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.”
Recently, the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) announced that one of the greatest icons in the history of motor racing will serve as grand marshal for its June 6-8 Brickyard Invitational at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Parnelli Jones, the winner of the 1963 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, could have won the classic several times despite only competing seven years. A sure winner in 1962 and 1967 before mechanical maladies dashed his hopes Jones, who broke the 150 MPH barrier at great track, is revered as one of the storied Speedway’s greatest ever. Inducted into no less than six auto racing halls of fame Jones is well known for amazing diversity behind the wheel. He amassed an incredible number of wins across many forms of the sport. In addition to Indy cars he enjoyed tremendous success in sprint cars, midgets, off-road vehicles, sports cars and stock cars. His 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’ duties as grand marshal will be to pace the feature race of the weekend called the “Indy Legends” Pro-Am. The SVRA, America’s premier vintage racing organization, is creating 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 SVRA expects to attract a field of at least 24 Indianapolis 500 veterans for the competition.
“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.”
The SVRA also announced three additional entries for the contest: 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.
Three-time Indianapolis 500-mile race champion Bobby Unser has also entered the oval high-speed exhibition, bringing his considerable skills and insights to the first true high-speed vintage events on the IMS oval. Unser will lead the Group 2 and 9 open-wheel categories as well as other sessions designed for oval-only drivers of cars such as Indianapolis 500 roadsters as well as classic dirt and sprint cars. Exactly which race cars Unser will drive has yet to be determined.
“Race fans will be treated to an amazing spectacle of living history,” Unser said. “Boys and girls, strap on your helmets because we are going to have fun.”
Unser, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1968, 1975 and 1981, also captured the national driving championship in 1968 and 1974. Known as a versatile talent, the International Hall of Fame driver won the 1975 International Race of Champions (IROC) and scored more Pikes Peak Hill Climb victories than anyone in history. A proven winner in sprint cars and midgets, he also competed in NASCAR, Formula One and sports cars. An outstanding development driver, Unser is credited with much of the input to the design of the “Gurney Flap,” an integral element of racing wings. He was also vital to the development of the first in-house Penske chassis to win the Indianapolis 500. His analytical skills served him well during a successful career in broadcast television where he provided booth commentary on ABC’s Indianapolis 500 coverage.
“This oval experience is unprecedented and of a scale and magnitude never seen before at IMS,” said Tony Parella, SVRA President and CEO. “With Bobby leading these race cars they will be unbridled by a pace car and will be full throttle down the straightaways. It will be a special sensory treat for fans young and mature to witness and hear the throaty roar of these amazing marvels of engineering driven in anger once again. The oval-only cars will be organized by eras so it will have the feel of what it was like for fans in the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and beyond.”
The oval events will be strictly regulated with no passing in the turns for safety and because the value of many entries is more than a million dollars.
“I am so looking forward to seeing and hearing these incredible cars at speed,” said Carl Vela, Indianapolis resident and long-time IMS fan. “I’m too young to have seen these cars race back in the day and have only been able to appreciate them doing parade laps or in museums. I can’t wait for the speed, the noise and the smells.”
As previously announced, Bobby Unser’s nephew, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., heads a star-studded field of drivers in the Sunday, June 8 feature event of the weekend – the “Indy Legends” Pro-Am. This event is 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. The SVRA expects to attract a field of at least 24 Indianapolis 500 veterans for the competition. Among the previously announced 11 entries are 1992 Rookie-of-the Year Lyn St. James, Willy T. Ribbs, Mark Dismore, Geoff Brabham, Johnny Parsons Jr. and Alex Lloyd. Davey Hamilton, Robby Unser, Pete Halsmer and Rocky Moran have also added their names to a stout roster of talent already announced.
