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Vintage-car entrants for Speedway race zoom past maximum

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The rush of drivers trying to enter a new vintage car race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was so fast and furious that the event promoter has been forced to turn away many of them.

Sportscar Vintage Racing Association CEO Tony Parella was prepared to admit 600-plus classic cars for the inaugural Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational on June 6-8. He received nearly 1,000 requests in the first eight days after the event was announced Feb. 4.

“The outpouring has been absolutely phenomenal,” Parella said. “We’ve gotten requests from members and non-members from all over the U.S. and around the world. We’re expecting a monumental turnout.”

Parella knew demand to race at the venerable IMS would be big, but “it’s even exceeded what I’d imagined,” he said. “Unfortunately, I’m going to have to be the bad guy and tell some of these people they can’t race. The demand is simply much higher than the slots we have to offer.”

Tim Suddard, publisher of Florida-based Classic Motorsports magazine, saw the rush coming. A vintage car racer himself, he said the minute he heard of the event, he started re-arranging his schedule so he could come to Indianapolis that weekend.

“I think the idea [of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway] is compelling, and will definitely resonate well with my fellow racers,” Suddard said.

SVRA officials are promising real racing at the IMS event. Some of the drivers will be amateurs, while others are likely to include former Indianapolis 500 drivers and retired Formula One and NASCAR stars. All the drivers, Parella said, will be accessible to the fans.

Cars will compete in 13 classes. The races will showcase a variety of speedsters, including those that competed in past Indianapolis 500s, cars from the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, Formula One racers, Grand-Am prototypes and Trans-Ams.

Vintage racers typically stick to road courses, but the Indianapolis event will give them a rare chance to strut their stuff on an oval. Both the IMS’ 2.5-mile oval—on which the Indianapolis 500 is contested—along with its road course will be used for this summer’s event.

Parella thinks the event could quickly become the world’s largest vintage car race, but added that it’s a little more difficult to project how many spectators will come to the Speedway to watch.

Big vintage car races at well-known tracks such as Watkins Glen have typically drawn 10,000 to 20,000 paying fans.

Parella predicts at least 20,000 will show up over the three days in Indianapolis. “That’s being conservative,” he said. “I think we could really surprise some people.”

Officials for Visit Indy, the city tourism marketing arm, think about 25,000 spectators could descend on the Speedway for the event, “with a strong drive-in regional presence,” said Visit Indy spokesman Chris Gahl.

The Monterey Motorsports Reunion held in California each August, one of the world’s biggest vintage car racing events, last year drew more than 50,000 spectators over three days. That event charged spectators considerably more ($50 for one day and $130 for a three-day pass) than the Indianapolis event, which will charge between $15 and $25 for a single-day admission and $40 for a three-day pass.

Although Visit Indy hasn’t predicted an economic impact on the for this event, local hospitality experts think it will be in the $7 million to $12 million range the first year, with the possibility of swelling to $20 million.

Tim Frost, a Chicago-based motorsports business consultant, said the new event “has quickly gained the attention of vintage car racers from coast to coast.”

Many of the drivers are wealthy business executives or owners, “but it really runs the gamut,” Frost said. “And the fan base is very diverse, from white-collar folks to working-class lovers of cars, racing and history.”

SVRA says the average net worth of its member-racers is about $4 million.

“From an economic impact and exposure standpoint, I think Indianapolis will find this is a very good group of individuals to draw in,” Frost said.

The sanctioning body and IMS have promised to unleash marketing campaigns to push traffic to the event. Gahl said Visit Indy will supplement those efforts in regional markets. IMS officials plan to start marketing the event to ticket holders of its other events in early to mid-March.

Speedway officials have been considering hosting a vintage car race since 2011, said IMS President Doug Boles.

“We wanted a [sanctioning body] that could guarantee a certain quality and quantity field,” Boles said. “With [the SVRA], we think we can put on an event that really celebrates the history of the automobile and of racing. We think three to five years from now this could be the premiere vintage auto event in the world.”
 

