The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) today announced that four short track stars will again compete at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during SVRA’s Brickyard Invitational, the first weekend of August. Davey Hamilton, Johnny Parsons Jr., Jimmy Kite, and Donnie Beechler — all veterans of the Indianapolis 500 — will be on the grid for the Vintage Race of Champions (VROC) Charity Pro-Am presented by Chopard Watch.
“These four short track racers have my unqualified respect,” said SVRA President and CEO Tony Parella. “As a young man, I raced at dirt tracks like Weedsport, Rolling Wheels, and Canandaigua Speedway. Short track racers have a deserved reputation for car control and driving with the throttle. Heck, Jimmy is our defending champion of this race for A Production. All of these men have a special place in my heart.”
Parsons, the son of 1950 Indianapolis 500 winner Johnnie Parsons, earned great success in his own right with 12 Indianapolis 500 starts and best finishes of fifth in 1977 and 1985. He is a highly decorated sprint and midget driver and was voted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1994. He has raced in all Brickyard Invitational pro-am races since 2014.
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. This year he is a consultant to the Harding – Steinbrenner Indy car race team. This will be Hamilton’s fourth charity pro-am races at IMS.
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. This will be Jimmy’s fifth charity pro-am at IMS. He won the A Production class in last year’s race.
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. Beechler was inducted into the Springfield, Illinois Sports Hall of Fame in 2016. Beechler has driven in four charity pro-am races at IMS.
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.