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The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) today announced one of the greatest icons in the history of motor racing will serve as grand marshal for its June 11-14 Brickyard Invitational at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Four-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Sr. will return to the scene of his most legendary triumphs from a sterling career. Unser is one of only three drivers to win the “500” four times, and one of five to win the storied race in consecutive years, 1970-71. He narrowly missed becoming the only winner of three consecutive Indianapolis 500 races when he finished second to Mark Donohue in 1972.

1971VictoryLane-4438A three-time Indy car champion (1970, ’83, ’85) Unser was among the rare breed that could drive any type of car on any venue, including sports cars, stock cars, modifieds and dirt cars. The four-time Hoosier Hundred victor drove and won in sprints, midgets, Formula 5000 and stock cars to name a few. The Hall of Fame super star was USAC stock car rookie of the year in 1967 and IROC champion in 1978. In his final Indianapolis 500 (1987) win he broke Ralph De Palma’s 67-year-old record for most career laps led in the historic race.

“It will be great to return to the Brickyard in an atmosphere that is so focused on the track’s history,” Unser said. “I know from what Little Al told me from when he won last year how much the fans appreciated this event and that means everything to me.”

ic_al_chrisUnser, who in 2011 was voted by fans as number two to A.J. Foyt in the “Greatest 33” to ever compete in the Indianapolis 500, will drive the pace car for the feature race of the weekend – the second annual “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am. Like last year, the SVRA, America’s premier vintage racing organization, is creating a return to competition for veterans of the Indianapolis 500 with a 40-minute race of American muscle cars on the Speedway’s 2.43-mile Grand Prix road course on Saturday, June 13. The SVRA expects to attract a field of 33 Indianapolis 500 veterans.

Previously announced Pro-Am entries – 1992 Rookie-of-the Year Lyn St. James, Willy T. Ribbs and Mark Dismore – were joined today by four more veterans, all of which competed last year: Spike Gehlhausen, Billy Roe, Tom Bagley and Rick Treadway. Gehlhausen is a veteran of five Indianapolis 500s, finishing tenth in 1979 and starting fourth in 1980. Roe raced in 1997 and 1998 while Treadway made the big show in 2002. Bagley is a three-time Indianapolis 500 starter and captured the Indy car series Rookie-of-the-Year trophy in 1978. They, along with the other Indianapolis 500 veterans for the Pro-Am, will be in 1963 to 1972 vintage Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs of “Group 6,” with an engine displacement limit of 355 cubic inches. The professionals will be paired with amateur drivers, splitting their stints at the wheel at their discretion.

The Indy Legends Pro-Am is the crowning event of the Brickyard Invitational but there is literally a festival of other activities. Like last year, the storied 2.5-mile oval will be utilized with exhibition runs by a wide variety of cars including several of the crowd-favorite 1950’s Indianapolis 500 “roadsters.”

This time around the weekend not only promises a huge gathering of race cars but also some of the finest collector cars. Motostalgia, with offices in Austin, Mexico City and Monaco will stage an auction showcasing select premier classic and rare automobiles from around the world on June 12. The Brickyard Invitational will also expand out onto the world-famous infield IMS golf course with car corrals for various organizations and clubs united by special marques and vintages.

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The SVRA has 11 groups of race cars spanning 100 years of vintage machines and all will be in action at IMS. The exciting array of entries include exquisite examples of select pre-war machines, classic sports cars, Formula One and Le Mans prototypes as current as 2009. Race fans can enjoy every minute of the action by taking advantage of overnight camping inside the Speedway.

The Pro-Am cars and drivers will also participate in a Fan Walk through the starting grid prior to the opening ceremonies allowing fans to see the cars up close, take photos and chat with the drivers. All entry fees will be donated to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum Foundation.

Brickyard Invitational ticket information: Fans can order Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational tickets for all or any one of the four days of the event online through the Speedway or by calling 800-822-INDY or 317-492-6700 between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. Fans can also visit the ticket office at the IMS Administration Building at 4790 West 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are available. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information. Children 12 and under are admitted free each day when accompanied by an adult. Tent camping passes in the IMS infield start at $30 and are available all four days.

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Verizon IndyCar Series teams have had limited opportunities to evaluate the performance characteristics of the components and multitude of optional elements that increase downforce and reduce drag, so there is about as much driver and team personnel intrigue as there is by fans.

