Graphics & Data Courtesy of IndyCar.com
Familiar names and new faces will converge on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend for the fourth annual Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Open Test. Named in honor of the former team manager for multiple Indy Lights championship-winning Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian who passed away in September of 2011, the two-day test will feature all three levels of the highly acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course as well as demonstration laps of the Dallara IL-15 Indy Lights Car to be driven by Verizon IndyCar Series driver Josef Newgarden.
In addition to serving as a jumpstart to established campaigns, the test serves as an “audition” for teams and drivers working on new programs in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires. The Speedway road course venue will host double-header rounds for all three series in 2015.
Many drivers will be turning their first laps in their respective next steps on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder including reigning Pro Mazda champion Spencer Pigot, who will be running with the Schmidt Peterson squad as the team also welcomes NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie Parker Kligerman and former Atlantic Series regular Alan Sciuto at the outing. Dalton Kellett, who contested the Toronto round of Indy Lights competition last year, will return with Pabst Racing.
In Pro Mazda, 2014 USF2000 champion Florian Latorre will test the waters with his multiple championship-winning Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing team as several surprises dot the entry lists. Reigning champions Juncos Racing will roll in with series regular and race winner Jose Gutierrez, who will be joined by Garett Grist – who won two races as a rookie in 2014 with Andretti Autosport – Austin Cindric, who finished on the podium in this year’s USF2000 Night Before the 500 race, and newcomer Timothe Buret. Neil Alberico will run under the Andretti Autosport awning with a yet-to-be-announced teammate at the test while Team Pelfrey will campaign Augie Lerch, Peter Portante, Patricio “Pato” O’Ward and Jeff Garibotti, and Michael Johnson returns with his JDC MotorSports team.
Cape Motorsports is on deck with three USF2000 entries for series sophomores Nico Jamin and Adrian Starrantino, and Canadian karting standout Parker Thompson – who will also test with JDC MotorSports – as is Afterburner Autosport who will see Jordan Bernloehr and Christian Ross join team regular Victor Franzoni. Jake Eidson will align with Will Owen in the Pabst Racing camp while ArmsUp Motorsports returns with James Dayson and a second driver to be announced.
All three ladder series will share equal track time with individual one-hour sessions in the morning, followed by 75-minute sessions in the afternoon on each of the two days. A detailed schedule is available on each of the series’ respective websites as well as live Timing and Scoring throughout the test.
The Turn 2 Viewing Mounds and South Terrace Grandstands will be open to the public.
“We are very pleased to offer our teams an earlier test date this year as they focus on their 2015 programs and to open the test to the fans who can come out and meet some of our rising stars,” said Dan Andersen, owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “This test is a great introduction to the ladder program for new drivers and also gives our current drivers the opportunity to sample the next step as well as other programs. With the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course a staple on our schedule, it is added value for both teams and drivers.”
Photo & Data Courtesy of IndyLights.com
Indianapolis (September 10, 2014) – Many of the INDYCAR drivers will have one more race to compete in before their off-season begins. On Sept. 20, The Dan Wheldon Memorial Pro-Am Karting Challenge will take place at New Castle Motorsports Park where participants will race to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association, a cause that became close to Wheldon after his mother was diagnosed in 2008 and sadly passed away from the disease in April.
The event, in its inaugural year last year, raised over $100,000 to establish The Sue Wheldon Fund. The fund supported a New Investigator Research Grant and early-stage programs of the Greater Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. This year the Wheldon family will expand their scope of support to include programs of the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter.
“We at the Alzheimer’s Association Florida Gulf Coast Chapter continue to be humbled by the generous hearts of the entire Wheldon family,” said Gloria Smith, President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Florida Gulf Coast Chapter. “Even through their own tragedies, they continue to extend their hands of support to help thousands of other families living with Alzheimer’s disease. We value the friendship and support they have so graciously shown us and the community.”
The challenge will continue with the same format as last year with corporate-sponsored teams consisting of one professional driver and three amateur drivers for a timed 2-hour event beginning at 12:30 p.m. Gates open at 7 a.m. and admission is free. The pro drivers will also take part in an autograph session from 11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Because of the success of last year’s event sponsors from last year were eager to participate again.
