Inside Motor Sports

May 31, 1999
May 31, 1999

Table of Contents
May 31, 1999

Faces In The Crowd
[bonus Piece

Inside Motor Sports

In his final race, pole sitter Arie Luyendyk wants his third
Indy 500 win

This is an article from the May 31, 1999 issue Original Layout

Arie Luyendyk goes into Sunday's Indianapolis 500 with a good
chance to become the first driver since Bobby Unser in 1981 to
win in his final appearance at the Brickyard. The only two-time
winner (1990 and '97) in this year's field, Luyendyk, 45,
announced last November that Indy would be the final race of his
career. After qualifying last Saturday with a speed of 225.179
mph in a G Force-Aurora, he'll start on the pole, just as he did
when he won the 1997 race.

"Now is a good time for me to stop, while I can still be
competitive and have the desire and the aggressiveness," says
Luyendyk. "But my real inspiration to quit comes more from what
I've seen happen around me and from a need to change my personal
life. My wife [Mieke] has been a great support to me, but I
could see in her eyes, as the years were going on, that the
stress was increasing. Scott Brayton and I were close, and when
he was killed at Indianapolis [during a practice run in 1996],
it really changed everything. I think it hit home even harder
with Mieke than it did with me. At a time like that you begin to
say, 'Is it all worth it? I've won Indy.' Then my goal was to
win Indy again, and I did that.

"Now I just want to change my personal life," adds Luyendyk.
"Sometimes I feel silly having all these crew members running
around working for me. At home if I have to go somewhere that
involves racing, that's the way it has to be for the family. Now
it's time to change that, pay more attention to where my wife
and kids [Arie Jr., 17, Maida, 10, and twin boys Luca and Alec,
5] want to go, what they want to do."

Given that mind-set, one might think Luyendyk will drive more
conservatively on Sunday than in past Indy 500s. Not so, he
says. "When it comes down to the end of a race, if I'm in a
competitive position, I'm going to go for it," he says. "I'm not
going to be stupid about it, but I'll still take those
calculated risks if I have to. I can tell you right now that I
won't be thinking about the family then. I'll be thinking about
that move. That's just the nature of a race car driver. I would
be happy with a decent finish, but we're going for the win."

Safety Measures

Give CART and the IRL credit for moving swiftly to try to
improve fan safety in the wake of the accident that killed three
spectators and injured eight others at an IRL race on May 1 in
Concord, N.C. Every car in the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday will
have tethers with a breaking strength of five tons attached to
its four wheels in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the incident
in North Carolina, in which a tire and suspension debris flew
over a safety fence and into the grandstand. CART, which
experienced a similar accident last July, when three fans were
killed and five others injured at Michigan Speedway, will have
front-wheel tethers on its cars for Saturday's Motorola 300 in
Madison, Ill., and plans to have rear-wheel tethers in place by
its July 25 race in Michigan.

Because CART and IRL engineers and mechanics have no experience
installing the cables, representatives of both leagues have been
in contact with technicians in Formula One racing, which began
using tethers at the start of the season. The safety of the
drivers is not being overlooked: To prevent wheels from whipping
into the cockpit, the IRL says the flexible, two-foot cables
will be attached to its cars as far from the driver's seat as

Construction Frenzy

A proposed NASCAR-Indy Car speedway near Joliet, Ill., received
the green light last week from the Illinois Department of
Commerce and Community Affairs. When completed in 2001, the
joint venture headed by NASCAR president Bill France Jr. and
Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George will give the
Chicago area its second major auto racing track. CART team owner
Chip Ganassi's Chicago Motor Speedway, in the suburb of Cicero,
is expected to be completed in time for CART's Target Grand Prix
on Aug. 22.

Barring an unforeseen unification of the IRL and CART, the
tracks should have no trouble coexisting. France and George want
to run an annual NASCAR and IRL event on their 1.5-mile banked
oval, while Ganassi's relatively flat, one-mile oval has been
designed for CART open-wheelers.

Including the Joliet facility, the number of tracks controlled
by France could grow to 14 in the next five years. His
International Speedway Corp. (ISC) acquired Penske Motorsports
tracks in Brooklyn, Mich.; Fontana, Calif.; Nazareth, Pa.; and
Rockingham, N.C., earlier this month, giving France 10 active
speedways. An ISC project outside Kansas City, whose
construction is running a little behind schedule, could host a
Winston Cup race by late 2000. A track near Denver is in the
preliminary planning stages, and a joint venture with Donald
Trump for a track near New York City was announced last November.

COLOR PHOTO: TOM LYNN Taking a fresh look at his life, Luyendyk figured it was best to spend more time with his family.