INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2021) – Veteran radio and television broadcaster Bob Jenkins, a former “Voice of the 500” inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame in 2019, died Aug. 9 at age 73 after a valiant fight with cancer.

The voice of the Liberty, Indiana, native was heard globally over five decades on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network, serving several positions, including chief announcer from 1990 through 1998. Jenkins was one of only four people to serve as television play-by-play announcer in ABC’s 54-year history of broadcasting the Indianapolis 500.

With an easygoing, friendly style that mirrored his personality, the beloved and respected Jenkins anchored NTT INDYCAR SERIES races on television and was a frequent contributor to the public address system at IMS. Jenkins also was a frequent master of ceremonies at “500”-related functions, including the Indianapolis 500 Victory Celebration.

In one form or another, Jenkins was connected to IMS for more than 40 years, and his most familiar call was the thrilling finish of the 1992 race between Al Unser Jr. and Scott Goodyear.

“The checkered flag is out, Goodyear makes a move, Little Al wins by just a few tenths of a second, perhaps the closest finish in the history of the Indianapolis 500,” Jenkins said on radio, his baritone voice climbing a few octaves.

The victory margin of .043 of a second remains the closest finish in the race’s 105-year history.

Jenkins attended his first “500” in 1960 and said he had only missed two races since – in 1961 when he couldn’t get anyone to take him, and in 1965 when he was on a trip as a high school senior. He came to the track last May while fighting his illness to receive the Robin Miller Award, where he made a brief, poignant acceptance speech and was warmly received by a large group of friends and admirers from the racing community and media.

Indiana University graduate Jenkins turned his love of music into a job in radio, first as a news reporter at stations in Fort Wayne and Valparaiso and then at WIRE in Indianapolis as the co-anchor of a nationally syndicated farm news show “AgDay.”

Jenkins, who had attended Indiana dirt-track races with his father, landed his first position in motorsports in 1979 as the backstretch announcer on the IMS Radio Network. His friend Paul Page, a member of that broadcast team and an employee at rival WIBC, helped him land the job. Later, Page helped Jenkins start the USAC Radio Network.

Jenkins was one of the first on-air employees of ESPN when it launched in 1979. For more than 20 years, he was the lead voice of NASCAR races for ESPN and occasionally ABC, including the first seven Brickyard 400s at IMS. His pairing with former stock car drivers Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons became one of the popular trios in motorsports broadcasting history.

If there was a form of motorsports on U.S. television, Jenkins likely was involved with it at some point in his career.

Along with his NASCAR and IMS work, Jenkins anchored for the Indianapolis-based company that produced ESPN’s popular “Thunder” series broadcasts of USAC Sprint Car and Midget series races, and he was the host of “SpeedWeek” on ESPN.

Jenkins’ voice was used in several motorsports video games and films, including NASCAR-centric “Days of Thunder” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.”

Jenkins was a colon cancer survivor in the 1980s and retired from television in 2012 to care for his wife, Pam, who had her own cancer battle. She died that October. In February 2021, Jenkins revealed he had been diagnosed with two malignant tumors behind his right temple following a severe headache on Christmas night.

The track build for the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, the first new temporary street course circuit on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule in a decade, is taking shape for the highly anticipated Aug. 6-8 motorsports weekend in downtown Nashville.

Nearly 75 percent of the 2,000 12-foot sections of a brand-new barrier and fencing modular system are in place on the 2.17-mile layout as work continues this week between 8 p.m.-5 a.m. on the 18-day, Sunday-through-Thursday construction calendar. The state-of-the-art, energy-absorbing system, which meets all the most recent FIA testing requirements, will line the layout that includes the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge and the campus of Nissan Stadium.

The coming days also will include continued improvements such as grinding transitions, adding new expansion joints to the bridge, erecting crossover bridges and releveling manhole covers before they are welded shut during race week. Other significant prior work on the layout included a complete repave for the pit lane area, including entry and exit, as well as creating concrete pit boxes to accommodate up to 30 cars if needed.

The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix is among four temporary street circuit venues on the 2021 schedule – joining St. Petersburg, Detroit and Long Beach – but will be the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ first new temporary street course event since 2011 when the Grand Prix of Baltimore made its debut. The layout and build are being spearheaded by NZR Consulting Principal Tony Cotman, a veteran track designer and builder of temporary street courses.

The signature segment of the 11-turn layout will be the cars racing across the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge, which stretches across the Cumberland River and connects East Nashville with downtown.

“While running over a bridge may be different or new, at the end of the day you are just purely building a racetrack,” Cotman said. “In this situation, the track goes down one side (of the bridge) and then the other, and it will certainly showcase the city of Nashville well. When you see that bridge, you will know where this race is from anywhere in the world.”

So how did Nashville’s iconic bridge wind up in the downtown layout? The proposed course was established from the outset that the Tennessee Titans and Nissan Stadium were going to be vital partners in this event coming to fruition.

“Early on, we were aware that a significant portion of the track was going to involve the Titans’ stadium, not only the track but pit lane as well since there were not a lot of areas that could handle that footprint,” Cotman said. “So, we started on the Titans’ side of the river and branched out looking for straights and the bridge came into play due to the lengths of the straightaways. They are about 3,400 to 3,500 feet in length, which is equivalent to the frontstretch at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The bridge also could present passing opportunities for drivers.

“If a driver gets a better corner exit than another, you will be able to overtake them especially with the width of the track over the bridge,” Cotman said. “Forty feet is the typical width of a racetrack, and we are 40 feet wide on each side.”