Underneath the Dallara IR-12 chassis, however, the primary and alternate Firestone Firehawk tires for the March 27-29 season opener are the same specification as last year.

“We’re confident that those specifications will be fine, but we’ll be watching closely — as we do at every race — how we could improve things for street courses later this season or next year,” said Dale Harrigle, chief engineer for Bridgestone America’s Motorsports and manager of race tire development.

Harrigle, like many Verizon IndyCar Series drivers, expects lower lap times at road/street courses on the Firestone Firehawk alternate tires. Each of the 24 drivers entered in the 110-lap race on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit won’t experience the effects of the alternate tires until qualifications March 28.

“There is no question that with the increased downforce that the alternate tire, with its increased grip, is going to lend itself well to the car and we expect to see a significant increase in speed on the alternate tire,” Harrigle said. “Where we’re going to all be learning – Firestone and the teams – is how the aero kits affect the gap between the primary and alternate tires in the race.

Hanks Nichels 1954

For a look back at Firestone’s legacy in IndyCar — Click Here

“The teams are not allowed to test on the alternates; the alternates are designed to be a little bit of the unknown to teams so we’re all going to be learning during the race.”

Each entry, which will receive seven sets of primary and three sets of alternate tires for practice, qualifying and the race, has to run at least two green flag laps on both primary and alternate tires.

Firestone Racing has been collaborating with INDYCAR since the germination of aero kits, and was an active participant during all phases of manufacturer development.

“As INDYCAR resolved their volume boxes and it became apparent what Honda and Chevrolet were going to be able to do with the freedom that they were given to design their cars, we started working closely with Honda and Chevrolet to make sure that we watching the loads that were being developed and that they were sharing the simulation data,” Harrigle said.

“We were getting simulation data from INDYCAR, which was doing a parallel program. So we worked closely with the three groups. As they were providing us simulation data, we were running tires on our indoor testing to make sure that basically the tires could keep up with the loads and speeds that were being talked about with the aero kits.

“Ultimately, with all the decisions that were made, especially with the decision to put the hole in the floor (of chassis) for safety and a couple of other items, we determined that the current tire would be a good fit for the car with the aero kits.”

That’s a testament to the performance characteristics of the tires. Firestone Racing engineers and track support personnel attended all but one manufacturer test between Oct. 6, 2014, and Jan. 18.

“That’s when we used the 2014 spec and determined that yes in fact what we were providing was a good fit for the cars and we used that testing to help us move forward with our plans.”

Manufacturer tests were conducted on a variety of road courses and ovals. The road/street course aero platform also will be used on short ovals such as Iowa Speedway and The Milwaukee Mile. The speedway aero kits are scheduled to be delivered to teams by April 1.

“We ran on ovals with both manufacturers during their development phase and then at Texas Motor Speedway on March 14 with Ed Carpenter and Helio Castroneves (for a Chevrolet test session),” Harrigle said. “We use those tests to learn where the car is going to be with the aero kits relative to the ovals.”

Data & Image courtesy of IndyCar.com — By Dave Lewandowski

Firestone History – SpeedwaySightings.com 

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BROWNSBURG, Ind. (March 24, 2015) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced today that Steak ‘n Shake, the defin­i­tive Amer­ican brand and home of the orig­inal Steak­burger™ and hand-dipped milk­shakes, will be the primary sponsor of the No. 15 Indy car driven by Graham Rahal at five Verizon IndyCar Series events including the 99th running of the Indi­anapolis 500. The part­ner­ship includes races at Long Beach, two events at Indi­anapolis Motor Speedway and Detroit and Mid-Ohio. Maxim Maga­zine branding will also be featured on the race car. Both are owned by Biglari Hold­ings Inc.

In addi­tion, Steak ‘n Shake will be an asso­ciate sponsor for the rest of the 2015 IndyCar Series season. It is the first time that the Indianapolis-based company will be involved in Indy car racing.

I’ve been eating them since I was 11. Finally, free Steak­burgers!” said David Letterman, co-owner of RLL with 1986 Indy 500 winner and three-time Indy car cham­pion Bobby Rahal and Mi-Jack co-owner Michael Lanigan.