“Dan meant so much to American Honda, and to the people of American Honda and HPD,” said T.E. McHale, Manager, Public Relations, American Honda. “It is no exaggeration to say that we miss him daily, and this is one of the several ways we can contribute to securing his ongoing legacy. We applaud the great work being done by Susie in his memory, and are pleased once again to support The Dan Wheldon Memorial Pro-Am Karting Challenge in 2014. We are also delighted to welcome Dan’s sister, holly, to Team Honda, as we look to improve on our runner-up finish in last year’s event”
IndyCar standout Josef Newgarden was the pro driver for Team Honda last year and returns this year for the much anticipated event.
“The DW Pro-Am Challenge is a very special time for all the IndyCar family, and it’s a race I look forward to all year long, ” said Josef Newgarden, whose Honda-sponsored team took home a second-place finish last year. “I’ve been racing at New Castle since I was a little kid and it’s the first place I ever met Dan as a young racer. His love and energy for our sport was so captivating and he was truly an inspiration to me as a young racer. I always look forward to coming back and sharing his legacy with everyone and also using it as an opportunity to help a wonderful cause in raising money in memory of Dan’s mom.”
Big Machine Records took home top honors last year finishing first with Marino Franchitti, who stepped in for his brother Dario after he was involved in a serious accident during the Houston IndyCar race.
“To say it was an honor for the Big Machine Team to win the inaugural Dan Wheldon Memorial Pro-Am, well, there are really no words to describe it,” said Scott Borchetta, President and CEO of Big Machine Label Group. “As we all know, Dan was a master on and off the track but it was always clear, he was at the track to win. To keep his legacy alive with a great win due to an incredible drive by Marino Franchitti and teammates papa Clive Wheldon, me and my brother Mark, well, we ‘kept it in the family’. This year Big Machine is adding super-driver Tony Kanaan to the team and we expect to compete for two consecutive wins! With Tony pulling down his first win in Dan’s former Target #10 at season’s end, it would only be fitting for TK and Big Machine to cross the finish line first.”
Other pro drivers/sponsors participating in the event are James Hinchcliffe, Ed Carpenter/Machine of Awesome, Sage Karam/Comfort Revolution, Jack Harvey/AL Consulting, Sebastian Saavedra/Firestone, Conor Daly/IMS, Ryan Briscoe, Jay Howard/Bell Racing, Marco Andretti/Motorsport Graphic Design, Performance Tire Service and CF Charities.
Scott Dixon, Wheldon’s former teammate at Target Chip Ganassi Racing, will compete in the event for the second year in a row with Target. Dixon is one of IndyCars most successful drivers, including an Indianapolis 500 win and 3 IndyCar Championship titles.
“I’m proud to be a part of the second annual Dan Wheldon Memorial Pro-Am Karting Challenge,” said Dixon. “Last year’s race was a huge success, it was great to see so much support towards Dan’s lasting legacy. This year will be bigger and better as we continue to support the Alzheimer’s Association that Dan was very passionate about. Susie Wheldon does an amazing job, I hope you can come out and be part of a great day.”
Wheldon’s widow, Susie, created The Dan Wheldon Foundation following last year’s event as a way to keep her husband’s legacy alive and continue his work of giving back and support of the Alzheimer’s Association. Wheldon was killed during the Las Vegas IndyCar season finale in 2011.
“Dan was so giving of his time and resources,” said Wheldon. “I was completely blown away by the response last year and how much money we were able to raise and ultimately start a fund in Sue’s name. I knew I had to make this an annual event and maybe one day even have our boys Sebastian and Oliver participate. Dan will always be remembered as someone who had an immense passion for life and I want to carry on his legacy in the same way. I feel blessed to be able to give back.”
Wheldon’s 5-year-old son Sebastian started racing karts in April and will lead the field in a pace lap before the start of the race.
Each winning team member will receive a grand Turismo quartz chronograph watch from Ritmo Mundo, valued at $1200 and a room package complements of the Conrad Indianapolis.