However, the prime passing opportunities, according to Cotman, may be Turns 4, 9 and 10, the latter two being left-handers after coming off the bridge straightway.

“That first corner (9) coming off the bridge is as wide as Cleveland and fast with a massive run-off area, so drivers will be enticed, especially with multiple lines into the corner,” said Cotman, referring to the old street circuit that was run on the expansive runways of Burke Lakefront Airport. “Then you have a straightaway from Turn 9 heading into Turn 10 that could be another location for overtaking.”

One of the aspects that Cotman relishes about this layout is the spectator viewing from various grandstands.

“You can’t get away from the uniqueness of the bridge and what it brings,” Cotman said. “Two of the high points are when you see the bridge you know exactly where the race is, and number two is the viewing locations coming off that bridge. Due to the shape of the street and width as well as the barrier locations, there are some great viewing opportunities coming off the bridge.

“Overall, you can see a lot of action from different grandstands, and we really want to put on a good show for the fans. With this being a new event and the teams have no data to fall back on usually makes for a good event.”

On-track action begins Friday, Aug. 6, including the opening NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice at 4:10 p.m. (ET). The weekend culminates Sunday, Aug. 8, with the running of the 80-lap Big Machine Music City Grand Prix NTT INDYCAR SERIES race beginning at 5:30 p.m. (NBCSN).

For more information on the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, visit musiccitygp.com or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @musiccitygp. Limited single-day grandstand tickets, general admission tickets and festival add-ons are available at http://www.musiccitygp.com/tickets or by calling the Tennessee Titans’ ticket office at 615-565-4650.

Indianapolis (Thursday, July 22, 2021) – Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott and NTT INDYCAR SERIES veteran Conor Daly were named to drive entries in the third Driven2SaveLives BC39 Powered by NOS Energy Drink on Aug. 18-19 at The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Elliott will compete in the United States Auto Club (USAC) NOS Energy Drink National Midget Championship event for the first time. He will drive the No. 9 entry fielded by Paul May Motorsports.

Eight-time Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge starter Daly raced in 2018 and 2019 in this event on the quarter-mile dirt track inside Turn 3 of IMS. The event didn’t take place in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year Daly will drive the No. 47D entry fielded by Diaedge Racing.

Tickets are on sale now at IMS.com/BC39. Reserved seat ticket prices for qualifying and the feature event Thursday, Aug. 19 start at $35, the same price as in 2019.

Elliott, 25, earned his first Cup Series championship last season with Hendrick Motorsports. He is fifth in the Cup Series standings this season with two victories, qualifying him for the NASCAR Playoffs for all six seasons of his full-time Cup career.

Georgia native Elliott made two USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget starts in February at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida, finishing 14th and 18th. Elliott also raced in the prestigious Chili Bowl Nationals in January.

Daly, 29, from Noblesville, Indiana, is a two-time veteran of the Chili Bowl, racing in the indoor classic in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2019 and 2020.

The BC39 event on the quarter-mile dirt oval inside Turn 3 at IMS will continue to honor late USAC champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 starter Bryan Clauson and increase awareness of and participation in the Indiana Donor Network and Driven2SaveLives.

This year’s Driven2SaveLives BC39 Powered by NOS Energy Drink also will be the conclusion of nearly a week of exciting action on the road course and The Dirt Track at IMS. The NASCAR-INDYCAR tripleheader takes place Aug. 13-15, with the Big Machine Spiked Coolers for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard for the NASCAR Xfinity Series on Saturday, Aug. 14 and the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard for the NASCAR Cup Series on the IMS road course for the first time Sunday, Aug. 15.

INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, June 2, 2021) – The BC39 is back.

Exciting United States Auto Club (USAC) NOS Energy Drink National Midget Championship racing will return Wednesday, Aug. 18 and Thursday, Aug. 19 to The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the third Driven2SaveLives BC39 Powered by NOS Energy Drink. The event is back for its third running after a hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in a new calendar slot – the week after the NASCAR-INDYCAR tripleheader at IMS.

Tickets will go on sale soon, with information available at IMS.com/BC39. Reserved seat ticket prices for qualifying and the feature event Thursday, Aug. 19 will start at $35, the same price as in 2019.

“Everyone missed the wheel-to-wheel action of the BC39 last year, and race fans have asked us since last summer when it’s returning to the schedule,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “It’s back – and better than ever. We can’t wait.

“This event delivers two nights of some of the most exciting racing you can see anywhere, and it also raises awareness for such an important cause, the Indiana Donor Network and Driven2SaveLives. We also appreciate the continued support and promotion of USAC Midget racing and the BC39 by NOS Energy Drink.”

The event on the quarter-mile dirt oval inside Turn 3 at IMS will continue to honor late USAC champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 starter Bryan Clauson and increase awareness of and participation in the Indiana Donor Network and Driven2SaveLives.

“Everyone at Indiana Donor Network and Driven2SaveLives is thrilled to see the BC39 return to its rightful place on the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget schedule,” said Taylor McLean, Bryan Clauson’s sister and marketing program specialist at Indiana Donor Network. “The Driven2SaveLives BC39 has not only become a destination event for teams but also a place for race fans to honor Bryan and share how their lives have been impacted by organ donation and transplantation. We cannot wait to celebrate not only Bryan’s legacy, but the legacy of all of those who decided to say yes.”

Fans also can visit IMS.com/BC39 for more information about pit passes, camping and prepaid parking.

