The layperson might associate a “Hoosier” with a basketball player. But denizens living at The Crossroads of America know a true Hoosier is someone that embodies a hard-working, blue collar-attitude while never forgetting where at all started.
Indiana born and bred entrepreneur Forrest Lucas is the epitome of everything that’s good about the 19th state in the union. Although Lucas came from very humble beginnings, he’s managed to rise to great heights through exceptional effort and dedication to his Hoosier beliefs.
A long haul truck driver for many years, Lucas has lived in many places across the United States but always has called Indiana home.
Two decades ago, back home again in Indiana, Lucas realized the best way to meet his need for better oil products for his own growing fleet of rigs and tractor-trailers was to make them himself, so he and his wife Charlotte founded Lucas Oil in 1989 with a small bank account and some very big dreams.
Coupling innovative research and development with an aggressive marketing program, the company quickly established itself as a top-selling additive line in the trucking and automotive retail industries. Nowadays, Lucas Oil is a world leader in the additives and lubricants sector.
More importantly, at least for Forrest and Charlotte, the Lucas’ have always shared their good fortune through numerous philanthropic interests. The family’s charitable contributions expand all across the U.S. and touch children, the elderly, racers, car enthusiasts, medical-related charities, public safety groups, local and state governments, animal-related relief groups, and many more.
Long before Lucas Oil became part of every Hoosier’s vocabulary when the company took over naming rights to Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the state’s beloved Indianapolis Colts NFL franchise, the Lucas were making a difference.
“We’ve been so blessed over the years and we know there are times when other people aren’t so lucky,” Lucas said. “So Charlotte and I have always made it a priority to give a hand whenever we can. It’s the right thing to do and we enjoy being able to help people.”
Lucas also is heavily involved in all forms of motorsports, further endearing him to his fellow car-crazy Hoosiers. Both Charlotte and their youngest son Morgan drag race in the National Hot Rod Association, which holds the U.S. Nationals each year in Indianapolis, and Lucas Oil sponsors several different racing sanctions as well as hundreds of individual racers.
“We at Lucas Oil Products are extremely proud and excited about our involvement with the National Hot Rod Association,” Lucas said. “We are especially pleased to be associated with the many Sportsman-class racers throughout the country, as we consider them to be the backbone of the sport. That’s why we support the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series for all the sportsman drivers.
“I think Lucas Oil gets a lot of respect because our products are so good and because we’re so involved in racing. Our products are the best in the world, but in racing, people just respect you for being involved. We’re more involved with NHRA than any other racing organization, and having Morgan racing out there every weekend and Charlotte having fun when she wants to makes it even better.”
When he’s not selling oil products or at a racetrack cheering on his wife and son, Forrest can usually be found at his expansive cattle ranch, realizing another one of his lifelong dreams.
“Dad built highways so it seemed we were always on the move somewhere,” Charlotte said. “I remember one stretch from the time I was 10 years old until I was 14 where I attended seven different schools. But I never minded it. I’ve always enjoyed meeting new people and seeing new places.”
As a young woman, Charlotte became a beautician, a career path she pursued for 18 years. It was during that stretch that she met a customer named Forrest Lucas, who at the time was a truck driver. The two became friends and eventually began seeing each other away from the shop. Before long, they fell in love and got married, combining their two families Brady Bunch style.
“He had five children (three boys and two girls) and I had one (boy) and then we had one together, our youngest Morgan,” Charlotte said. “We’ve been very lucky to have such wonderful kids. And, by the way, I’ve been cutting Forrest’s hair going on 30-something years now.”
Along the way, Forrest and Charlotte founded Lucas Oil Products and built it from the ground up into the industry leader it is today. The family also pursued a passion for motorsports that eventually led to Charlotte drag racing her own 175-mph dragster in the National Hot Rod Association’s Super Comp category.
“The first drag race I ever attended was about 15 years ago,” she said. “Morgan was racing these little Junior Dragsters at the time that he could barely fit into because his legs were so long and I just loved everything about the sport right from the start. The people involved and the thrill of it all is just great.
“I finally decided to give it a try in 2004 and I’ve had an absolute blast in my dragster. I’ll admit I’ve always had a bit of a lead foot, which isn’t so great on the public highways, so I found a place where I can put it to good use. It’s something we love to do as a family and now Morgan’s drag racing professionally and it’s become a big part of our lives.”
As the Lucas Oil business grew, so have Forrest and Charlotte’s philanthropic interests. They are heavily involved in a number of charitable efforts.
“It’s important to be there for people in need,” Charlotte said. “You never know when it might be you or someone you love needing help. We drag race, and we do so knowing the risks involved because we’ve seen other people get hurt. If we can help these great charities along then we know we can reach people that may need some assistance. It’s something that’s very important to us.”
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