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Fun, competitive juices to flow for Vasser in Vintage Race

Fun, competitive juices to flow for Vasser in Vintage Race

Jimmy Vasser, the 1996 INDYCAR SERIES champion, will jump back into a race car with a familiar livery this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, although the No. 12 in the Target livery won’t have the horsepower of yesteryear.

This machine is a 1978 Crossle 32F Formula Ford, which entered the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational this weekend at IMS. The car will be one of more than 300 of the world’s most exceptional vintage race cars competing in 12 different Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) classes on the 14-turn, 2,439-mile circuit.

Vasser will compete with six other cars from Elkhart Lake Vintage Motorcars, a Wisconsin team that he has driven several times over the years.

“They’re good people, good to deal with, and I like getting a kick out of them,” Vasser said of driving the group’s car. “It’s a (red and black) throwback ’95 Target scheme, so it looks cool and it’s fun.”

More than 50 years ago, the Crossle Car Company began making Formula Fords, although it made them for various sports car divisions. Twelve Crossle Formula Fords compete in the Saturday-Sunday event, three by Elkhart Lake Vintage Motorcars.

Tickets, starting at $30, are available here

Vasser, 56, met team owner Rod Bolhous, a former club racer, at Elkhart Lake four years ago, and the joke is that it took nearly three years to get him into a car at a competitive event.

“Jimmy kept saying, ‘Why do I want to do it? That again?’” said team member Jeff Tschiltsch. “Over time, Rod has convinced him and it seems that he really enjoyed it.”

Vasser has driven this car at Road America and Circuit of The Americas, and he is excited to return to IMS, where he made eight starts in the Indianapolis 500. This event will take place on the road course.

Vintage racing is for the enthusiast, but there is also a high degree of competitiveness, something Vasser expects to be drawn to.

“Oh, yes, of course, yes,” he said with a laugh. “There are really serious guys out there, and I’ll be there just for fun, but you know, it’s always fun to push (the limits of) the car.”

Elkhart Lake Vintage Motorcars, based in Plymouth, Wisconsin, has also entered a pair of Tigas and two Lolas for this weekend’s event.

Vasser’s 1995 ‘500’ ended in a crash at Turn 3 while leading on Lap 171. He led the Reynard/Ford Cosworth XB for 20 laps, which proved to be his best shot at winning the race .

Vasser finished fourth at Indy twice, in 1994 and 2001. His best four years with Chip Ganassi Racing, including his ’96 season championship, were spent racing away from Indy at a time when the sport was divided.

After retiring from competitive driving, Vasser became a team owner and won the “500” in 2013 with Tony Kanaan driving the KV Racing Technology with SH entry.

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