This year’s Driven2SaveLives BC39 Powered by NOS Energy Drink also will be the conclusion of nearly a week of exciting action on the road course and The Dirt Track at IMS. The NASCAR-INDYCAR tripleheader takes place Aug. 13-15, with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and NASCAR Xfinity Series conducting separate races Saturday, Aug. 14 and the NASCAR Cup Series racing on the IMS road course for the first time Sunday, Aug. 15.

Visit IMS.com for more information on tickets to all IMS events in 2021.

Image  —  Posted: May 29, 2021 in Uncategorized

INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, May 28, 2021) – The logo for the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge captures one of the most visible and beloved traditions of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” – the winner’s wreath.

The 106th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 29, 2022.

Bold burgundy and gold colors highlight the design that features the wreath presented to every Indianapolis 500 winner in Victory Circle since 1960, when Jim Rathmann triumphed after an epic duel with Rodger Ward.

The core of the design remains the continuation of the type lock-up introduced with the unveiling in May 2018 of the logo for the 103rd Running of the race. This lock-up creates a strong, consistent annual brand appearance for the event, made unique by various new elements each year.

As in recent years, the wordmark leans forward, representing speed and a never-ending commitment to progress. That design is placed over a new shield of dark red.

A gold line encircles the burgundy shield and white wordmark, with the wreath leaves also in gold. The timeless legacy of the “500” and IMS also is saluted through the inclusion of the famous Wing and Wheel logo of the track.

The original winner’s wreath featured “exotic-looking” dark yellow and brown flowers. It was created by Indianapolis-based florist Bill Cronin, who was a consultant for the Rose Bowl parade and 500 Festival parade.

In 1989, the current wreath design was created by adding 33 ivory-colored cymbidium orchids with burgundy tips (representing each of the cars in the starting field of the race), red, white and blue ribbon, checkered flags and a base of cedar blocks inscribed with “BorgWarner.”

Julie Harman Vance, the owner of the Buck Creek In Bloom flower shop in Yorktown, Indiana, has made the wreath every year since 1992.

INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, May 27, 2021) – Fans attending the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 30 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway are encouraged to “Plan Ahead” through IMS.com/PlanAhead, an interactive web page that serves as a home base for fans headed to the track this weekend.

The “Plan Ahead” page features detailed information about the entire fan experience at IMS, including directions, parking, schedule, gate regulations, digital ticket and parking guide, ADA accessibility and much more.

Additionally, IMS.com/PlanAhead highlights several key health-and-safety measures being enforced to protect fans, participants, workforce and the broader community. These measures have been developed in consultation with health experts and city/state officials.

There will be horizontal spacing between customer groups in the grandstands. IMS will have cleaning and sanitation processes in place, with hand sanitizer and washing stations readily available. Face coverings must be worn at IMS per the most recent Marion County Public Health order and the event procedures agreement between IMS and local officials.

More Fan Information

All Speedway patrons should be aware of the following to ensure a successful day at the track:

Public Parking:

Parking for the Indianapolis 500 is available in a variety of locations around the track, and infield parking is not available this year. Parking must be purchased in advance. Race fans can visit IMS.com to purchase available parking passes, limited inventory available.

North Zone parking areas are accessible from 30th Street, Lafayette Road and I-465 via 38th Street exit.

  • Parking areas are: Lot 1A, Lot 1B, Lot 1C, Lot 4, Lot 4 Premium and Lot 7 (North 40)

West Zone parking areas are accessible from Crawfordsville Road and I-465 via Crawfordsville Road exit.

  • Parking areas are: Lot 2, Lot 5, Lot 6, Lot 8, Lot 9 and Gate 1

South Zone parking areas are accessible from 10th Street, Crawfordsville Road and 16th Street.

  • Parking areas are: Lot 3G, Lot 3P and Main Gate

Cashless Operations:

All IMS concession stands and merchandise locations are cashless this year. Tap-to-pay phone payments will be accepted, as will credit and debit transactions. Cash-to-Card machines, which convert paper money onto a temporary debit card, will be located throughout the facility. These funds can be spent inside the venue, outside the venue, online or anywhere in the world where Mastercard/Visa debit cards are accepted.

Pedestrian Gate Entry:

Public pedestrian gates open are: Gate 1, Gate 1B.1, Gate 1C, Gate 2, Gate 3, Gate 4, Gate 5B, Gate 6N, Gate 6S, Gate 6B, Gate 7S, Gate 7 Vehicle, Gate 9, Gate 9A, Gate 10, Gate 10A, Gate 11A, Gate 11B, Gate 11C, Gate 12

IMS Museum:

The IMS Museum, located inside Gate 2 of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, will be open from 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $14 for guests over the age of 62 and $8 for guests ages 6-15. Children 5 and under and Museum members are free.

Race fans can walk to the IMS Museum from the Speedway’s infield, and a free shuttle will run between the IMS Museum and tram stops located at 6th & Hulman and Tunnel 10. Pedestrians on the south end of the racetrack can access the IMS Museum via Gate 2.

IMS Museum visitors must possess an event ticket or credential to enter the Museum. Gate 2 will not be open for parking at the Museum.

Digital Tickets:

Digital tickets can be accessed on the IMS App or on their smart phone’s web browser. Fans are encouraged to ensure the brightness on their smartphone is turned up before approaching the gate for a seamless scanning of their digital ticket. Race fans are also encouraged to visit the IMS Digital Ticket guide to manage their digital tickets and enhance their at-track experience.

