While the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is most famous for hosting the Indianapolis 500, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other exciting events held at the track. One of which is the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational.
First held in 2014, it’s an annual event put on by the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association. The 2022 event took place on June 18th and 19th and brought together hundreds of cars for an unforgettable weekend of racing. I had a chance to attend it for the first time, and I was not disappointed.
Arriving at the track Sunday morning, I was greeted by the sound of American V-8s storming around the course. I knew immediately it was the place for me.
On Sunday, the pace car for the races was driven by Indy racing royalty and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser, Jr.
The races took place on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. The roughly 2.4-mile course uses part of the main oval, including the start/finish straight, which is run backward from the standard Indy 500 configuration. The Road Course goes inside the oval and features two long straights and plenty of sharp turns. It also features different configurations.
Spectators have several options when watching the road races. Along with the grandstands, several hills provide a vantage point to corners on the track.
Classic Indy Cars and “Ragtime Racers”
Historic Indy cars and vintage race cars made exhibition laps around the track. The vintage race cars were brought by a group called “The Ragtime Racers.” Dressing in period-style clothes, they drive their antique machines on racetracks and at events around the country. Seeing the vintage cars on the track was an epic experience.
It was amazing to see race cars that are not only over 100 years old but getting driven around a racetrack. Restoring these machines was undoubtedly a serious undertaking, and the old cliché about if walls (or, in this case, cars) could talk certainly holds true.
Along with the vintage cars, there were a variety of mid-20th century IndyCars making exhibition laps. The ‘60s was a significant time for cars competing in the Indy 500. It heralded the phasing out of the front engine “roadsters” in favor of the modern mid-engine machines.
In my opinion, the streamlined roadsters of that era were some of the most beautiful race cars ever made—their sleek design and traditional front-engine layout made for a stunning racecar.
The cars racing ranged from American muscle to open-wheel racecars. The variety of cars at the event made for some unique on-track combinations. For example, open-wheel cars shared the track with sports cars; some races had cars with decades of difference in age.
It was always fun to see what would come down the start/finish straight, the same front straight that just weeks before featured the cars of the Indianapolis 500.
When I arrived at the track Sunday morning, the Group 6 cars were up. While the Group 6 class encompasses a range of cars, those racing today were American V-8-powered machines like Corvettes and Mustangs.
It was a real thrill to hear the roar of the V8s and see the cars storm down a long straight.
When it comes to heritage, the Formula Vee class has lots of it. Founded back in 1963, it features air-cooled VW-powered open-wheel race cars. The idea being it would be an affordable style of racing.
Not only was watching the Formula Vee cars on the track fun, but when the top drivers pulled up for the award ceremony after the race, they couldn’t contain their excitement. They looked like they had about the most fun you could have racing.
After the Formula Vee race, a man next to me told me the story of one of the cars in the winner’s circle. He had built that car decades ago at his in-laws but had stopped racing at age 79. It’s not every day you get a firsthand account of a racecar’s history.
Later came the NASCARs, representing 20 years of cars, from 1987 to 2007. A NASCAR Pickup even competed.
The winner, with a dominant lead, was professional NASCAR driver Joe Nemechek. Seeing him step out of his car up close in the winner’s circle was a definite highlight for me.
The event produced some incredible sounds. The distinct tone of a classic Austin Healey Sprite barreling down the front straightaway of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was an unforgettable experience, as was the collective rumble of a field full of NASCARs.
I’m looking forward to attending more vintage races. You never know what cars you might see. Looking for more on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? Check out my blog post about the track and museum and my blog post about my first trip to the Indianapolis 500.
The SVRA did an excellent job packing the event full of amazing racing. You can visit their website here. The Ragtime Racers did a great job bringing history to life on the track. Their website can be viewed here. Finally, you can see the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s website at this link. Did you attend the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational? Let me know in the comments!
4 responses to “The 2022 Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational”
Some great cars there at the Brickyard, Joe. What a great event to attend. Some of the older racers are reminiscent of the cars that raced on the old board tracks in the US. A racing genre I am fascinated with, ever since I found a book about this form of racing in my local public
Library back in 1968. Intetesting to see the pic of a lime green Austin Healy Sprite. I had one of those back in the day. Not much power but because it was so low to the ground it gave a great illusion of speed. Although I now live in Ireland I grew up in Birmingham, England, where these little cars were made,at the Austin factory in the Longbridge area of the city.