The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) today announced one of the great icons of US motor racing will serve as grand marshal for its Father’s Day weekend (June 16th-19th) Brickyard Invitational at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Bobby Unser will return to the scene of his most legendary triumphs from a sterling career. Joining “Uncle” Bobby will be his four-time Indianapolis 500 Champion brother, Al Unser, who will race in the event’s Saturday, June 17 Indy Legends Pro-Am. Bobby’s son Robby as well as nephews Johnny and two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Jr. have also entered in the Pro-Am. Robby won the A Production class of that race last year.
“All of us at the SVRA understand what the Unser name means to racing fans,” said SVRA President and CEO Tony Parella. “We are honored by Bobby Unser’s continued support of the SVRA and I am humbled that the entire family have embraced the Brickyard Invitational as a kind of annual Unser family reunion at IMS.”
Bobby, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1968, 1975 and 1981, also captured the national driving championship in 1968 and again in 1974. Known as a versatile talent, the International Hall of Fame driver won the 1975 International Race of Champions (IROC) series 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. In the Brickyard Invitational weekends of 2014 and ‘15 Unser led the event’s oval exhibition races.
“Tony Parella and his SVRA team run a first class show for true racing fans,” Unser said. “I enjoy returning to the Speedway in an atmosphere that is so focused on honoring racing history – both cars and drivers.”
Among Bobby Unser’s duties as grand marshal will be to give the command for the Pro-Am drivers to start their engines. The Pro-Am is a 45-minute race on the Speedway’s 2.43-mile Grand Prix road course. In addition to the Unsers, other top drivers who have filed entries include defending Indy Legends Pro-Am B Production Champion Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Willy T. Ribbs, Sarah Fisher, Davey Hamilton, and Lyn St. James as well as former overall winners at the 24 hour of Le Mans, Geoff Brabham and Davy Jones.
The cars are racing machines from the “Group 6” SVRA class. As in previous years that will include 1963 to 1972 vintage Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs but also race officials are considering adding other Group 6 marques such as Porsche and Jaguar for variety. Additional entries in the coming weeks will bring the field to 33 Indy 500 veterans. As in the previous three years, the professionals will be paired with amateur drivers, splitting stints at the wheel at their discretion.
In addition to the Pro-Am, there will be a festival of other activities including the Motostalgia car auction, the Hagerty Insurance “shine and show” car corral, a motorcycle homage with vintage motorcycle racing and displays, and 500+ vintage racers ranging over 100 years of automotive history racing in SVRA Groups 1 through 12. An oval exhibition featuring a racecar show of judged competition for the A.J. Watson and Sir Jack Brabham trophies led by track historian Donald Davidson will also take place. Also, for the first time ever, the professional Trans Am series will compete as the Sunday afternoon feature race. Heading the pack will be series champion Amy Ruman who has won the crown the last two years.
This year the Brickyard Invitational will be preceded by a new SVRA event at the Speedway, the World Open Wheel Challenge. This event will commemorate 50-years of Formula Ford and will welcome all forms of open wheel racecars, beginning June 8th.