The SVRA Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational returned this weekend to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The highlight of the weekend was be the Vintage Race of Champions Charity Pro-Am race that pairs veteran Indy, NASCAR, F1, IMSA, and Trans Am drivers with amateur racing partners driving Corvettes, Camaros, and Mustangs in a 50-minute race. There were several high-profile drivers that participated this weekend on the IMS road course.
Some of the familiar names include Johnny Rutherford, Willy T. Ribbs, Mike Skinner, Max Papis, Geoff Brabham, Roberto Guerrero, Bobby Labonte, Lyn St. James, Todd Bodine, Johnny Benson, Wally Dallenbach Jr., and Boris Said. Dick Simon also served as grand marshal for the entire event weekend.
Ribbs, the first African-American driver to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, captured the win in the VROC Charity Pro-Am on Saturday. Amateur teammate Edward Sevadjian started the race in the No. 36B 1969 Chevrolet Corvette on the front row, and Ribbs was able to get himself a victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“We did it, and It feels good,” exclaimed Ribbs. “To win anything at Indy, one of the greatest racetracks on this Earth, the biggest racetrack – it’s a big deal. I did it with a great car and some great sponsors.” After dominating early in last year’s race, the duo suffered mechanical issues after 15 laps that ended their chances. This year, it was a wild final 15 minutes that carried them to Victory Lane at IMS. Labonte, who won the Brickyard 400 here 19 years ago, finished runner-up on Saturday. Road course ace Said rounded out the podium for the Pro-Am event.
Brabham has ten career Indianapolis 500 starts in his career. He and teammate Peter Klutt dominated early, but once again saw their day end early with a mechanical issue after pitting. Roberto Guerrero had a spin in Turn 1 that brought out a full-course caution, which stacked the field up again. Lyn St. James then hit the SAFER Barrier in Turn 14, which ultimately caused the race to end under yellow flag conditions.
Fortunately Lyn was released from IU Health Methodist Hospital on Sunday. The 1992 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year sustained minor injuries in the crash, and was only kept overnight at the hospital for observation. “The care was excellent,” she said. “I am grateful to everyone involved, from the time of the incident to my release from the hospital. “I’m really happy to be up on my feet and feeling pretty good. I’m really thankful that all of the safety equipment that I wore and what was on the car functioned as it was designed to. I am walking away from a pretty big hit.”
In addition to the Pro-Am, there were several other activities, including professional Trans Am by Pirelli series races Saturday and Sunday. The weekend also featured the Hagerty Insurance “Cars & Caffeine” car corral, and 300-plus vintage racers ranging over 100 years of automotive history racing in SVRA Groups 1 through 12.
The Trans Am Series had plenty of action in both feature races, with Chris Dyson winning on Saturday, and Marc Miller taking the checkered flag on Sunday in the TA2 class race.
There were a few other notable drivers that had success on Sunday. IMS President Doug Boles got back behind the wheel of Glenn Andrew’s 1995 Pontiac Grand Prix to win class in the Vintage Enduro race. Doug wasn’t the only President to find victory lane on Sunday. Big Machine Label Group Founder and CEO Scott Borchetta won both Group 5 races in his 1972 Corvette. He also went on to finish runner-up in the Group 10/12 race, driving his 1981 Buick Regal.
While he may not have the name recognition as many of the drivers mentioned above, Travis Engen does have the hardware to take home. The driver from Connecticut captured four race wins on Sunday on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. Engen won the the Historic GT/GTP Enduro, the Formula Ford Reunion, and the second feature races in Group 9 and Group 5/7/11. Engen was able to pilot three different machines to victory lane, with the 2005 Audi R8 LMP prototype winning twice, and also getting wins in his 2001 Lola T97/20 and 1970 Chevron B17b.