Joseph H. Mackell
FINDLAY — Joseph Mackell, a supervising accountant at Marathon Petroleum who made fast cars his avocation as an official at the Indianapolis 500 and other races around the world, died Wednesday in Bridge Home Health and Hospice, Findlay. He was 54.
Mr. Mackell learned 10 months ago that he had a brain tumor. He underwent treatments and for a time returned to his job.
“It was important for him to be back at work, so he could be with his group of people,” his wife, Candee, said. “He loved those people. They were his friends, and his friendship with them meant everything to him.
“Joe was about the people, and there’s a lot of good people at Marathon,” she said.
Mr. Mackell, a certified public accountant, came to Marathon in Findlay in 1991. He began his career about a decade earlier at Texas Oil and Gas Co. in Dallas, which later was acquired by U.S. Steel Corp. — Marathon’s then-parent firm.
Most recently he was a supervisor in product supply accounting. He earlier worked in revenue accounting; health, environment, and safety policy, and policy research. He didn't match anyone’s stereotype of an accountant, his wife said.
“He brought humanity to it,” his wife said. “He was always a person first.”
He spent summer lunch hours at home and played backyard whiffle ball with his son, Stephen, and daughter, Christina.
“His favorite line after work was, ‘You guys want to ride bikes around the block?’ ” his son said. “He kept his childhood alive through us.”
Not long after starting at Marathon, Mr. Mackell learned that a colleague’s spouse worked for a company that designed equipment to inspect Indy race cars.
“He begged to join them” at the race track, his wife said. He started as a volunteer at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He later became an inspector and pit official for the IndyCar Series — the 500, but also races at tracks around the country and in Brazil, Japan, Canada, and England.
Wearing the same fireproof suit as drivers, he typically oversaw two cars each race. He stood over the pit wall and had to observe closely each stop — the fueling; the tire changes. Each lasted about 10 seconds.
“It’s dangerous down there,” said Bruce Boyd of Indianapolis, also an IndyCar official. “Fires do occur. We’ve had accidents.
“It’s stressful down there,” Mr. Boyd said. “He was one of the key people during the race. He had to know the rule book. He was kind of like a referee in football, except for the Indianapolis 500. His job was to officiate those cars and make sure they were following the rules and staying safe.”
Team owners in turn scrutinize officials’ rulings.
“There’s a lot on the line,” Mr. Boyd said. “They have a tendency to do a little bit of talking. You have to be pretty confident of yourself and good at what you do, and Joe was.”
He was born Dec. 27, 1958, in Indianapolis to Rosemary and John Mackell. He was a 1977 graduate of Perry Meridian High School and received a bachelor of science degree in 1981 from Indiana University.
Surviving are his wife, the former Candida “Candee” Warnock, whom he married Aug. 29, 1981; daughter, Christina Mackell; son, Stephen Mackell; parents, Rosemary and John Mackell; brothers, Paul and TJ Mackell, and sisters, Kathy Taylor and Ann Wellington.
Services will be today at 10:30 a.m., at St. Michael the Archangel Church, Bright Road, Findlay, where he was a member. Arrangements were by the Coldren-Crates Funeral Home, Findlay. The family suggests tributes to the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, Cincinnati; Bridge Home Health and Hospice, Findlay, or the church.
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