SOUTHLAKE, Texas – Three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Bobby Unser has entered the oval high-speed exhibition races during their June 6-8 Brickyard Invitational vintage race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).
Unser will bring his considerable skills and insights to the first true high-speed vintage events on the IMS oval. For the first time in history IMS will present race cars in action on both the oval and road course on the same day.
The Sportscar Vintage Racing Ass’n, America’s premier vintage racing organization, has 11 groups of cars spanning 100 years of vintage machines and all will be in action at IMS. About 700 cars will invade the IMS grounds during the three days of racing and all will be allowed access to the oval in a special homage to the essence of IMS and what it means to American history.
Unser will lead the Group 2 and 9 open-wheel categories as well as other sessions designed for oval-only drivers of cars such as Indianapolis 500 roadsters as well as classic dirt and sprint cars. Exactly which race cars Unser will drive has yet to be determined.
“Race fans will be treated to an amazing spectacle of living history,” Unser said. “Boys and girls, strap on your helmets because we are going to have fun.”
Unser, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1968, 1975 and 1981, also captured the national driving championship in 1968 and 1974. Known as a versatile talent, the International Hall of Fame driver won the 1975 International Race of Champions (IROC) and scored more Pikes Peak Hill Climb victories than anyone in history. A proven winner in sprint cars and midgets, he also competed in NASCAR, Formula One and sports cars.
An outstanding development driver, Unser is credited with much of the input to the design of the “Gurney Flap,” an integral element of racing wings. He was also vital to the development of the first in-house Penske chassis to win the Indianapolis 500. His analytical skills served him well during a successful career in broadcast television where he provided booth commentary on ABC’s Indianapolis 500 coverage.
“This oval experience is unprecedented and of a scale and magnitude never seen before at IMS,” said Tony Parella, SVRA President and CEO. “With Bobby leading these race cars they will be unbridled by a pace car and will be full throttle down the straightaways. It will be a special sensory treat for fans young and mature to witness and hear the throaty roar of these amazing marvels of engineering driven in anger once again. The oval-only cars will be organized by eras so it will have the feel of what it was like for fans in the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and beyond.”
The oval events will be strictly regulated with no passing in the turns for safety and because the value of many entries is more than a million dollars. The Brickyard Invitational weekend will be the largest gathering of race cars ever assembled for competition in America. The exciting array of entries include exquisite examples of select prewar machines, classic sports cars, Formula One and Le Mans prototypes as current as 2008. Race fans can enjoy every minute of the action by taking advantage of overnight camping inside the Speedway.
“I am so looking forward to seeing and hearing these incredible cars at speed,” said Carl Vela, Indianapolis resident and long-time IMS fan. “I’m too young to have seen these cars race back in the day and have only been able to appreciate them doing parade laps or in museums. I can’t wait for the speed, the noise and the smells.”
As previously announced, Bobby Unser’s nephew, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., heads a star-studded field of drivers in the Sunday, June 8 feature event of the weekend – the Indy Legends Pro-Am. This event is 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. The SVRA expects to attract a field of at least 24 Indianapolis 500 veterans for the competition. Among the previously announced 11 entries are 1992 Rookie-of-the Year Lyn St. James, Willy T. Ribbs, Mark Dismore, Geoff Brabham, Johnny Parsons Jr. and Alex Lloyd. Another racing icon, 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones, will pace the field. Jones also serves as Grand Marshal for the entire Brickyard Invitational weekend.