IPS: Luyendyk looks to move up

IPS: Luyendyk looks to move up

Many sons are groomed to go into the family business and so it has been for 22-year-old Arie Luyendyk Jr., born to the two-time Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner whose name he bears. Arie Luyendyk Jr.. Photo by Earl Ma. The younger...

Many sons are groomed to go into the family business and so it has been for 22-year-old Arie Luyendyk Jr., born to the two-time Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner whose name he bears.

Arie Luyendyk Jr..
Photo by Earl Ma.
The younger Luyendyk has been spending the last three seasons learning the ropes of open wheel racing in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series. In his first - and the series first - season Luyendyk took second place in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series without a victory; consistent finishes were his hallmark that season as he took four top-5 and seven top-10 results as the runner-up to A.J. Foyt IV, driving for his own Luyendyk Racing team.

In 2003 Arie Luyendyk Jr. had a more difficult time of it and finished seventh overall behind Mark Taylor. He did earn two pole positions and recorded eight top10- results (five of them in the top five) in 12 contests with Sinden Racing Service.

For 2004 Luyendyk hooked up with Sam Schmidt Motorsports and finds himself partnered with Thiago Medeiros, the overwhelmingly fast Brazilian who has been blazing through the Pro series all season long. "Sam has put together a great team and Thiago and I are doing well," Arie emphasized. "It's just a matter of time before I get my first victory and it just seems like his car has been better in practice, qualifying and the races" held thus far.

Arie Luyendyk Jr. began racing in karts, back in 1992 and drove in regional SCCA Formula Ford 1600 for the first time six years later. In 1999 he earned his first victory in the national edition of FF1600 in his third race, moving up to North American Formula Ford 2000 in Y2K.

His consistency in that series drew Luyendyk to the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, where he is hoping to garner sufficient attention to take the next step to the more powerful Indy cars. "It's a shame that the main thing holding me back from running the IndyCar Series is money. You need about $8 million to field a good team and drivers need to bring $1 million, which is something I don't have. That limits my options," he explained.

"I think I hit a plateau last year in the Pro series," Arie Jr. said. "That's why I'm trying to go to the next level." But still, he does acknowledge the Pro series is teaching me to "learn from my mistakes."

While the Menards Infiniti Pro Series cars travel the circuits about 30mph slower than the Indy cars, there are some similarities in handling characteristics, Luyendyk noted. "I want to make an impression so I'm holding out for a top team. It's frustrating right now but things aren't going to change," he said.

The Menards Infiniti Pro Series has grown even as it keeps the same spec cars: "We are using the same engine and chassis we did three years ago, but the talent level has gotten very high, making it a battle each time out. I think this series can continue to grow," Luyendyk stated.

The Pro series is the logical step to the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series. "When you come from the Barber Dodge Pro Series or other road racing series the Pro series is a learning tool, but when you come from the sprint car ranks, it is a crucial step" on the road to Indy.

That Road to Indy is one Arie Luyendyk Jr. hopes to take in 2005, but even more than that, he'd like to finally win his first Menards Infiniti Pro Series race. "Others have moved up successfully; now it's my turn."

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series INDY LIGHTS
Drivers Mark Taylor , A.J. Foyt IV , Sam Schmidt , Thiago Medeiros , Arie Luyendyk Jr.