P.J. Chesson Also Joins Talent-Rich Field in “Indy Legends” Pro-Am
The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) today announced two additional late entries from Indianapolis 500 Mile Race history – Scott Goodyear and P.J. Chesson – to compete in the “Indy Legends Pro-Am,” a special feature to its June 6 – 8 “Brickyard Invitational” vintage race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Earlier this week the SVRA announced it had reached its goal of 24 Indianapolis 500 veterans in the event. The SVRA’s vision is to create 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. Goodyear and Chesson join a great field steeped in the talent of veteran drivers holding a long list of championship credentials across a wide variety of motorsport disciplines.
Despite amassing an array of wins, podium finishes and championships in various top auto racing series Goodyear is best known for narrowly missing victory in the Indianapolis 500 no less than three times – in 1992, ’95 and ’97. He finished second in 1992 to Al Unser Jr. in what remains the closest finish in the 97 editions of the world’s most famous race. After starting last he charged through the field to narrowly miss racing’s biggest prize by 43 thousands of a second. In 1997 he scored an additional second-place in another of Indy’s closest finishes when in the closing stages of the race the green flag was waved even though the yellow light continued to burn during a re-start. Goodyear finished behind teammate Arie Luyendyk. Controversy stalked Goodyear again when he was penalized for passing a slow pace car in a disputed officiating call during the closing stages of the 1995 Indianapolis 500. This time he finished ahead of race winner Jacques Villeneuve on the track but officials had stopped counting his laps. He competed in 11 Indianapolis 500 races.
Goodyear was one of the star drivers of Indy car racing and was selected as league representative to the International Race of Champions (IROC) series in 2001. He won the Michigan 500 twice as well as picking up two wins at Texas Motor Speedway and one at Phoenix. Goodyear also has impressive road racing credentials. He finished third overall for Porsche in the 1996 24 Hours of Le Mans after having competed there in 1987. In 1988 he snared the Rothmans Porsche Turbo Cup championship winning three of eight races. Goodyear fittingly closed out his competitive career in 2003 by winning the Grand Am Daytona Prototype “Six Hours at the Glen” endurance race by pulling off a daring, wheel-banging pass on Didier Theys with less than two laps to go.
Goodyear joins his old rival and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. in the Pro-Am contest that now has 26 entries. Other entries include 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier as well as former Indianapolis 500 Rookies-of-the-Year Lyn St. James and Robby McGehee and other top names Willy T. Ribbs, Mark Dismore, Alex Lloyd, Johnny Parsons Jr., Davey Hamilton, Robby Unser, Pete Halsmer, Rocky Moran, Eliseo Salazar, Dick Simon, Scott Harrington, Jack Miller, Rick Treadway, Spike Gehlhausen, Billy Roe, Tom Bagley, John Martin and John Hollansworth. Lazier’s father and brother – Bob and Jaques – will also race, marking the first time the family has competed together at IMS. Parnelli Jones, who won the 1963 Indianapolis 500, will pace the field as part of his duties as Brickyard Invitational Grand Marshal. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser will lead a Brickyard Invitational high-speed oval experience.
“I know a lot of people will be talking about the idea of Al and I racing wheel-to-wheel again, but for me it will just be a special treat to get the opportunity to try out the new IMS road course in the heat of battle,” said Goodyear, who remains very visible in the sport today as expert commentator for ABC/ESPN telecasts of Indy car races. “These muscle cars should be a lot of fun to toss around the track.”
In addition to Goodyear, 2006 Indianapolis 500 starter P.J. Chesson will race in the Pro-Am. Cutting his teeth at age 12 in go-karts he quickly proved his potential and graduated to sprint cars in 1998. A talented sprint car driver with a World of Outlaws background, Chesson scored three feature wins and 28 top ten finishes in the span of two seasons with that series. He also won the South Pacific Sprint Car Championship in 2004 in Australia. 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 of the Indianapolis 500 after qualifying for the race in 2006.
The cars for the Pro-Am will be 1963 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 endurance race prototypes as current as 2009. The storied 2.5-mile oval will be utilized as well with high-speed 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.
“I can tell you that speaking as a fan the idea of getting Scott and Al back together again at IMS in one of our races is a dream come true,” said SVRA President and CEO Tony Parella. “We are now at 26 Indy 500 veterans which exceeds our promise to assemble a group of 24. We couldn’t be happier to be associated with these great drivers. I have to also say that I have thoroughly enjoyed talking with P.J. Chesson. He is a great personality that should be a part of the racing scene.”
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.
Brickyard Invitational ticket information: 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.