US GP: Historic car parades provide at F1 history

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2000 -- They are Formula One cars of another era driven marvelously at one time by the likes of Mario Andretti, Jochen Rindt, Jack Brabham, Graham Hill and Keke Rosberg. They are restored to mint racing...

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2000 -- They are Formula One cars of another era driven marvelously at one time by the likes of Mario Andretti, Jochen Rindt, Jack Brabham, Graham Hill and Keke Rosberg. They are restored to mint racing condition and show up at tracks like Laguna Seca in California and Watkins Glen in New York to provide older fans with a touch of nostalgia and newer fans a feel for the past. On Friday and Saturday before Sunday's inaugural SAP United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, some 30 of these famous racing machines will be put on parade for attending worldwide fans to see as part of the daily activities program. It will give the F1 aficionados a chance to compare the 3-liter cars of yesteryear with the technologically sophisticated machines of today. The parades take place at 5 p.m. (EST) Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday. Among the drivers expected to be at the steering wheels are former Indianapolis 500 winners Emerson Fittipaldi and Danny Sullivan. But organizer Phil Reilly says the drivers aren't the only feature of the parade. "The cars are the stars," he said. Reilly, 58, is owner of the auto restoration firm Phil Reilly & Co. in Corte Madera, Calif. He helped assemble the first Historic Grand Prix at Laguna Seca's road course in Monterey, Calif., in 1987. Ten cars showed up. Thirty-seven participated at Watkins Glen two weeks ago. Today the long list of cars to be at Indy ranges from the green 1967 Brabham-Repco BT-24/3 driven by Rindt to Rosberg's 1983 Williams FW08C. Today these cars are owned by John Dimmer of Tacoma, Wash., and Eric Joiner of Beverly Hills, Calif., respectively. Reilly said the cutoff is 1983 because the next year Formula One went to turbo-charged cars. "What's unique about the 3-liter era," he said, "was the Cosworth (engine). "It fits very nicely with the vintage idea. You don't need a bank of computers to start it. Today, technology is so far beyond it's hard to believe. These were almost kit cars. It was possible then to start a Grand Prix team without a huge amount of money." For instance, Morris "Mo" Nunn, who was a key engineer with Fittipaldi at Indy and with Alex Zanardi later in CART, started the Ensign F1 team on a small budget in 1973. One of his cars will be on display in the parade. Andretti's 1978 F1 championship Lotus 79/4 is owned by Duncan Dayton of North Salem, N.Y. He's also listed as driver. But Phil Harris, a New Zealander living in Hilliard, Ohio, drove the car at Watkins Glen and could be at the wheel again at Indy. There are a few cars powered by an engine other than a Cosworth. There will be a pair of V12 Ferraris from the late 1960s, a BRM V12 from 1974 and a 1982 Alfa Romeo. Also appearing will be a 1980 Ferrari 312-T5/046 that was driven by Gilles Villeneuve and Jody Scheckter. The late Villeneuve's son, Jacques, won the 1995 Indianapolis 500, the 1997 Formula One World Championship and will race in the SAP United States Grand Prix driving the Lucky Strike British American Racing Honda. Reilly said all of the owners are amateurs although Peter Lovely, now 74 and another from Tacoma, Wash., drove in seven Grands Prix 30 years ago. He will bring the 1968 Lotus 49B/R11 that he and 1966 Indianapolis 500 winner Graham Hill drove. "He's certainly our titular leader," Reilly said of Lovely. "No one has any delusions that they are race drivers." It was a common practice in prior Formula One days to sell the cars at the season's end to bring in some money, Reilly said. There was no lease on engines that prevented such a transaction. "They weren't worth a lot of money," he said. "I bought mine in 1986 for a little under $10,000. There was no market for it. I said this group has started a market. However, an engine can cost $50,000 and it runs $8,000 to $10,000 to clean up the car after an appearance such as at Watkins Glen where high speeds - 10 seconds off the lap speed - were reached. "They're costly to run and difficult to drive," Reilly said. However, in 16 years of competition the Historic Grand Prix organization has never had a two-car accident. The drivers are extremely careful because one of the foremost rules of the group is that any driver whose car hits another must sit out a year. "We keep a tight lid," Reilly said. Reilly, a native of San Francisco, has been involved in racing much of his adult life, even driving in races some in the 1960s. He became involved in vintage car restoration 25 years ago. "I've been a fan of the Indy 500," he said. More than a fan. He has worked on the Hemelgarn Racing team now in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series - "Mostly staying out the way" - for the past six years. He had an important job last May as the spotter for Buddy Lazier, who chased winner Juan Montoya across the finish line in second place. Reilly had intended to bring his 1974 Brabham BT-44 once driven by John Watson and Carlos Pace to Indy but had to withdraw the car. "I had a little episode at Watkins Glen," he said. "I hit something. The damage was enough that I'm not able to get it to Indy." All that was injured was his pride, he added wryly.

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Duncan Dayton , Buddy Lazier , Alex Zanardi , Mario Andretti , Danny Sullivan , Keke Rosberg , Emerson Fittipaldi , Jack Brabham , Jody Scheckter , Graham Hill , Phil Reilly , Jochen Rindt
Teams Ferrari , Williams