Archive for February, 2016

Verizon IndyCar News and Notes …

Posted: February 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

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— It’s going to be an All-Star weekend for trio of INDYCAR drivers
— Testing season ratchets up out West
— Bevy of activities planned for 100th Indy 500’s 100-day countdown
— Gallagher & Co. to sponsor Chilton’s Ganassi ride
— Parnelli Jones documentary to premiere at Sun Valley Film Festival

Conor Daly-Mayor Hinch— It’s going to be an All-Star weekend for trio of INDYCAR drivers: This weekend, Toronto isn’t the city that James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly are used to when they visit each summer for the Honda Indy Toronto. For starters, it’s about 60 degrees warmer. That, and sports fans are abuzz with news of the popular 30-year-old Indy car race, erected through the streets of the city around Exhibition Place.

This week, downtown arteries are for everyone, not just Indy cars, and sports talk is focused on 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend, which runs through Feb. 14. The trio of Verizon IndyCar Series drivers is here for the celebration of most things NBA. They’re making appearances at the “Indy 500: The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” exhibit at the Canadian International Auto Show, which opens today and runs through Feb. 21.

The rest of their packed weekend schedule includes tonight’s Celebrity Game, All-Star Saturday Night with its slam dunk contest sponsored by Verizon and the three-point and skills competitions on Feb. 13, and the climactic 65th NBA All-Star Game at Air Canada Centre on Feb. 14. They’ll also make red carpet appearances tonight and rub shoulders with NBA players at Maxim Magazine’s All-Star Party, hosted by Shaquille O’Neal. The event features 500 Maxim models and a performance from rapper Snoop Dogg.  “I don’t know what to expect,” said Daly, who has a full-season ride in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda in 2016. “I’m just glad we were invited and can’t wait to hang out.”

Hinchcliffe, a native of Toronto and driver of the No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, and Newgarden, driver of the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, are veterans of driver appearances. But they’ve never been to an NBA All-Star Weekend or attended a Maxim party. “Having all of these events, other than the race, to come home to and be a part of is really special,” said Hinchcliffe, adding he is hoping to run into comedian Kevin Hart, who is head coach of the U.S. team for the Celebrity Game, and Indiana Pacers forward Paul George, a starter in the All-Star Game.

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— Testing season ratchets up out West: Preparations for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season kicked up a notch this week with three manufacturer tests in the West.

On Feb. 8, reigning manufacturers champion Chevrolet conducted a test at Phoenix International Raceway with six drivers participating. Two days later, Chevrolet ran six drivers through the paces at Sonoma Raceway while three Honda drivers were testing at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

For some, the trip to PIR in Avondale, Ariz., was a welcome return. Indy cars christened the popular 1-mile oval in 1964, but haven’t raced there since 2005. The Phoenix Grand Prix is set to take place under the lights on April 2. “I grew up coming to this racetrack on spring break. It just feels good to be back,” said Ed Carpenter, co-owner/driver of Ed Carpenter Racing. “A lot’s changed around here in the area, but at the same time, I remember a lot of the things, too, so I’m excited to be back.”

Carpenter tested at PIR along with teammate Josef Newgarden and Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power. Castroneves, a winner at the track in 2002, couldn’t contain his joy about returning.

“Let me tell you, we are going around at the moment 20 seconds on the splits and, wow, it’s fast!” the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said. “And we’re just testing. I guarantee you when we start really putting the right things together, this is really going to be an amazing place. “The new change (to the track configuration) probably helped a little bit to go even faster, because in the past Turn 1 used to be a little bit sharper and now the outside is open. So it’s kind of cool and, man, this is great.”

All Verizon IndyCar Series teams will participate in a two-day open test at PIR on Feb. 26-27. The second day will be open to the public and include a driver autograph session.

The Sonoma test on Feb. 10 featured Castroneves and Pagenaud as well as the Chip Ganassi Racing Teams quartet of Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and the newly signed Max Chilton, who took his first-ever laps in an Indy car. It marked Dixon’s first return to the track since he won the 2015 finale to clinch his fourth series championship.

“Any time we can get on the track is valuable,” said Dixon. “We get such limited days, so we have a long list of stuff to go through whether it’s the new 2016 brakes, some new aero pieces, some mapping for the engine and a lot of unanswered questions we have as a team. We could probably spend about a week out here and still have a list of stuff to go through. It’s great to be back in Sonoma.” The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will bring down the curtain on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season Sept. 18.

Testing on Auto Club Speedway’s 2-mile oval for Honda were Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe and Andretti Autosport‘s Ryan Hunter-Reay and Carlos Munoz.

Hinchcliffe, eager to return to competition after missing most of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season recovering from injuries sustained in a crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May, was uncharacteristically tight-lipped over the Honda test. “Honestly, I can’t say much because of what we were doing,” Hinchcliffe said. “Definitely a productive day, it was nice to get back out on a big oval and start prepping for Indy. Obviously that’s everyone’s focus right now and I think we learned a lot.”

