Behind the scenes of the vintage lap at the Indy 500

Behind the scenes of the vintage lap at the Indy 500
Behind the scenes of the vintage lap at the Indy 500

It’s just one lap, and is a small portion of the elaborate pre-race Indianapolis 500 pageantry. But it stirs hearts and imaginations like few of the other annual activities. It’s the ceremonial lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway featuring standout vintage machinery and notable drivers behind the wheel.

Taking place shortly before driver intros, the single ear-pleasing lap is anything but straightforward, with preparations for those few minutes next year often beginning shortly after the checkered flag falls.

“We really try to look at potential cars we would like to run maybe a year out now. We look at anniversaries or cars significant for other reasons and get the list finalized quickly,” remarked Jason Vansickle, the IMS Museum’s VP of Curation and Education. “From there we start preparing the cars around September.”

It’s a methodical and detailed process that involves assessing where the car is in its routine maintenance, any major work that needs to be done, and what will need to happen for it to run the day of the 500.

Ten cars spanning several generations were selected for this year’s ceremonial lap, eight of which reside at the museum, including Tom Sneva’s 1983 Texaco Star March 83C, Parnelli Jones’ 1963 Agajanian Willard Battery Special, and Louis Meyer’s 1928 Miller Special, winners all.

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