Tony Parella is the President and CEO of the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association, which is at IMS through Sunday for the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational.
My first Indianapolis 500 that I recall was on TV with my dad. We had a black-and-white set and I couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8 years old and that started a tradition until he died. I watched the “500” with him with the exception of the year he died; I came to my very first “500” with a team of people, which was kind of spooky to me because I had created a context for the business that I own where I would take the top sales performers to the Indianapolis 500 out of Texas, and up until then I had never missed an Indy 500 on TV with my father, but we never got to see it together live and he died in April of that year. I had a ticket for him and I was going to take him to his first “500”.
But I’ve been really blessed especially since I went two times before I got involved and then the last three years, by putting on this race, I get treated like a king and I get to come to this and I brought my oldest daughter, Adrienne, last year. And now I’m starting a tradition. I know next year I’ll bring my oldest grandson. So it’s pretty special to be here.
We race all over the United States; we race 16 racetracks and they’re all special in their own way. I grew up close to Watkins Glen, so that’s special, but there’s only one Indianapolis Motor Speedway, so you know, I felt a lot of pressure when I first came here that I want to get it right. This is Indy, and so trying to pay tribute to the legends who built this legacy and do what we do, which is more road racing than oval racing, and somehow combine those – I think we’re figuring it out. If you come back on Saturday, you’ll see a car auction and a concert, you can go drive a Jaguar and, I mean, there’s all kinds of stuff. This will never be the Indy 500 and I’m not trying to make it that. But I’m trying to make it as “fan, friendly, festival” as I can so it’s more than just racing and, you know, kids get in free, we do a lot of stuff that trying to make it neat for families.