Arie Luyendyk Sr. is a staple of American open wheel racing, having competed in CART and IndyCar across 17 seasons starting in 1984.
Along the way, The Flying Dutchman earned three poles and two wins at the prestigious Indy 500, cementing his place in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame.
Even though his last race as a driver was in 2002, Luyendyk has been a common sight in the paddock ever since and lately has been serving as a steward in race control. He has also found time to mentor the latest young Dutch driver in IndyCar, Rinus VeeKay.
The 67-year-old has effectively taken VeeKay under his wing and has been sharing his many years of racing knowledge with the up-and-coming driver.
After earning the 2020 Rookie of the Year honors, VeeKay has stepped up his game this year and recently earned his first victory earlier this month at the GMR Grand Prix.
“It’s already a pleasure to have him giving me advice,” said VeeKay. “Sometimes it’s a little tough because he’s a steward, he’s in race control.
“ is when I met Arie, meet-and-greet at the Union Jack’s Pub. That was pretty cool. He heard about a Dutch kid trying to make it to IndyCar.
“Then in my first year [in the Road to Indy] I made some cool moves, I won some races. He was like, ‘Well, I’m quite impressed.’ He started to get at little more involved. Right now I think he’s as excited as I am.
“It’s a healthy relationship we have. I’m very proud of what he has done in the past. I think he’s starting to get proud of me, too.”
VeeKay is the first driver from the Netherlands to race in IndyCar since Robert Doornbos drove for HVM Racing in 2009.
His popularity has grown since he’s made it to the big stage as well, with comparisons having been made to Formula 1’s Max Verstappen, who also has a strong fan following within their shared home country.
Luyendyk has been spotted talking with VeeKay at almost every race weekend, and the rarity of having a fellow countryman in the IndyCar paddock was certainly a factor in their friendship.
Both have shown that they truly get along, however, and the mentoring is in no way seen as a chore by either party.
The 20-year-old has made no secret that the advice he has been receiving from Luyendyk has been invaluable to his success so far, and pointed to a specific memory after earning a front row position for this year’s Indy 500.
“My first memory of the Indy 500 was probably my dad showing a video of Arie winning the race in 1990,” recalled VeeKay. “I was hooked to racing as long as I can remember.
“I had two big fans, Arie Luyendyk and Ayrton Senna. I think they were the both best in the business in two different categories.
“When I saw that, IndyCar was something you dream of when you’re a little kid. I’m living a dream right now.
“Arie came to me after my [qualifying] run. He told me, ‘It took me five years to get to the front row. Once I started third, I won the race.’
“Let’s hope I can do the same as Arie.”
If he wins, VeeKay will become the youngest Indy 500 winner in history, displacing Troy Ruttman who won the great race back in 1952 at just 22 years old.
VeeKay starts this weekend’s Indy 500 on the outside of the front row in the #21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy, alongside Colton Herta and Scott Dixon.