IndyCar Pocono Notebook: Vintage cars put racing’s past back on the track

LONG POND — Gary Mondschein said he doesn’t like to see cars in a museum.

“It does very little for me,” Mondschein said. “I want that eye candy to fire up; I want flames coming out of it and I want to see it shooting down the straightaway like it’s 1956 or 1972 or 1987 all over again. I want to see, smell, hear and touch these race cars.”

Mondschein, who is from Brodheadsville, wants racing fans to have the same experience as him. That’s why he is running the Vintage IndyCar Celebration this weekend at Pocono Raceway in conjunction with the track and the Verizon IndyCar Series. It’s presented by Mondschein’s Classic Racing Times.

He said he has several divisions of the best race cars in the world; cars worth millions of dollars.

“We have cars ranging from a 1913 Buick that ran against all the Indy cars of the day and won a race at Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., on the boards, to early 2000s Indy cars,” Mondschein. “We have better than 50 Indy cars that are here, and before the race on Sunday, we’re going to have parade laps and we have quarter-midget racing going at the exit of pit road and other races on the road course here at Pocono and a car show in the paddock area. Overall, we have between 200 and 250 cars here.”

Mondschein owns 15 different cars ranging from three-quarter midgets to Indy cars.

“All open-wheel stuff,” Mondschein said. “I’m a third-generation racer myself. My grandfather, Henry Mondschein, raced in the 1920s and ’30s on motorcycles and retired in 1934, and my father, Melvin, raced and I raced for 30 years in ARDC midgets and USAC all across the country.”

He has been running his vintage car program at Phoenix in addition to Pocono and he’s looking at adding a third date at another track next year.

“Five different tracks have called, so it’s a growing series, but we want to take it one little step at a time,” Mondschein said.

Dancing with Hinchtown

James Hinchcliffe, whose website is called simply Hinchtown, did his career and all of IndyCar a lot of good by finishing second with pro partner Sharna Burgess on last fall’s “Dancing With The Stars” on ABC.

He finished second to gymnast Laurie Hernandez and pro partner Val Chmerkovskiy, but made it all the way to final seconds of the final show before being eliminated. He then did a brief promotional tour after the show, which gave IndyCar even more exposure.

“It certainly made me more recognizable in airports,” Hinchcliffe said after qualifying 12th at Pocono on Sunday. “It was a life-changing experience for me, and made me much more recognizable to people. Hopefully it was good for the sport, too.”

He said the conditioning for the show was something he had never experienced before, but the camaraderie on the show made it all worthwhile.

“We became a family,” he said.

Hinchcliffe had no beef with the judges who gave the mirror-ball trophy to…

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