Indy Racing League

The 1997
Indy 500

The Circuit and the Drivers

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The Top Drivers:

Eddie Cheever

Birthdate. January 10th 1958, Phoenix, Arizona

Lives. Aspen, Colorado

Indy 500 Career. 7 starts

Highest Finish. 4th in 1992

1996 Indy 500. Recorded fastest ever race time at the Brickyard, obtaining 236.103 mph average on lap 78.

IRL Highlight. Winner of Indy 200 at Walt Disney World in January.

Drives. No.51 FIRSTPLUS TEAM CHEEVER G-FORCE/OLDSMOBILE AURORA/GOODYEAR

Experienced racer Eddie Cheever comes to Indianapolis this year as one of the favourites to win the Borg-Warner Trophy.

A former Grand Prix driver for teams such as Tyrrell, Arrows, Alfa Romeo and Ligier, Cheever won the Indy 200 at Walt Disney World in January - the first event for the new IRL formula.

His win in Florida was the first for an owner/driver combination in the Indy Racing League.

compiled by James Beckett

Photo Credit. FlRSTPLUS TEAM CHEEVER

 

Roberto Guerrero

Birthdate. November 16th 1958, Medellin, Colombia

Lives. San Juan Capistrano, California

Indy 500 Career. 12 starts

Highest Finish. 2nd in 1984 and 1987

1996 Indy 500. Led the most laps of the race (47) of any driver in his Pennzoil/Pagan Racing Reynard-Ford. Classified 5th despite hitting Turn 4 wall on the final lap of the race.

IRL Highlight. 5th in 1996 points standings.

Drives. No.21 PENNZOIL-PAGAN RACING DALLARA/NISSAN INFINITI/GOODYEAR

Roberto Guerrero is one of the most experienced drivers currently racing in the Indy Racing League.

A Grand Prix driver for Ensign and Theodore during 1982/1983, Guerrero made a switch to American racing the following year finishing as runner-up in his first '500'.

Second at Indy again in 1987, Guerrero won races at Phoenix and Mid-Ohio before a huge testing crash at Indy ended his season and almost his career.

Guerrero qualified for Pole Position at the 1992 Indy, and he would be a popular winner of the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing' On May 25th.

compiled by James Beckett

Photo Credit. James Beckett

Kenny Brack

Birthdate. March 21st 1966, Arvika, Sweden

Lives. Karlstad, Sweden

Indy 500 Career. 1997 will be Brack's first '500'

Highest Finish. Not applicable

1996 Indy 500. Not applicable

IRL Highlight. Led maiden IRL race at Phoenix in March.

Drives. No.4 MONSOON GALLES RACING G-FORCE/OLDSMOBILE AURORA/GOODYEAR

Kenny Brack made his IRL debut in March replacing the injured Davy Jones in the Rick Galles run Monsoon-Galles Racing G-Force car.

The Swede finished as runner-up in the FIA International F3000 Championship last season scoring three wins, two seconds and two third place finishes. Brack also tested an Arrows Formula 1 Grand Prix car through his links with Tom Walkinshaw's TWR concern.

Brack will be making his debut in the Indy 500 on May 25th and is one of five Europeans on the entry list.

compiled by James Beckett

Photo Credit. James Beckett

 

Buddy Lazier

Birthdate. October 31st 1967, Vail, Colorado

Lives. Vail, Colrado

Indy 500 Career. 4 starts

Highest Finish. 1st in 1996

1996 Indy 500. Winner of the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing' by the narrow margin of just 0.695s from Davy Jones.

IRL Highlight. Winning the maiden IRL sanctioned Indy 500.

Drives. No.91 HEMELGARN/DELTA-FAUCET/MONTANA G-FORCE/NISSAN/ FIRESTONE

Buddy Lazier dramatically won last years Indianapolis 500 by just 0.695s from the Galles Racing Lola driven by Davy Jones.

Injuries sustained in an accident at Phoenix (March 1996) left the Colorado driver with severe pain throughout the 'Month of May'.