Dave Letterman clearly loves Steak ‘n Shake, and we love teaming up with cham­pions. After all, the best way to be a cham­pion is to unite with cham­pions,” added Sardar Biglari, Founder, Chairman and Chief Exec­u­tive Officer of Biglari Hold­ings Inc. “As we enter the Indy car series with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, without a doubt we are spon­soring the very best in racing and we are honored to be asso­ci­ated with the team, whose name is synony­mous with winning.”

As a long­time fan of Steak ‘n Shake, this part­ner­ship seems so perfect,” added Bobby Rahal, co-owner of RLL. “Over the years I have visited many Steak ‘n Shakes and never had the thought that they could poten­tially be a sponsor of ours but here we are. We are thrilled to welcome the Steak ‘n Shake brand to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and intro­duce them to Indy car racing. This is another bit of good news for our sport with a new company coming in. We’re looking forward to putting them in Victory Lane.”

The 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season begins on March 29 with the Fire­stone Grand Prix of St. Peters­burg and will be tele­vised live on ABC at 3:00 p.m. ET.

About Steak ‘n Shake Inc.

Steak ‘n Shake, a classic Amer­ican brand, serves premium burgers and shakes in more than 500 restau­rants across the country and the world. Founded in 1934 in Normal, Illi­nois, Steak ‘n Shake is the leader in the “better burger” segment of the restau­rant industry, serving hand-crafted, premium Steak­burgers and hand-dipped milk­shakes. Steak ‘n Shake is the recip­ient of the Nation’s Restau­rant News Golden Chain Award. Zagat has recog­nized Steak ‘n Shake as having the #1 Milk­shake. Steak ‘n Shake Inc., based out of Indi­anapolis, Indiana, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Biglari Hold­ings Inc.

About Maxim Inc.

Maxim. is one of the largest men’s lifestyle maga­zines in the United States and inter­na­tion­ally. The company is based in New York, New York. Maxim Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Biglari Hold­ings Inc.

About Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and Browns­burg, Ind., is co-owned by three-time IndyCar Cham­pion and 1986 Indi­anapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, CBS LATESHOW host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan. In 2015 the team will compete in their 24th year of open wheel compe­ti­tion and attempt to add to their 20 wins – including the 2004 Indy 500 from pole with Buddy Rice — their 29 poles, 81 podium finishes and 1992 series cham­pi­onship. The team also competed in the Amer­ican Le Mans Series from 2009 – 2013 as BMW Team RLL where they won both the Manu­fac­turer and Team Cham­pi­onships in the GT cate­gory in 2010 and swept all three GT titles in 2011 — Manu­fac­turer, Team and Driver. In 2012, the team finished second in the Team Cham­pi­onship and third in the Manu­fac­turer Cham­pi­onship and in 2013, the team finished second in the Driver, Team and Manu­fac­turer Cham­pi­onship. In 2014, BMW Team RLL competed in the GTLM class of the TUDOR United SportsCar Cham­pi­onship with a two-car program and earned six podium finishes including four second-place finishes. In 2015, the team opened the season by scoring their 50th podium finish of second place at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and will attempt to add to their 10 wins.

Data & Image courtesy of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

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IndyCar has announced an increase of $250,000 to its Leaders Circle program, which raises the total annual payment for eligible Verizon IndyCar Series entrants to $1.25 million.

A total of 21 entrants are entered in the Leaders Circle program for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

“INDYCAR is invested in the continued support of its teams,” said Derrick Walker, INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations. “The Leaders Circle program rewards INDYCAR teams for full-season participation and helps each of them with an additional source of funding. The program is also an asset to our promoters as it guarantees over 20 cars at each Verizon IndyCar Series event. As IndyCar continues to grow we’re excited about opportunities like this that are beneficial to the teams that compete in our series.”

The Leaders Circle program was established in 2002 to provide incentives to teams that participate full time in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Each Leaders Circle member is assured a minimum of $1.25 million if the entrant successfully qualifies for all of the 16 Verizon IndyCar Series events in 2015, including the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Twenty-one entrants were selected based on final 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series final entrant points.

