Archive for April, 2015

Raul Boesel 1990

By: Jeff Majeske — Special Correspondent to Speedway Sightings

Some 25 years ago, back in 1990, I took my then-girlfriend on her first trip to the world’s greatest race course.

We had been going out for a few months, and things were going well.

It was time for the next big step in our relationship.

It was time to meet … the track.

She was from Valparaiso, went to Purdue and at one time lived in Plainfield, but in all those years had never ventured to 16th and Georgetown.

This I found both incredible and ridiculous and, most of all, something that needed to be fixed immediately.

So we went on the second day of practice, a Sunday. The weather was beautiful – sunny, temperatures in the upper 70s to low 80s. A gentle breeze now and then.

We sat in the tower terrace and enjoyed watching the cars race down the straightaway and dart in and out of the pits.

“Joining” us was a group of enthusiastic and, uh, interesting spectators.

They were a few rows down from us. One fellow – despite the warm temperatures – wore a battered brown leather jacket.

Without a shirt underneath.

He didn’t smell too good – reeked would be an apt description.

Every time the No. 19 Budweiser car of Raul Boesel would roar past, he would leap up and yell, “Budweiser.”

And take a drink. More like a gulp, actually. Certainly not a sip.

I’m sure my girlfriend wondered what she had gotten herself into.

Why does he come to this place, year after year?

We thought about moving, but as we all know, people-watching is one of the things you do at the track.

So we stayed. Watched the cars (and people), had a corn dog. Maybe even a sno-cone.

We were married a couple of years later and are still together today.

But she leaves going to the track to me and our son.

Photo credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway/scanned out of the 1990 Hungness 500 Yearbook

Originally Posted on Jeff’s Indy Talk

RahalLettermanLanigan

By: Jeff Majeske

Special Correspondent for Speedway Sightings

Graham Rahal will be sponsored by Steak ‘n Shake at this year’s Indianapolis 500. My Indy cohort, Bill LaDow, has the release on his site: SpeedwaySightings.com

Rahal is no stranger to burger-sponsored cars as he wheeled a McDonald’s ride in 2009.

Here’s a look at some other “track burgers” over the years:

Graham_Rahal_2009

Graham Rahal – 2009 / Photo credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Pancho_Carter_1990

Pancho Carter – 1990 / Photo credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hardee’s also sponsored Scott Brayton and Tony Bettenhausen over the years.

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Chip Mead – 1981 / Scanned out of my 1981 Carl Hungness 500 yearbook.

Chip Mead did not qualify. I always wondered if he just walked over to the White Castle at the corner of 16th Street/Crawfordsville/Georgetown and asked them if they wanted to sponsor his car. 

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Cliff Hucul – 1978 / Scanned out of my 1978 Carl Hungness 500 yearbook

Originally Posted on Jeff’s Indy Talk

Josef_Newgarden_Barber

By: Jeff Majeske

Special Correspondent for Speedway Sightings

An IndyCar season that seemed destined to be littered with shredded pieces and broken promises pulled itself out of the marbles just in time as the month of May looms.

Josef Newgarden’s thrilling victory at Barber – his first – gives the series a much-needed boost as it ramps up for its marquee event, the Indianapolis 500.

A few things about Newgarden and his win:

  • He’s American, not German or Austrian as a casual observer might have guessed. Moreover, the fourth-year driver hails from NASCAR country, specifically Hendersonville, Tennessee.  Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star ran a nice piece about how Newgarden and his dad logged thousands of miles driving to New Castle, Indiana, to the karting track of former Indy driver Mark Dismore to begin learning his craft.
  • Newgarden may be the first driver from the Volunteer State to ever win an IndyCar race. I sent an email to the IndyCar Series asking if this were the case, but did not get a response. Certainly no driver with a birthplace in Tennessee – or Mississippi, Alabama or Georgia, for that matter – has won the Indianapolis 500.
  • Given how many drivers with Indiana connections who gravitated to NASCAR because they weren’t interested in Indy cars (Ryan Newman, South Bend), didn’t get a chance (Jeff Gordon, Pittsboro after leaving California) or sought greener pastures (Tony Stewart, Columbus), it’s nice to see the tables turned a bit.
  •  Newgarden drives for the newly formed CFH Racing team, an easy-to-root-for outfit. The “C” is Ed Carpenter, and the “F” is Sarah Fisher. After a rough start, Carpenter, stepson of Tony George, is a solid competitor on ovals with three victories. He’ll be aiming for an unprecedented third straight Indianapolis 500 pole this year. Fisher was one of the most popular drivers and now, despite many challenges, fields a solid and winning team.

Anyway, it’s nice to watch (and talk and write about) good racing.

That momentum needs to continue with the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 9 and the Indianapolis 500 on May 24. These two races, plus the doubleheader at Detroit the weekend after the 500, are the last ones on network television this year (ABC).

With the rest of the races on NBC Sports Network, that means May is the last, best opportunity to grab the attention of casual viewers.

Photo credit: Joe Skibinski/Verizon IndyCar Series

Originally Posted on Jeff’s Indy Talk

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Conor-Daly-SPM

Indianapolis, IN – April 25, 2015 – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) announced today that American driver Conor Daly will be driving the No. 43 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda as the the team’s third entry for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on Sunday, May 24.

