The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association today announced that three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford has entered the second round of its 2019 Vintage Race of Champions (VROC) Charity Pro-Am championship series at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Brickyard Invitational has a new date for 2019, August 1-4.
“All of us at SVRA are honored to have Johnny, who I regard as one of the greatest open-wheel drivers ever to put on a helmet, return to wheel-to-wheel competition at our VROC race at Indy,” said SVRA CEO Tony Parella. “Indianapolis is where he built his hall-of-fame stature, so I can think of no greater venue for him to have another go at racing. I’m honored.”
“Tony and I have been talking on and off for probably four years about me returning to racing with SVRA,” said Rutherford. “More than anything I’m really looking forward to mingling with fans, the SVRA drivers and owners, and just seeing all the great cars. The camaraderie and relaxed atmosphere of vintage racing suit me just fine.”
Rutherford’s career spanned 35 years, beginning in 1959 when he raced modified stock cars and included Indianapolis 500 victories in 1974, ’76, and ’80. The 1980 triumph helped propel him to the Indy car championship that year. He won a total of 28 Indy car races during a storied career that also included three pole positions for the Indy 500 (1973, ’76, and ’80). Other career highlights include winning the 1965 United States Auto Club (USAC) sprint car championship and the 1963 Daytona 500 qualifying race for Smokey Yunick – back when the contest awarded championship points. He competed in 35 NASCAR races from 1963 to 1988 and was invited to the International Race of Champions (IROC) five times.
Rutherford has attended SVRA race meets in the past and served as Grand Marshal for the 2017 U.S. Vintage National Championships at COTA in 2017. The Texas icon’s success and dignified manner earned him the affectionate nickname, “Lone Star JR,” with fans and media. Since retiring, Rutherford has stayed close to racing with a busy schedule that included serving as the Indy car pace car driver, numerous media appearances including radio commentary for live race broadcasts, and public speaking. His eloquence and knowledge have earned him the reputation as one of the sport’s top goodwill ambassadors.
The Indy Legends Charity Pro-Am is a Saturday feature event of the August 1 – 4 Brickyard Invitational. The cars are 1963 to 1972 vintage Corvettes, Camaros, and Mustangs of SVRA “Group 6” A and B Production. The professionals will be paired with amateur drivers. Amateurs will start the race and be required to drive a maximum of seven laps.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Brickyard Invitational VROC Charity Pro-Am will benefit the Morgan Adams Foundation. The foundation supports laboratory and clinical research in the area of pediatric cancer, with an emphasis on tumors on the brain, spine, and central nervous system. Morgan Adams was a five-year-old girl who lost her battle with brain cancer in 1997. The foundation has a history of working with vintage racers to support their cause.
In addition to the Pro-Am, there will be a festival of other activities at the Brickyard Invitational including professional Trans Am by Pirelli series races on Saturday and Sunday. The weekend also presents the Hagerty Insurance “cars & caffeine” car corral, and 300+ vintage racers ranging over 100 years of automotive history racing in SVRA Groups 1 through 12.