DICK SIMON RACING FILES FIRST ENTRY FOR 83RD INDY 500 By Dick Mittman indy500.com INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 19, 1999 -- Dick Simon, once again a car owner, wasted little time becoming the first entrant for the 83rd Indianapolis 500-Mile Race...
DICK SIMON RACING FILES FIRST ENTRY FOR 83RD INDY 500
By Dick Mittman indy500.com
INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 19, 1999 -- Dick Simon, once again a car owner, wasted little time becoming the first entrant for the 83rd Indianapolis 500-Mile Race on May 30.
In fact, Simon hand-delivered his entry form to the Indy Racing League corporate office on Thursday, Feb. 19, just two days after entry invitations were mailed to eligible race teams.
"Dick is getting back to his tradition (of being first)," said Frenchman Stephan Gregoire, Simon's driver.
Entered by Dick Simon Racing LLC was car No. 7, the Mexmil/Tokheim G Force/Aurora/Firestone, and a backup machine. The team is jointly owned by Simon and his wife, Dianne.
Simon's son Richie is team manager and crew chief.
Dick Simon first came to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a driver in 1970 and competed through 1988, with his best finish of sixth coming in 1987. He then became a full-time car owner until his sold his team in the mid-1990s and became a crew chief. As a car owner he always tried to be the first entrant as well as getting his car onto the track first on opening day.
At times, he had as many as five or six drivers running in the race. This year there only will be Gregoire.
Gregoire, a Carmel, Ind., resident, drove in his first Indy 500 for Simon in 1993. He was the fastest rookie at 220.767 mph but was perplexed by Simon's desire to get his car onto the track so early. He now understands the publicity value of it.
"I'm very excited and very honored to be Dick's driver," Gregoire said.
"This year will be my fifth race. It's funny, because my best qualifying performance was my first one driving for Dick. I know Dick is one of the best at Indy of giving you the very best setup. He's never won, but he will give you a car capable of winning."
In '93, Gregoire started 15th (but seventh quickest overall) and finished 19th. He completed 195 laps and was running at the finish. Since, he has finished 27th, 31st and 17th.
Gregoire qualified 25th and finished 16th in the season-opening TransWorld Diversified Services Indy 200 on Jan. 24 at Walt Disney World Speedway as the Simon team made its debut without prior testing. At the checkered flag, Gregoire's car was still running but six laps behind winner Eddie Cheever Jr. Gregoire's best career finish was a second to Tony Stewart (by .222 of a second) at Pikes Peak International Raceway in 1997.
"We're going to test next week (in Pep Boys Indy Racing League 'Test in the West' at Phoenix International Raceway)," Gregoire said. "I am very happy, because it will be the first test we go to do. We have new things on the car. This is a good way to compare your speed with the others. It does put a little pressure on you."
Richie Simon is excited to again be united with his father in his latest racing project.
"We can make a difference," he said. "I saw in one of the magazines where they didn't even pick us in the top 10. We're going to bear down, concentrate and prove all these doubters wrong."