Weekend Street Parking:

Race event parking restrictions in the Town of Speedway will be enforced during the Indianapolis 500. No parking will be allowed on the south and east sides of any street bound by 25th Street on the north, Georgetown Road on the east, Lynhurst Drive on the west and Crawfordsville Road on the south from 6 p.m. Thursday through 8 p.m. Sunday. Additionally, race fans will not be able to park on Main Street in Speedway between 10th Street and 16th Street on Race Day starting at midnight.

Road Closures:

Race fans should be aware of multiple road closures before making their way to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Race Day. Those include:

  • Speedway Police Department will close Georgetown Road at 7 a.m. on Race Day to all vehicular traffic. Guests accustomed to entering Gate 7 should enter through Gate 2 or Gate 10. Local residents are encouraged to make provisions for the temporary traffic restriction. Georgetown Road will remain closed until approximately one hour after the race.
  • Speedway Police Department also will close 16th Street between Olin Avenue and the roundabout from approximately noon until the end of the race. Additionally, 16th Street will not be accessible from Polco Street, as it will be blocked at 10th Street.
  • The Indiana Department of Transportation is reconstructing the I-65/I-70 interchange between the north split and Washington Street in downtown Indianapolis. I-70 eastbound and westbound traffic will be routed around I-465. I-65 northbound and southbound traffic will be routed through the South Split, I-70 and I-465. Drivers southbound on I-65 will not be able to enter westbound I-70, and drivers northbound on I-65 will not be able to enter eastbound I-70.

Additional Resources and Information

Drivers can learn the locations of work zones and highway restrictions by calling INDOT’s TrafficWise at 1-800-261-ROAD (7623) or viewing an online map at pws.trafficwise.org or visiting @TrafficWise on Twitter.

No coolers larger than 18 inches by 14 inches by 14 inches can be brought into the facility, which will be strictly enforced. Fans will be allowed to bring one cooler and one standard backpack or book bag per person.

For more information regarding access to IMS, visit IMS.com. For additional information, follow on Twitter the Indiana State Police @IndStatePolice, the Speedway Police Department @SpeedwayPD or listen to radio stations WFNI-FM 107.5/WFNI-AM 1070 or WIBC-FM 93.1.

The Speedway Police Department can be reached for non-emergency services by dialing 311 on a cell phone. The goal of 311 is to provide an easy-to-remember number for non-emergency services while freeing up 911 lines for timely emergency response.

… from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Image  —  Posted: May 4, 2021 in Uncategorized

INDIANAPOLIS (Monday, May 3, 2021) – Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser, one of the most colorful, outspoken and popular drivers in the history of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” died Sunday, May 2 at his New Mexico home. He was 87.

Unser won the Indianapolis 500 in 1968, 1975 and 1981. He is one of just 10 drivers to win the “500” at least three times and is a member of numerous motorsports Halls of Fame, including induction into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame in 1990. Unser and Rick Mears are the only drivers to win the “500” in three different decades.

He was one of six members of the Unser family to race in the Indianapolis 500. Bobby and his brother Al, a four-time winner, are the only brothers to win the race.

Bobby Unser also was renowned and admired for his work in and out of the cockpit before his Indianapolis 500 and INDYCAR driving career started and after it ended. He dominated the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb before he ever turned a lap at Indianapolis, and he was a popular INDYCAR color analyst on national telecasts in the 1980s and 1990s after retiring as a driver.

Unser was born Feb. 20, 1934 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the third of four brothers. When he was 1, his family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico – the city forever associated with the Unser family racing dynasty.

In 1949, Unser started racing at Roswell (New Mexico) Speedway. In 1950, he raced at Speedway Park in Albuquerque and won his first championship in Southwestern Modified Stock Cars. After serving in the U.S. Air Force from 1953-55, Unser and his brothers Jerry and Al decided to pursue racing careers in United States Auto Club (USAC) competition.

Bobby Unser raced successfully in USAC Sprint Car, Midget and Stock Car competition. He earned seven career USAC Sprint Car feature victories and placed third in the standings in 1965 and 1966. He also won six USAC Stock Car races and three USAC Midget features.

Unser’s career in Indy cars started in the end of the 1962 season. He spent three years driving Novi-engined cars for Andy Granatelli, including the No. 6 Hotel Tropicana, Las Vegas Kurtis/Novi roadster in which he qualified 16th and finished 33rd and last as an Indianapolis 500 rookie in 1963. Unser’s day ended after completing just two laps due to an accident.

In fact, Unser’s first two career Indy starts gave no indication of his future success. After completing two laps and finishing last as a rookie in 1963, he completed just one lap in 1964 and was credited with 32nd place in the four-wheel-drive No. 9 Studebaker-STP Ferguson/Novi fielded by Granatelli, getting caught in the multi-car accident that claimed the lives of Dave MacDonald and Eddie Sachs.

Unser earned his first career top-10 finish at Indy by placing eighth after starting 28th in 1966 for Gordon van Liew’s team. In 1967, he moved to Bob Wilke’s Leader Card team for a four-year stint, which resulted in even greater fortune at Indianapolis and on the USAC Championship Trail.

Unser earned his first Indianapolis 500 victory in 1968 in the No. 3 Rislone Eagle/Offy, one of the most iconic and beautiful rear-engine cars in Indianapolis 500 history. His first spot on the Borg-Warner Trophy came after a spirited duel with Joe Leonard in one of Granatelli’s famous STP Lotus cars powered by a Pratt & Whitney helicopter turbine engine. Unser led 118 of the first 191 laps but was running second to Leonard when Leonard’s fuel shaft broke on Lap 192, with Unser powering past for his first “500” victory.

