Iconic Driver To Pace “Indy Legends” Pro-Am Race At IMS
The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) today announced one of the greatest icons in the history of motor racing will serve as grand marshal for its June 11-14 Brickyard Invitational at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Four-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Sr. will return to the scene of his most legendary triumphs from a sterling career. Unser is one of only three drivers to win the “500” four times, and one of five to win the storied race in consecutive years, 1970-71. He narrowly missed becoming the only winner of three consecutive Indianapolis 500 races when he finished second to Mark Donohue in 1972.
A three-time Indy car champion (1970, ’83, ’85) Unser was among the rare breed that could drive any type of car on any venue, including sports cars, stock cars, modifieds and dirt cars. The four-time Hoosier Hundred victor drove and won in sprints, midgets, Formula 5000 and stock cars to name a few. The Hall of Fame super star was USAC stock car rookie of the year in 1967 and IROC champion in 1978. In his final Indianapolis 500 (1987) win he broke Ralph De Palma’s 67-year-old record for most career laps led in the historic race.
“It will be great to return to the Brickyard in an atmosphere that is so focused on the track’s history,” Unser said. “I know from what Little Al told me from when he won last year how much the fans appreciated this event and that means everything to me.”
Unser, who in 2011 was voted by fans as number two to A.J. Foyt in the “Greatest 33” to ever compete in the Indianapolis 500, will drive the pace car for the feature race of the weekend – the second annual “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am. Like last year, 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 Saturday, June 13. The SVRA expects to attract a field of 33 Indianapolis 500 veterans.
Previously announced Pro-Am entries – 1992 Rookie-of-the Year Lyn St. James, Willy T. Ribbs and Mark Dismore – were joined today by four more veterans, all of which competed last year: Spike Gehlhausen, Billy Roe, Tom Bagley and Rick Treadway. Gehlhausen is a veteran of five Indianapolis 500s, finishing tenth in 1979 and starting fourth in 1980. Roe raced in 1997 and 1998 while Treadway made the big show in 2002. Bagley is a three-time Indianapolis 500 starter and captured the Indy car series Rookie-of-the-Year trophy in 1978. They, along with the other Indianapolis 500 veterans for the Pro-Am, will be in 1963 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, splitting their stints at the wheel at their discretion.
The Indy Legends Pro-Am is the crowning event of the Brickyard Invitational but there is literally a festival of other activities. Like last year, the storied 2.5-mile oval will be utilized with exhibition runs by a wide variety of cars including several of the crowd-favorite 1950’s Indianapolis 500 “roadsters.”
This time around the weekend not only promises a huge gathering of race cars but also some of the finest collector cars. Motostalgia, with offices in Austin, Mexico City and Monaco will stage an auction showcasing select premier classic and rare automobiles from around the world on June 12. The Brickyard Invitational will also expand out onto the world-famous infield IMS golf course with car corrals for various organizations and clubs united by special marques and vintages.
The SVRA has 11 groups of race 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 2009. Race fans can enjoy every minute of the action by taking advantage of overnight camping inside the Speedway.
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. All entry fees will be donated to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum Foundation.
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.