New vintage car race coming to Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be one of three tracks to host a new racing exhibition series featuring cars that first hit the road during World War I or earlier.

The races will be sanctioned by the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association, which has held an event at IMS each summer since 2014.

SVRA owner Tony Parella said the group's event in Indianapolis has grown each year since its start. He predicts the new exhibition race will see even bigger attendance. This year, 30,000 “ticket-buying” fans attended the fourth annual Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational, which took place June 16-18, Parella said.

Next year's event is scheduled for mid-June, with qualifying on June 15, a charity pro-am race on June 16 and the race itself on June 17.

The new "Pre-1920" series also will feature events at Sonoma Raceway in California (May 31-June 3) and Watkins Glen International Raceway in New York (Sept. 7-9). 

The races will feature fields of 15 to 20 vintage cars, and the race team crew members will dress in period attire and use the tools and equipment of those times. 

“These cars are important and deserve a showcase,” said Parella said in written comments. “Not only will these historic cars be stretching their legs on the track … there will also be educational and informative displays of tools, spares, period clothing that capture the feel of life in 1920 and before. This is rich content that adds to our automobile-themed festivals at SVRA events.”

The cars and accessories will be prominently displayed in the Speedway paddock during the local event, allowing spectators to get up close to the equipment and take in “all the sights, smells, and sounds of what some motorsports historians refer to as, ‘The Heroic Age,'" Parella said. 

Parella added that fans at the three events will have opportunities to win track laps sitting in the riding mechanic’s seat.

“Our long-term vision is to create a traveling road show that will extend beyond SVRA weekends and out to other automobile celebrations, such as Concours events,” said Brian Blain, president of the Blain Motorsports Foundation, which is helping put on the exhibitions. “We believe that doing justice to these rare vehicles by giving them their own run group will attract spectator interest as well as sponsors. These cars and displays offer wonderful educational value to youngsters.”

In the nearly six years since Parella, a Dallas-area entrepreneur, acquired SVRA, the organization has grown membership from 490 to more than 2,600 and sponsorships from zero to 28—including recent deals with Harley-Davidson, NetJets, Jaguar, Land Rover, Capital One and Hoosier Tire. Several new events, including the one at the IMS, have also been added to the SVRA schedule.

The Indianapolis event—one of the series’ biggest—is a cornerstone in the association’s growth plan, Parella said. Last year's Indianapolis event, one of 15 on the SVRA calendar, featured 13 classes of racing. 

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