Later that year, Unser won the first of his two USAC National Championships, ending the season with five victories and edging Mario Andretti by a scant 11 points.

In 1972, Unser earned the first of his two Indianapolis 500 poles during his successful five-year partnership with Dan Gurney’s All American Racers. Speeds skyrocketed that year with the legalization of bolt-on wings to chassis, and no one took better advantage than Unser. His four-lap record qualifying average speed of 195.940 mph in the No. 6 Olsonite Eagle was more than 17 mph faster than Peter Revson’s pole speed from the previous year – the largest year-to-year increase in “500” history.

Unser won his second and final USAC National Championship in 1974 after finishing runner-up to Johnny Rutherford in the Indy 500.

In 1975, Unser won the Indianapolis 500 for the second time, driving the No. 48 Jorgensen Eagle fielded by Gurney’s team. Unser led only 11 laps, taking the top spot from Rutherford on Lap 165 and holding it until the race was ended by a downpour on Lap 174 of the 200 schedule laps.

He drove for Fletcher Racing in 1976 and 1977, returning to Gurney’s All American Racers for one season in 1978.

Unser joined Team Penske in 1979 for the start of a three-year stint in which he won 11 races and finished second in the CART standings in 1979 and 1980.

But perhaps his most famous race during his Penske tenure was the 1981 Indianapolis 500, which he won from the pole in one of the most controversial and contentious outcomes in the event’s storied history.

Unser beat Mario Andretti to the finish by 5.18 seconds in the No. 3 Norton Spirit, but USAC officials ruled Unser passed cars illegally while exiting the pit lane during a caution on Lap 149. Unser was penalized one position, with Andretti elevated to the winner.

But after a lengthy protest and appeals process, Unser’s penalty was rescinded, and he was declared the winner of the race Oct. 9, 1981. That victory became the last of Unser’s storied INDYCAR career, as he skipped the 1982 CART season to serve as driver coach for Josele Garza and decided against a planned comeback in 1983 with Patrick Racing.

He finished his career with 35 career INDYCAR victories and two championships among his eight top-three finishes in the season points.

Unser ended his driving career as one of the greatest performers in the history of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

He produced 10 top-10 finishes in 19 career “500” starts. Unser led in 10 races for a total of 440 laps, still 10th on the all-time list.

Unser’s nine front-row starts included poles in 1972 and 1981. His speed in qualifying at the Speedway was exceptional, as he was one of the 12 fastest drivers in 18 of his 19 starts. Fourteen of his 19 starts came from the first three rows.

While those statistics are among the greatest in Indy history, Unser produced even more eye-popping numbers at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, nicknamed “Unser Mountain” due to his family’s success in the longtime race in Colorado Springs. Unser won 13 class titles at Pikes Peak and earned “King of the Mountain” honors 10 times during his career as the fastest driver overall up the famed mountain, tops among the racing Unser family that dominated this event.

Unser also had a keen engineering mind that always searched for a technical advantage over his rivals. He sometimes would call his crew chief well after midnight with an idea for chassis setup or another technical issue, and his prowess as a test driver was highly regarded because he turned every lap at the car’s limit.

Every angle was pursued by Unser when it came to trying to find the edge against his foes. Team owner Jim Hall’s famous Chaparral chassis – the first Indy car with ground-effects aerodynamics underneath the car – got upside-down when Rutherford crashed in 1980 in the CART season finale at Phoenix. Unser learned of a photographer who took pictures of the closely guarded aero channels and tunnels beneath the car, and he obtained the photos, which were used in the development of Team Penske’s 1981 ground-effects chassis.

After his driving career ended, Unser combined his vast racing experience and considerable skills as an outspoken raconteur to become a popular broadcaster on ABC, NBC and ESPN INDYCAR telecasts and on IMS Radio Network race broadcasts. The booth trio of play-by-play announcer Paul Page and the opinionated Unser and the erudite Sam Posey – with Unser and Posey’s styles and comments almost always contrasting and often clashing — was one of the most entertaining and popular in INDYCAR television history.

Two of Unser’s proudest moments in the TV booth came when he called the finish in 1987 with play-by-play announcer Jim Lampley as his younger brother, Al Unser, earned his record-tying fourth “500” victory and again in 1992 when he and Paul Page called the race when his nephew, Al Unser Jr., won Indy for the first time in the closest “500” finish ever.

Unser also was part of the ABC Sports broadcast team that won an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Live Sports Special” for its coverage of the 1989 Indianapolis 500.

After his TV career ended, Unser continued to visit IMS every Month of May. In 1998 and 1999, he served as driver coach and assisted with race strategy on the radio for his son Robby Unser during his two starts in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Robby finished fifth and eighth, respectively, in those two starts with his father’s help.

Fans always flocked to “Uncle Bobby” to get a picture or autograph, to share their memories or to hear one of Unser’s countless colorful stories about his career and fellow racers. He also savored spending time in the Media Center swapping tales with many veteran journalists every May, as Unser was a tireless ambassador for IMS and the Indianapolis 500 until the end of his life.

Unser is survived by his wife, Lisa; sons Bobby Jr. and Robby; and daughters Cindy and Jeri.

By: Stan Kalwasinski

Photography by: Gary Gasper

Northwest Indiana’s Paul Goldsmith raced on the sands of Daytona Beach in 1958, wheeling a 1950 Oldsmobile No. 87.  The vintage stock car was on display Friday at the Griffith-Merrillville Airport in Griffith with Goldsmith, now 95, reminiscing about those racing days. 