Click here to see the entire list of 2015 Leaders Circle members …

All Leaders Circle entrants will continue to compete for bonuses that will now be paid to the top-12 finishers – an increase of two positions compared to 2014 – at each Verizon IndyCar Series race aside from the Indianapolis 500. Non-Leaders Circle entrants also will compete for payouts awarded to the top-three finishers in each race excluding the Indianapolis 500.

The Verizon IndyCar Series driver champion and championship entrant again will share a $1 million bonus, with second through 10th in the standings sharing bonuses totaling $320,000. The recipient of the Verizon IndyCar Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year award will receive a $50,000 bonus.

Contingency awards will continue to be presented at all Verizon IndyCar Series events. See the full story.

— The 63rd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring …

The No. 5 Action Express Racing Mustang Sampling Corvette Daytona Prototype team scored the overall victory Saturday in the 63rd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in the first overall victory for Chevrolet in 50 years. Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais combined as the winning drivers. It was the fifth Prototype victory for defending champions Fittipaldi and Barbosa.

Corvette Daytona Prototypes swept the podium. Richard Westbrook, Michael Valiante and Mike Rockenfeller took second in the No. 90 VisitFlorida,com Corvette DP, followed by Max Angelelli and brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP. Scott Pruett, Joey Hand and Scott Dixon placed fourth in the 2014 race-winning Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Ford EcoBoost/Riley.

In the GT Le Mans class as Ryan Briscoe, Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen co-drove a Corvette Racing entry to its second victory this season. 

SebringPole1Martin Plowman‘s qualifying run in the #16 BAR1 Motorsports machine earned him the Total Oil Pole Award, clocking in at 1:55.257.  The BAR1 Motorsports team spent much of the night rebuilding the #16 car after a crash during Thursday’s night practice. The car was immediately taken back to the paddock for repairs. Plowman tested the car in this morning’s practice session, where his time was the fastest of the morning grid. Plowman noted: “This was a massive effort by the whole team. The guys spent a lot of the night building the car. I told the engineers to give me a fast car, and I’d get the result that they wanted. They definitely delivered on that. I focused on hitting every apex, every breaking zone, and the time just appeared out of nowhere.

Conor Daly PodiumLate addition to the speed and endurance race at Sebring was American driver Conor Daly whose debut in the event saw him behind the wheel for 6 hours and 27 minutes in the Performance Tech Motorsports No. 38 Ric Man Construction/GO PUCK ORECA FLM09 car. Daly joined Jerome Mee and James French in rounding out the Prototype Challenge class podium.

IndyCar Notes …

– Allison Transmissions will celebrate its centennial in part by being an associate sponsor on the No. 20 CFH Racing car driven by Luca Filippi in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 9 and by Ed Carpenter in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 24Allison traces its corporate lineage to the founding of the Indianapolis Speedway Team Co. on Sept. 14, 1915.

As a co-founder of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and part-owner of several racing teams, James A. Allison established a precision machine shop and experimental firm on Main Street in Speedway called the Allison Experimental Co. to support his racing endeavors. As a race team owner, Allison won the 1919 Indianapolis with driver Howdy Wilcox.

“We’re honored that Allison Transmission chose to celebrate their centennial with CFH Racing,” said Carpenter, a team co-owner. “In addition to producing world-class products, they are great neighbors and supporters of the community.”

bhacastrol– Castrol EDGE returns as Bryan Herta Autosport associate sponsor: Bryan Herta Autosport announced that Castrol EDGE has extended its associate partnership with the team for the Verizon IndyCar Series season. “We are very pleased to continue our association with the Castrol EDGE brand, which includes promotion of Castrol EDGE to customers in our great new car dealer network,” team owner Bryan Herta said. “With Castrol’s support, 2015 is shaping up to be our best yet.”

Gabby Chaves, the 2014 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion, will drive the No. 98 Honda in the 16-race season.

“Castrol EDGE is our most advanced motor oil, providing superior motor oil strength for engines that work harder due to higher engine pressures, helping vehicles to maximize performance, ” said Dan Hanson, Castrol’s OEM workshops director. “Our partnership with Bryan Herta Autosport gives us a tremendous platform to showcase that performance and to connect with IndyCar fans.”

Click here to read more about the partnership.

Conor Daly Photo courtesy of of Darren Pierson Motorsports Photography

Other images courtesy of IndyCar and the 12 Hours of Sebring


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