IRL: Indy 500 Field Most Highly Educated

INDIANAPOLIS, May 27, 1999 -- The most highly educated lineup in major auto racing history will take the green flag in the 83rd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. Two of the three starters on the front row are college graduates. ...

INDIANAPOLIS, May 27, 1999 -- The most highly educated lineup in major auto racing history will take the green flag in the 83rd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. Two of the three starters on the front row are college graduates. There is a driver with a master's degree starting on the inside of the third row and another who is halfway toward his in the middle of the ninth row. There's a dentist starting in the last row, a priest on the inside of the fourth row and an attorney on the outside of the same row. Twenty-two of the 33 starters - two-thirds of the field -- have attended college. Last year's winner, Eddie Cheever Jr., speaks four languages, pole sitter Arie Luyendyk three. Cheever is an inveterate reader and collector of antique books, while Luyendyk has strong interests in art and music. Sam Schmidt, who turned the fastest lap of 222.458 mph during the two-hour Coors Carburetion Day runs Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, earned his bachelor's degree and MBA in international finance from Pepperdine University. Schmidt, 34, will start the race in his Unistar Auto Insurance G Force/Aurora/Firestone in seventh place. Buzz Calkins, who begins finals next week on his master's degree in business administration at the Kellogg School of Northwestern University, hustled back from classes to compete in the Carb Day race tuneup. He drives the Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat G Force/Aurora/Firestone and has managed to squeeze in practice and qualifications for the "500" between studies at the prestigious Evanston, Ill., university. Calkins, 28, had to return immediately after Thursday's practice for a Friday-morning class in managerial accounting. "This probably was a distraction from school," Calkins said. "I tried to prepare myself as much as possible before hand so I could come down here. The teachers have been pretty understanding." Calkins said he has created a bunch of new fans. His fellow classmates have been following his racing progress. Many are coming down to Indy for the race in four RV's. "This sport has become so corporate," Calkins said about the need for drivers to get an advanced education. "It used to be better to be more mechanical-minded. Now with all the technology, it helps to have a degree." Hideshi Matsuda, 44, will start on the inside of the fourth row. He's a graduate of Ryukoku University in Kyoto, Japan, and is ordained as a Buddhist priest. He must be the raciest priest ever since he qualified his Mini Juke/Beck Motorsports Dallara/Aurora/Firestone at 222.065 mph. In the same row as Matsuda is John Hollansworth Jr., highest qualifying rookie at 221.698 mph in his Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. Hollansworth, 35, earned his bachelor's degree from Wheaton College and his law degree from University of Missouri-Kansas City. Not only has he been a practicing attorney, so has his team manager John Lopes, a graduate of West Point and captain of the football team. Lopes studied for his law degree at Duke. Jack Miller, 37, earned his degree from the Indiana University School of Dentistry and had a practice in Carmel, Ind. He qualified for his third Indy start with a four-lap run of 220.278 mph last Sunday in his Dean's Milk Chug Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. Other sponsors include four dental companies - Ultradent, EMS, United Concordia and Sonicare. Miller "practiced" for his Indy 500 participation this year by lecturing at 26 of the 50 dental schools around the U.S. This included Harvard. "They want me to be on the board to help set up a practice management course so students can learn how to set up a practice and make money," Miller said. "That has been the highlight of my year so far." The low point was the final lap of his qualifying run when the speed dipped to 216 mph after opening with a pair of 222s. He thought he had missed the race. "After I saw my last lap speed, I wanted to stop on the backstretch, go over the fence and have no one see me go home," he said. Starting on the front row with pole winner Luyendyk are Texan Greg Ray and Arizonian Billy Boat. Ray, 32, holds a degree from the University of Texas, and Boat, 33, is a graduate of Arizona State. Other colleges attended by drivers include Babson, Earl Haigh, IUPUI, Lincolnland CC, Lord Fairfax, Delaware Valley, Curry, University of Chile, North Worchester of England, University of Mississippi, Sacramento State, New England College and University of Catolica of Papana in Brazil. Rookie Jeret Schroeder studied food service management. Calkins majored in history and economics at the University of Colorado, while rookie Robby McGehee was a major in computer science and a minor in French. Defending Pep Boys Indy Racing League champion Kenny Brack attended a two-year school to learn about electricity. There are those in the field who didn't go on to college. "I'm a graduate of the School of Hard Knocks," said Hoosier Mark Dismore, 42, who qualified his MCI WorldCom Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear in the middle of the second row at 222.963 mph. "I went to work at the 'go-kart college' working for my dad (Emerson in Greenfield, Ind.). I was there seven days a week. It was the best business education I could get." Jeff Ward, 37, went from high school into racing motocross bikes. Jimmy Kite, 23, was in Indianapolis two days after his Georgia high school graduation, racing midgets. Salazar, 43, attended three years at the University of Chile in his native Santiago. He put a humorous twist on this educated field when he said: "At the end of the first lap, there'll be a lot of stupid moves anyway."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Buzz Calkins , Robby McGehee , Eddie Cheever , Jeff Ward , Arie Luyendyk , Billy Boat , Jeret Schroeder , Jimmy Kite , Kenny Brack , Sam Schmidt , Matsuda Hideshi , Jack Miller