What do you get when Squarebody Syndicate goes to the Indy 500? When Joe Yezzi first envisioned the Indy 500 tribute design of SS02, that vision didn’t actually include the part where, a few months later, he would be driving behind the wheel of his creation on the infamous 2½-mile track of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. So many pieces had to fall into place for something so significant to even begin to happen.
It all began on opening day of SEMA 2018, when Joe Yezzi and Rob Yezzi pulled back the covers to a large crowd of C10 truck enthusiasts. In the crowd was also Davey Hamilton, retired Indy car driver, who was at the time part of the Royal Purple crew hosting SS02 for the week. When Davey saw the truck and the Indy logo on the door, he knew IMS President Doug Boles would get a kick out of it and asked him to come by and check it out. Not too long after that, Joe was shaking hands with Doug, talking Indy history and getting the most important invite of his life: Doug had offered to have SS02 come out and be a part of the 103rd running of the Indy 500. Davey would take the truck around the track for a few laps, be parked on the bricks for a special photoshoot and have a spot at the museum to display for the weeks festivities.
As months went by, Joe and the crew prepared the truck to run the track. With hardlines and bag limiters commissioned from Jason Berland of Arizona High Test, many other small mods were made to further raise SS02 to another level. On just a handshake and a couple of short emails and phone calls, Joe began to lock down the logistics of traveling 30 hours away. But they could only imagine what to expect.
Fast forward to an overcast Thursday morning. The Squarebody Syndicate Crew had just arrived in downtown Indianapolis in the parking lot of Harding Steinbrenner Racing where Davey Hamilton was heading the race team to figure out the plans for SBS for the rest of the week. Davey pulled the crew into the building for a private tour of the Harding Steinbrenner headquarters to check out their team getting ready for the race, which was only four days away, before heading over to the IMS offices for the credentials needed to enter the Speedway.
After driving under the track and into the infield, SBS was led to the east side of the museum where around 50 other vintage Indy cars were setting up to unload and stage. As soon as the truck rolled out of the trailer, none other than Bobby Unser, the winner of the 1975 Indy 500, from which the truck was based, came by to see the creation for himself. He gave his approval with a signature to the core support.
At that point Joe finally could relax because the amount of preparation involved to get here justified the trip. However, it just kept getting crazier and more exciting from this point on. From being invited to a private event inside the museum Friday night, to then being led to a secret tour of the basement where close to 100 ultra rare cars were tucked away, it was more than we could expect! Then on Saturday morning, we were given access to the photo archives room so Joe could scan through the negatives of every official photo taken at the 1975 Indy 500 via a small desk lamp and a fish-eye lens. He found photos never seen before, adding more history to the truck.
Nothing, however, could compare to our experience after that. The rain from Saturday morning had passed, vintage cars were running the track and the buzz in the air was all things racing as people surrounded SS02. You see, Davey’s intention was to take laps in SS02, but understandably, he had gotten tied up with race prep and wasn’t able to make it down to the track. Joe had come to terms with the fact that the truck wasn’t going to make it onto the track after all, but when Jason Vansickle of the IMS museum swung by and just sort of told Joe, “Hey, go park the truck next to all the pace Camaros. You’re on the track next,” that changed everything!
You can imagine the shock and exhilaration of one minute, accepting that the truck wouldn’t be driven at all to, “Hey, not only is the truck going on the track, but you’re driving it!” Without further ado, Joe immediately got the truck rolling and was now officially fulfilling his short-term dream of driving on the iconic speedway. To think it was just months earlier when Joe was taking chance after chance to build a truck in hopes to be accepted by the masses, to now being able to drive SS02 on this iconic track!
After a few laps of going 80-90 mph, the run was over. Joe and his cousin Rob exited that track with smiles so big and bright that they could be seen from the other end of the track. It actually happened—SS02 laid its tires down on Indianapolis Motor Speedway. What else could anyone ask for, right?
Well, by now the vintage cars were starting to get loaded up and the track was starting to be transformed for race day. Being that the Syndicate Crew was in the same area, they felt it was also time to pack up. Joe decided to drive the truck outside the track and into the trailer to be loaded up safely before the mass crowds of Indy 500 flooded in the following day. But as soon as Joe got near the trailer, Doug calls to have Joe meet him at the pagoda in an hour for a couple more laps. Without any hesitation, Joe went to prepare for another lap with Doug and also hoped for a few photo ops of the truck on the brick.
Doug, however, had different plans. He tells Joe to try and keep up with him as he hopped in his 2018 Vette and sped into 120-130 mph with Joe now in tow. Traveling at speeds well over a 100 mph around turns, Joe was in for a ride of his life! This was an adrenaline rush on a whole different level! After a few laps, Doug slows and stops on the brick finish line, giving the crew full access for as much time as needed for a photo shoot against the sunset, all on the night before the most important day of Doug’s year. Unbelievable!
Needless to say, Doug and the staff at IMS went beyond anything we could imagine in accommodating the SBS crew for this event, and we will forever be Indy 500 fans because of it!