The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association has revealed plans to award four trophies to recognize well-prepared cars and outstanding examples of history at its June 6-8 Brickyard Invitational vintage racing event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Two awards honor legendary figures who shaped the sport: mechanic and car builder A.J. Watson and three-time Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jack Brabham. Both giants passed away last month.
There will be a total of four such trophies during the weekend. In addition to the Watson Trophy, SVRA officials will present awards for “best of show,” “best pre-war racer” and the “Sir Jack Brabham Commemorative Trophy.”
The Brabham award is for the best example of a Brabham racecar. Brabham is the only Formula 1 driver to win the championship in a car of his own construction. He was the first driver to be knighted for his motor racing accomplishments which include 14 F1 race wins and four F2 titles to complement his three world championships.
Brabham (piuctured, BELOW) also left his mark on the Indianapolis 500. A four-time starter, he drove a Cooper-Climax to ninth place in first try in 1961 (pictured, TOP). Woefully underpowered but extremely fast in the corners, the rear-engine machine convinced many that the end of the front engine roadster was at hand. The car’s performance proved prophetic as rear engine cars became the design of choice winning in 1965 and every year since.
“Sir Jack Brabham’s passing touched us personally at SVRA as his son Geoff, an outstanding champion in his own right, was originally scheduled to drive in our ‘Indy Legends’ Pro-Am with 26 Indianapolis 500 veterans,” said SVRA President and CEO Tony Parella. “Geoff had to be with his family in Australia and that is where he needs to be. Our warmest thoughts are with the Brabham family and we hope this trophy demonstrates that.”
The SVRA also announced that four Indianapolis 500 veterans will serve as judges for the Watson Trophy. The judges are Jerry Sneva, Bob Harkey, Mel Kenyon and Eldon Rasmussen. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chief Historian and Auto Racing Hall of Fame Member Donald Davidson will lead the team. Davidson is also forming a team to select the SVRA’s fourth trophy of the meet for best pre-war racecar.
“I am really looking forward to this special weekend,” said Davidson. “So many of our fans love the Speedway for its history and it is wonderful to have a weekend devoted to racing history. I am thrilled to be a part of it.”
The “Brickyard Invitational” weekend will be the largest gathering of race cars ever assembled for competition in America. The SVRA has 11 groups of cars spanning 100 years of vintage machines and all will be in action at IMS. Most of the races will take place on the Speedway’s 2.43-mile Grand Prix road course but for the first time in history cars will be at speed on both the world-famous 2.5-mile oval and the road course on the same day. All cars will have a chance to tour the oval at speed, including the crowd-favorite 1950’s-vintage Indianapolis 500 “roadsters.”
Parnelli Jones, who won the 1963 Indianapolis 500 in a Watson roadster, will serve as Brickyard Invitational Grand Marshal for the weekend. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser will lead the Brickyard Invitational high-speed oval experience, which is open to all cars entered in races for the weekend.
The Brickyard Invitational has over 700 race cars on its entry list. It boasts exquisite examples of select pre-war machines, classic sports cars, Formula One and endurance prototypes as current as 2009. The feature event of the weekend is the “Indy Legends Pro-Am,” an intriguing competition for 26 veterans of the Indianapolis 500. This will be a 40-minute race of American muscle cars utilizing the IMS Grand Prix road course on Sunday, June 8. The cars for the Pro-Am will be 1963 to 1972 vintage Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs of “Group 6,” with an engine displacement limit of 355 cubic inches. The Indianapolis 500 veterans will be paired with amateur drivers, each taking a 20-minute stint. Five minutes will be allotted for driver change.
Indianapolis 500 winners Al Unser Jr. and Buddy Lazier head a field of impressive names, all veterans of the great race. These include former Indianapolis 500 Rookies-of-the-Year Lyn St. James and Robby McGehee as well as Willy T. Ribbs, Mark Dismore, Scott Goodyear, Alex Lloyd, Johnny Parsons Jr., Davey Hamilton, Bob Lazier, Jaques Lazier, Robby Unser, Pete Halsmer, Rocky Moran, Eliseo Salazar, Dick Simon, Scott Harrington, Jack Miller, Rick Treadway, Spike Gehlhausen, Billy Roe, Tom Bagley, John Martin and Eldon Rasmussen.
The Pro-Am cars and drivers will also participate in a Fan Walk through the starting grid prior to the opening ceremonies allowing fans to see the cars up close, take photos and chat with the drivers. Entries to this event will be limited and all entry fees will be donated to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum Foundation. Race fans can enjoy every minute of the Brickyard Invitational action by taking advantage of overnight camping inside the Speedway.
Check out this video preview to learn more, and click on the links below the video player for more information about this truly historic event.