Calkins Buzzes Away From IRL

The short history of the Indy Racing League truly came full circle Wednesday when the series’ first race winner and first champion announced he is retiring from the series.

Buzz Calkins, who won the 1996 Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway and tied with Scott Sharp for the first season championship, said he wants to focus on his future as an owner in the series and will step down as driver of the Bradley Motorsports No. 12 Dallara-Chevy.

Calkins, 30, made 53 career starts in the IRL but the first win was also his last as he struggled through the next five seasons and finished ninth in the points standings last season, with six top-10 finishes.

The Denver native plans to use his master's degree in business administration from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management toward new business ventures in the near future, including team ownership.

“I have always admired guys like Roger Penske, Bobby Rahal and Niki Lauda, who have had successful racing careers and then stepped out of the car and became successful in business and other facets of life,” Calkins said. “This is the direction I want to go. We have a great group of people here and awesome equipment. I truly believe we present the best opportunity for sponsors and a driver.

“I've been thinking long and hard about this, and I think it is time for me to focus on a new direction. I am at a time in my life where the risks aren't worth the rewards.”

Calkins drove his entire career for Bradley Motorsports, owned by his father, Brad. Calkins' entire family is deeply involved with all facets of the team.

“I would like to thank my team for all the support they've given me,” Buzz Calkins said. “They are truly some of the best individuals I have ever worked with. Competing with my father and family under the Bradley Motorsports name was a wonderful opportunity, and I appreciate the support of my entire family and the rest of the Bradley team.”

Calkins earned $3,324,228 during his IRL career and earned a reputation as one of the most consistent and smooth drivers in series history, retiring with a league-record 40 races running at the finish. Calkins' 53 starts also rank third in league history, and he completed 8,882 laps during his career, which is second all time.

He made six career starts in the Indianapolis 500, racing at the Brickyard every year since 1996. His best career finish at Indy was 10th in 1998.

“The Indy Racing League is the best racing there is and has allowed me to follow my dream of competing in the Indy-car ranks and to race in the greatest race in the world, the Indianapolis 500,” Calkins said. “I want to extend my appreciation to the IRL, Tony George and the entire Hulman-George family for having the forethought and developing such a series that has allowed me to participate in something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

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