By Mark Ambrogi
Chris Jockish spends long hours at Jockish Flowers.
“I work a lot but I play a lot,” said Jockish, whose floral shop is located at 2636 S. East St., Indianapolis. “I work 60 to 70 hours a week and sneak away to get to a race or a ballgame.”
That means attending a lot of sporting events, including the Indianapolis 500, every year since 1964.
The 61-year-old Jockish’s maternal uncle took him with his cousins to the race when he was seven years old that year.
“My dad’s friend, Bill Sudkamp, has only missed one race since 1947 because he was in the Korean War with the Marines,” Jockish said. “He’s 87 years old. The last 25 years I’ve probably gone with him. I enjoy the pageantry of the race and I like the speed. I like people watching and the excitement of the pre-race (activities), the bands, the prayers and the flyover. Being from Indiana, everything still gives you a little bit of chills. It’s pretty cool.”
The floral shop is loaded with all types of sports memorabilia, including racing.
“I’m a big sports nut,” said Jockish, who has Indiana Pacers and Indianapolis Colts season tickets. “I have Pacers and Colts and Fever up. Racing is my favorite of all.”
Jockish said he has posters up from various drivers and stickers from Hoosier Auto Racing Fan Club.
“Sarah Fisher is one of my favorite drivers,” Jockish said. “I have stuff from the O’Gara family, who I’ve been sponsoring for a long time. Sarah is married to Andy O’Gara.”
Jockish said other favorite drivers included the late Mark Donohue, Sam Hornish and James Hinchcliffe.
“I like Jim Clark because he won the ’65 race,” Jockish said.
Jockish is a big fan of sprint cars and midgets.
“I’ve sponsored a couple of customers who have race cars out at the Speedrome,” he said. “The Little 500 at Anderson Speedway is one of my favorite races to go.”
Jockish, who never married, said he is able to use his free time to travel to IndyCar races as well. He attended the race in Phoenix April 7 and plans to go the IndyCar race June 9 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
Mid-Ohio and Pocono are fun races to attend as well, Jockish said.
“My dad (Harold) always liked horse racing,” Jockish said. “My sisters like different sports like golf. We’re a sports family but I’m the only one who really likes race cars.”
His grandfather, Ervin Jockish, started the floral shop in 1945 at the same building.
“I’ve been the owner since 1992,” Jockish said. “My two sisters, Jill and Jane, help me and my aunt. That helps me get away sometimes.”
Jockish said he is a supporter of area high school sports as well.