May 12, 2012 | By Tom Surber
Vintage car owners enjoy Celebration of Automobiles at IMS
INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, May 12, 2012 – A beautiful, sunny day provided the perfect backdrop for many of the world’s finest classic/vintage automobiles on display Saturday at the second annual Celebration of Automobiles at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
A special event leading up to the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 27, the Celebration of Automobiles featured an expanded lineup of events that paid tribute to the rich heritage of automotive development at the track for more than 100 years. The inaugural Celebration took place last year to rave reviews as part of the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500.
One of the car owners making his first trip to IMS for this year’s Celebration was Curtis Cormier of East Lansing, Mich., whose 1932 Graham 57 Blue Streak Sedan has a special tie to “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
“This was the featured car of the 1932 Indianapolis 500, which might be called the pace car today,” he said. “This car did not run in the race, but a Graham car did run in the race, and I’m sorry to say that it had mechanical trouble on the 61st lap.”
Cormier’s car features many unique attributes, including being the first American car to offer a slanted front grill that incorporates the radiator cap on the inside. It’s one of the first passenger cars ever made where aerodynamics were a serious consideration, and it was one of the first cars to be made with safety glass. In addition, the car features hydraulic brakes and hydraulic shock absorbers that give the driver the opportunity to adjust the ride of the car from the dashboard.
The Celebration of Automobiles at IMS was a special experience for Cormier.
“This is our first time here, and we’re enjoying ourselves tremendously,” he said. “I had never been to the Speedway before and I’m a car guy from 60 years standing, and there are some magnificent cars here. We drove around the track yesterday, and we finished in first place. Of course, that’s where we started and they didn’t allow anybody to pass us, but that’s just a small detail!”
Another car owner making his first trip to IMS was Michael LeBovic, who brought his beautiful1930 Cord L-29 Cabriolet all the way from Aurora, Ontario.
“It was built March the 24th, 1930, which also happens to be the birthdate of a local legend named Steve McQueen,” he said.
The car was shipped to Argentina right after being built, where it remained until 1978 when it was purchased and shipped to North Carolina. The car was being refurbished when LeBovic purchased it four years ago.
“When I ended up buying it, the restoration was about 75 percent done and it was done really crappy, so I just finished restoring it last Labor Day,” he said. “I love the style of the car, and it’s the first production front-wheel-drive car. It drives like a truck, sounds like a truck, but it’s unique and I’m happy with the car.”
The Celebration of Automobiles marks just the second time that LeBovic has exhibited his stunning black-and-orange Cord at an automobile show, and he was thrilled to bring it to IMS.
“Who can refuse to come to the Indianapolis 500 and put a car on the track?” he said. “This is the holy grail of auto racing, and I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. If I ever get an invite back again, I’m here in a second. This is just a fabulous facility and all the people here have been really wonderful, and I’m very appreciative.”
Although it was a long, difficult trip for LeBovic to bring his car from Canada, the experiences he’s had at IMS far outweigh any inconveniences.
“It was a long drive to come down here, and it’s certainly been well worth it and enjoyable,” he said. “I was here yesterday when the Indy Lights cars were going by, and I was standing right by the fence in a corner, and one guy was driving by and we couldn’t have been more than 3 feet away, and he was going by so fast that I thought I was going to have a bloody heart attack. It was exciting.
“This is my first time here, and I’m glad I’m here with the car at the right spot. I want to thank everyone for inviting me and showing me the hospitality of Indiana.”
Mark Iles of Hickory Corners, Mich., brought a rare 1932 Lincoln KB Dietrich Coupe for its first appearance at the Celebration of Automobiles. The car was sold new in Kalamazoo, Mich., where years later it was found in a junkyard and restored in 2000 to its current spotless condition. The first show it appeared in was the prestigious 2001 Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance, where it won Best in Class.
“It’s a fantastic car and a very rare car,” said Iles. “There are only about six Dietrich Coupe Lincolns that are known to exist at this time.”
Iles has taken his Lincoln to car shows around the country, but he believes the Celebration of Automobiles at IMS is something special.
“This is the perfect setting for a car show – the perfect setting,” he said. “It was very enjoyable yesterday to take the cars out on to the track and run them around for a couple laps. It was the time of our life to do that, so it’s a perfect setting for this. This is our first year down here. We’re glad to be here, and we hope they invite us back.”
2012 Indianapolis 500 tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 96th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on Sunday, May 27, 2012 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Race Day ticket prices start at just $30. Fans can buy tickets online at www.imstix.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700, or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or by visiting the ticket office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday.
Children 12 and under will be receive free general admission to any IMS event in 2012 when accompanied by an adult general admission ticket holder.
Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are on sale. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.
Media Contact: J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, (317) 492-6412 or (317)750-9277, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Surber, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, (317) 492-6594, email@example.com
Media Website: media.indianapolismotorspeedway.com
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