Sunday, May 24, 2015

INDY 500: A Familiar Name returns...

First off, have to admit that I missed the original memo 'Wayback on May 16, 2014 announcing USAC Sprint Car Stand-out Bryan Clauson's plans to return to Mother Speedway for his second Indy 500 "Rodeo" this May...

For longtime or Diehard Indy 500 Fans, the name Jonathan Byrd should be familiar to Yuhs, albeit probably capturing its most notoriety during the 1996 Indy Racing League season, when the famous Indiana Cafeteria owner co-sponsored "The Flying Dutchman's" racecar. When Arie Luyendyk wheeled Fred Tredway's Reynard 95i Ford Cosworth XB to the current fastest One and Four-lap qualifying speeds at the famed Brickyard. As ironically, Luyendyk's original Pole speed laps were disallowed after his racecar was discovered to be 7lbs under weight and hence, Arie needed to requalify the following day when he went faster than anybody in Speedway history!

Supposedly the powers to be at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, would like to see IndyCar shatter  Luyendyk's benchmarks at next year's 100th running of the Memorial Day classic, ironically also the 20th anniversary of Arie's tremendous feat! Which the legendous' Dr. Who was The Flying Dutchman's engineer for.

I had the good fortune of dining at the World's largest Cafeteria 'Wayback in 'Twenty-oh-Nine when attending my debutant Indy 500, as Indiana's own Danny Bridges, beat sports & racing scribe for the Indiana Recorder took Mwah to the famed restaurante in Greenwood, Indiana that May, prior to my admittance into IMS's media centre, which I labourisly scribbled 'bout in the largish' four-part tome titled;

Alas, whilst trying to find a little more about Messer Byrd, (the restaurateur, not the rocker...) whom died in 2009, I came across the IndyStar's story noting how the cafeteria portion of the restaurant has been shuttered...

Meanwhile,  I'll confess that I've never really followed this local Greenwood legend's racing exploits, especially since they weren't particularly successful, albeit winning multiple Sprint Car titles with the late Rich Volger, as their Open Wheel Racing ledger attests, i.e.; two victories to date: 1996's Phoenix's Duralube 200, the second ever Indy Racing League event with Arie Luyendyk at the wheel; Hmm? That wasn't the year that 'Ol SuperTex (A.J. Foyt) gave Arie a "LUV-TAP" on duh Nose was I-T? Hooah! And then John Paul Jr's lone IRL victory at Texas Motor Speedway in '98, where the year prior Foyt had given Arie that shiner!

Yet Jonathan Byrd's Racing (JBR) did sponsor "Gentleman John" for his "Double" feat in 1994, when John Andretti was the very first driver to successfully complete the arduous task of  racing at Indianapolis and 'RASSCAR's Charlotte World 600 on the very same day 21yrs ago!

Also, from the "Honor Roll" of JBR Alumni garnered from their official website, I notice that they sponsored the "Brothers Lazier," albeit in different years, whilst they partnered many well known IndyCar owners, including A.J. Foyt and Dick Simon amongst others.

As Dick Simon Racing (DSR) probably had its best year ever in 1993 when its fulltime drivers Raul "Boom-Boom, Brahma!" Bosel finished fourth ahead of team-mate Scott Brayton's Jonathan Byrd's racecar coming home P6 with some Dude named "superMario" (Andretti) being the meat filling in the DSR pie; Hooah!

1985-89 Rich Volgler, 1991 Gordon Johncock, 1991 Buddy Lazier, 1991-92 Stan Fox, 1993 Scott Brayton, 1994 John Andretti, 1995 Davy Jones, 1996 Arie Luyendyk, 1997-98 Mike Groff, 2001  Jaques Lazier and 2005 Buddy Lazier.

Thus its GURR-REAT! That Jonathan Byrd's Racing resumes its rightful resumption of sponsoring Indy Cars at the hallowed Speedway this May, as I'll be sportin' my No. 20 Bryan Clauson T-Shirt at Mother Speedway over the race weekend...