Brickyard 400: Marcis a True Pioneer at Indy

VETERAN MARCIS HELPED PAVE WAY FOR STOCK CARS AT INDY INDIANAPOLIS, July 8, 1998 -- Dave Marcis was one of the first drivers ever to hustle a stock car around Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Marcis owns a NASCAR Winston Cup...

VETERAN MARCIS HELPED PAVE WAY FOR STOCK CARS AT INDY

INDIANAPOLIS, July 8, 1998 -- Dave Marcis was one of the first drivers ever to hustle a stock car around Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Marcis owns a NASCAR Winston Cup Series team but has moonlighted as the International Race of Champions' (IROC) lead test driver for more than 20 years.

IROC caused a stir in the racing community when it staged a test at IMS in 1992. Marcis led the charge over the 2.5-mile course for that practice session.

Since that groundbreaking test to see if stock cars could handle the unique rectangular course, Indianapolis Motor Speedway has staged the Brickyard 400 Winston Cup race four times.

"It was really a great feeling to come here first with the IROC cars to see how feasible it would be, then to come here with the Winston Cup cars," said Marcis, who is one of NASCAR's last owner-drivers. "That first Brickyard 400, well, I was really tickled to death to run on this speedway."

This year, IROC will join the IMS summer schedule. The IROC season finale is scheduled July 31. The fifth annual Brickyard 400 is scheduled Aug. 1.

Marcis isn't exactly the typical Southern "good ol' boy." He was born and raised on a farm in Wisconsin and was always up on events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"I had interest in Indy cars and listened to every Indianapolis 500 growing up as a little boy in Wisconsin," said Marcis, 57. "Where we lived, there wasn't any Indy-car racing. We lived on a farm but my father had a garage and a wrecking yard, so I got to play with just regular cars. I started at Red Mountain State Park Speedway, a track near my home, with a 1949 Ford.

"I continued racing stock cars, and when I decided I wanted to race for a living, I looked at all my options, and basically what it boiled down too, if you wanted to race stock cars for a living, you needed to do it in NASCAR."

Marcis and his wife, Helen, moved to Avery's Creek, N.C., in 1969 and never left. Still, being a race car driver from the Midwest, Marcis has a keen interest in the Indianapolis 500 and the Speedway.

"In our travels during the 1970s and early '80s, anywhere you'd go, people would identify me with racing, and one of the first questions they'd ask was, 'Do you race at Indianapolis?' said Marcis. "Of course, I'd have to explain to them I drove stock cars in NASCAR, and the cars at Indy are open-wheel cars, and that stock cars didn't race at Indy. Now when they ask that question, I can say, 'Yes, I race at Indianapolis.'"

Marcis has five career victories in his NASCAR Winston Cup career, which started with the 1968 Daytona 500. He finished runner-up to Richard Petty for the 1975 NASCAR Winston Cup championship. Marcis' best finish in two Brickyard 400 starts is 35th in 1996.

BRICKYARD 400 NOTEBOOK

Event schedule: The fifth annual Brickyard 400 starts at 12:15 p.m. (CDT) Aug. 1. Pole Day qualifying starts at 1:30 p.m. July 30. Qualifying for starting positions 26-36 begins at noon July 31.

        The first practice session will take place from 1-5 p.m. (CDT)
July 29.  Practice continues from 9:30 a.m.-noon and 4-4:45 p.m. July 30.
Final practice takes place from 3:30-4:30 p.m. July 31.  ***

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dave Marcis