Surgery during the winter months has returned Lazier to full fitness, although he is expected to struggle in this years classic due to the reliability of the Nissan V8 engine his car uses.

compiled by James Beckett

Photo Credit. James Beckett

 

Buzz Calkins

Birthdate. May 2nd 1971, Denver, Colorado

Lives. Denver, Colorado

Indy 500 Career. 1 start

Highest Finish. 17th in 1996

1996 Indy 500. Qualified ninth at a speed of 229.013 mph. Ran as high as sixth before brake failure forced him out.

IRL Highlight. Won the first ever Indy Racing League event the Indy 200 at Walt Disney World , Florida, in January 1996 driving a Reynard-Ford. Jointly crowned as 1996 IRL Champion with AJ Foyt Enterprise driver Scott Sharp.

Drives. No.12 BRADLEY FOOD MARTS G-FORCE/OLDSMOBILE AURORA/GOODYEAR

Buzz Calkins made the step into Indianapolis-style cars when the IRL broke cover at the beginning of 1996.

The Denver driver entered the record-books by winning the first ever IRL event in a family run Reynard-Ford, and his sixth place finish in the Dura-Lube 200 at Phoenix allowed him to jointly claim the first ever IRL Drivers Championship.

compiled by James Beckett

Photo Credit. Bradley Motorsports

Jim Guthrie

Birthdate. September 13th 1961, Gadsden, Alabama

Lives. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Indy 500 Career. 1 start

Highest Finish. 18th in 1996

1996 Indy 500. Passed Drivers Test on Day 3 in Blueprint Racing entry. Started the race in nineteenth, ran twelfth before engine problems forced him out on lap 144.

IRL Highlight. winning the Dura-Lube 200 at the Phoenix International Raceway in March.

Drives. No. 27 BLUEPRINT RACING DALLARA/OLDSMOBILE AURORA/FIRESTONE

Jim Guthrie arrives at Indy fresh from his first Indianapolis-style car victory in the Dura-Lube 200 at the Phoenix International Raceway - the fourth round of the 1996/97 IRL Championship.

Racing for the underfinanced Blueprint team, Guthrie's victory was the first in the Indy Racing League for the Italian marque Dallara. The IR7 chassis powered by an Oldsmobile Aurora V8 engine.

For Indianapolis both Guthrie and Blueprint will be backed by the Jacuzzi company. Manufacturers of the famous baths that bubble !

compiled by James Beckett

Photo Credit. James Beckett

 

Eliseo Salazar

Birthdate. November 15th 1955, Santiago, Chile

Lives. Santiago, Chile

Indy 500 Career. 2 starts

Highest Finish. 4th in 1995

1996 Indy 500. Started from outside of front row. Involved in Turn 4 final lap accident with Zampedri and Guerrero.

IRL Highlight. First driver to test 1997 specification Dallara/Oldsmobile.

Drives. No.7 CRISTAL/COPEC/SCANDIA DALLARA/OLDSMOBILE AURORA/GOODYEAR

You may have seen Salazar on BBC's 'A Question of Sport' in the 'What happened next' section when Nelson Piquet punched and kicked him following their collision in the 1982 German Grand Prix.

Salazar has raced all forms of cars from saloons, Formula 3, Formula 3000, Sportscars and of course Formula 1.

A hugely experienced campaigner, Salazar returns to Indianapolis having just racovered from a hip breaking accident in pre-season testing at the Walt Disney World Speedway in Florida.

compiled by James Beckett

Photo Credit. James Beckett

 

Tony Stewart

Birthdate. May 20th 1971

Lives. Rushville, Indiana

Indy 500. Career. 1 start

Highest Finish. 24th in 1996

1996 Indy 500. Started from Pole Position following the death of team-mate and fastest qualifier Scott Brayton. Led forty-four laps before engine problems forced him out.

IRL Highlight. Lapping at 237.336 mph on Day 3 of 1996 USAC Rookie Orientation Programme - second fastest of the entire month.

Drives. No.2 GLIDDEN/MENARDS/SPECIAL G-FORCE/OLDSMOBILE AURORA/GOODYEAR

Tony Stewart has been the discovery of the IRL. A USAC Midget Championship star, Stewart joined the IRL with John Menard's team in January 1996.

