May 10, 2012 | By Paul Kelly
Practice Begins Saturday At IMS For 96th Indianapolis 500
Opening Day for the 96th Indianapolis 500 on Saturday, May 12 will feature the new IZOD IndyCar Series car on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while the infield showcases an incredible display of classic/vintage and alternative-energy vehicles at the second annual IMS Celebration of Automobiles.
Public gates open at 10 a.m. Admission is $10 for adults, with fans 12 and under admitted free with an adult.
The on-track spotlight will be on the new Dallara chassis and the return of the distinctive sound of turbo-charged engines to the Brickyard for the first time since 1996. Opening Day will also welcome the first engine manufacturer competition at the Indianapolis 500 in seven years with Chevrolet, Honda & Lotus all looking to win “The Greatest Spectacle In Racing.”
Featured drivers for the 96th Indianapolis 500 include three-time winner Helio Castroneves, two-time winner Dario Franchitti and young, second-generation stars such as Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal. A strong crop of eight rookies includes the most experienced Formula One driver in history, Rubens Barrichello, two past Firestone Indy Lights champions, Wade Cunningham and Josef Newgarden, and reigning USAC Drivers Champion Bryan Clauson.
Fans also can see nearly 200 magnificent and rare cars from 1920-70 that will be the focal point of the 2012 Celebration of Automobiles. The second annual Celebration of Automobiles features an expanded lineup of activities that continues to pay tribute to the rich heritage of automotive development at the track for more than 100 years.
All the cars entered in Celebration of Automobiles competition will be reviewed by a panel of judges, including classic/vintage car experts, past Indianapolis 500 winners and other auto racing legends.
Fans also will have their say about which car will win the inaugural Celebration of Automobiles People’s Choice Award. Fans can find a ballot on the bottom of the gate handouts and in the Celebration of Automobiles program that will be available on the Pagoda Plaza and can place their votes in ballot boxes located in the Pagoda Plaza.
Winners for each class and the People’s Choice Award will be announced at the Celebration of Automobiles Awards Dinner that evening at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, while second and third place finishers will receive their awards on the Pagoda Plaza Coca-Cola Stage at 3 p.m., presented by Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation president and CEO.
The 40th anniversary of McLaren’s first Indianapolis 500 victory will be commemorated by a special McLaren display as part of the Celebration of Automobiles.
The display will feature the No. 66 Sunoco McLaren M16B that Mark Donohue drove to victory in the 1972 Indianapolis 500. The victory marked the first of 15 Indianapolis 500 wins for iconic car owner Roger Penske, who will be honored Saturday, May 26 during Legends Day Honoring Roger Penske presented by Shell at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Supported by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, the McLaren display will also feature examples of the 2012 McLaren 12C supercar and rolling chassis.
Another exciting aspect of the 2012 Celebration of Automobiles is the Emerging Tech Showcase featuring activities demonstrating the future of automotive sustainability, including the Purdue Collegiate evGrand Prix featuring many teams of students from colleges and universities across the United States. Those teams will race each other in electric-powered karts on a course near the IMS Hall of Fame Museum. In addition, owners of electric-powered passenger cars can participate in the EV Rally, which includes driving their cars on a lap around the famous IMS oval, and manufacturers of electric-powered cars will offer Ride and Drive opportunities for consumers interested in taking these unique vehicles for a spin at IMS.
A new addition to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Celebration of Automobiles will be the Automotive Festival featuring current and late model vehicles on display in manufacturer- and model-specific groups inside Turn 4 of the famous IMS oval. American sports, muscle and pony car models on display will include Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. Foreign cars will include models from BMW, Porsche, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Jaguar and more.
The Automotive Festival will include a collection from all over the country of 46 iconic DeLorean automobiles built in the early 1980s, courtesy of the Indiana DeLorean Club.
Considered one of the largest gatherings of DeLoreans in the United States this year, the DeLorean collection at IMS will feature the first-ever all-electric-powered DeLorean that was manufactured last year by the DeLorean Motor Company and Epic Electric Vehicles.