VINTAGE RACING AT IMS Over 700 Race Cars to Compete at the Speedway in June

Vintage Racing at IMS in June. ©RIS/Larry CLarino

INDIANAPOLIS - RIS - MARCH 11, 2014 - June 6-8, 2014 will be historic dates for all race fans. The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) will host what is certain to be the largest gathering of track ready race cars in one place at one time, in history.

The SVRA’s Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational at Indianapolis will feature well over 600 race cars on the F-1 track at IMS, as well as over 150 open wheel oval track race cars on the big oval. The cars, dating from the 1920’s to 1999 will be raced in at least 21 groups with on track action from 8 AM until 6 PM each day.

If the Circuit of the Americas, Daytona, Sebring, Road America, and The Glen, are the cathedrals of motorsports in America, then the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is St Peter’s Basilica. As you drive through the tunnel into the track you can’t help of thinking of Harroun, DePalma, Vukovich, the Unsers, Foyt and so many others. Just the idea of so many cars we grew up with, cars we remember, cars we read about in R&T and Hot Rod, and Speed Sport News is just so exciting. To see them run and really race again is almost overwhelming.   

Tony Parella, the President and CEO of the SVRA said, “This is the start of a new tradition. The plan is to create an American version of Goodwood, but with a blue collar twist. Goodwood is too formal, too British. Indy is midwest America.” Parella, 54, is a very successful Texas businessman who got the racing bug just four years ago. Stumbling in to the purchase of a 1958 Corvette race car he though it would be fun to drive it on a track. His very first race was with Corinthian Vintage Auto Racing, a local group around Dallas. The racing bug bit him deep.

That led to a chance to drive in a SVRA event at Watkins Glen just 60 miles from where he grew up. “My first laps had me smiling, thinking of my dad. We would come to races at The Glen. It was real emotional for me.” At that moment he decided to look into the acquisition of SVRA with the intent to organize it into a real series with better safety standards, and a better overall experience for the dedicated vintage race drivers and owners.

That was in September of 2012. In just eighteen months the entire face of vintage racing has changed in America. From the onset Parella’s vision was to have a grand festival of speed at the hollowed grounds of The Speedway. Working with then vice-president of IMS, Mark Dill, the seed was planted with the owners, the Hulman-George family. Now the time is right for this massive undertaking.

What makes this different from any vintage meet anywhere in the world is the combination of the FIA category 1 road course, with the historic 2.5 mile rectangle that makes up the oval at the Speedway. The track where the most famous and important race in the world takes place every May. In a few years this will a major event at the Speedway. To get a grasp of the size of this, the driver’s meeting alone with have well over 1000 participants and that is not counting the corner workers.

Not only will there be classic sports cars and sports racers along with formula cars of every description and age from around the world, but also classic Millers, Kurtis Kraft, and Watson roadsters, with midgets and sprint cars next to the Lolas and Ferraris. For the first time in history the sounds of F-1 cars will mix with 70’s Can-Am cars, Offy’s, turbines, and maybe even a Novi. We can tell you from personal experience the sound a Novi at full song heading into turn one is something you will never forget.

Make no mistake, SVRA vintage racing, is racing. They are not just old pretty cars on display. Just imagine driving out of the road course onto the oval. Foot on the floor for the next 5/8’s of a mile, the famed Pagoda in view, heading North up the “Front Straight at The Indianapolis Motor Speedway”. Most of the drivers will never have even imagined having the chance of being there.

Parella’s plan for the SVRA is for each race to be at a premiere venue around the country with the National Championships at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in the fall. Last year’s championships drew over 500 entries. Adding the Brickyard brings they world of vintage racing to a whole new level. “I want each of our races to be a thrill for each driver, but the two, COTA and Indy, to be ‘bucket list’ kind of races. Tracks you just have to drive, and experience.”

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Volume 2014, Issue 3, Posted 2:02 PM, 03.11.2014