Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk says he will retire following that race next May.
The 45-year-old driver, a native of the Netherlands and a longtime resident of the United States, went through a frustrating 1998 season during which he was often uncompetitive and didn't win until the last race in Las Vegas.
Prior to that victory, his fourth in the Indy Racing League, Luyendyk indicated many times he was considering stepping out of the cockpit for the final time, although he was uncertain if he would simply retire or cut back on his schedule.
Luyendyk, who still holds the record of the fastest race at Indianapolis, said he wants to spend more time with his family.
"When you are committed to a team as a driver for an entire season, you are committed every day of the year," he said. "The work doesn't start with practice on Friday and end with the race on Sunday."
"There is the travel, the testing and the appearances. Even when I'm at home, I'm working out, busy on the phone and thinking about the business of racing."
Luyendyk will again drive at Indy for Fred Treadway, but only in that one race. There was no immediate word from Treadway about replacing Luyendyk for the rest of the IRL series.
Luyendyk said the timing is right for his decision, saying he wanted to help his 17-year-old son, Arie Jr., with his racing.
"I've been thinking about this for quite some time. I know there has been some speculation about my plans and, rather than have people guess, I wanted to be honest with everyone, especially the fans," he said.
Treadway said he and Luyendyk knew the day would come when he would step out of the car.
"Regrettably, that day is here," the owner said. "However, he will continue to be an asset to our team, working with our drivers and sponsors."
The retirement of "the Flying Dutchman" will leave the 3-year-old IRL with a handful of young stars but without a real marquee attraction. Luyendyk easily was the biggest name to remain wth the new series when the established teams of CART chose to boycott the IRL.
"I have worked with the IRL quite a bit to help promote the series and I've kind of become an ambassador of the IRL in a certain way," Luyendyk said in an interview in September. "But I don't feel like I'm responsible, that I should keep on racing until the IRL is firmly established."
During his career, Luyendyk drove in 166 Indy car races and won seven times. He also was part of the winning teams in the 1989 12 Hours of Sebring and 1998 24 Hours of Daytona sports car endurance races, and said he might continue to race in selected sports car events after the 1999 Indy 500.
Luyendyk debuted at Indianapolis in 1985 and finished seventh to earn rookie of the year honors. He started third in the 1990 race, led 37 laps and set the race record of 185.981 mph, which is still among the fastest 500-mile events ever run.
He also started and finished first at Indy in 1997 to become one of only 15 drivers to have won the Memorial Day Weekend classic more than once in the 82 years it has been run.
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