Long-time Indy 500 entrant Rolla Vollstedt passes away

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Rolla Vollstedt, a long-time IndyCar team owner and entrant in the Indianapolis 500, passed away earlier this week in Portland, Oregon.

Vollstedt fielded entries in National Championship Car competition (what later became IndyCar) at dirt track events, beginning in the 1950s, before entering his first Indianapolis 500 in 1964. Using one of the first American-built rear-engine cars to have an Offenhauser engine powering it, Vollstedt’s driver Len Sutton qualified eighth and ran as high as fourth in that year’s “500” before mechanical gremlins sidelined the effort.

However, Vollstedt might be best known as the car owner who fielded an entry for Janet Guthrie, who became the first woman to try to qualify for the race in 1976. While persistent mechanical problems forced the team to withdraw their entry that year, they returned in 1977, with Guthrie making the field on the final day of qualifying.

Vollstedt became famous for being the first owner to file an entry for an upcoming Indy 500 every year, and his cars were often the first to take to the track when practice began every May.

Although his entries never won an IndyCar race, one of his cars did qualify second at Riverside, California in 1967 and even briefly led in the opening laps, with two-time Formula 1 world champion and Indy 500 winner Jim Clark at the helm.

Rolla Vollstedt was 99 years old at the time of his passing.

 

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Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.