The 2012 Dallara-Honda race car, driven to victory in the 2014 Indianapolis 500 by Ryan Hunter-Reay, can be yours – if the price is right.
Here’s the deal: Andretti Autosport, which currently owns the car – chassis number DW12-057, is offering it for sale January 29 at the Gooding & Company classic car auction, adjacent to the Scottsdale Fashion Square mall.
David Gooding, the auction house’s president, estimates the car might fetch $600,000-$750,000 – or more, plus a 10 percent sales commission.
“The sale of this lot,” says Mr. Gooding, “is unprecedented in modern motorsports.” Indeed, this unusual opportunity is believed to be without parallel in classic car auction history. Gooding says he was approached recently with the idea, by representatives of the Andretti Autosport team. “It’s not something I would have thought of,” he adds, “but it’s a very exciting idea.”
Michael Andretti, the team’s chief executive, agrees, “I’m excited to team up with Gooding & Company on this really unique collaboration.” He plans to personally present the car to the winning bidder.
The catch is this: The new owner must allow Andretti Autosport to retain the car, and continue racing it, through the 2018 season. After that, the new owner can take delivery of the car – or what is left of it.
The rough-and-tumble sport of Indycar racing is generally not too kind to the machines that race in it. Most end up crashed before the projected end of their useful lives, or in a dark, dusty corner of a garage after becoming too obsolete to be competitive anymore. An Indy-winning car, however, is highly unlikely to be relegated to such an ignominious end.
“Ryan Hunter-Reay’s car would always have a place of honor in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum,” says Donald Davidson, the facility’s historian, “assuming its owner wanted to display it here.” The speedway museum showcases a number of past 500-winning cars, dating back to the inaugural 1911 race’s triumphant Marmon Wasp. The most recent former winner on display is the late Dan Wheldon’s rebuilt 2011 Dallara-Honda.
After the 2018 Indy campaign, Andretti Autosport is promising to “restore and repair” Hunter-Reay’s car in its period-correct 2014 livery, the Gooding auction prospectus states; with one exception: “This lot does not include the Honda race engine, as it is owned and retained by the manufacturer.”
Since the engine is an integral component of the car’s structure, the owner could receive the car in pieces; if the idea of receiving a box of parts is not appealing, Andretti says a “spacer” could be installed where the engine originally went, to hang the various parts off of it, and facilitate a rolling presentation of the Indy winner. (That’s pretty much how the car will be presented at the auction, as it cannot be displayed with its real engine, to avoid any confusion over what is actually being sold.)
To assuage any disappointment over that, or of having to wait such a relatively long time to receive the inoperable, engine-less, obsolete chassis, the team will throw in two season-long participant credentials for the Indycar series races at which the team enters the car through 2018, In addition, the package also includes VIP passes for up to four guests, although some exclusions apply.
“The opportunity to auction off our 2014 Indy 500 winning – and still active – race car and provide the winning bidder with an immersive ownership experience with our team,” Andretti adds, “delivers a great way to celebrate an iconic moment in our team’s history as we prepare for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500.” That race is scheduled May 29.
Hunter-Reay is scheduled to appear with the car at various promotional events in Arizona, in the week leading up to the sale.
Gooding says he expects the auctioneer’s hammer could fall at a price much higher than the pre-sale estimate; however, an undisclosed “reserve price” below $600,000 could prevent the sale from being consummated if bids do not exceed that price.
Finally, just to be clear: Although a measure of fame is an unspoken part of the deal, the car’s new owner is not its sponsor. But such requests undoubtedly could be accommodated for additional consideration.
Please note, however, major sponsorships in Indycar racing can run into the many millions of dollars.
January 5, 2016 (Note: An earlier version of this story appeared a day earlier in The New York Times)