INDIANAPOLIS – Those who have the privilege to step onto the grid on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend come from all over the country and the world.
The “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is a global event, after all, boasting over a century of traditions and a lineup of the very best in the history of motorsports. It’s an event that’s just three or so hours south of Chicago at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where 500 miles breaks hearts and makes legends.
There have been a few of these participants through the years in the Indianapolis 500 that hail from the Chicago area, including 1930 pole position and race winner Billy Arnold and the Bettenhausen family of Tinley Park.
David Malukas will be the latest added to that group of starters for the prestigious race as he qualified 13th for the race in his No. 18 Honda-power machine for Dale Coyne Racing.
“I’m going to be taking it all in,” said Malukas this past week of his first Indy 500. “It’s been a dream of mine since I was little, a dream of my dad. He still can’t believe that I’m in IndyCar. We have the Malukas name. We even have a ‘Malukas Street’ in Indianapolis downtown.
“It means so much to everybody because it kinda feels like all that hard work and everything is finally gonna become achieved.”
That racing journey was inspired by his father Henry, who was a driver himself and came to America with his wife Daiva in 1991 from Lithuania after the fall of the Soviet Union. The pair would settle in the Chicago area and form HMD Trucking Inc.
David would begin racing karts in South Bend, Indiana and would continue to work his way up in open-wheel racing. In 2016 & 2017, he raced in the Formula 4 UAE Championship ben moved onto the ADAC F4 Championship and the USF 2000 National Championship.
After a stop in the Pro Mazda Championship in 2018, he would move onto the Indy Lights series the next year, which is the feeder series for the NTT IndyCar Series. Malukas was sixth in 2019, then got second in 2020 when he was with Formula Regional Americas Championship.
The next year, he finished second in the Indy Lights series and was signed by Dale Coyne Racing at the beginning of the 2022 season. The Indy 500 will be his sixth in IndyCar as he currently sits 19th in the points standings.
As he reflects on this journey to one of the biggest races in the world on Sunday, it’s family that’s on his mind along with race strategy. The admiration he has for them is a big reason why he races under the Lithuanian flag along with the one from the United States.
“A lot of hard work by so many people all came together to make this happen and if you were to take one person out of the puzzle, I don’t think it would have happened. It all would have all fell apart,” said Malukus. “That’s why I truly believe that everything happens for a reason because every step of the way we’ve had so many instances where things didn’t look that great but everything kinda just clicked.
“It kinda propelled us forward to where we are now.”
Larry Hawley has more on the Burr Ridge native and his road to the Indy 500, and you can watch that in the video above.