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  • It's 3 in the morning
    This must be Jake from State Farm. You sound Hideous
  • The Silence is Deafening
    that's what the 3 advertizers of the irl say
    • So the defender of the irl carnage
      who won't buy tickets for that claims to be willing to buy tickets for something else. the end is near
    • Fast Bugeye
      Thanks for the compliment. I think if you see the videos I post on youtube, you will see that I tend to catch even the faster cars under braking..I find so many racers use their brakes like they are in their daily driver...so they may get away from me on a long straight, but I catch and pass at the turns. Come and bring a chair and hang out in the paddock with us. the sights and sounds will be amazing!
    • Love those old cars
      This sounds like a very exciting event. Hope it will help the IMS's business. To Vintage Racer, great videos; I enjoyed both. You must have a very fast Bugeye. I look forward to seeing you race at the June event.
      • An Old Dog CAN Learn New Tricks
        The IMS and the town of Speedway are building a multi-event, much-more-than-May destination. The racing history, the great proximity to Downtown and the airport, and the immense size of the IMS as the centerpiece Venue makes the future for Speedway a very bright one. Congrats to Speedway, the IMS, and the SVRA on a great new Tradition!
      • Absolutely
        Great way to combine fans of the venue, fans of classic cars and fans of racing. Go for it!
      • Many of the drivers are wealthy business executives or owners
        LOL....I got your promotion right here: UNless noted elsewhere, no SVRA racing groups include Indy 500 based racing vehicles. While exceptions can be made...DON'T count on it Indy lubbers. Just a rich man's track rental for the 3-sided ghetto with potholes.
      • Kimosavi
        Looks like Chief has been smoking his Piece Pipe again. And Great Idea, did it ever occur to you that we could do both or is that just too much to comprehend!!
      • Out of space?
        What morons at 16th and Jonestown to not have enough spots for competitors..I blame the HG family and the ugly DW12 chasis for this debacle......bawaahaahaa
      • Look at the crowd!
        Here is another in car video I took last summer in a race in downtown Pittsburgh...fast forward to the 5:30 mark for the start then look at the 75,000+ people who come to watch. This is your fan base if you can get them interested. I personally can't wait to see the old Roadsters running around the Speedway! http://youtu.be/_ErHERTnYx4
      • More fans
        I would also add...Because of vintage racing and the FAMILIES that are involved..it has made my son and daughter now fans of Indy car racing and they attend that race with me now as well..they are 14 and 8 years old..so I think this type of event will BUILD Indy car racing not kill it.
        • Can't wait!
          I posted about the upcoming vintage race before here-If you have never been to a vintage event-You are truly missing the last fan friendly racing that there is! This is a clip from my in car camera from Mid Ohio. I was accepted to Indy-Just hope they don't tell me I am not there now! http://youtu.be/MYVBZCm27Y8
          • Honest to Goodness
            Now that is a great idea. Treat the IMS as more of a 'working' heritage tourism site rather than trying to build a cutting edge racing series around that heritage. Embrace the charming niche qualities of IMS as you build events around the venue. And that sounds like a great participant demographic. Goes perfectly with the amateur sports capital of the world motif. "The greatest spectacle in amateur auto racing." Keep it niche.
          • Gentlemen Start Your Complaining
            This is all great news. Given a little time the new leadership at the IMS is going to lever this facility and provide some outstanding racing events and continue to build the economic machine the IMS is for the City of Indianapolis. Can't wait to listen to the whining from the perpetual naysayers. Boys your silence is deafening
          • Will Buy Tickets
            Strong out of the gate....best idea they've had for a long while.
          • That is impressive to over sell the event in a week. It shows that, contrary to some peoples opinion, IMS still means something. And to think of the all of those millionaires and average Joes at the track will be a huge marketing coup for IMS to sell Indycar and NASCAR to them all over again. This is great for Indy, great for IMS and great for the autoracing.

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