Ryan Hunter-Reay, left, the 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner, is entered in the No. 23 Dreyer Reinbold Chevrolet for the upcoming 500. British driver Stefan Wilson, right, joins Dreyer Reinbold Racing for the Indianapolis 500.
Multiple-motorsports team owner Dennis Reinbold was in California recently for the championship rounds of the NRX Rallycross Series for FCI-S all-electric vehicles.
No worries if that alphabet soup is confusing because the topic out West also turned to the two Dreyer Reinbold Racing (DRR) entries in the 107th Indianapolis 500 with drivers Stefan Wilson and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Hunter-Reay was announced last week, but Wilson was with Reinbold, who owns an auto dealership in Greenwood, at the Rallycross event in California and took time for an exclusive interview with The Southsider Voice.
Obviously, the “500’ was a big part of the buzz during the NRX Rallycross Series.
Wilson and Reinbold are ecstatic that Hunter-Reay is on board. Wilson and the 500 winner were teammates in 2015 and 2021 with a different team.
“It’s good to have that relationship with Ryan,” said Wilson, brother of the late Justin Wilson who was fatally injured in an IndyCar race at Pocono in 2015. “Our setups are similar. His past experience will be a big team asset.”
Reinbold landed Hunter-Reay after the Floridian driver had visited the Dreyer-Reinbold race shop several times on Indy’s northside.
“He (Ryan) has a comfort level after seeing our shop and realizing that being in a 500-only mode makes us well-prepared; Ryan was impressed,” Reinbold said. “He’s a proven winner at the Speedway and a tremendously talented driver.”
Hunter-Reay joins former 500 winners Al Unser Jr., Buddy Lazier, and Buddy Rice among the 45 previous DRR drivers since 2000. And he returns to Chevrolet power which he utilized in winning the 2012 Indy Car Series.
After a 12-year run with Andretti Autosport and longtime DHL backing, Formula One veteran Romain Grosjean inherited that seat. Without a ride in 2021, Hunter-Reay coached Hollinger Racing rook Callum Ilott for last year’s 500. In three of his last four starts for Andretti, Hunter-Reay finished fifth, eighth and 10th.
However, Hunter-Reay, 42, vowed that he would return to the 500 in a competitive ride.
After a year’s absence from the “500,” Hunter-Reay admits that he is once-again “laser-focused and energized” with DRR and that “the Indy 500 isn’t just a motor race, for me; it’s a way of life.”
“DRR is a streamlined program that puts all its energy into the month of May,” Hunter-Reay stated in a news release last week. “I guess you can say I’m going back to my roots, considering how I started my IndyCar career with smaller teams that took the fight to the bigger efforts and won. If you look at DRR’s record at Indy and their impressive recent results, the pool of talented engineers and crew; it’s a perfect fit.”
Hunter-Reay has 18 career IndyCar wins and an Indy 500 career that includes five starts among the top seven and six top-10 finishes as well as his 2014 win.
The entry for Hunter-Reay is the 33rd entry for the upcoming May 28 classic.
DRR consistently has fielded entries that have finished among the top 10, including fourth place in 2012 with Oriol Servia, seventh with Sage Karam in 2021, and 10th with Santino Ferrucci last year.
Hunter-Reay is assigned the No. 23 DRR entry with Wilson in the No. 24 joint DRR entry with Cusick Motorsports. Wilson’s best “500” finish is 15th in 2018 after leading with only four laps to go.