INDIANAPOLIS — Nearly 20 years after he won the Indianapolis 500, Jacques Villeneuve will take another crack at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports co-owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson and Villeneuve officially announced his addition to the team’s three-car lineup for the race Villeneuve won in 1995 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Since leaving IndyCar racing for Formula One, Villeneuve has also dabbled in NASCAR stock car racing and in rally racing.
“Trying to get back to those memories, the speed of driving on that track, on the edge with traffic, it’s something that hasn’t been reciprocated in any other form of racing,” Villeneuve said Wednesday. “That was a level of excitement that was crazy. Also, it’s the biggest race event in the world.”
Villeneuve talked about his decision to return to the Indianapolis 500.
“There are a few reasons. The first one, it’s also a question of opportunity,” the Canadian driver said. “The opportunity came about with Sam Schmidt. We started talking not long ago, actually a few weeks ago. It all went fast. The discussions happened at the right time because I’d been watching the IndyCars last year and it looked extremely exciting with the new cars, to the point where I was angry and jealous that I wasn’t racing. So that got me going again.”
For now, Villeneuve who is also racing in the FIA World Rallycross Championship this season, is not planning to run in any Indy car races outside of the Indianapolis 500.
“It’s not something you just jump into unless you’re working on doing the full season the following year and building something up,” Villeneuve said. “Just as a one-off, the Indy 500 is the one race that stands out. It is the biggest race in the world. You can focus on that.
“Honestly, I didn’t even look at the schedule. I think I have only four or five free weekends free this year, so I’m not sure it would fit in the schedule.”
Villeneuve is 42 years old and one of six Indianapolis winners planning to compete in this year’s 500.
“I’m older in racing, got kids and actually that’s another drive,” Villeneuve said. “I’m a racer at heart and I will always be. That’s what keeps me going. That’s what keeps me alive. I don’t want to be for my kids just the guy that used to race that they can see in books. I want them to see and live what I’ve already lived, to see it through my doing it actively.
“It’s actually a positive effect to have kids.”