Some 63 years ago – February 1958, NASCAR hosted its final stock car races on the 4.1-mile beach/road course at Daytona Beach, Florida.  NASCAR headman Bill France Sr. was busy with the construction of the new Daytona International Speedway, which would be the site of NASCAR’s “Speed Week” in 1959.

Three days of racing, featuring a NASCAR modified-sportsman stock car race, a NASCAR convertible contest and the finale – a 160-mile NASCAR Grand National event on Sunday, February 23, was scheduled. 

Goldsmith, the owner of the Griffith-Merrillville Airport, raced the No. 87 car in the 125-mile modified-sportsman race at Daytona Beach on Friday, February 21, finishing fifth behind winner, Banjo Mathews.  Curtis Turner won the convertible race on Saturday.  Sunday saw Goldsmith, racing out of St. Clair Shores, Mich., at the time, win the last NASCAR stock car race on the famed beach/road course, driving his Smokey Yunick-prepared 1958 Pontiac No. 3 to the win in the NASCAR Grand National event.

“The beach was smooth but the backstretch was rough – a two-lane paved road,” commented Goldsmith years later.  “It was A1A.  If I remember, they called it the ‘jungle road.’    It was so wavy and rough, you had to have some good shock absorbers on your car.  You could feel the wheels spinning.  You could see the tach (tachometer) jumping.”

A native of West Virginia, Goldsmith, a resident of northwest Indiana since the 1960s, was a top motorcycle racer early in his speed career and has the distinction as the only racer to win on the beach at Daytona in both motorcycle and stock car competition.  Goldsmith’s last major American Motorcycle Association (AMA) victory came on the dirt at Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville, Ind., in 1955.

During his NASCAR racing career, Goldsmith won nine major races – the last coming at Bristol, Tenn., in 1966.

In addition, Goldsmith competed in the Indianapolis 500 six times with his best finish being a third in 1960.

 Paul Goldsmith and the Oldsmobile No. 87 – legends in auto racing.

Image  —  Posted: February 23, 2021 in Uncategorized

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021 – The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and INDYCAR are offering race fans a great, entertaining history lesson through rich digital content and exclusive interviews leading up to the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 30.

IMS launched today an immersive, in-depth content series chronicling the most iconic anniversaries and milestones of 2021, reminding fans that the Racing Capital of the World is the place “Where Tradition Never Stops,” a content theme with much more to come that celebrates the Indianapolis 500, GMR Grand Prix and all other Month of May events.

The first story honors one of the most recognizable traditions in Indy 500 history: the Borg-Warner Trophy, which celebrates its 85th anniversary in 2021. Each week leading up to the Month of May, IMS will release a new story surrounding some of the greatest moments, traditions and heroes in sports. Subjects include the trailblazing tales of Willy T. Ribbs and Janet Guthrie, the origins of the Indy 500’s most fabled traditions, the memories of beloved “500” heroes A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears, and more.

Fans are encouraged to visit IMS.com/Tradition to preview the full series and read the first installment, as well as to check back weekly as more content is unlocked and great stories are told. The rich, multimedia experience is optimized for viewing on mobile devices, such as phones and tablets, and browsers.

“The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has one of the richest histories in all of sports, and race fans are in for a memorable 100 days as we relive the moments that have made IMS the place ‘Where Tradition Never Stops,’” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “Digital innovation is a top priority to make sure our fans stay connected to IMS. We are proud to share our heritage and tradition with race fans in Indianapolis and across the globe by offering them more digital content than ever.”

This is just one of several opportunities for race fans to experience never-before-heard stories of the Indy 500 and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, as well as to participate in the celebration.

Welcome Race Fans, IMS’ successful collaboration with the Arts Council of Indianapolis to incorporate Indiana artists and original artwork into the Indy 500, is going digital. Welcome Race Fans 2021 will consist of five artists creating a Welcome Race Fans GIF. These GIFs will be featured on IMS social channels, web properties, and onsite digital locations during the Month of May and around the city of Indianapolis. Interested artists can apply here.

Additionally, IMS will continue its new web series “Behind the Bricks,” hosted by Boles, which provides race fans with insider access through interviews with INDYCAR and IMS drivers, as well as off-track personalities that have helped make the Indy 500 “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Featured guests thus far have included Donald Davidson, Takuma Sato, Bob Jenkins, and others. “Behind the Bricks” can be seen exclusively on the IMS YouTube channel.

IMS also will provide race fans with audio-only storytelling for the first time. Podcasts to come will include “Behind the Bricks Extra,” which will give race fans full, unedited interviews between Boles and his guests. This podcast and more can be found on all major podcasting platforms.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES also will continue to build upon its “Where Are They Now?” series that offers race fans a chance to catch up with their favorite former INDYCAR athletes and personalities. Drivers already featured include Ribbs, George Mack and Jim Logan. These interviews, as well as “Classic Rewinds” and more, can be found on INDYCAR’s YouTube channel.

IMS and INDYCAR will continue to provide fans with even more exclusive content leading up to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opener Sunday, April 18 at Barber Motorsports Park and the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 30.

Don’t miss two-time Indy 500 champion Takuma Sato unveil his likeness on the Borg-Warner Trophy during a special streaming show: “Borg-Warner Trophy Special” at 1 p.m. (ET) today at IMS.com/100Days.

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Dec. 7, 2020 – Donald Davidson, beloved by race fans worldwide for nearly six decades for his encyclopedic knowledge of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500, is retiring Dec. 31 as IMS historian.

