Six Indy 500 winners slated for Arizona Concours panel discussion

BY Chase Wilhelm • January 10, 2016

Six Indianapolis 500 champions over a four-decade span will join a panel discussion hosted by the Arizona Concours d'Elegance on Saturday, Jan. 23 at Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix.

The roundtable will build up hype for this year's 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 29, as the six race drivers will discuss the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

The drivers' discussion held by Arizona Concours kicks off Arizona's Classic Car Week, which features a series of auctions, shows and other special events, including the Scottsdale Barrett-Jackson auctions.

The gathering of Indy 500 legends also serves as a preview for Verizon IndyCar Series' return to Phoenix International Raceway in 2016. The Phoenix Grand Prix will be held April 1-2 after an 11-year absence from the IndyCar schedule.

Drivers taking part in the event have a combined 11 Indianapolis 500 victories. Each champion will share stories and favorite memories from their experiences at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Opened in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway held its first race in 1911 and has been a great American tradition every year since, aside from the world war periods.

"No other motorsports facility in the world has the rich history and tradition of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said IMS chairman Mari Hulman George. "The Centennial Era celebration pays homage to the heroes and events of our storied past while anticipating an even more glorious future."

The winning drivers to be featured in the Indianapolis 500 panel discussion are:

Johnny Rutherford, who won the race three times in 1974, 1976 and 1980.  Originally from Kansas but known as "Lone Star J.R" because he has lived in Texas most of his life, Rutherford competed in the first Indy car race at Phoenix International Raceway in 1964.

Johnny Rutherford

Tom Sneva, the 1983 Indy 500 winner.  A former schoolteacher in Spokane, Washington, Sneva was the first driver to clock an official lap at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at more than 200 mph, in 1977.  He now lives in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

Arie Luyendyk, a two-time Indy victor who won in 1990 and 1997.   A Holland native who now lives in Fountain Hills, Arizona, Luyendyk has held the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's official one-lap (237.498 mph) and four-lap (236.986 mph) speed records since 1996.

Arie Luyendyk

Eddie Cheever, who won the "500" in 1998.  Cheever was born in Phoenix and had a long career in Formula One racing as well as Indy cars, with the most F1 starts of any American driver at 132. He holds the record for the fastest race lap at Indianapolis, 236.103 mph in 1996, and is now a race commentator for ABC.

Eddie Cheever

Dario Franchitti, a three-time winner in 2007, 2010 and 2012. The Scottish native was also a four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 before his retirement following the 2013 season.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, winner of the 2014 Indy 500 and the 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion.  The Florida native is the only driver ever to record wins in IndyCar, CART, Champ Car, American Le Mans Series and Grand-Am races. He currently drivers for Andretti Autosport in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Dario Franchitti

The moderator of the panel will be Lyn St. James, who competed seven times in the Indianapolis 500 and was the first female driver named Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year.

"We've assembled a terrific group of winners of the Indy 500 from different eras with unique stories, and I'm looking forward to bringing out the excitement and energy these drivers share," St. James said.  "They're bright, they're interesting and they're diverse.  This is an opportunity to delve into the personalities of the people who drive these exciting race cars."

The Indy 500 race cars from the IMS Hall of Fame Museum that will be on display at the Concours are:

1914 Duesenberg - Driven at Indy by flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker (who later owned the track) in 1914 to a 10th- place finish. The Duesenberg brothers returned to the Indy 500 in 1924 for the first of three victories.   

1925 Miller Junior Eight - The first front-wheel-drive car to race in the Indianapolis 500, the supercharged Miller was driven to a second-place finish by Dave Lewis in 1925 at an average speed just over 100 miles per hour.

1925 Miller Junior Light

1955 SAC Fireboid Special - Starting out as a 1950 Kurtis-Kraft KK3000 (which came in second at with Bill Holland at the wheel in 1950), this car was built as a promotional item fitted with a Boeing gas-turbine engine, with which it drove demonstration laps at the 1955 Indy 500.

1964 Lotus Ford - This Type 34 was a project under legendary American driver Dan Gurney, Lotus chief Colin Chapman and the Ford Motor Company.  Powered by a Ford "quad-cam" V-8, the car qualified on the pole position with legendary driver Jim Clark at the wheel in 1964, but a tire failure and resulting suspension damage took it out of the race.

1964 Lotus Ford

Three other historic Indy 500 cars from private owners also will be shown at the Concours:

1978 Penske PC-6 - In 1978, Tom Sneva was the first driver to exceed the 200 mph four-lap average speed (202.156 mph) during qualifying in this Norton Spirit Penske owned by Tom Malloy.  He qualified on the pole and fell eight seconds short of the win.

1990 Lola-Chevrolet Ilmor - The Domino's Pizza-liveried car known as "The Hot One" was the backup car to the one that Arie Luyendyk drove to victory in the 1990 Indianapolis. The car is from Luyendyk's personal collection.

2014 DHL Honda-Dallara DW12 -“ The Andretti Autosport Dallara driven to Victory Lane by Ryan Hunter-Reay in the 2014 Indianapolis 500.

The third annual Arizona Concours d'Elegance held in the Art Deco elegance of the Arizona Biltmore benefits Make-A-Wish Arizona.

Click here for more information about Arizona Concours

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