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS and Brett Frood, Executive Vice-President of Stewart-Haas Racing, met with members of the media at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
THE MODERATOR: Good morning. I’m director of communication for Stewart-Haas Racing. Up here is Tony Stewart, driver & owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, and Brett Frood, executive vice president of Stewart-Haas Racing.
Tony has prepared some remarks. We’ll let him read those.
TONY STEWART: Thanks.
This has been one of the toughest tragedies I’ve ever had to deal with both professionally and personally. This is something that will definitely affect my life forever. This is a sadness and a pain that I hope no one ever has to experience in their life.
With that being said, I know that the pain and the mourning that Kevin Ward’s family and friends are experiencing is something that I can’t possibly imagine.
I want Kevin’s father, Kevin Sr., and his mother Pam, and his sisters Christi, Kayla, Katelyn, to know that every day I’m thinking about them and praying for them.
The racing community is a large family, as you guys know. Everyone’s saddened with this tragedy.
I want to thank all my friends and family for their support through this tough emotional time, and the support from the NASCAR community, my partners, all of our employees, it’s been overwhelming.
I’ve taken the last couple weeks off out of respect for Kevin and his family, and also to cope with the accident in my own way. It’s given me the time to think about life and how easy it is to take it for granted.
I miss my team, my teammates. I miss being back in the racecar. I think being back in the car this week with my racing family will help me get through this difficult time.
I also understand that all of you have many questions and want a lot of answers, however I need to respect the ongoing investigation process and cannot answer and address the questions at this time. Emotionally I’m not sure if I could answer them anyway.
We’re here to race this weekend, and I appreciate your respect. There will be a day when I can sit here and answer the questions. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Tony.
Again, Brett Frood, executive vice president of Stewart-Haas Racing, will be available to take a handful of questions.
Q: Brett, NASCAR issued a statement yesterday that Tony had received all necessary clearances to race. What was the process of going through clearances? What approvals did he need?
BRETT FROOD: Well, as you all know, when a driver’s out of the car, there is that process. I’m not going to get into the medical side of it, but I will say we’ve been in close contact with them throughout the process, have gotten from them what he needed to get back in the car right now.
Q: The investigation as we understand is still open. Was there any thought to not having Tony race until it was closed? Why now?
BRETT FROOD: Well, I think for Tony, it’s all about this healing process. That’s part of why he’s in the car. Besides his mom, his dad, his sister, his niece and nephew, his family is here, it’s at this racetrack. It’s part of the healing process of being with his family that he’s been with since 1999, knowing that these people are going to help him get through this. I think that’s one side of it. The other side of it is he’s a racer. We have 270 employees. I think him putting a helmet on will help him cope with this situation.
Q: Brett, respecting the process, the investigation, knowing there’s things you can’t comment on, are you able to say whether you know whether Tony has a clear picture in his own mind of what happened that second or two that night?
BRETT FROOD: I am not going to comment on the incident itself. It was a tragic accident. Right now the focus is to be on Tony and the car this weekend and how he’s going to get through this.
Q: The fact that Tony is racing this weekend, should we read anything into that about what you know about the investigation and where it’s at in the process?
BRETT FROOD: No. I mean, we’ve really been respecting the process, as Tony said, and the investigation. Him being in the racecar right now is about him getting through what has been a very emotional two weeks, what his next step is in coping with this. There’s been a great deal of empathy and sympathy for that family and what they’re going through. For Tony, it’s just been extremely emotional. This is what is going to help him.
Q: Can you talk about where Tony is at emotionally right now to step into the car? Was it 100% his choice not to race the last couple of weeks, without the involvement of the sanctioning body that we will hear from next?
BRETT FROOD: I’ll address the latter first. Yes, the decision to be in the car is 100% Tony’s.
Q: Please define his emotional stage at this point. A very fragile Tony Stewart at this point.
BRETT FROOD: You just saw Tony. It’s been a difficult two weeks. But Tony is ready to be in the racecar. He wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t.
Q: Brett, you’ve worked for Tony for a long time. You’ve seen him in ways we have not. How would you characterize his preparation for this and what you think he’ll experience as he gets back in the car?
