After attending the Indy 500 in May, Brenden and I were looking for something to do. Then we remembered that during the 500 there were advertisements on the big screens during one of the million safety car periods during the race for the SVRA Brickyard Invitational. So we were considering attending the event if we had the weekend free. Upon hearing that our friends from CRP Racing were going to be there with a plethora of their vintage racing cars, we had to go. So on the morning of June 13th we packed up our camera gear, some snacks, and a gift for CRP’s team manager Nick’s daughter. Then in the wee hours of that Saturday morning we headed down to Indy, without even the slightest inclination that this event could possibly change our lives forever.
Upon our arrival to the legendary speedway, we parked Brenden’s WRX and walked up to the first gate we could get to. We were greeted by a line of people eager to make their way into the track for a day of exhilaration watching vintage racing. When the gates opened up at 8:00am, we were immediately assaulted by the thundering roar of the Trans Am class cars doing their morning warm ups. Let me tell you, walking through the tunnel to the infield and hearing the sound of big block racing motors tearing their way down the front straight into the first corner on the road course will be something that I will remember for the rest of my life. It was a that point we knew that we were in for an absolutely legendary day.
We had decided that we were going to find CRP’s hauler and meet up with them to start the day. We got sidetracked though. Very Quickly
We were greeted with the site of this metallic green Porsche 930 and it’s team mate, a red Formula Ford. The green paint twinkled in the wet morning light of the late spring Indiana morning. It had entranced Brenden and I. Being the first event we planned to shoot both digital and film photos, we whipped out my Nikon and Brenden’s Pentax and began firing away.
The white stripes and covered headlamps hinted that this was no run of the mill 911. This car meant serious business. I have never seen number plates like that before on a car, I absolutely fell in love with them and couldn’t pry myself off the little Porsche for a good ten minutes. The sidetracking didn’t stop there though. We wandered around for a good hour before we found our friends hauler. On the way, we encountered many amazing cars. A Mercedes-Benz 190e Cosworth idled by us on its way somewhere away from the paddock, I only caught it out of the corner of my eye, but Brenden caught my reaction as soon as I realized what it was (the photo below). I vowed to him then that we would hunt that car down later so I could have a closer look at it.
We wandered around that paddock. Just basking in the presence of all of the machinery that surrounded us. It was a whirlwind of race fuel, air tools, engines revving, and legendary liveries. All the while you could hear cars circling the road course around us. It was an awe inspiring feeling like nothing I’ve ever felt before. The kicker, we could walk anywhere we want! Into and around the paddock, the entire track, and even into the garages up to the pit wall! It was amazing to have such access to all this legendary machinery all in one place. I would see an amazing car that I’ve only seen in photos and videos, and before I could finish taking a closer look something else awesome would catch my attention and I would rush over to take a closer look at it.
Old Trans Am muscle cars, stock cars, formula cars, widebody Porsches, classic touring cars, Le Mans prototypes. You name it, it was probably there. Brenden and I were like kids in a giant, racecar filled candy store. On a constant sugar high, you would see something awesome, then turn around and be greeted by something more striking than the last. You never knew what you were going to see next!
After an hour and a half or so of hyperventilating and chatting about what we had just saw, we came upon CRP’s hauler. We found our friend and the team manager Nick Short. He informed us that the engine in their 69 Camaro Trans Am car as well as the one in their Poncho Carter Indy car had blown during the previous day’s practice sessions. That they were down to their C1 Corvette and their new age GTO (aka. the Holden Commodore). With the knowledge that they weren’t going to be able to fix both the car’s motor there in the pits, Nick stood and chatted with Brenden and I about various things including how to get onto a racing team, what cars he thought were cool that were attending the race, and what he did when he was our age.
Then we overheard that the last warm up race of the day was about to start and it was including some of the Trans Am cars and plethora of other GT cars, we made our way to our favorite spot on the Indy’s road course layout, and setup to watch some racing.
Being only a warm up race, most of the owners were taking it easy and only shaking down their cars in preparation for their feature races later in the day. I did manage, however, to walk up next to one of the course workers stationed on one of the open sections of K-Rail on the back straightaway and fire away on the field as they passed by one lap. He let me get the whole field before he told me that I wasn’t supposed to be that close and that I had to back up behind the second set of rails for my own safety. I never got to thank the gentleman for letting me shoot for as long as I did, because I got some amazing photos out of it.
After we watched most of the race we decided to continue exploring the paddock area. We walked into the garages and were greeted by many amazing cars, Ex Formula Once cars, Indy cars, prototypes, LeMans GTs, Trans Am cars. The variety from each garage to the next was amazing. It took us a good two hours to slowly make our way through there. Along the way we saw some truly amazing rides.
Brenden shot though all of his rolls of film very early in the morning, so it was up to me to document what happened from then on. After we explored the garages, we made our way back to CRP’s hauler, grabbed a frosty beverage, and made our way to one of the viewing mounds in the first corner. There was a race that was going on to which I never think I will see the same amount of diversity again. There were 80’s and 90’s Trans Am cars out there duking it out with Porsches, late model cars and NASCAR stock cars. It was amazing watching the stock cars roar down to the first corner, only to be caught and out braked by the smaller more nimble cars in the race.
We spent the rest of the afternoon watching the various classes out on track, broken up by periods of returning to the infield to explore some more. We watched the Trans Am feature race. Which was longer and included a pit stop for a driver change. Each team consisted of one amateur driver (usually the owner of the car), and one ex or current Indy car driver. It was a cool dynamic watching these professional open wheel drivers come to grips and thrash on some powerful yet incredibly heavy classic American muscle. I think it’s a race that my grandfather would love to watch. I seriously think that everyone should come to this event next year. Not just the Indy event either. If there are any vintage racing events that you can make, GO! Trust me you’ll regret it. I don’t want to miss this event next year, or ever again for that matter. We had an utterly amazing time, I can’t thank the SVRA and IMS enough for putting on such an awesome event. See you guys soon!