Tag Archives: racing

The 2022 Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational

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.

A Chevy Corvette makes its way around the road course

On Sunday, the pace car for the races was driven by Indy racing royalty and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser, Jr.

The Track

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.

A car takes the first turn of the course
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Spectators have several options when watching the road races. Along with the grandstands, several hills provide a vantage point to corners on the track.

Picture by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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.

A line of early 20th century racecars
This 1916 racecar features an aluminum V-8 aircraft engine
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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.

A mid-engine car on display
Plenty of racing history could be seen at the event

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.

Classic roadsters on display
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The Races

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.

An Austin Healy Sprite, an iconic British sports car, crosses the famous bricks.
A classic MG heads down the front straight
A classic Mercedes Benz heads down the track

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.

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A classic Mustang charges down a straightaway
It was fun seeing classic cars competing on the track

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.

Formula Vees getting ready to take to the track

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.

A Formula Vee racecar waiting to race

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.

Drivers preparing to take to the track
Drivers coming across the start/finish line

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.

Professional NASCAR driver Joe Nemechek in the winner’s circle.
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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.

Wrapping Up

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”

  1. Joe Rothpearl Avatar

    Very Cool!!! Feel like I was there with you. Thank you for bringing the show to me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joe Avatar

      Thank you for checking it out! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Like

  2. John Cunningham Avatar

    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.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joe Avatar

    It is always good to hear from you John. I had a great time at the races. I’ve always liked the Sprites. They look like they would be a lot of fun to drive.
    I actually went to Ireland for the first time a few months ago for a vacation. I loved every minute of it and cannot wait to go back.

    Like

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The 2022 Pontiac Nationals

An overview of the 2022 Pontiac Nationals

The 2021 PRI Show

A guide to the closed-to-the-general-public 2021 Performance Racing Industry Trade Show.

The 2021 Madison Regatta

The Madison Regatta, an annual boat race held on the Ohio River in the small river city of Madison, Indiana, had its 67th running in July 2021. It has been run almost every year since 1951, with boat racing in Madison going back decades before that.

The city of Madison has a unique connection with boat racing outside of hosting races; since 1961, the city has owned a race boat. Miss Madison, as the boats are known, has won the Regatta several times over the years. Madison currently has two race boats.

An H1 boat gets work on onshore.


The Event

The Regatta is a three-day boat race complete with a music festival. I had a chance to attend both this year. The Roostertail Music Festival is held at a park just outside of downtown Madison at an outdoor concert venue. For the Regatta, the road along the river becomes a spectator area complete with vendors and a concert stage.

People wear shirts that say, “You Gotta Regatta,” and a couple was even married there (it was broadcast over the PA System).

The Boats

The 2021 Madison Regatta featured two boat racing organizations: Grand Prix America and H1 Unlimited (which Miss Madison competes in). Grand Prix America boats run blown 468-cubic inch Big Block Chevys with around 1,600 horsepower. Most H1 Unlimited boats are powered by Viet Nam War-era turbine helicopter motors with around an astonishing 2,600 horsepower. That’s the kind of horsepower you’d expect to find at a dragstrip.

An H1 boat heads to the first turn.

Both classes of boats have enclosed cockpits. When the Grand Prix America boats are on the water, it sounds like a dragstrip. When the H1 Unlimited Boats are on the water, it sounds like an airport.

A GPA boat. Note the exhaust tips on the side.


The Course

Both H1 Unlimited and Grand Prix America boats race in a counter-clockwise oval course on the river. The Grand Prix America Boats run a shorter course, while the course for the H1 Unlimited Boats extends under a nearby bridge that connects Indiana to Kentucky. The course is marked by different color buoys that signify the boundaries of corners and straights.

Two H1 boats battle it out.

The Race

The event takes place over three days, with qualifying and several races. This year, the drivers and officials had to contend with higher-than-normal water levels. Heavy rain northeast of Madison (where the Ohio River flows from) caused the river to rise.

Before each race, the boats are lowered into the water by crane and placed at the wet pit (set up just for the event.) Then, they’re held to the dock by crew members until it is time to talk off.

When you’re on the water, a standing start isn’t easy. The H1 Unlimited and Grand Prix America boats utilize a unique “rolling” start.

Before the race gets underway, a timer counts down from 5 minutes. Then, the boats do laps around the course until the timer hits zero. After that, the person who crosses the start/finish line first starts the race. Watching the boats go into the first turn together was a rush.

With the “rolling” start, the competitor closest to the start/finish line with the most speed built up has the best start. Timing is everything. In one instance, a competitor misjudged the timer and got too close to the starting line only to have to slow down (and got overtaken.) This kind of start means the competitors can get spread out before the race begins.

Each heat consists of several laps and lasts for a few minutes. In between rounds, a safety boat made passes on the water, looking for logs and other stuff floating down the river that could get in the way of boats.

Between the other competitors, limited visibility from rooster tails, and the wake of other machines, racers have their hands full. Debris proved to be a real threat as one boat had its hull pieced by something floating down the river.

The Final Heat

In the H1 class’s 5-lap final heat, the field of 5 boats saw 3, including Miss HomeStreet “Miss Madison,” neck and neck at the start. At the end of the first turn Miss HomeStreet on the inside and in the lead. The second time into the first turn, only one boat was keeping up with her.

Jimmy Shane held his own, despite a persistent competitor behind him. Lap after lap, he held onto the lead. In the end, it was Jimmy Shane and Miss HomeStreet, a.k.a. Miss Madison, the hometown favorite.

The final H1 Heat

More information and Wrapping Up

The Madison Regatta was a motorsports event unlike any I’ve ever attended. For more information on the Regatta you can visit their official website. You can visit Grand Prix America’s office Facebook page. For more information on the H1 Hydro Series head over to their website.  Have you been to the Regatta or know of an event I should go to next? Let me know in the comments!