Bachelart, Beechler, Chesson, Firestone, Simon Complete Stellar Field
The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) today announced it has delivered on its promise of a field of 33 Indianapolis 500 veterans for the June 13 “Indy Legends” Pro-Am at the second annual Brickyard Invitational hosted by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Completing the field are five additional entries: Eric Bachelart, Donnie Beechler, PJ Chesson, Dennis Firestone and Dick Simon. Simon and Chesson competed in the event last year while the other drivers are new to the contest.
The “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am for Indy 500 veterans is a 40-minute race of American muscle cars on the Speedway’s 2.43-mile Grand Prix road course. All veterans will have 1963 to 1972 vintage 355 cubic inch Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs of the “Group 6” SVRA class. Professionals will be paired with amateur drivers, splitting stints at the wheel at their discretion.
“The number 33 is magic at IMS,” says SVRA President & CEO Tony Parella. “This is just one more example of how the Brickyard Invitational has expanded. In addition to the 33 Indy 500 veterans we will present the Unser family reunion, the Motostalgia car auction, a Jimmy Clark homage, Tom Sneva and Janet Guthrie as event stewards, the A.J. Watson and Sir Jack Brabham Trophies, high-speed oval exhibitions and hundreds of great car club machines in the infield. We have over 500 vintage race cars competing wheel-to-wheel for three solid days. Fans are going to love it, there is something for everyone.”
Bachelart is a former champion of the Indy Lights series (1991) and a two-time starter in the Indianapolis 500 in 1992 and ’95, competing in numerous Indy car races during those years. Belgian-born, he was a star in that country’s touring car series, PROCAR, competing in races for Audi and Peugeot. He has also competed in sports car endurance racing, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Daytona 24 and finished third in the French Formula Three championship. He is the owner of Indianapolis-based Conquest Racing that has fielded entries in IndyCar, Indy Lights and American Le Mans racing.
Beechler is a four-time starter in the Indianapolis 500 and drove for the great A.J. Foyt in his final appearance in the race. He had 36 career starts in Indy car races, finishing on the podium twice. Beechler is a long-time midget and sprint car driver competing in the USAC Silver Crown series and at prestigious events such as the Chili Bowl midget car classic.
PJ Chesson started the 2006 Indianapolis 500. Cutting his teeth at age 12 in go-karts he quickly proved his potential and graduated to sprint cars in 1998. He demonstrated his talent in the World of Outlaws series scoring three feature wins and 28 top ten finishes in the span of two seasons. He also won Australia’s South Pacific Sprint Car Championship in 2004. A force in the Indy Lights series, Chesson won three races in 2004 and finished fourth in points despite not completing the entire season. One of the more colorful characters in racing, Chesson is remembered for acquiring a tattoo of the event logo at the Indianapolis 500 after qualifying for the race.
Firestone is a five-time starter of the Indianapolis 500 with a top-ten finish in 1981. He was Rookie of the Year for the Indy car series in 1980, finishing in the top five twice. On his way up the ladder he competed in the American Super Vee series, USAC Gold Crown and the USAC Mini-Indy series where he won the 1979 championship.
Dick Simon is one of the most wonderful 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.
Brickyard Invitational ticket information: Fans can order Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational tickets for all or any one of the four days of the event online through the Speedway or by calling 800-822-INDY or 317-492-6700 between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. Fans can also visit the ticket office at the IMS Administration Building at 4790 West 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. Children 12 and under are admitted free each day when accompanied by an adult. Tent camping passes in the IMS infield start at $30 and are available all four days.