Archive for February, 2020

By: Stan Kalwasinski — “Back in the Day”

The 1960 Broadway Speedway Program

The old Broadway Speedway opened in the summer of 1957 after the owner, Ralph Conner and his son, Don, completed about a seven-year building project. Located about three miles south of U.S. 30 on Broadway Ave. (Route 53) in Crown Point, Ind., the new track was described as a slightly banked, clay surface, quarter-mile oval.

Conner, who owned a sod farm north of the speedway, had built two at the time state-of-the-art buildings on the grounds – a glass block ticket office and a huge concession building which for years would have a sign on top of it that read – “Broadway Speedway – Fastest Track On Earth”.

Wayne Adams wrote in his Midwest Whispers column in the July 23, 1957 issue of Illustrated Speedway News, “The Conners are now running midgets (Offys and Fords) every Friday nite and open competition modified stock cars every Saturday nite.”

Wayne Bryant image of Bill Carr after Carr won Broadway’s Season Championship race in 1958

Stock car winners in 1957 included Bob Perrine, Harry Klisiak, Harley Bisselburg and Sonny Hedrick. Early modified (coupe) champions were Jerry Brown, Bill Carr and Luke Gilbert. Gilbert’s championship came in 1960 with the Steel City Racing Association sanctioning the races, which featured the old coupes with flathead engines for the most part. Besides Gilbert, other front runners in 1960 were Carr, George Hatch, brothers Elmer and Don Embry and Don Jeffries, among others. The coupes were the mainstay for the weekly action with Larry Cope becoming the man to beat in the mid-1960s. Late-model were introduced around 1966.

Over the years, the track would see numerous owners and promoters taking over the operational reins with track configurations and name changes (Southlake Speedway and Crown Point Speedway) taking place. The speedway would host its last racing program in 2005.

Gene Crucean photo from 1979 showing the famous Broadway Speedway sign – “Fastest Track On Earth”

By: Stan Kalwasinski — “Back in the Day” –

United States Auto Club (USAC) midgets use to visit Chicago’s Soldier Field pretty much every year from 1957 until 1966 with the exception of 1959 when the asphalt track was torn out for the summer-long Pan American Games.

Wisconsin’s Frank Burany won the first USAC midget feature held at “The Field” on June 8, 1957. Burany, who was a big winner at Soldier Field in the pre-USAC days, beat Andy Linden and Tony Bettenhausen to the checkered flag in the 50-lap headliner that night.

Frank Burany won a lot of feature races at Soldier Field. The Wisconsin driver is pictured in Tony Saylor’s roadster midget in 1963. (Vince Mayer Photo)

Over the years, drivers like Eddie Johnson, Leroy Warriner, Gene Hartley, Jimmy Davies, Tommy Copp, Johnny Riva, Chuck Rodee and Mike McGreevy were USAC winners at Soldier Field.

Before a small crowd, McGreevy defeated Jimmy Knight and Bob Wente in the last USAC event held there – a 50 lapper on July 23, 1966. Over the years, numerous Indianapolis 500 drivers would appear for the midget competition, including future ‘500’ winners A.J. Foyt and Parnelli Jones.

Two years before his Indianapolis 500 win, Parnelli Jones receives a Bardahl racing jacket for setting the night’s “fast time” on July 1, 1961.

Driver Parnelli Jones, Announcer Bill Wilson and a registered USAC doctor join in the presentation. (Wayne Bryant Photo)

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (February 27, 2020) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced today that Spencer Pigot, who made three starts for the team in 2016, will return to RLL in 2020 for the GMR Grand Prix on May 9 and the Indianapolis 500 on May 24 in a Honda-powered car entered by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with Citrone/Buhl Autosport (CBA).

CBA was formed in early 2020 by former Indy car driver Robbie Buhl and his brother and business partner Tom, and Robert Citrone, founder of Discovery Capital Management and the largest minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and his son Nick, a Data Analytics Coordinator for the Pittsburgh Penguins NHL team. Robbie and Tom own Buhl Sport Detroit, a motorsports marketing company that operates a rallycross team and an advanced driver training program called Teen Street Skills.

