Inaugural Indy Racing League co-champion Buzz Calkins turns 47 today. Calkins was one of the many drivers who benefitted from Tony George’s vision for the IRL, a respectable young driver struggling to find funding to move up the open-wheel ladder. Switching from Indy Lights in 1996, Calkins won the first-ever IRL race, held at Walt Disney World Speedway. Despite the win, the series had no tiebreakers in place, so he was named co-champion with the winless Scott Sharp.

Pictured is Racing Champions’ replica of Calkins’ 1996 championship-winning ride.