“Rookie” Veterans Join Brickyard Invitational at IMS

Hearn, Gregoire, Jones, Manning In “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am

The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) today announced four first-time entries in its second annual “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am race, the feature event of its June 11-14 Brickyard Invitational at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Familiar to Indianapolis 500 fans but new to the SVRA’s Pro-Am are Richie Hearn, Stephan Gregoire, Davy Jones and Darren Manning. All have filed entries to a field that has grown to sixteen. The SVRA expects 33 Indianapolis 500 veterans to start.

Hearn, who was Toyota Atlantic champion in 1995, first appeared in the Indianapolis 500 in 1996 and finished third, the top-placed rookie in the field. He competed in six other “500’s” with a best finish of sixth in 2002, his last appearance coming in 2007. Hearn won the 1996 Las Vegas Speedway Indy car race and finished fourth in the Indy Racing League (IRL) championship point standings that year.

A former French Formula 3 champion, Gregoire also raced extensively in both Indy cars and sports cars. He earned a 7th overall finish in his first crack at the Le Mans 24 and a fourth-place in the GT class at the Sebring 12-hour, both in 2003. He competed in 46 Indy car races, including seven Indianapolis 500s. He was second at the Pikes Peak IRL race in 1997 and cracked the top ten at Indianapolis with an eighth in 2000. Despite having no prior oval experience and being the youngest driver in the field he qualified 7th fastest for the 1993 Indianapolis 500.

Chicago-born Davy Jones first gained notice when he placed third in the 1983 British Formula 3 championship behind Ayrton Senna. Bernie Eccelstone tested him for a Brabham Formula 1 seat the same year. Jones later competed in the New Zealand Formula Atlantic series, winning that country’s grand prix in 1984 and ’87. In 1986 he scored BMW McLaren’s only IMSA GTP victory at Watkins Glen. A top-tier sports car driver, he brought home the overall win in both the 1996 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 1990 24 Hours of Daytona. In an Indy car career spanning nine seasons, including six Indianapolis 500s, his best finish came at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing in 1996 when he was second. He placed seventh there in 1989.

Darren Manning is another driver with a massively varied resume, starting in karting at age 10. By 18 he was racing Formula Vauxhall scoring two victories. He continued such success when he graduated to British Formula 3 with two wins including the support race for the 1998 British F1 Grand Prix. Moving to Japan in 1999 he captured that country’s Formula 3 championship. These successes garnered him the attention of the Formula 1 paddock as he tested for Williams and was hired as test driver for BAR Honda F1 in 2000. By 2003 he was racing in Indy car with Walker Racing and then in 2004 he joined the Ganassi Racing. After a stint in A1 Grand Prix he returned to Indy car for a ride with the legendary A.J. Foyt. Manning competed in four Indianapolis 500s with a best placement of ninth in 2008. An accomplished sports car driver he led his team to a second-place finish in the 2007 24 Hours of Daytona.

“We joke these guys are rookies because they haven’t been with us before,” says SVRA CEO Tony Parella. “The reality is all these drivers are champions and evidence we will make the Brickyard Invitational a bigger and stronger festival every year. We expect a full field of 33 Indy Legends.”

Like last year, the SVRA, America’s premier vintage racing organization, is presenting the “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am for veterans of the Indianapolis 500. It is a 40-minute race of American muscle cars on the Speedway’s 2.43-mile Grand Prix road course on Saturday, June 13. All the veterans will be in 1963 to 1972 vintage Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs of “Group 6,” with an engine displacement limit of 355 cubic inches. Professionals will be paired with amateur drivers, splitting 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.” The 2015 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 a June 12 auction of select automobiles from around the world. The Brickyard Invitational will also expand out onto the world-famous infield IMS golf course with car corrals for 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 at IMS. The array of entries include 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 with overnight camping inside IMS. 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.