Arie Luyendyk is well known by those who follow auto racing, and especially Formula I or Indy Car racing. In 1985 he was the rookie of the year at the Indy 500 Race where he placed seventh in a field of 33 starters. That was quite an accomplishment. He continued to be a regular at the Indy 500 Race and won his first Indy 500 title in 1990. He managed to win again in 1997 and became a multi-race winner, an accomplishment not achieved by many race car drivers.
Luyendyk was born in Sommelsdijk, The Netherlands, on September 21, 1953. His father owned a garage, raced cars and maintained them. So as a result Arie grew up in a car racing environment, He started racing cars while he was still a teenager, and won his first important race in 1973 when he became the Dutch Formula Ford champion. Two years later, in 1975, he became the European Formula Ford champion.
Having become successful in the Formula Ford racing series he decided to move up to the more competitive Super Vee series in 1977. In that same year he became the European Super Vee champion. His success in Super Vee whetted his appetite to compete on the American racing scene. So in 1981 he competed in the U.S.-based Mini Indy Super Vee series. He liked U.S. racing and at the end of 1983 he moved permanently to the United States. During the following year he made his first Indy Car debut and placed eighth in his first race. This opened up the possibility of competing in the Indy 500.
In 1985 Luyendyk became entitled to enter the Indy 500 for the first time. He managed to qualify as a rookie and on race day he placed seventh in the race, an unusual accomplishment for a rookie. He continued racing and in 1990 he won the Indy 500, a monumental accomplishment. He repeated with another Indy 500 win in 1997.
During his distinguished racing career he participated in many different kinds of auto racing. In 1989 he and his two co-drivers, Geoff Brabham and Chip Robinson, won the 12 hour Sebring Race in Sebring, Florida. Also in 1998 he and his three co-drivers, Gianpiero Moretti, Didier Thys and Mauro Baldi, won the 24 Hours of Daytona Race. In individual races, Luyendyk also was the 1977 winner of the Texas Motor Speedway IRL Race, and in 1998 he was the winner of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway IRL Race.
To put a cap on his racing career Luyendyk participated again in the 1999 Indy 500 Race. He was leading the race convincingly for his third Indy 500 victory. Unfortunately, he was taken out of the race by an accident with a car he was lapping. Fortunately he was uninjured. Following that disappointment he decided to retire from racing. He had had a distinguished racing career and was only 46 years old when he retired. He continues to be active in race management by guiding his son Arie, Jr.'s career in automobile racing.
Luyendyk is married to his wife Mieke. They have four children consisting of Arie, Jr., Maida, Alec and Luca. The family currently resides in Arizona.
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