The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association today announced that three more short track stars will again compete at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Brickyard Invitational “Indy Legends” Pro-Am. Davey Hamilton, Jimmy Kite and Donnie Beechler – all veterans of the Indianapolis 500 – earned their chops on the hard-scrabble bull rings of short track racing. Together they join another driver of the same mold, Johnny Parsons Jr., who entered the Pro-Am last week, as they take on a field largely composed of other Indy veterans with road racing backgrounds.
“Short track racers have a special place in my heart,” said SVRA President & CEO Tony Parella. “As a young man I raced at dirt tracks like Weedsport, Rolling Wheels and Canadaigua speedway. Short track racers have a deserved reputation for car control and with these guys and Johnny you have four of the best.”
Like all the famous champion drivers of the Indy 500 who will be on hand at the Brickyard Invitational, the short track stars will practice in a special track session on Friday, June 16. They will also be available for autographs and pictures during the pre-race fan pit walk just before their Saturday feature race.
Hamilton, renowned for his mastery of super-modified racing, competed in 11 Indianapolis 500s with three top-10 finishes including a fourth place. He finished in the runner-up spot twice in the Indy car season championship and in 2014 raced in Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Truck Series. Hamilton is a leader both on and off the track. He was founder of the “King of the Wing” sprint car series and has been active as an Indy car owner.
A five-time starter in the Indianapolis 500, Kite first qualified for the big show in 1998. He made his name driving midgets and sprint cars and really got the attention of the motorsports world in 1997 by winning one of short track racing’s biggest trophies – the USAC Silver Crown Copper World Classic. In addition to his 34 starts in Indy car competition Kite has also ventured into ARCA stock car and NASCAR truck racing.
Beechler is a four-time starter in the Indianapolis 500 and drove for the great A.J. Foyt in his final appearance in the race. He had 36 career starts in Indy car races, finishing on the podium twice. Beechler is a long-time midget and sprint car driver competing in the USAC Silver Crown series and at prestigious events such as the Chili Bowl midget car classic. Like Hamilton and Kite, he will be making his third SVRA “Indy Legends” Pro-Am start. Beechler was inducted into the Springfield, Illinois Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.
The Pro-Am feature is a 45-minute race on the Speedway’s 2.43-mile Grand Prix road course. 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.
As in the previous three years, the Indy 500 veterans will be paired with amateur drivers, splitting stints at the wheel at their discretion. Among the top drivers who have filed entries are four-time Indy 500 champion Al Unser and his son, Al Jr., who won the “500” twice. Indy Legends Pro-Am defending champions Robby Unser (A Production) and Paul Tracy (B Production) are also entered, as well as Jimmy Vasser, Willy T. Ribbs, Johnny Unser, Sarah Fisher, Lyn St. James and Ana Beatriz.
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 “Celebration of Motorcycles” 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 8.
Brickyard Invitational ticket information: Fans can order Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational tickets for all or any one of the four days of the event online through the Speedway or by calling 800-822-INDY or 317-492-6700 between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. Fans can also visit the ticket office at the IMS Administration Building at 4790 West 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are available. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information. Children 12 and under are admitted free each day when accompanied by an adult. Tent camping passes in the IMS infield start at $30 and are available all four days.