AUBURN – When he wrote a 1,500-page history of DeKalb County, the late John Martin Smith spent about 140 pages talking about transportation and roads.
Now a 3 1/2 -mile stretch of Indiana 8 bears his name as the John Martin Smith Memorial Highway, a recognition unveiled during Thursdays kickoff luncheon for the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival.
The memorial highway was created by Indiana House Resolution 17, written by Rep. Dave Yarde, R-Garrett, in recognition of John Martin Smiths work as a historian, in the preservation of the old Auburn Automobile Co. factory buildings and the creation of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automotive Museum.
Yarde introduced the resolution this spring, recognizing John Martin Smith, an Auburn attorney, as a keeper of history who worked to ensure that all Hoosiers could know their heritage.
It passed unanimously.
John Martin Smith, 72, and his wife, Barbara Bobbie Smith, 71, died in October in an automobile crash on Interstate 69 in Grant County. Along with the ACD museum, Smith helped found the National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States and the DeKalb County Historical Society. The pair celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary at the 2011 festival by driving a 1919 Auburn in the road trip.
Yarde said the couple pushed for creation of the museum at a time when there was little community support for it.
Smiths sons unveiled the sign during the ACD Festival luncheon/celebration. The sign was soon carted off by Indiana Department of Transportation employees and placed alongside Indiana 8, facing west. Another sign will be placed at the Auburn city limits facing east after construction there is completed, INDOT officials said.
One of Smiths sons, Thompson Smith, said the family was honored and thankful for the recognition, especially having a stretch of road named for him.
Were pleased that Dads legacy is another chapter in what we will someday call history, he said. He got it, what roads meant.
The presentation of the resolution and the road sign kicked off the annual luncheon.
Most of those in attendance came in after parking their Auburns, Cords and Duesenbergs in front of the museum, completing the annual Hoosier Tour. As they filed into the banquet room, they caught up with one another, swapping stories and exchanging hugs.
Barb and Vinnie Pietracatella dated more than 50 years ago in his fathers 1935 6-cylinder Auburn. The couple, originally from Staten Island, bought one of their own about 20 years ago – a 1935 Auburn cabriolet 851 supercharged.
Now, though, after years of attending the festival and participating in the club, the Pietracatellas live in DeKalb County full time, drawn to northeast Indiana by their love of the cars and the community. They were honored during the luncheon with the Evening Star Appreciation Award.
Its a complete surprise, Barb Pietracatella said of the award. We havent lived here long enough to feel like we deserve it, but when youre part of the community; you do everything you can to help out.