BRETT FROOD: I think it’s going to be very overwhelming being in that garage today. He’s going to feel an awful lot of support. As I just mentioned, this is his family. It’s the crew members, it’s the officials, it’s the drivers. It’s his family that he’s been with since 1999. This is going to be part of that process for him. I believe it’s going to be an overwhelming process, this weekend. That being said, Tony Stewart is a racecar driver. He’s been a racecar driver for the past 35 years. When he puts that helmet on in practice, I’m quite convinced he’ll be ready to race the car, he’ll be able to separate the two.
Q: Brett, this obviously is a tremendous tragedy. Obviously in the sport of racing, these guys learn to deal with that part of the sport. Why do you think this has hit Tony so hard?
BRETT FROOD: Because he was involved in an accident and a young man died. I can’t imagine what he’s going through. I can’t imagine what the kid’s parents are going through. It’s something, as Tony said, that he hopes no one in this room or certainly anywhere will ever have to go through. He was involved in a tragic accident.
Q: I noticed Tony mentioned Kevin Ward’s family members by name. Has he reached out to them personally at all?
BRETT FROOD: Tony has sent the family flowers and a card around the services. Besides that he’s been very respectful of them and their time to grieve. I do know that it will be very important, it’s important for Tony, to spend time with the family. I do believe that will happen in the appropriate time.
Q: Obviously it’s an emotional time. Internally how do you deal with it as an organization, the prep work? Let’s face it, it’s not an ordinary weekend that all of you are dealing with.
BRETT FROOD: We’ve got 270 employees back in Kannapolis working hard. Tony has three other team members. These are folks that are at Stewart-Haas because they believe in the leadership, they believe in the ownership, believe in the folks that we have surrounding them, and we believe in them. So for them, I think their focus has been undeterred over the last several weeks. They’re obviously really excited to have Tony back in the car, that leader, the guy they believe in. So I think the focus will be there this weekend from those guys. We should be good.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for your time. We certainly appreciate it.
WEST ALLIS, Wis. — Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing announced Aug. 16 that they will form a multi-car organization for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series. The team will be known as CFH Racing.
The two single-car teams, based in Indianapolis, will be headquartered at the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing shop in Speedway, Ind., just a few blocks from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Additional details about CFH Racing, including personnel, suppliers and sponsors, will be announced in the near future.
Ed Carpenter Racing, established in 2012, has three victories this season with Mike Conway capturing the Long Beach and Toronto street races and team owner/driver Ed Carpenter winning at Texas Motor Speedway oval in the No. 20 ECR/Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet.
In addition, Carpenter won the Indianapolis 500 pole position in 2013 and 2014.
This season, SFHR driver Josef Newgarden has recorded a best of second place at Iowa Speedway in the Honda-powered No. 67 SFHR Hartman Oil car.
“I am very excited about this new opportunity to merge Ed Carpenter Racing with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing in CFH Racing,” Carpenter said. “We had success together in 2011 and have always had a great relationship. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that we won our first race together at Kentucky Speedway.
“I look forward to getting started with this new team and continuing to add to the success that each of our teams have had in the past. There will be a lot of work to do this offseason to bring the two teams together to form one new team, but we feel that it is a great opportunity for all of us to grow and reach new heights of success. There are a lot of details we will need to finalize after the season comes to a close, so for now we are focusing on finishing this season on a high note for Ed Carpenter Racing.”
Fisher, the first woman to win an IndyCar Series pole, became the first female team owner in the IndyCar Series in 2008. She announced her retirement from driving in 2010.
“The merger of the two teams is a big-picture plan,” she said. “At the nucleus of all parties, there is a lot of synergy that has great potential for the future. Working with Ed, and capturing that first win, was a foothold in our team, and I look forward to the many more that will come as a result of bringing all the parties together.”
Hartman, a successful businessman in Wichita, Kan., and owner of Hartman Oil, joined Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing as co-owner in December 2011.
“I am excited about the opportunity for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing to join with Ed Carpenter Racing to create a top-tier Verizon IndyCar Series team,” he said. “The newly formed collaboration as CFH Racing will allow us to double down on our commitment to be successful on and off the track.”
Photo and Data courtesy of IndyCar.com