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— Bevy of activities planned for 100th Indy 500’s 100-day countdown: The 100-day countdown to the monumental 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil will kick off with a star-studded and action-packed 24-hour celebration Feb. 18-19. From Indianapolis to New York City, fans will celebrate the past, present and future of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” and the entire Verizon IndyCar Series.

The 100th Running of the Indy 500 marks a monumental milestone for our sport and our nation,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, the parent of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Our 100-day countdown celebration will energize fans and build unprecedented anticipation for a truly historic race and a groundbreaking Verizon IndyCar Series season.”

The celebration begins at IMS in the late hours of Feb. 18, where Indy 500 ticket holders are invited to a community celebration beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET. Just before midnight, attendees will gather at the famous yard of bricks for a special countdown moment.

On Feb. 19, IMS president Doug Boles and Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter and Matthew Brabham will join Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson for a proclamation ceremony at the Indiana Statehouse. That afternoon, a media event celebrating 50 years of Team Penske in racing will take place at the IMS Hall of Fame Museum. Four-time Indy 500 champion Rick Mears will be on hand with three-time winner Castroneves.

At 4 p.m. ET, attention will shift to the financial capital of the world, with a special countdown event at the New York Stock Exchange. Miles and BorgWarner CEO James Verrier will take part in closing bell ceremonies alongside the iconic Borg-Warner Trophy etched with sculptures of the face of every Indianapolis 500 winner. Celebrations come to a close that evening at the Crane Bay in downtown Indianapolis with a special gathering celebrating the “Pursuit of Progress,” hosted by ESPN SportsCenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak and featuring a full roster of guests from the sporting world and beyond.

“I can’t wait to celebrate the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy 500 with our fans for the next 100 days,” Boles said. “Feb. 19 will be an exciting and fun beginning to a memorable countdown that will be talked about for years to come. The 100th Running of the Indy 500 will be an unrivaled event that showcases our iconic legacy and sets the stage for an extremely bright future.”

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— Gallagher & Co. to sponsor Chilton’s Ganassi ride: International insurance brokerage and risk management services firm Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. has partnered with Chip Ganassi Racing Teams to support Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Max Chilton.

Gallagher, headquartered in Itasca, Ill., has operations in 31 countries and offers client-service capabilities in more than 150 countries around the world through a network of correspondent brokers and consultants. This season with CGRT will be the company’s first foray into the world of motorsport partnerships.

“Racing has tremendous global appeal and millions of fans around the world,” said Richard C. Tallo, chief marketing and communications officer, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. “Numerous parallels exist between race car driving and managing risk. Both in business and on the racetrack, teams have to quickly assess, calculate and manage risk if success is to be achieved. … With this exciting sport and Ganassi’s racing leadership, Gallagher will have the ability to leverage a range of marketing activities to further expand our brand awareness.”

Chilton was named driver of the No. 8 Chevrolet after making 35 starts in Formula One from 2013-2014 and driving in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires for Carlin in 2015.

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Parnelli Jones documentary to premiere at Sun Valley Film Festival: “Behind the Indianapolis 500 with Parnelli Jones,” a documentary that offers an inside look at the great race through the eyes of the 1963 “500” winner, will debut at the Sun Valley (Idaho) Film Festival that runs March 2-6. To help support the film, visit this link

Jones, 82, is the oldest living Indy 500 winner, but also has countless wins in all forms of motorsports including NASCAR, off-road and sports cars. The documentary was written, produced and directed by Car Barn Productions’ team of Annie Walker, Michael Walker and Travis Knox.

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Join Verizon IndyCar Series drivers and IMS leadership at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday, Feb. 18, to help kick off the countdown for 100 days to the 100th Running of the Indy 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. The party begins at 9:30 p.m. and at midnight we’ll officially mark 100 days until Race Day with a special gathering on the Yard of Bricks.

Event Details:

Thursday, Feb. 18, at 9:30 p.m.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Yard of Bricks & Plaza Pavilion
Food and beverage deals available

Click this Link for the information you need to be there …

Enter through the 16th Street tunnel and follow the directions to parking locations provided by the IMS Safety Patrol.

When — Thurs., Feb. 18, 2016 – 9:30 PM Friday, Feb. 19, 2016-12:30 AM (EST) – Add Calendar

Where — Indianapolis Motor Speedway – 4790 West 16th Street Indianapolis, IN – View Map

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— SEMA to Oppose Action as Threat to Modified Racecars and Parts Suppliers

Washington, DC (February 8, 2016) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a regulation to prohibit conversion of vehicles originally designed for on-road use into racecars. The regulation would also make the sale of certain products for use on such vehicles illegal.

The proposed regulation was contained within a non-related proposed regulation entitled “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles—Phase 2.”

The regulation would impact all vehicle types, including the sports cars, sedans and hatch-backs commonly converted strictly for use at the track. While the Clean Air Act prohibits certain modifications to motor vehicles, it is clear that vehicles built or modified for racing, and not used on the streets, are not the “motor vehicles” that Congress intended to regulate.

