When you think of race tracks in the United States, you might think of Daytona International Speedway, with it's high banks and even higher speeds. Perhaps you think of Eldora, whose dirt holds more racing history than most places in the world. Undoubtedly, however, your thoughts will return back home to Indiana, where the yard of bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has welcomed the fastest drivers in the world for nearly a century.
From June 6-8, those bricks will welcome some of the greatest champions to ever strap on a helmet for the first annual "Indy Legends Pro-Am” race, with a field of as many as 25 former drivers of the Indianapolis 500. Sanctioned by the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA,) America’s premier vintage racing organization, the event will mark a return to competition for the famous drivers with a 40 minute race of American muscle cars on the Speedway’s 2.43-mile Grand Prix road course.
The first three initial entries, Lyn St. James, Willy T. Ribbs and Mark Dismore, all made their mark on Indianapolis 500 history. St. James was 1992 rookie of the year while Ribbs became the first African-American to qualify for the race and Dismore came back from a devastating accident in 1991 to nearly win 10 years later before gearbox failure dashed his chances in the 2001 Indianapolis 500.
The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) today announced one of the giants of the sport, two-time Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner Al Unser Jr., will also compete in the “Indy Legends Pro-Am,” a special feature to its June 6 – 8 “Brickyard Invitational” vintage race weekend.
“I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to really racing again at Indy,” said Unser, a two-time IndyCar champion and the winner of 34 IndyCar races including the 1992 and ’94 Indianapolis 500s. “Vintage racing is emerging on a whole new level as a wonderful sport and it’s the real deal when you are going up against the likes of Lyn, Willy T and Diz. I can’t wait to see the fans – they’re the greatest in the world.”
The cars for the Pro-Am will be 1967 to 1972 vintage Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs of “Group 6,” with an engine displacement limit of 355 cubic inches. The Indianapolis 500 veterans will be paired with amateur drivers, each taking a 20-minute stint. Five minutes will be allotted for driver change.
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. The exciting array of entries include exquisite examples of select pre-war machines, classic sports cars, Formula One and Le Mans prototypes as current as 2008. The storied 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 can enjoy every minute of the action by taking advantage of overnight camping inside the Speedway.
“It just doesn’t get any better for vintage racing than to have a superstar Hall of Fame driver like Al Unser Jr. race in an SVRA race,” said SVRA President and CEO Tony Parella. “I am overwhelmed by the interest of Indy race fans as well as the drivers. We will be making some additional exciting announcements soon.”
Geoff Brabham, Alex Lloyd, Johnny Parsons Jr. and Rick Treadway are also set to return to competition at IMS. Brabham, a 10-time starter in the Indianapolis 500, finished fourth in 1983. He also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 12 Hours of Sebring and is a four-time IMSA GT Prototype champion. Lloyd is a veteran of four Indianapolis 500s with a best finish of fourth in 2010. Among numerous other successes he was the Indy Lights champion in 2007, winning eight of 16 races. Johnny Parsons Jr., the son of 1950 Indianapolis 500 winner Johnnie Parsons, earned great success in his own right with 12 Indianapolis 500 starts and best finishes of fifth in 1977 and 1985. He is a highly decorated sprint and midget driver and was voted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1994. Rick Treadway raced in the IndyCar series for two years, qualifying for the 2002 Indianapolis 500. He is the son of Fred Treadway who won the 1997 Indianapolis 500 as a car owner.
“We are so thankful for the warm welcome we have received from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, their fans and all these great drivers,” said SVRA President and CEO Tony Parella. “I am having a ball getting to know the community and can clearly see why it is truly the world capital of motor racing.”
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 SVRA can think of no better way to honor the tremendous history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway than to showcase some of the great drivers who helped write it,” said SVRA President and CEO Tony Parella. “We are reaching out to many of the drivers and have heard from so many fans how thrilled they are to see these racing stars in competition again.”
A three-day general admission pass including Friday, June 6 through Sunday, June 8 costs $40. Single day general admission tickets are $15 on Friday, June 6, $20 on Saturday, June 7 and $25 on Sunday, June 8. Children 12 and under are admitted free each day when accompanied by an adult. Existing ticket customers to any 2014 IMS event are eligible to receive discounted general admission three-day passes for $30 until May 1 (save $10).
Tent camping passes in Turn 3 of the IMS infield are available beginning Thursday afternoon, June 5 for $30, with RV camping available in the Northwest gravel lot for $60.
Fans can order Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational tickets through the speedway website, by calling 800-822-INDY or 317-492-6700 between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday or by visiting the IMS Ticket Office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are available. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.
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