Indianapolis, November 20, 1998: Two-time Indianapolis 500 winning driver Arie Luyendyk will retire following the 1999 race, scheduled for May 30, he announced today. Luyendyk, 45, won auto racing's most important event in 1990 and 1997.
Indianapolis, November 20, 1998: Two-time Indianapolis 500 winning driver Arie Luyendyk will retire following the 1999 race, scheduled for May 30, he announced today.
Luyendyk, 45, won auto racing's most important event in 1990 and 1997. A native of Holland who now resides in Scottsdale, Ariz., Luyendyk has started 14 Indianapolis 500s, and owns four major track records:
*The one-lap qualifying mark, 237.498 mph, set in 1996.
* The four-lap qualifying standard, 236.986 mph, also in 1996. Ironically, Arie started 20th that year because he was a second day qualifier.
* The 500-mile average speed record, 185.981 mph, in 1990.
* The event's all-time prize money total with more than $5.2 million in earnings.
Luyendyk said he will drive for owner Fred Treadway for the fourth consecutive year, but plans to compete only at Indianapolis, and not in the season's earlier Pep Boys Indy Racing League events. However, he will attend the other races as a team consultant and sponsor spokesman. The Luyendyk-Treadway combination have won a total of four IRL races-including the 1998 season finale at Las Vegas-the only team to win in all three league seasons. He will be honored as the Most Popular Driver for the second consecutive year at tomorrow night's Pep Boys IRL awards ceremony here.
Luyendyk said his retirement decision was prompted by family considerations. He and wife Mieke have four children, and the oldest, 17-year-old Arie Jr., is racing in the Formula Ford 1600 class.
"I want to spend more time with my family," he explained. "There's no doubt they have made a lot of sacrifices because of my career.
"When you are committed to a team as a driver for an entire season, you are committed every day of the year. The work doesn't start with practice on Friday and end with the race on Sunday. There is the travel, the testing, and the appearances. Even when I'm at home, I'm working out, busy on the phone, and thinking about the business of racing.
"The timing is right for me to stop. I want to help my son with his racing. I've been thinking about this for quite some time. I know there has been some speculation about my plans, and rather than have people guess, I wanted to be honest with everyone, especially the fans."
Luyendyk debuted at Indianapolis in 1985 and finished seventh to earn Rookie of the Year honors. He started third in 1990, led 37 laps, and set the race average speed standard en route to victory lane. After a third-place result in 1991, Arie claimed the pole position in 1993, ran in front for 14 laps, and finished second. He started and finished first in 1997 (the 16th winner from the pole), led 62 laps, and earned a record $1,568,150. He is one of only 15 drivers to have won the race more than once in its 82-year history.
"Fortunately, I'm able to retire on my own terms, and I don't think there could be any better place to do it than at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said Luyendyk. "The fans have been great to me and I'm looking forward to the chance to thank them, as well as the sponsors, owners, crew members and everyone else who has been instrumental in my career, for the support they've given me over the years." He added that plans are being made to include a number of fan-oriented promotional events as part of his retirement activities. Specific details will be announced later.
Team owner Treadway said: "When I started my team in 1996, Arie was the natural choice for his reputation, skill and experience. Over the seasons, as our relationship developed, we expanded the boundaries of driver and team owner to become friends. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Arie and I support him 100 percent in this decision.
"Arie and I knew the day would come when he would step out of the car, and regrettably, that day is here. However, he will continue to be an asset to our team working with our drivers and sponsors."
Luyendyk's career totals include 166 Indy car races and seven victories. He was CART's Rookie of the Year in 1985 and Most Improved Driver in 1987. Other highlights: 1984 Super Vee series championship, three invitations to compete in the International Race of Champions, and wins in the 1989 12 Hours of Sebring and 1998 24 Hours of Daytona. Luyendyk said he may drive in selected major endurance sports car events after the Indianapolis 500.