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Celebration of Automobiles a Huge Success at IMS

Select QuotesView Photos | Award Winners 


A large and enthusiastic crowd enjoyed seeing more than 250 classic cars that were on display Saturday, May 14 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 Celebration of Automobiles.

Many of these machines have won awards in Concours d’Elegance competition at such venues as Pebble Beach and Amelia Island.

The cars participating in the Celebration were divided into two divisions, one a general collection and the other presenting for the first time anywhere classic cars produced by the 24 manufacturers that competed in the first Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 1911.

A team of judges revealed its choices for the best of show in several categories Saturday evening at the elegant Condon-Skelly Celebration of Automobiles dinner, where several exquisite trophies were presented to winning car owners. 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones led the judging panel, with three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford and 1985 “500” winner Danny Sullivan also serving as judges.



PARNELLI JONES: (On judging the Celebration of Automobiles): “First of all, it’s the 100th anniversary and to have over 250 cars come to the track to be a part of it is something really nice. You only have one 100th anniversary, and this event, along with all the race cars on the track, is a great way to start. It was very tough to pick one individual wining car. But between myself, Rutherford and Sullivan, we boiled it down to one top choice. And overall, I think we’re making a great comeback here.” (On the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 celebration and the Month of May): “I think it’s definitely going to be a pumped-up year. Everybody’s excited about it. I know I am. I’m fortunate enough to be able to drive the 1911 winning Marmon Wasp on Race Day, and I’m very excited for it. I think the guy who wins this race is going to have extra stamp on his back, for sure. It’s going to be great. It can’t be any better.” (On being back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): “I come back every year. It’s a reunion for me. Once you’re a past winner, I think you feel like you are part of the Speedway. It’s ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’ and it has a great history. I get to have the honor of being a part of that.”

Quotes from selected participants:

REED TARWATER (Greenwood, Ind., 1933 MG J2 Roadster): "This is, by far and away, the largest and best auto show I have ever been to, and I have gone to a lot of shows. I've been to great shows at Meadowbrook and Hilton Head, but this is the best one I have ever attended. There is a car owner here today that made the trip from London (England) to come to this show. Living here in Indianapolis - it's 'the track.' We've been coming here for years, but for other people that have never been here before, it's a big deal to come and see this. Yesterday, we were able to drive around the track, and it was a great treat for a lot of these people.”

JAN TARWATER (Greenwood, Ind., 1933 MG J2 Roadster): "This is a great event today. We've even been to the prestigious Pebble Beach show. It is top-notch, but this show today has the widest range of beautiful, beautiful cars I have ever seen.”

KEN CLARK (Pittsfield, Maine, 1929 Cord L-29 Cabriolet): “I just thought it would be a neat thing. I’ve never been to the Indianapolis 500 before, and I just thought it would be a good place to go. So that was the real reason. But with the invitation and then the application and then the acceptance, I thought (the opportunity) was cool. I like race cars, but I’m not a race car fan. I don’t watch them, but I like to promote cars. And what better way to promote cars than at a racetrack?”

JOHN KELSEY (Camdenton, Mo., 1914 Stutz): “The car has returned home where the car was first built (Stutz was built in Indianapolis). I drove it in 1952 here around the Speedway as part of the Studebaker Centennial Celebration Tour. And now we are celebrating another centennial, the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500. I had the privilege of circling the track then and also circled it Friday. My father (Paul Kelsey) bought the car from its previous owners in Iowa in 1951. The car remained in storage from 1917 to 1951, and now it is here at the Speedway.”

JOHN BOOLS (Hickory, North Carolna, 1923 Duesenberg Model A.) “I’ve really enjoyed my time here. It’s been a great event. I’m glad the weather has held. It’s a great event for the public and they appear to be enjoying it. I have a 1923 Duesenberg, it’s considered a Model A Duesenberg. It’s one of the early cars. A ’23 Duesenberg was the pace car for the race that year, so that’s an interesting plus for my car, and they also set an endurance record that year with a car similar to mine”.

JOHN CAREFOOT (Curator of Harry Yeaggy of Cincinnati, Ohio’s collection of 25 classic cars). The car he speaks about is the1955 Duesenberg Mormon Meteor. “This is probably one of the most unique events I’ve been to. You get to match the idea of racing with the car. Most of the time you go to a car show it’s the pure concours part of the show. I was able to drive the car around the track yesterday and that was so much fun, and it adds another dimension to the car show.” On a previous trip to Indianapolis: “In 2006, I brought it up (Mormon Meteor) for a show at Monument Circle (in Indianapolis) and we won best of show there, and then we had the car completely restored to the way it was configured to head to Bonneville for the speed runs. In 2007 we took it to Pebble Beach and won Best In Show. We get it out quite a few times. We just had it down in Amelia Island the first of March and won Best In Show, so every time you get it out you take it down the street and drive it a little bit, and it was great to get it out and exercise size it a bit around the Speedway here.”

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