1996 INDYCAR SERIES Champion Jimmy Vasser will be back in a familiar livery racer this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, although the #12 Target livery won’t have the horsepower it had yesterday.
This machine is a 1978 Crossle 32F Formula Ford that competed in this weekend’s Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational at IMS. The car will be one of more than 300 of the world’s most extraordinary vintage racers to compete in 12 different Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) classes around the 2,439-mile, 14-turn road course.
Vasser will compete alongside six other cars from Elkhart Lake Vintage Motorcars, a Wisconsin-based team he has raced with a number of times in recent years.
“They are good people to hang out with and I enjoy having fun with it,” Vasser said of driving the group’s car. “It’s a (red with black) ’95 target scheme, so it looks cool and is fun.”
More than 50 years ago, the Crossle Car Company began making Formula Fords, although they made them for several sports car divisions. Twelve Crossle Formula Fords are entered in the Saturday-Sunday event, three from Elkhart Lake Vintage Motorcars.
Tickets starting at $30 are available here.
Vasser, 56, met team owner Rod Bolhous, a former club racer, four years ago in Elkhart Lake, and the joke is that it was almost three years before he crashed into a car in a competition.
“Jimmy kept saying, ‘Why would I do that? the again?’” said team member Jeff Tschiltsch. “Over time, Rod won him over and it seems like he really enjoyed it.”
Vasser has raced this car at Road America and the Circuit of The Americas and is looking forward to returning to IMS where he made eight starts at the Indianapolis 500. This event will be held on the street circuit.
Classic car racing is for enthusiasts, but there’s also a high level of competitiveness, something Vasser expects to get drawn into.
“Oh, yes, of course, yes,” he said, laughing. “There are some really serious guys out there, and I’m just going to be there for fun, but you know, it’s always fun to push (the limits of) the car.”
Plymouth, Wisconsin-based Elkhart Lake Vintage Motorcars has also entered a pair of Tigas and two Lolas for this weekend’s event.
Vasser’s 1995 ‘500’ ended with a crash at Turn 3 while leading on lap 171. He had led 20 laps in the Reynard/Ford Cosworth XB, which turned out to be his best opportunity to win the race.
Vasser finished fourth at Indy twice, in 1994 and 2001. His best four years with Chip Ganassi Racing, including his championship in the 1996 season, were spent running away from Indy at a time when the sport was divided.
After retiring from racing, Vasser became a team owner and won the 2013 ‘500’ with Tony Kanaan driving the KV Racing Technology with SH entry.
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