Davidson has amazed, entertained and delighted millions since he first crossed the Atlantic to visit IMS in May 1964, fulfilling a dream and his fascination with “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” since his teenage years growing up in Salisbury, England.

Since then, Davidson has become known and respected around the globe for his preservation and promotion of the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500. His unique blend of passion, knowledge and a genial personality is immediately apparent to all, whether through interaction with fans at the IMS Museum or the track, answering historical queries from fans and car collectors, countless public speaking engagements and his popular television and radio appearances.

Donald Davidson Photo Gallery

During his long association with IMS and auto racing, Davidson has become one of the most well-liked and respected figures in Speedway history.

“I have been blessed with a truly amazing career which has been jam-packed with hundreds upon hundreds of personally rewarding experiences, but the years have flown by at an alarming rate and never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that this magical ride would last as long as it has,” Davidson said. “Over the last three or four years, I have begun contemplating other areas of my life for which I wish I had been able to spend more time, and this has only been further underscored with daily reminders during the challenging last few months of having to work from home.

“I have enjoyed an unbelievable rapport over the decades with the participants and their families, the media, my colleagues and superiors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the United States Auto Club, the Speedway’s magnificent Museum and the Radio Network, and, especially, that incredibly devoted legion of the most passionate fans in the world.

“I hope that everyone will understand and respect that this basically private individual, who would really prefer to quietly take a little step back into the shadows without fanfare, has decided the time has come to retire from the official day-to-day duties.

“This was not an overnight decision, and we would like to sincerely thank the close-knit dedicated team that has been discretely working for several weeks on its implementation.”

Davidson has served as IMS historian since January 1998 and is believed to be the only person in the world to hold that role full time for a motorsports racetrack. But his involvement with the Speedway started much earlier.

He developed a passionate interest in auto racing as a teenager in England and saved enough money to come to America and make his first appearance at IMS in 1964. During that visit, Davidson dazzled members of the racing community and IMS officials, including track owner Tony Hulman, with his ability to recite year-by-year accounts of participants’ careers. Davidson also was first introduced to international audiences with a brief appearance that year on the IMS Radio Network.

Befriended by legendary IMS Radio Network anchor Sid Collins, Davidson returned to the United States permanently in 1965. He joined the Radio Network and was hired by the United States Auto Club (USAC) as a statistician, a job he fulfilled with great pride and detail for nearly 32 years.

Davidson then briefly joined TelX (now IMS Productions) as a historical archivist in 1997 before moving to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation as historian in January 1998.

“No one has more knowledge or more appreciation of the heritage of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway than Donald Davidson,” said Roger Penske. “I have always admired Donald’s passion and dedication to the Speedway and ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.’ His ability to seemingly recall every detail of IMS history is remarkable, and he is one of the greatest storytellers racing has ever seen. I want to thank Donald for all he has done for our sport and for helping to bring the personalities and the legends of IMS to life for more than 50 years. Donald will always have a place at the Speedway, and we wish him all the best in this next chapter of his life.”

Davidson’s vast knowledge, painstaking attention to detail and friendly, polished manner led him into numerous media roles across many platforms.

He has served in many on- and off-air roles for the IMS Radio Network broadcast of the Indianapolis 500 since 1965, and he also was part of the broadcast team for selected Brickyard 400 races and other open-wheel events. From 1971-2020, Davidson was the host of the popular call-in radio show “The Talk of Gasoline Alley” on Indianapolis radio station 1070 AM.

Davidson also is a prodigious and skilled writer, with many lyrical turns of phrase and colorful anecdotes bringing IMS and racing history to life. His writing credits include scores of historical articles and columns for various print and digital outlets, Indianapolis 500 Yearbooks in 1974 and 1975, and he co-wrote with Rick Shaffer the acclaimed “Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500,” published in 2006 and updated in 2013.

He also has made countless appearances on Indianapolis-area TV broadcasts and has been featured on national and international TV segments.

Over the years, Davidson also has cherished participating in speaking tours throughout the Midwest during the late winter and early spring to promote the Indianapolis 500 and share its rich history. He has spoken at venues ranging from large auditoriums to small-town public libraries, just as enthusiastic about presentations to a crowd of 12 as he was to a throng of 1,200.

But Davidson most treasures his relationships with fans, drivers, media members and officials. He has built lasting friendships with legends of the sport, such as A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti, and its lesser lights, giving equal time and his warm personal touch to all. He patiently and humbly answers questions from legions of fans, often posing for a picture or signing an autograph if the request is in person.

“There will never be another Donald Davidson – he is like an encyclopedia on racing,” Foyt said. “I bet he knows more about my career than I do. And I don’t think he should be allowed to retire before me. All joking aside, I wish him the best.”

Said Andretti: “There is something very special about Donald Davidson, and I noticed it from almost the minute I met him. When we first met, we gravitated to each other immediately. I think that was because we were both relatively fresh immigrants from Europe, so we had something in common. But very quickly I realized how remarkable this man was – a walking encyclopedia of everything Indianapolis. He immediately started educating me about the ‘500.’ I was so impressed; the furthest thing I expected from a Brit.

“He and I personally engaged and remained connected over the years. I could ask him where I was on Lap 32 in 1971 or what the track temperature was on Race Day 1984, and he would answer me without the blink of an eye. I thought it was almost miraculous.

“He’s everyone’s go-to guy for information on anything of historical significance, and he can talk about it in the most compelling way, which has earned him tremendous respect.

