Senior staff writer
Longtime Indianapolis 500 car owner Dennis Reinbold knows the routine.
For the past few years the Greenwood and Northside automotive dealership owner has partnered with established Verizon IndyCar Series teams to do a “one-off” race – the most prestigious motor sports event in the world – the Indianapolis 500.
Reinbold, the grandson of former 500 race car builder Floyd “Pop” Dreyer, admits that getting ready for the 99th running of the 500 has been the most challenging because of the new aero package.
“It’s been a challenge because we started out without any data at all,” Reinbold said. “We started from zero, so we had to work harder.”
Reinbold has partnered for the second year with Kingdom Racing for a joint entry, the No. 24 Robert Graham Special Dallara/Chevrolet with flamboyant driver Townsend Bell, whose designer caps are selling for $118 online.
The Dreyer & Reinbold-Kingdom Racing team seemingly learned fast last week as qualifying day approached. Bell was among the fastest five drivers for two days and wound up with the week’s 12th- fastest lap of 229.381 mph on Friday.
The last single-car team effort to win the 500 came in 2011 when Dan Weldon put together his last-lap victory for team owner and former 500 driver Bryan Herta.
“We have been working right through out checklist of items with the engineering department and the mechanics,” said Reinbold, entering his 16th consecutive Indy 500 as an owner. “So far everything has been working well. We know we are the underdogs against the larger teams like Penske, Ganassi, Andretti and others. But we believe our program is solid.”
After revised rules were announced for qualifying Sunday, Bell thought it would play in his favor. The team’s run turned out to be a mystery at 223.447 mph, which puts Bell in the middle of the ninth row.
“Wide open. I have no idea what happened to our speed,” Bell said. “I’m incredibly frustrated to start that far back; just shocked, really.”
Reinbold had no explanation because most of Bell’s practice laps were with race day set-ups.
The No. 24 car has attracted much attention this year. The number design is identical to five-time Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon. The car was unveiled May 8 at the Speedway sitting next to the Pop Dreyer-built 1938 AAA Eastern Championship sprint car driven by Duke Nalon.
A photo montage of Gordon’s Brickyard 400 wins adorns the inside of the cockpit. Gordon is doing his version of The Double by driving the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Pace Car to start the 99th 500 and then flying to Charlotte Motor Speedway to race in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600.
“Coming back always stirs up the memories,” Reinbold said. “This place always holds some surprises.”
Bell’s best finish was fourth in 2009 with KV Racing Technology.
Reinbold’s 500 legacy dates back to 1927, when Dreyer served as a mechanic and crewman on a Duesenberg.