“This proposed regulation represents overreaching by the agency, runs contrary to the law and defies decades of racing activity where EPA has acknowledged and allowed conversion of vehicles,” said SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting. “Congress did not intend the original Clean Air Act to extend to vehicles modified for racing and has re-enforced that intent on more than one occasion.”

SEMA submitted comments in opposition to the regulation and met with the EPA to confirm the agency’s intentions. The EPA indicated that the regulation would prohibit conversion of vehicles into racecars and make the sale of certain emissions-related parts for use on converted vehicles illegal. Working with other affected organizations, including those representing legions of professional and hobbyist racers and fans, SEMA will continue to oppose the regulation through the administrative process and will seek congressional support and judicial intervention as necessary.

The EPA has indicated it expects to publish final regulations by July 2016.

About SEMA

SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association founded in 1963, represents the $36 billion specialty automotive industry of 6,633 member-companies. It is the authoritative source for research, data, trends and market growth information for the specialty auto parts industry. The industry provides appearance, performance, comfort, convenience and technology products for passenger and recreational vehicles. For more information, contact SEMA at 1575 S. Valley Vista Drive, Diamond Bar, California 91765 — visit www.sema.org

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Honda Press Conference
INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 2, 2016) – INDYCAR and Honda announced a multiyear extension to the agreement that retains the manufacturer as an engine supplier to the Verizon IndyCar Series.

“We’re grateful for Honda’s longstanding partnership with INDYCAR the last 13 years,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Racing is a part of Honda’s DNA and its continued investment in the Verizon IndyCar Series – technically on the competition side, but also through sponsoring of events and additional activation – is instrumental to the success and continued growth of our sport.”

Honda has collected 217 Indy car race wins in more than two decades as an engine supplier and won 10 manufacturers’ championships, including six years when it served as sole supplier to the Verizon IndyCar Series. In addition, it has scored 10 victories in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

Honda will be in competition with Chevrolet for the fifth consecutive season in 2016, with both manufacturers producing 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines. Additionally, beginning in 2015, both Honda and Chevrolet developed aerodynamic bodywork kits for their respective teams – supplying a road course/street course/short oval aero kit and a separate kit for superspeedway tracks.

“In the 13 years that Honda has been a part of INDYCAR, we’ve had a great deal of success, both against strong competition from other auto manufacturers and as single engine supplier,” said Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development. “Honda is pleased to be part of the Verizon IndyCar Series, as it provides both a technical challenge for our associates and a showcase for Honda products worldwide.”

Honda – through American Honda and its racing subsidiary, Honda Performance Development -began supplying engines to Indy car teams in 1994 in Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) competition. Honda joined the Verizon IndyCar Series as an engine supplier in 2003 and has been a valued manufacturer and partner ever since.

In addition to continuing as a manufacturer in the Verizon IndyCar Series, Honda retains title sponsorship rights for three events on the schedule: the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park, which is the fourth race on the 2016 schedule, April 22-24; the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, July 29-31; and the Honda Indy Toronto, sponsored by Honda Canada, July 15-17.

Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (CGRT) announced today that former Formula 1 driver Max Chilton from England will pilot the No. 8 Chevrolet in a full-season effort for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series. 

Chip Ganassi, Owner, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams: “Max is a talented young driver who has driven a number of different disciplines already in a short time. He brings a good deal of experience to our Indy car lineup and we’re looking forward to him being part of our four-car team in 2016 and making a big contribution.”

Chilton will become the first British driver in more than a decade and just the fourth in the last 24 years (Nigel Mansell-1993, Mark Blundell-1996, Justin Wilson-2004) to have driven full-time in Formula 1 prior to joining the Verizon IndyCar Series in the same capacity.                                                                                                                                                       

At 24, Chilton joins the team after making 35 starts in Formula 1 from 2013-2014 for the Marussia Formula 1 Team. Most recently he contested a partial season in the 2015 Indy Lights Championship with one win, six podium and 10 top-five finishes. 

Chilton commented: “I couldn’t be happier to join Chip Ganassi Racing’s Verizon IndyCar Series program. This organization is built on winning and their 11 INDYCAR Championships back that up. Chip is the kind of team owner that every driver dreams of working for in their career. He’s accomplished so much in so many different categories over the years, and I can’t wait to start driving for him.”

Chilton’s 35 starts in Formula 1 from 2013-2014 included a rookie record for the most consecutive races finished (25), with 19 of them coming in his first season. 2015 saw Chilton make his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut with Nissan Motorsports in the LMP1 category, while also contesting his first season in Indy Lights with Carlin Motorsport, where he won at Iowa Speedway from pole position. Prior to Formula 1 he spent the 2010-2012 seasons in the GP2 Series scoring two wins. In addition, Chilton contested the British Formula 3 Championship from 2007-2009 where he was a race winner. He began his racing career at the age of 10 in karts.