Luyendyk Completes United Autosports' "Stellar" 24 Hours of Spa Line-Up
Double Indianapolis 500 race winner Arie Luyendyk contests his first serious race in almost 10 years when the “Flying Dutchman” drives for United Autosports in the Total 24 Hours of Spa (July 30-31).
Somewhat surprisingly considering that Arie was born 150-miles from the majestic Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Luyendyk will be racing at the Belgian venue for the first time. He visited the 4.35-mile track last month (March 29) when he tested the GT3 class Audi for the Anglo-American team currently at Paul Ricard (France) for 2011 FIA GT3 European Championship Media Days.
1990 & ’97 Indy 500 race winner Luyendyk, who raced for 10 years in Europe before moving permanently to America where he remains today, tested at Spa along with Matt Bell (GB), Richard Meins (GB) and Henri Richard (F) while Johnny Herbert (GB) also joined the action having flown in from the Australian Grand Prix where the Briton was present in the role of an FIA Steward at the season-opening Formula One race.
Luyendyk enjoyed a distinguished racing career. His last “proper” race was the Indy 500 in 2002 and last raced in Europe in the 1989 Le Mans 24 Hours. Arie has “competed” at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (GB) in 2005 & ‘08 and contested the Mille Miglia last year. He competed in 17 "500's", leading eight of them, and set the single- and four-lap average (236.986mph) qualifying records in 1996.
United Autosports’ first-ever three-car race line-up will be:
Audi R8 LMS – Entry 1:
Alain Li (F); Arie Luyendyk (NL); Richard Meins (GB); Henri Richard (F)
Audi R8 LMS – Entry 2:
Zak Brown (USA); Richard Dean (GB); Johnny Herbert (GB); Stefan Johansson (SE)
Audi R8 LMS – Entry 3:
Matt Bell (GB); Mark Blundell (GB); Eddie Cheever (USA); Mark Patterson (USA)
Arie Luyendyk (NL). Age: 57. Born: Sommelsdijk, The Netherlands. Lives: Fountain Hills, AZ, USA:
|Arie Luyendyk (pictured) was at the magnificent Spa-Francorchamps circuit for the first time in career last week driving the United Autosports Audi R8 LMS|
Spa 24Hr: Début. Spa History: Début. Other 24Hr races: Daytona (1986/2nd, 1988/89/91/97 (all DNFs), 1998/1st, 1999/8th; Le Mans (1989/DNF).
“I’m excited about driving in the same team with the likes of Eddie [Cheever], Johnny [Herbert], Mark [Blundell] and Stefan [Johansson] – they’re a great bunch of guys and we all go back a long way – it’ll be so much fun. The Audi is a very sexy looking car and the guys had told me it was a blast to drive which I found out for myself last month.
“I like 24 Hour races and have always enjoyed doing them. It’s about getting into a rhythm, a flow, so I’m looking forward to that again and the fact that I get to drive at Spa which was a very important factor in my decision. I have never raced at Spa – in fact I’d never been to the track before last month’s test – and I always thought that something was missing in my racing career.
“From what I’d seen many times on television and of course what I’d been told, actually getting out on the circuit just confirmed that the place is simply awesome. One session of eight laps would have been worth it to me in flying from the USA! The track has everything, it’s just tremendous, probably one of the greatest if not the greatest track I have driven. The team is very professional and a top notch operation. I love the Audi R8 LMS but still have to get used to the electronic gizmos such as ABS braking and traction control.
“My father, Jaap, raced an Alfa Romeo 1300 at Spa in 1965 but I didn’t go with him, I was too young and in school. He suffered a huge accident, crashing off the road and hit a tree head on – which ended up next to him in the car! He was lucky to survive but broke both knees.”
Zak Brown (USA). Chairman & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
“I’ve of course known of Arie for a long time . . . I watched him race many, many times in Champ Car and the Indy Racing League . . . and was at both of his Indy 500 wins. The guy was truly incredible around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It will therefore be a privilege to welcome Arie in to the United Autosports team which allows him to fulfill his dream of racing at Spa.”
Richard Dean (GB), Managing Director & Co-Owner of United Autosports:
“Arie is a legend! A couple of years ago, I watched him on stage being honored for his two Indy 500 wins and it was only then I realized the depth of what he has achieved in also winning the Daytona 24 and Sebring 12 Hour sports car races. It will be great to have his experience within our ranks and also adds another interesting element for the race fans and a rare opportunity to see the Dutchman race in Europe. I am sure we will see plenty of Orange shirts at Spa in support of him!”