Fisher, Papis star in Indy Legends Pro-Am

Fisher, Papis star in Indy Legends Pro-Am

Vintage Motorsport / Historic

Fisher, Papis star in Indy Legends Pro-Am

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UPDATED: Hours after the apparent B Production third-place finisher Jaques Lazier had boarded a plane with his trophy and medal, SVRA officials reviewed tapes of the race and announced his entry with owner Jim Caudle had been disqualified for passing under the yellow. Additional analysis determined that Johnny Unser and Shannon Ivey had actually finished second in B Production, one spot above Mark Dismore and Scott Hackenson.

Revised results can be found below.

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Sarah Fisher and Max Papis made history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Saturday as they ended their day atop the podiums of the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) Indy Legends Charity Pro-Am. Fisher became the first woman to win any kind of motor race at the venerable Speedway when she took the checkered flag in Rick Blaha’s black 1969 Corvette for the A Production class. Her co-driver was Blaha’s son, Kirk.

Papis and co-driver Curt Vogt found their third pairing in the event’s B Production class the charm when they nailed down victory in the Cobra Motorsports 1970 Boss 302 Mustang. The duo looked to be sure winners last year until officials penalized them for trimming the mandatory five-minute pit stop for driver change too short.

“It’s magic to be a winner at the Speedway in any kind of racing,” said Papis. “But this event has truly become something special. I have told Tony Parella (SVRA top executive) that this event goes beyond a race. It bridges eras of racing history.”

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Both winning entries were in the hunt the entire 45-minute, timed contest. Amateurs qualify the cars and start the race. Blaha started fifth and kept the early leaders in sight. Jody O’Donnell, partnered with Roberto Guerrero, led early until he lost traction in Turn 1 after seven laps to let Ed Sevadjian sneak through. Sevadjian, in the Duntov black 1969 Corvette, proceeded to motor away, looking dominant until his pit stop to hand the car over to co-driver Willy T. Ribbs. Ribbs came out looking strong in third place but was effectively first because Blaha and O’Donnell had not pitted for driver exchange. Strangely, O’Donnell never pitted and was disqualified by officials.

The crucial moment for A Production came when Ribbs’ engine threw a rod just minutes from the end, scuttling thoughts of making his own history as an Indy winner. This produced a huge advantage for Blaha and Fisher who had just started their driver exchange. The mandatory pit stops are not allowed under yellow, but if drivers stop and a yellow is thrown while they are in the process, that’s the luck of the game. It was brilliant good fortune for Fisher and Blaha.

Always in the A Production mix were Al Unser Jr. and co-driver Peter Klutt, who may have reprised their 2014 victory if not for the full-course yellow that played into the hands of Blaha and Fisher. They ended their race as runners-up, with NASCAR stars Bill Elliott and Ray Evernham securing the third step of the podium. Larry Ligas and Davy Jones waged a spirited challenge throughout the event, threatening to lead as the final lap approached, but plummeting oil pressure forced Jones to shut off the engine on the final restart.

Papis and Vogt, two fast drivers with similar styles, seized control of B Production early on. Mark Dismore and Scott Hackenson, whose car is prepared by Vogt’s Cobra Motorsports shop, were flawless in taking the second spot. Third in B Production were Jaques Lazier and Jim Caudle, who became one of the most dramatic stories of the day.

Lazier’s original entry threw a rod when being driven to the grid. SVRA officials scrambled to pull an alternate entry out of one of the garages and in the interim Jaques’ father, Bob, insisted his son take over his seat in Caudle’s car – the same one the two shared in winning the 2015 Indy Legend Pro-Am. Bob Lazier started at the back in Jeffery Green’s 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350 and came home a credible 13th in class. Four-time Indy 500 champion Al Unser delivered a steady performance with co-driver Tony Parella by finishing just a few places back, in 16th.

Sarah Fisher found her “rookie” year at the Brickyard Invitational feature event surprising and delightful. She compared her experience racing with the Blaha family team very similar to the culture she fostered as an Indy car owner. This was important especially since her co-driver was more than a foot taller than her and much larger.

“The fit for me, was the sense of family,” Fisher said, “It reminds me of where I came from, and racing needs a family atmosphere to really work. I see that here.”

Papis added that while vintage racing is clearly more relaxed and breeds camaraderie, the drivers are not to be underestimated. He compared his lap times to co-driver Vogt, who frequently races in the Trans Am series TA2 class.

“I’m not so sure I would call these guys amateurs,” Papis stressed. “Curt’s lap times are always at least a few tenths quicker than mine. I guess that gives me a goal for next year.”

Click here to view full results in PDF format.

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