Stewart has yet to win an IRL race although he has set the pace at practically every event.

Driving a Glidden/Menard/Special G-Force/Olds Stewart has recorded the fastest pre-Indy 500 speed around the Brickyard at 218.436 mph.

compiled by James Beckett

Photo Credit James Beckett

 

Vincenzo Sospiri

Birthdate. October 7th 1966, Italy

Lives. Monte Carlo, Monaco

Indy 500 Career. No starts

Highest Finish. Not applicable

1996 Indy 500. Not applicable

IRL Highlight. Speeding through first four stages of USAC 'Rookie Test' with ease during Day 2 of 1997 'Month of May' in a Team Scandia Dallara.

Drives. No. 8 SCANDIA ROYAL PURPLE ALTA XCEL DALLARA/ OLDSMOBILE AURORA/GOODYEAR

Vincenzo Sospiri started the season as a Grand Prix driver with the Mastercard Lola team. However financial problems forced the team to quit Fl after just one Grand Prix, leaving the 1995 FIA International F3000 Champion without a drive.

Sospiri tested a Lola for Scandia last year at Indianapolis and returns to the 'Brickyard' with the same team for his first '500' assault.

The experienced campaigner, although still only thirty-years-old, is Europe's best hope of winning the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing' for along time.

compiled by James Beckett

Photo Credit James Beckett

 

Affonso Giaffone

Name. AFFONSO GIAFFONE

Birthdate. April 6th 1968, Santos, Brazil

Lives. Sao Paulo, Brazil

Indy 500 Career. 1997 will be Giaffone's first start in the 'Greatest Spectacle'.

Highest Finish. Not applicable

IRL Highlight. Highest finishing rookie in the Las Vegas 500K.

Drives. No.17 GENERAL MOTORS OF BRAZIL/CHITWOOD DALLARA/ OLDSMOBILE AURORA/GOODYEAR

Giaffone arrives at Indy having contested just two IRL events.

A tenth place finish at Las Vegas last September, and a thirteenth at Phoenix in March being his two results to-date.

The radio-controlled aircraft enthusiast has also raced in Formula Ford, Formula Vauxhall, Indy Lights and was the South American F3 Champion in 1991.

compiled by James Beckett

Photo Credit James Beckett

Circuit History

 

INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY BACKGROUND.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts the 81st running of the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing' on May 25th.

Built on 328 acres of farmland, five miles northwest of Indiana's capital city in the spring of 1909, the Speedway was financed by four local businessmen.

Planned as a year round testing facility for Indiana's rapidly growing motor industry, the track was constructed using banked turns linked together by two main straights.

The surface of crushed rock and tar however proved to be disastrous at the opening racing event in August 1909, and so 3,200,000 paving bricks were laid or their sides in a bed of sand , fixed with cement, to inspire the name 'The Brickyard'.

For 1911 Organisers planned a single event 1 and hosted on Memorial Day, if would feature a race held over a 500 mile distance with the winner claiming a huge $14,250 prize-the Indy 500 was born.

The race continues to this day, having only failed to take place in years that saw America involved in the two World Wars.

Tarmac was applied to the track in 1936, with the whole 2. 5 miles becoming paved by 1961-with only ayard of bricks at the start/finish line to remind racers of the circuit's history.

Acquired in 1927 by World War 1 flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker, a Competitor in the '500', he installed a golf course on the infield, which today hosts Senior PGA Tour matches.

However, when the Second World War started. the Speedway war left to become overgrown , and was purcha5ed, in 1949 ,by Terre Haute, Indiana, and businessman Anton Itony 1 Hulman jnr.

Hulman transformed the Speedway, spreading the name of the Indianapolis 500 across the globe.

Following his death in 1977, the day to day running was taken over by members of his family and his grandson, Tony George-the President of the IMS, is the father figure of the Indy Racing League.

This year's '500' is the second running under the IRL banner, and the first for the new specification IRL cars.

James Beckett

 

Page and graphics designed and laid out by David Coveney

 

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