I don't know why Jaques Lazier is listed as a rookie, he was in last year's Indy 500.
Andy Hillenburg, an Indy native who now lives in Charlotte, has raced ARCA, Winston Cup and sprints. His dream since he was a kid has been to be in the Indy 500. Lots of hard work, patience and persistence has finally paid off! Andy is not only and excellent driver, he's a Hoosier! Go Andy!!
I'm not sure yet what happened with rookies Casey Mears. I know Casey passed his rookie orientation, but I never heard about him getting a ride. Treadway picked up Shigeaki Hattori and his Epson sponsorship. The Shigster passed the 4-phase 500 rookie orientation according to Treadway, however they will not be starting him in the Indy 500. Shiggy will start in the IRL at Texas in June.
Treadway Racing is going to run 24 y/o Jason Leffler in the 2000 Indy 500. They ran him at Vegas last month and at WDW last year. (He also races for Joe Gibbs over in Nascar and is a midget champion.) The most intriguing part of this story is that his sponsor is United Auto Group, whose C.E.O. happens to be Roger Penske!
Several other teams have car seats to fill: Menards, Walker, Cheever, Dick Simon, Nienhouse, Coulson, and Foyt/Brack. Kenny Brack won the Indy 500 last year while driving for A.J. Foyt. Brack moved to the CART series in 2000. He had an agreement with team owner Bobby Rahal that he could defend his championship at Indy. Brack and Foyt bought the cars and equipment for an Indy 500 run, but Rahal has backed out of the deal and isn't allowing Kenny to compete. Meanwhile, Kenny's talent is shining brightly in Cart, although only briefly as his Team Rahal cars experience mechanical difficulties. A lot of Indy fans will miss having Kenny Brack in the 500, but thats the way it goes when you deal with dorks like Rahal.
Niclas Jonsson, Bobby Regester, Jon Herb and Russ Gamester are rookies that have signed for some teams, but I haven't heard of them passing rookie tests or being entered in the 500.
Robby Unser has shown up at the track testing. Looks like he might be driving for McCormack/Byrd. If he gets in, we will have the first Indy 500 with 3 Unsers competing!
Stan Wattles has signed up with Hemelgarn Racing and the new March racing organization! English rookie, Guy Smith, will also be racing for March.
Where is Marco Greco, Steve Knapp, John Paul Jr., and Mike Groff this year? Probably looking for money like Andy Michner and J.J. Yeley.
Robby Gordon, a man who has raced successfully off-road and with CART, who has almost won the Indy 500 and who currently races for Menards in Nascar's Winston Cup series, is again running a car for Team Menard with sponsorship from Conseco.
Jimmy Vasser has also ran in the Indy 500 before, but not since 1995. He races in the CART series and won that championship in 1996.
Vasser will be accompanied by his Target/Ganassi teammate, Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya is a 25 y/o Columbian with amazing driving skills. He won the CART championship last year in his rookie year, with 7 wins!
Memo Gidley is another American joining us from the CART series. He will be driving for Team Pelfrey at the Indy 500. (If Michael Andretti could race in the 500, we would have all 3 of the Americans in CART.)
(Also, don't forget, the Nazareth race got snowed out and these CART guys will be running the re-scheduled race the day before the Indy 500!)
Richie Hearn will be driving for Pagan Racing. Richie drove in the IRL in 96 and 97 and then he switched to the CART series for 98 and 99.
Wym Eyckmans, from Belgium, is returning again to the 500 and driving for Dick Simon. Likewise, Hideshi Matsuda returns with Beck Motorsports.
Lee Petty was a three-time champion on what has become the Winston Cup circuit and won the inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959. Lee had 55 career wins.
Racing News - May 2000
Racing News - June 2000