Ride Like a Pro at the Indy Racing Experience
Writer / Kevin Conrad
Imagine traveling at 180 miles per hour, just inches off the ground. It’s enough to give even an astronaut a thrill, but you don’t have to be NASA-certified to experience it. That’s thanks to a Center Grove resident who made his racing dream come true.
Former Budget Car and Truck Rental executive Scott Jasek came up with the idea when visiting the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s (IMS) Gasoline Alley. He asked about driving an IndyCar. He was told only professional drivers could drive an IndyCar. That gave Jasek an idea.
“I drew the IndyCar two-seater on a sheet of paper like a 5-year-old kid,” Jasek says. “What if you stretched it, and I’ll sit in the back and let the professional drive it?”
Jasek presented his business plan to then-IMS Chairman, President and CEO Tony George, and the IMS marketing division.
“Tony loved the idea,” Jasek says.
As they say, the rest is history. The Indy Racing Experience was born in 2001. Jasek teamed up with IndyCar team owners Joe Kennedy and Jeff Sinden to create the fastest seat in racing with its IndyCar driving and two-seater programs. Jasek and Kennedy are the co-owners today, having bought out Sinden years ago.
For 20 years, the Indy Racing Experience has been providing exhilarating, heart-pounding, one-of-a-kind experiences for race fans, car enthusiasts and celebrities. Who would have imagined a non-IndyCar driver would have an opportunity to ride in an IndyCar around the most famous race track in the world?
More than 100,000 rides have been given to race fans, car enthusiasts, thrill seekers, and celebrities including Morgan Freeman, Lady Gaga, Mark Wahlberg, Matt Damon and Tony Dungy.
“Some of the best rides to me personally are when a family buys grandpa a ride in the car,” Jasek says. “They’ve been buying gifts for grandpa and he’s not happy with them. Here he is in a fire suit and he looks miserable. You get him in the car, and after the ride he gets out and he’s screaming like a 10-year-old little girl. No one has ever seen grandpa react this way. Those are the best. We’ve had times when people have cancer and their last wish is to take a ride. Those are touching. Those are the ones I remember the most.”
American astronaut Scott Kelly rode in a two-seater at the IMS. Jasek says Kelly raved about the incredible speeds.
“When he got out of the car he said, ‘I’ve never felt speed like that. I’ve taken off in a rocket and I’ve flown fighter jets, but the fastest I ever felt was a two-seater IndyCar at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,’” Jasek says. “When you’re in this car you’re so low to the ground and close to the wall, the sensation of speed is dramatic.”
The Indy Racing Experience’s most famed and iconic driver is 1969 Indy 500 champion, Mario Andretti.
“We have a lot of drivers, but Mario is the most famous,” Jasek says. “A few years ago he lost his wife and most recently he lost his twin brother Aldo. His family knows how important the two-seater is to Mario. It’s keeping the legend doing what he loves. He’s the greatest race car driver ever.”
Andretti, 81, enjoys getting behind the wheel of the two-seater and providing a once-in-a-lifetime experience for patrons.
“Whether passengers are riding with me or another IndyCar driver, the two-seat IndyCar is a unique experience,” he said in a recent press release. “It’s easy to try tennis, golf, baseball, ice skating, and any other sport, but the only way to experience the thrill of an IndyCar is to be in the cockpit of a race car with an IndyCar driver at the wheel. For anyone who enjoys an extreme experience, riding along in the two-seater is incredible. If you are a thrill-seeker, you’ll love the Fastest Seat in Sports. People from all walks of life have tried it, including race fans, celebrities, journalists, active-duty military and even a special lady on her 100th birthday. I love being part of the program and I know other IndyCar drivers enjoy taking passengers as much as I do.”
The Indy Racing Experience recently secured a major corporate sponsor, Ruoff Mortgage. The partnership helps to keep rides affordable for patrons. Also, Ruoff Mortgage is offering a “Win a Ride & Dine with Mario Andretti” sweepstakes for one lucky fan and guest. Enter at ruoff.com.
For more information on how to make your racing dreams come true, go to IndyRacingExperience.com.