Hamilton, renowned for his mastery of super-modified racing, competed in 11 Indianapolis 500s with three top-10 finishes including a fourth place. He recently raced in the new Stadium Super Truck Series. A two-time starter in the Indianapolis 500, Pete Halsmer, had a highly decorated career in sports car racing. He won six Trans-Am races, two International Motorsports Association (IMSA) GTO championships and three class wins in the 24 Hours of Daytona. Rocky Moran raced in three Indianapolis 500s and won the 1993 24 Hours of Daytona with Mark Dismore and P.J. Jones. Robby Unser competed in two Indianapolis 500s finishing fifth and eighth. He was Indy Racing League rookie of the year in 1998 and won eight Pikes Peak Hill Climbs. Robby is the son of three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser who was recently announced as the leader of Brickyard Invitational oval experience.
“I am in awe of the outstanding talent we are drawing into this Pro-Am charity race,” said SVRA President and CEO Tony Parella. “I continue to talk to great drivers and we will have additional announcements soon.”
Eliseo Salazar and Dick Simon will join an already talent-packed field of Indianapolis 500 Mile Race veterans. Simon and Salazar combined for the duo’s only Indy car victory in the final race of the 1997 Indy Racing League season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Salazar drove a Dallara-Oldsmobile for a team managed by Simon. Salazar, a versatile talent, competed in Formula One, Le Mans, World Rally Championship racing and, of course, the Indianapolis 500. In Indy car racing he not only drove for Simon but also the legendary A.J. Foyt for three years. His results at the Indianapolis 500 were impressive with two front-row starts and finishes of third, fourth, sixth and seventh. He remains the only Chilean-born driver to compete in Formula One.
Dick Simon is one of the most colorful characters of Indianapolis 500 history. Brimming with personality he saw the promotional value for his sponsors of being the first car to take to the track when practice opened in May. A veteran of 17 Indianapolis 500s he scored a best finish of sixth in 1987. He was a highly respected car owner and team manager helping to launch the careers of such notables as two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk and 1992 Rookie-of-the-Year Lyn St. James who was one of the first entries in the “Indy Legends” Pro-Am last month.
“Uniting Eliseo and Dick again is just one of the many great stories the Brickyard Invitational is producing,” said SVRA President and CEO Tony Parella. “From my conversations with fans they are really going to get a kick out of catching up with these great drivers and finding out what they are up to. They might be surprised to know that a few of them were already entered as drivers or coaching some of our regular drivers.”
Jaques Lazier, Robby McGehee, Scott Harrington and Jack Miller are also set to return to competition at IMS.
Jaques Lazier is a six-time starter of the Indianapolis 500 and holds the distinction of being the race’s most recent relief driver when he filled in for Robby Gordon who had to depart for Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte after rain delays in 2004. Lazier, the brother of 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier, drove for a number of top teams during his Indy car career including Target-Chip Ganassi, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Team Menard. He won the Chicagoland Speedway Indy car race in 2001 for Menard.
McGehee, a five-time starter in the Indianapolis 500, won the race’s 1999 Rookie-of-the-Year trophy. Harrington began his motorsports career on two wheels earning success in both AMA Motocross and Supercross. He transitioned to four wheels racing in Formula Atlantic and SCCA Can-Am, where he won the 1992 series championship. He earned a starting spot in the 1996 Indianapolis 500 and later won the Rookie-of-the-Year award for the series in 1999, his first year running the full season. Jack Miller, also known as the “Racing Dentist” because he is a practicing dentist, competed in three Indianapolis 500s from 1997 through 1999 as well as five seasons in the Indy Racing League and five more in Indy Lights.
“The interest in our Brickyard Invitational and our feature ‘Indy Legends’ Pro-Am is so rewarding,” said SVRA President and CEO Tony Parella. “While the Pro-Am continues to exceed expectations and we will have more announcements so look for news about the cars and drivers of the other road races and the oval experience as well. I think fans are going to be surprised and delighted.”
The Indianapolis 500 veterans 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. 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.
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 at www.ims.com/tickets, 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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