his girls," but Forrest warns they can be aggressive when it comes to feeding time. "These girls know what these (feed) stickers are about. You have to be careful of these girls," he said.

This 64-year-old Southern Indiana man would rather hang out on his ranch than tee up for a game of golf. "This is my game of golf to come out here to the ranch and just hang out a few days with the cowboys. I wander around and see the cows and wildlife (these are) my fun things to do."

Charlotte enjoys hanging out petting the new calves. They consider themselves just a couple of humble Hoosiers having fun and still chasing dreams.

"The rich people usually act more like I do. The "wanna-be" rich people are the snobs who act like something that most people don't like," explained Forrest. "There are a lot of rich people you don't know because they don't put on airs."

You will never find the Lucas family bragging about their good fortune. While some might talk about having a stadium with their name on it, it's the opposite reaction from Forrest. "I'm a Colts fan now. Go Colts!" But to him its just part of business. He's just a simple Indiana country boy who made it to the big time.

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