IRL: Luyendyk steps aside for the Indy 500

IRL: Luyendyk steps aside for the Indy 500

INDIANAPOLIS, May 14, 2003 - Arie Luyendyk, who will be 50 years old this September had planned to make his 18th start at the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race this month, hoping for a third victory in the Greatest Spectacle in ...

INDIANAPOLIS, May 14, 2003 - Arie Luyendyk, who will be 50 years old this September had planned to make his 18th start at the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race this month, hoping for a third victory in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Arie Luyendyk's wrecked car.
Photo by Michael C. Johnson.
As of today, however, he's been scratched from the field. The Flying Dutchman had heavy contact with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Turn 1 wall last Friday afternoon while practicing in the #20 Meijer Panoz G Force/Toyota entered for him by Mo Nunn Racing. At the time, Luyendyk complained of back pain and was transported to Methodist Hospital for further evaluation.

While he was released from Methodist later that afternoon in good condition, Arie opted - despite being cleared to drive by Dr. Henry Bock, Indy Racing League director medical services - not to drive in Saturday practice prior to the washed-out MBNA Pole Day. Luyendyk also sat out the following day, when qualifying took place.

"I'm still stiff. I have a stiff neck and I really feel sore in between my shoulder blades," he said at the time. "The doctor says it's totally up to me, when I feel absolutely comfortable, what I have to do to drive the Meijer race car," Luyendyk said.

As practice resumed today, leading up to Sunday's Bump Day that will set the final grid for the May 25th race, Luyendyk again went to see Dr. Bock who, after re-examining the Dutchman declined to clear him for competition.

"I just haven't felt right since the accident and thought it would be best to have the doctor give me another look before deciding whether or not to continue driving," Luyendyk admitted. "I told Dr. Bock that I didn't think I was ready to get back into the car and, after a rather detailed examination, he agreed."

Instead of asking the Mo Nunn team to hold off and give him additional recuperation days, "I think the best thing to do at this point is to step aside and keep the Meijer program moving forward with a replacement driver," the 1990 and 1997 Indianapolis 500 winner decided.

Arie Luyendyk.
Photo by Michael C. Johnson.
Nunn has no shortage of available, proficient drivers circulating his garage area in hopes of opportunity. Those include Max Papis, Alex Barron, Richie Hearn, Stephan Gregoire, Jeff Ward and Donnie Beechler, among others. "Obviously, our concern first and foremost is Arie's health and well-being," Nunn declared.

"Arie is just not 100% and even though he wants more than anything to drive the Meijer car for his sponsors and fans, you can't force these things if your body is just not right," Nunn stated. "He'll be fine, hopefully sooner than later. But in the meantime, we will field a Meijer car with the absolute best driver available."

Mo Nunn Racing is a three-car entry for the 87th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. His full-time IndyCar Series drivers have already qualified for the race, with Felipe Giaffone (#21 Hollywood Panoz G Force/Toyota) starting seventh and Tora Takagi (#12 Pioneer Panoz G Force/Toyota lining up in 16th place.

Barron in for Luyendyk for Indy 500

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Felipe Giaffone , Stephan Gregoire , Jeff Ward , Arie Luyendyk , Donnie Beechler , Max Papis , Tora Takagi , Alex Barron , Mo Nunn