Orlando, Florida native Pigot, 26, earned back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015 in the INDYCAR Ladder Series with his 2014 Pro Mazda championship and 2015 Indy Lights title. He made his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut with RLL in 2016 in the St. Petersburg season opener and also competed in the INDYCAR Grand Prix and Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the team. He made an additional seven starts for Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) that year and joined ECR fulltime from 2017-2019 with a career-best start of third place at the 2019 Indy 500 and career-best finish of second place at Iowa Speedway in 2018.

“I’m very excited to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with Citrone/Buhl Autosport for this year’s GMR Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500,” said Pigot. “I ran my first INDYCAR SERIES race and Indy 500 with RLL in 2016 so it will be nice to return to a team with some familiar faces. I can’t thank everyone at RLL and Citrone/Buhl Autosport enough for their efforts in putting this deal together and the opportunity to compete in another Indy 500. I can’t wait for May!”

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with Citrone/Buhl Autosport entry for Spencer Pigot will make its debut on track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, May 8 for practice for the GMR Grand Prix and will attempt to qualify for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500, which will be held May 24.

About Spencer Pigot

Pigot began racing at the age of 9 and won his first championship when he was 10 after quickly becoming a presence in the national karting scene. He continued to progress and won the Skip Barber Karting (car) Shootout scholarship in 2009 and a fully-funded ride in the Skip Barber National series as an Official MazdaSpeed Development Driver. With three wins, five poles and a total of 11 podium finishes, the American captured the 2010 BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National presented by Mazda championship and was also awarded the prestigious Team USA Scholarship and the opportunity to take part in the Formula Ford Festival, where he started from pole, and Walter Hayes Trophy in England.

In 2011 he competed for Andretti Autosport in their 2011 USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda program and won three races, four pole positions, eight podium finishes and one track record en route to a second-place standing overall in the USF2000 Championship. He also won the Team USA Scholarship for the second consecutive year and was given the chance to race in the Duratec class of the British Formula Ford Festival.

In 2012 Spencer returned to the USF2000 National Championship with Cape Motorsports and won the USF2000 Cooper Tires Winterfest Championship with five wins in six races. Driving the No. 2 car in the USF2000 National Championship, Pigot ended the year with eight wins, five pole positions, 11 podium finishes and two track records out of 14 races. Ultimately, he finished second in the championship despite winning twice as many races as the eventual champion.

In 2013, Pigot moved up the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires with Team Pelfrey and claimed one win, five podium finishes and finished fourth in the final points standings. He rejoined forces with his old karting team, Juncos Racing, in 2014. Success came immediately as he won the Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Winterfest Championship with two wins and four pole positions out of the four-race championship. He later won the overall Pro Mazda championship with six wins, five poles and seven podium finishes earning his third Mazda scholarship. In 2015, both Pigot and Juncos Racing joined the Indy Lights championship and earned six wins, four poles and 10 podium finishes en route to back-to-back driver titles. Pigot’s champion’s crown came with a scholarship package to advance to the IndyCar Series in 2016 where he made his series debut in three races with RLL then went on to run seven races with Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) that year before driving fulltime for the team from 2017-2019 with a career-best start of third place at the 2019 Indy 500 and career-best finish of second at Iowa Speedway in 2018.

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, former CBS Late Show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan.  In 2020, the team will compete in their 29th year of open-wheel competition and attempt to add to their 28 wins – including the 2004 Indy 500 from pole with Buddy Rice — their 32 poles, 102 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. Since 2014, BMW Team RLL has competed in the GTLM class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a two-car program and has brought their total to 21 wins – including the 2019 and 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance races, 28 poles and 79 podium finishes as well as a second-place finish in the Manufacturer, Team and Driver championships in 2015 and 2017.

QUOTEBOARD:

BOBBY RAHAL, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: “I’m very pleased to have Spencer back with us again for the month of May. There is no question in my mind that he can contribute to the overall performance of the team based upon his strong performance last May and at other events throughout the season. Spencer is a team player and has a bright future in my opinion. We are looking forward to working with Citrone/Buhl Autosport on this entry. It is an exciting time for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and having a new team enter the sport is proof of that.”

ROBERT CITRONE, co-owner of Citrone/Buhl Autosport: “Nick, myself and our whole family are excited to be part of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team and to have Spencer as the driver is incredible. We have been lifelong Indy car fans and we have wanted to get involved in the sport for many years. We thought this was the best way to learn and gain experience at the highest level and have been incredibly impressed with all of the people we have met at RLL. Bobby and my family share a Pittsburgh connection with his dealership group based there and with my family’s involvement in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Being involved in sports and knowing how enjoyable, challenging and tough that is and how the quality of the organization is really the key. I think the Steelers have that with the quality of the organization with the Rooney family and we have that same feeling with the Rahal family and RLL.”

