More than 700 vintage cars revved up their engines at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway June 4 through June 8, one week after the Indy 500.
Sarasota resident Rick Sanders and Bradenton resident Bill Stelcher were among racers at the inaugural Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational.
Stelcher drives a 1929 Ford Model-A Speedster, while Sanders has restored a 1930 Speedster.
Sanders used an old refrigerator, a 55-gallon oil drum and even his old jeans to create his bright yellow, two-man car. (See graphic.)
What was it like driving the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
Sanders: “It was a very challenging course … It is a lot of fun, and once you’re out on the track, you forget about everything except your driving.”
Stelcher: “We had to buy off our wives a little bit, because it was an expensive adventure … As you cleared the grandstands, a gust of wind moves you maybe 10 feet … It was an incredible event. After the first day of timing, all four of us (Stelcher, Sanders and two friends) were within one second of our lap times.”
What was a particularly scary incident you’ve had on the course?
Sanders: “ … All of the sudden, as I get into the pits up to my tow car, (the race car) burst into flames … I get out and pull my fire extinguisher out, but with my gloves, I couldn’t pull the pin off the fire extinguisher.”
Stelcher: “I was coming down the back straightaway and something big hits me in the chest … and I noticed the passenger-side windscreen was missing … which gives you a little bit of an idea of how scary sometimes these things are.”
What’s your favorite part racing pre-war vintage cars?
Stelcher: “We have a tradition of letting the kids get in the car and get their pictures taken, because so many of the cars at car shows have do not touch signs … We’re almost the opposite. We like them to jump in the car.”
Sanders: “We want the kids to get in the car, and I say that probably a little bit greedily, because when I’m too old to drive it, maybe one of these kids will be old enough to have the money to buy it and go racing. It’s about keeping history alive. We don’t own anything — we’re just keeping it for the next guy.”
Contact Alex Mahadevan at [email protected]