After hearing that John Andretti is going to drive a car fielded by Richard Petty to try and make the Indianapolis 500, the thought crossed my mind: Why not give someone else a chance who isn’t in a Cup ride right now? In his long and storied career of racing almost everything that has wheels, Ken Schrader has never raced in the Indianapolis 500. Richard Petty would gain a lot of support and attention if he would give Schrader one more shot to make the greatest spectacle in racing.
Schrader started his racing career on the typical path to make the 500. He began racing midgets and sprint cars in the Midwest under the USAC banner. He was the 1982 USAC Silver Crown and the 1983 USAC Sprint Car championships. He had a car at Indianapolis in 1983 that was more than fast enough in practice to make the race, but crashed it before qualifying. His team did not have a backup car so he was unable to make the field. He entered cars the next two years but was unable to make the race.
Schrader is a throwback to the old days when drivers would race anything, anywhere, anytime. It was nothing back in the day to see AJ Foyt, Mario Andretti, and Johnny Rutherford run sprint cars on dirt two nights before they raced in the Indianapolis 500. Schrader is cut from that same mold. He competes at tracks all over the United States, routinely running around 100 races a year. He’s raced in every state in the Union except Rhode Island, and that last hurdle should be crossed in the not too distant future.
Schrader has a loyal fanbase that would love to see him get one more shot at the biggest open-wheel race in the world, and Schrader still has the talent to get the job done. Since Schrader isn’t running in a Cup car this year, it would be far easier for him to spend the required time at Indy to get the car up to speed and make it as race-ready as possible for the 500.
While Schrader most likely wouldn’t admit it, he’d love to have another shot at Indianapolis, and Richard Petty would be hard pressed to find a better wheelman or a nicer gentleman to put behind the wheel of his car than Kenny.