Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) today announced the top four contenders for its Vintage Race of Champions (VROC) Charity Pro-Am presented by Chopard Watch championship have filed entries for the next race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Mike Skinner and Max Papis won the A Production and B Production class races respectively at the first race of the season at Road Atlanta in March. Geoff Brabham and Willy T. Ribbs, who scored podium finishes at Road Atlanta, are also in the running for Chopard luxury watches that will be awarded to series champions at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in September. The Brickyard Invitational has a new date for 2019, open to the public on August 3 & 4.
“The VROC presented by Chopard Watch is compelling competition, and is exceeding our expectations,” said SVRA CEO Tony Parella. “It’s exciting to see legendary drivers serious about vying for our championship.”
Skinner’s first taste of SVRA racing came at last September’s VIR Charity Pro-Am. In 1995 he delivered the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship for legendary team owner Richard Childress. Childress had noticed Skinner’s domination of the Caraway Speedway track championship as well as numerous other late model victories across the Carolinas the previous year and selected him to drive for his team in the inaugural season for NASCAR Trucks. Skinner rewarded Childress’ trust by scoring 16 victories for the black No. 3 Goodwrench Truck across two seasons.
Skinner has a career total of 28 race wins and 50 poles in NASCAR Truck competition. In 1997 Childress promoted him to join the great Dale Earnhardt Sr. as his teammate in the NASCAR Cup series. He again delivered by winning the 1997 Rookie of the Year title as well as six pole positions and a pair of exhibition race wins in Japan. In 2013 he was recognized for his accomplishments when he was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. Skinner, who races regularly with SVRA, has continued his career with occasional races as well as hosting the NASCAR Radio show, “Skinner Round-up” with his wife Angie on Sirius XM. Last year he drove his NASCAR Truck up the world-famous hill climb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Papis has driven in virtually every major series this side of drag racing. This includes Formula One, NASCAR, Indy car racing, Le Mans as well as V8 Supercars and IROC. The versatile driver competed in two Indianapolis 500s for 1998 race winner Eddie Cheever and won three Indy car races for Bobby Rahal’s team. In NASCAR he raced Sprint Cup, the Nationwide Series, and the Camping World Truck Series. He competed in seven 24 Hours of Le Mans contests, scoring a class podium in five of those events along with top-10 overall finishes on four occasions. Papis also won two 24 Hours of Daytona races – including an overall win in 2002. He has also started in more NASCAR races than any European driver in history.
Ribbs is the first black driver to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. He did so twice, in 1991 and again in 1993. He also tested for a Formula One seat, in 1986 with Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham team. He was Trans Am’s most prolific winner from 1983 through 1985 when he scored 18 of his 19 career-total victories. He was series rookie-of-the-year in 1983, winning five times and more than any other driver. After Trans Am, he moved to Dan Gurney’s IMSA Toyota team for two years and picked off 10 race wins. Ribbs gained recognition as a rising talent when he won the Formula Ford championship in England in 1977. He was inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
Brabham was a master of sports car racing and the star driver of the dominant Nissan team that won four successive IMSA GTP championships from 1988 through 1991. During this time, he scored an amazing 27 overall victories. He also won the 1993 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 1989 and 1991 12 Hours of Sebring and the 1981 Can-Am series championship. Geoff’s outstanding career earned him six invitations to compete in the elite IROC series where he won two races. He began racing Formula Fords in Australia in 1973 and won the 1975 Australian Formula 2 championship and the 1979 Formula Super Vee championship before reaching the top levels of the sport. Geoff was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2004, and the Australian Hall of Fame in 2018. Brabham is a 10-time starter in the Indianapolis 500, with a best finish of fourth in 1983. He was active in the Indy car series during the 1980’s recording eight podium finishes and 31 top tens.
The VROC Charity Pro-Am presented by Chopard Watch is a Saturday feature event at the 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.