Dennis Reinbold’s love for the sport of auto racing is genetic, handed down through generations from his grandfather, Floyd “Pop” Dreyer, who served as a mechanic in the 1927 Indianapolis 500. Dreyer, who succeeded as a motorcycle racer before building and owning racing cars, built a variety of Indy 500 entries, sprint cars and midgets from the 1930s through the 1950s.
That family history wasn’t lost on his grandson, who has operated Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (DRR) since 1999. It wasn’t long before Dennis Reinbold’s team found itself in Victory Lane with Robbie Buhl, who won the 2000 Indy Racing League contest at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. Wins whet the appetite and Reinbold has fielded a variety of talented drivers including Buhl, Buddy Lazier, Sarah Fisher, Buddy Rice, Ryan Briscoe, Al Unser Jr. and Townsend Bell. All 38 DRR drivers have successfully qualified for the Indy 500.
For this year’s 103rd Indy 500 Reinbold has, for a second consecutive year, enlisted the services of Californian J.R. Hildebrand, 31, to complement his younger driver, Sage Karam (24) of Nazareth, Penn. Karam drove his first Indy 500 in 2014 with DRR, under loan from Chip Ganassi Racing; he qualified 31st and finished ninth. Karam has driven with the team for every Indy 500 since 2016.
Hildebrand, the 500’s Rookie of the Year in 2011 when he finished second to the late Dan Wheldon (after crashing out of the lead in the race’s final turn), will drive a tribute No. 48 Dallara/Chevrolet for DRR in the May 26 classic, paying homage to the late Dan Gurney, founder of Dan Gurney’s All American Racers (AAR).
“Last year we had a great relationship with Dennis Reinbold’s DRR team in our initial Indy 500 effort [together],” said Hildebrand. “I started my Indy car career with Dennis back in 2010 when he brought me up to the big leagues in INDYCAR racing. We have always had a great rapport over the years. I have always been impressed with the speed in the race of the DRR team.”
Hildebrand’s No. 48 Indy car has sponsorship from Salesforce, as he and the team did in 2018. “I’m thrilled to have Salesforce back on our car and also honor the great Dan Gurney with the No. 48 this year. Dan was one of my racing heroes; by saluting him in this year’s Indy 500 and campaigning his famed No. 48, we’ll celebrate Dan’s great racing achievements with the No. 48 car.” Gurney’s No. 48 won the 1975 Indy 500 with Bobby Unser at the wheel.
“We are very much looking forward to another exciting Indy 500 in 2019,” noted Gurney’s youngest son Alex Gurney. “The No. 48 is special to our family as my dad took that number to second place in both 1968 and 1969 [at the Speedway] as well as a win for AAR as a team and manufacturer in 1975. This is a great tribute to my dad. I hope JR can put the 48 up front in the big race.”
Hildebrand’s late entry complements the earlier decision to bring back Karam for a fourth consecutive year in the No. 24 WIX Filters Chevy-powered Indy car. In addition, the young Pennsylvanian joins DRR’s Rallycross Americas team for the 2019 ARX Rallycross season, marking his racing versatility.
Karam has also competed in USF200 where he took the 2010 championship with Andretti Autosport, continuing in the former Star Mazda championship in 2011/2012, finishing fifth and third. Karam competed in Indy lights for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in 2013 and secured that championship. He drove in IMSA’s WeatherTech Sports Car Championship for Ganassi and helped Lexus enter the series’ GTD category, earning a best class result of fifth at Mosport in 2016.
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing begin their preparations for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 when practice begins at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 14. Qualifying the the Greatest Spectacle in Racing takes place Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19. The start is scheduled for 12:15 EDT on Sunday, May 26. The race is broadcast on NBC this year for the first time.