The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) announced on Monday, April 28, via press release that Indy 500 star Parnelli Jones will serve as Grand Marshal at its first Brickyard Invitational taking place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) June 6-8.
“I just can’t find words to describe how honored we are to be associated with Parnelli Jones,” said SVRA President and CEO, Tony Parella. “All you have to say is, ‘Parnelli’ and everyone thinks of speed and excellence.”
Jones is the 1963 Indy 500 winner and the driver who first broke 150 mph at IMS. He is revered as one of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s greatest racers.
Jones has been inducted into six auto racing halls of fame and is well known for diversity behind the wheel. He won races across many forms of the sport such as in sprint cars, midgets, off-road vehicles, sports cars, and stock cars. Jones's achievements in the glory days of Trans-Am in the early 1970’s at the wheel of a Boss 302 Mustang added to the legend of that brand.
“The Brickyard Invitational will be a great event for fans who appreciate all types of racing and cars,” Jones said. “The competition is real and I appreciate how they are honoring the great history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
One of Jones’s duties as grand marshal will be to pace the feature race of the weekend called the “Indy Legends” Pro-Am. SVRA plans to create a return to competition for veterans of the Indianapolis 500 with a 40-minute race of American muscle cars on the Speedway’s 2.43-mile Grand Prix road course on Sunday, June 8. The vintage racing organization expects to attract a field of at least 24 Indianapolis 500 veterans for the competition.
Among the previously announced entries are two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, Al Unser Jr.; 1992 Rookie-of-the Year, Lyn St. James; Willy T. Ribbs; Mark Dismore; Geoff Brabham; Johnny Parsons Jr.; Alex Lloyd; and Rick Treadway.
SVRA also announced Monday three additional entries for the "Indy Legends" competition: Spike Gehlhausen, Billy Roe and John Hollansworth. Gehlhausen is a veteran of five Indianapolis 500s, finishing tenth in 1979 and starting fourth in 1980. Roe raced in 1997 and 1998 while Hollansworth made the big show in 1999.
They, along with the other Indianapolis 500 veterans for the Pro-Am, will be in 1967 to 1972 vintage Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs of “Group 6,” with an engine displacement limit of 355 cubic inches. The professionals will be paired with amateur drivers, each taking a 20-minute stint. Five minutes will be allotted for driver change.
SVRA claims that the “Brickyard Invitational” weekend will be "the largest gathering of race cars ever assembled for competition in America." The SVRA has 11 groups of cars spanning 100 years of vintage machines and all will be in action at IMS.
Entries include examples of select pre-war machines, classic sports cars, Formula One and Le Mans prototypes as current as 2008. The 2.5-mile oval will be utilized as well with exhibition runs by a wide variety of cars including several of the crowd-favorite 1950’s-vintage Indianapolis 500 “roadsters.” Race fans will also have overnight camping available inside the Speedway.
According to the press release from SVRA, the Pro-Am cars and drivers will also participate in a Fan Walk through the starting grid prior to the opening ceremonies allowing fans to see the cars up close, take photos and chat with the drivers. Driver pairings and starting positions will be determined by a lottery. Entries to this event will be limited and all entry fees will be donated to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum Foundation.
The 2014 Brickyard Invitational historic/vintage racing weekend is open to the public. Tickets are available through IMS at a nominal price.