Daly, a 23-year-old, Noblesville, Indiana native, will drive the No. 43 Honda-powered Dallara for his second start in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

“I am ecstatic to partner with Schmidt Peterson Motorsport for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500. I have had a great relationship with Sam Schmidt since driving for him in Indy Lights and I have always wanted a shot with his Verizon IndyCar Series team. It’s an honor to make my second attempt at running the Indy 500.

“I can’t thank everyone enough who have put in the hours to pull this program together. I am confident we will all benefit from this relationship going forward and I can’t wait to get to work on track!”

“Conor raced for our team in Indy Lights in 2011 for a partial season before heading off to Europe (to contest the GP3 Series), so we know what he is capable of. He deserves to be competing in the IndyCar Series full time and we’re honored to be providing this opportunity,” team co-owner Sam Schmidt said. “We’ve been working all winter on the Indy 500.”

Sponsorship and livery for Daly’s No. 43 entry will be unveiled in the upcoming weeks. Practice for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 begins on Monday, May 11.

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— ABOUT CONOR: In 2014, Daly competed in the GP2 Championship. In 2013, he competed in the GP3 Championship where he finished 3rd. He also drove for AJ Foyt Racing as a rookie in the Indianapolis 500 finishing 22nd.

— ABOUT SCHMIDT PETERSON MOTORSPORTS: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) was established in 2001 and is owned by former IndyCar driver Sam Schmidt and Canadian businessman Ric Peterson. SPM fields cars in both the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indy Lights Series presented by Cooper Tires. SPM is the most successful team in Indy Lights Series history with 65 wins and seven championships. In addition, SPM won the coveted Indy 500 pole position in 2011, and has won five Verizon IndyCar Series races between 2013 and 2015.

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JR-CFH

CFH Racing announced that Preferred Freezer Services will be partnering with the team to field a third entry in both Verizon IndyCar Series events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for JR Hildebrand. Hildebrand will drive the No. 6 Preferred Freezer Services CFH Racing Chevrolet for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 9 and the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24.

Preferred Freezer Services offers the most modern, state-of-the-art, full service temperature-controlled warehouses in the United States. The company partnered with what was previously Ed Carpenter Racing to field a car for Hildebrand in the 2014 Indianapolis 500. With corporate headquarters in New Jersey, the company operates in 35 facilities in nine regions nationwide and has an international presence with cold storage warehouses in China and Vietnam.

“We are extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with CFH Racing during the Month of May,” stated Trut Edwards, President of Central Security & Communications. “Ed has been a good friend for over 15 years and delivers great value in our partnership. Last year was fantastic; we feel that we can build on it with two races at IMS and JR behind the wheel. It is overwhelming to realize we are partnering with three American drivers on Memorial Day for the greatest race in the world.”

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Hildebrand, 27, will be making his fifth Indianapolis 500 start and his first in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He was named the 2011 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year after finishing second to Dan Wheldon and captured the 2009 Indy Lights Championship. In his four races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Hildebrand has two Top 10 starts and two Top 10 finishes.

“We are definitely looking forward to having Preferred Freezer Services back on the car,” commented Hildebrand. “We had a lot of fun with them in 2014 and we be rolling the polar bear back out into the garage area this year! Even though we were a one-off entry last year, we were very fast and had a really easy month. Preferred Freezer Services was a big part of that, they are a great group to work with and it’s going to make this year that much more exciting.”

Sausalito, Calif. native Hildebrand rounds out CFH Racing’s all-American driver line-up for the Indianapolis 500. CFH Racing’s roster also includes Josef Newgarden of Nashville, Tenn. in the No. 21 Century 21 Chevrolet and team co-owner Ed Carpenter of Indianapolis, Ind., driving the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet. All three were part of the Fast Nine Shootout during qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 in 2014, where the nine quickest drivers of the 33-car field compete for the pole position. Carpenter ultimately earned the coveted first starting spot for the second consecutive year; Hildebrand started ninth and finished tenth, the highest-finishing position of the three CFH Racing drivers.

“It was really great working with Ed last year at the 500 and I did a little bit of testing in the offseason with Josef, we got along really well,” Hildebrand said. “I expect the relationship that the three of us have to be potent and for us to have great communication. That’s such a huge piece, particularly at the 500, where there is so much practice, qualifying is so intense and we’ll have the new aero kits. You need every last ounce of speed you can get out of the cars for both qualifying and race day and we can all work together to reach that goal.”

Hildebrand will be making his first start around the 2.434-mile, 14-turn IMS road course. “To have the Grand Prix added onto the 500 program is great,” Hildebrand continued. “Having a race under our belts going into the 500 is a huge difference from a one-off scenario. It can be tough sometimes when you have guys who haven’t done pit stops as a group during a race and you don’t have that chemistry yet. It will be great for my team of guys to have a warm-up heading into the oval race and great for me to get back in a car on a road course.”

CFH Racing’s three-car effort for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis includes Hildebrand, Newgarden and Luca Filippi of Italy, driver of the No. 20 on all road and street course events.

“Preferred Freezer Systems is leading the way in their industry and we hope to set the pace for the Month of May,” said Ed Carpenter, who balances his responsibilities of being a team owner with being a driver. “JR is a driver that we want to work with and it’s great to be able to team up with both JR and Preferred Freezer Services again for the Indy 500 and now the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.”

On-track activity at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will kick off on May 3 for Opening Day with the debut of the oval configuration aero kits. The Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis will take place on Saturday, May 9 at 3:30 p.m. ET. The Indianapolis 500 will follow at the end of the month at noon ET on Sunday, May 24. Both events will be broadcast live on ABC.

Data and Photos provided by CFH Racing