“And aside from his job at the Museum, he’s a well-liked gentleman who is genuinely kind and so enjoyable to be around. I can honestly say that I looked forward to seeing him every time I returned to Indy. I have so much respect for Donald. I’m very happy that I was able to enjoy and learn from his wisdom. And what I cherish most is that we became friends. I look forward to our paths crossing again.”

In honor of his accomplishments and significant contributions to Indiana culture, Davidson was presented with the state’s highest civilian honor, the Sagamore of the Wabash, in 2016.

Davidson’s remarkable career and personality also have been recognized with induction into the IMS Hall of Fame in 2010, the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame in 2013 and the USAC Hall of Fame in 2017.

“Donald always has been one of a kind – a true gem,” said Tony George, board chair, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum board of directors. “He has parlayed his love and knowledge of the Indianapolis 500 into a unique style of storytelling, one that captivates audiences and deepens their experience of the sport they love.

“He was invaluable in creating the architecture that became the Indy Racing League and was deeply involved in plans leading up to the inaugural event at Walt Disney World Speedway. We thank him for his many contributions throughout his entire career and wish him well as he spends more time pursuing his passions, including racing and its rich history!”

Fans are encouraged to share their tributes to Davidson on social media with the hashtag #DonaldDavidson.

Race weekend: Friday, Aug. 28 – Sunday, Aug. 30

Track: World Wide Technology Raceway, a 1.25-mile oval in Madison, Illinois

Race distance: 200 laps / 250 miles (each race)

Media links: Race 1 Entry List | Race 2 Entry List 

Firestone tire allotment: Fourteen sets for use throughout the weekend

Twitter: @WWTRaceway, @IndyCar, #Bommarito500, #IndyCar

Event website: http://www.wwtraceway.com/

INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com

2019 race winner: Takuma Sato (No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda)

2019 NTT P1 Award winner: Josef Newgarden (No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet), 48.2554 seconds, 186.508 mph)

One-lap qualifying record: Will Power, 23.7206 seconds, 189.709 mph, Aug. 25, 2017

NBCSN television broadcasts: Race 1, 3 p.m. ET Saturday, Aug. 29 (live); Race 2, 3 p.m. ET Sunday, Aug. 30 (live); Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for the NBCSN telecasts this weekend alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.

NBC Sports Gold livestreaming: Friday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice session (4:30 pm ET) and Saturday’s qualifying (Noon) will stream live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports’ direct-to-consumer livestreaming product.

Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Jake Query is the turn announcer. All NTT INDYCAR SERIES races are broadcast live on Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network affiliates, Sirius 211, XM 205, IndyCar.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. Live coverage of NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying is available on XM 205, IndyCar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.

At-track schedule (all times local):

Friday, Aug. 28

4:30-6 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice #1, NBC Sports Gold (live)

Saturday, Aug. 29

Noon – Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (Single car, Two laps (Lap 1/Race 1; Lap 2/Race 2), NBC Sports Gold (Live)

3 p.m. – NBCSN on air

3:40 p.m. – “Drivers, start your engines”

3:45 p.m. – Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta & Valvoline · Race 1 (200 laps/250 miles), NBCSN (Live)

Sunday, Aug. 30

3 p.m. – NBCSN on air

3:40 p.m. – “Drivers, start your engines”

3:45 p.m. – Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta & Valvoline · Race 2 (200 laps/250 miles), NBCSN (Live)

Race notes:

  • The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta & Valvoline doubleheader will be the 11th and 12th Indy car race at World Wide Technology Raceway. Takuma Sato won the race in 2019. Paul Tracy won the first Indy car race at Gateway in 1997. Sato, Will Power (2018) and Josef Newgarden (2017) are the only former winners entered in this year’s race.
  • The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta & Valvoline will be the first doubleheader event at World Wide Technology Raceway and the 12th INDYCAR oval doubleheader held since 1967. The last doubleheader was in July at Iowa Speedway.
  • The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta & Valvoline will be the fifth and sixth oval races of the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule. The previous oval races were won by Scott Dixon (Texas Motor Speedway), Simon Pagenaud (Iowa Speedway-1), Josef Newgarden (Iowa Speedway-2) and Takuma Sato (Indianapolis Motor Speedway).
  • Three drivers have won at World Wide Technology Raceway from the pole – Juan Pablo Montoya (2000), Gil de Ferran (2002) and Helio Castroneves (2003).
  • Team Penske has won five times at World Wide Technology Raceway. Penske’s winning drivers are Paul Tracy (1997), Gil de Ferran (2002), Helio Castroneves (2003), Josef Newgarden (2017) and Will Power (2018). Chip Ganassi Racing has two wins at Gateway, with Alex Zanardi (1998) and Juan Pablo Montoya (2000).
  • Eighteen drivers entered in the event have competed in past Indy car races at World Wide Technology Park. Tony Kanaan has seven starts, most among the entered drivers. Fourteen entered drivers have led laps at the track (Scott Dixon 223, Josef Newgarden 220, Will Power 99, Santino Ferrucci 97, Takuma Sato 65, Kanaan 21, Simon Pagenaud 13, Colton Herta 10, Marco Andretti 4, Alexander Rossi 4, Marcus Ericsson 2, Zach Veach 2, Conor Daly 1 and Felix Rosenqvist 1).
  • Three rookies – Oliver Askew, Alex Palou and Rinus VeeKay – are expected to compete. All three rookies, plus Pato O’Ward and Jack Harvey, also will make their first NTT INDYCAR SERIES start at World Wide Technology Raceway.