Town Limits

The future of IRL champ Sam Hornish Jr. is tied to the small place that made him a big star.

Updated: May 12, 2003, 11:28 AM ET
By Shaun Assael
A white clapboard church sits next to the untended farm that Sam Hornish Jr. owns in Defiance, Ohio. Just inside, a photo of his great-aunt Ina hangs in the vestibule. Her grandfather John Hornish II donated the land to the church 150 years ago. The original Poplar Ridge Church of Brethren isn't around any longer. Neither is Aunt Ina. But the new church, built in 1998, is filled every Sunday with her descendants.

Most Sundays, that's also where you can find Sam, who's planning to build a house on his land next door. "Put in some trees, watch them grow," he says. "Stock that pond over there with some fish."

Shaun Assael | email

ESPN Senior Writer
• Senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and
• New York Times best-selling author. New book in 2016: "The Murder of Sonny Liston: Las Vegas, Heroin & Heavyweights."