ROBBIE BUHL, co-owner of Citrone/Buhl Autosport: “Rob, Nick and I love Indy car racing. We all want to win and this set up allows us to learn in an accelerated way. Getting to see more of how the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team operates and getting to see the depth of both the engineering and commercial side is exciting. We feel great about our partnership. You obviously look back at your own experiences as a driver and with Spencer having come up through the ranks leading to Indy car and winning the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights championships like he did shows that he can win. He knows his way around the INDYCAR SERIES and he knows how to be fast at Indy. You just have to have a little bit of luck and have a good team behind you. In addition to that, what Takuma and Graham offer to the program is invaluable. We’re excited.”

Penske Racing this weekend …

Posted: February 27, 2020 in Uncategorized

INDIANAPOLIS (February 27, 2020) – INDYCAR unveiled its brand campaign – “A Different Breed” – for the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season that showcases the extraordinary mindset of its athletes and features narration by Academy Award-winning actor Matt Damon.

“A Different Breed” was created in partnership with Chicago-based agency Schafer Condon Carter (SCC) to convey the distinctive mental, emotional and physical strength required to excel as an INDYCAR driver. These athletes – whether 39-year-old, five-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon or 19-year-old rising star Colton Herta – have the ambition and drive to harness a carbon-fiber rocket at speeds that can reach 240 miles per hour while always aware that the smallest miscue can change everything.

“Fearless and aggressive by nature, our athletes push the limits of speed and possibility every single lap of every single race,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “This campaign reflects both the skills and intangibles that set them apart, giving fans an up-close and personal look at what it takes to be an INDYCAR driver.”

Video content for “A Different Breed” focuses on the athletes’ unique skill set and mentality as described by Damon, the 2019 Indianapolis 500 honorary starter. He witnessed the breath-taking capabilities and fearlessness of INDYCAR athletes while standing atop the flagstand for nearly 40 of the 200 laps of one of the world’s most iconic races.

The video features several NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers, including Dixon, Herta, two-time series champion Josef Newgarden, 2019 Indy 500 winner and former series champ Simon Pagenaud, 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi and 20-year-old emerging talent Patricio O’Ward.

In addition to narration by Damon, DJ/producer MAKJ lends an original song – “Green Light” – to the campaign. MAKJ, a fan of the sport and former professional racer, has collaborated with some of today’s most talented artists, including Steve Aoki, Tinashe, O.T. Genesis and Lil Jon. He also has played some of the most prestigious music festivals including Coachella, Voodoo, Electric Zoo and Ultra.

“INDYCAR racing is the ultimate expression of audacious athleticism,” said David Selby, Co-Chairman of SCC. “The drivers are among the most courageous and committed athletes in the world – a different breed for sure… our goal was to celebrate them and introduce them to new fans.”

The campaign’s video content is complemented by dramatic still images energized with a shock of color to contrast the black-and-white heroic images. The campaign-style and multiple-driver approach provides the flexibility to seamlessly tailor the creative to the needs of various stakeholders and partners in the sport.

INDYCAR tasked SCC with identifying a young, rising director to capture the true voice of the campaign and selected Logan Cascia. As the founder, director and DP of Los Angeles-based Cascia Films, he has produced work that includes Emmy and Peabody award-winning television features, commercials and film festival premieres.

Check out the amazing athletes of “A Different Breed” when the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opens Sunday, March 15 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. (3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network).

ABOUT INDYCAR:

INDYCAR is the Indianapolis-based governing body for North America’s premier open-wheel auto racing series known as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The series features an international field of the world’s most versatile drivers – including five-time series champion Scott Dixon, reigning series champion Josef Newgarden and defending Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud – who compete on superspeedways, short ovals, street circuits and permanent road courses. The season, which runs from March to September, currently consists of 17 races in the United States and Canada and is highlighted by the historic Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge held annually in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IMS Productions are owned by Penske Corporation, a global transportation, automotive and motorsports leader. For more information on INDYCAR and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, please visit www.indycar.com.

ABOUT SCC:

SCC is an independent, digitally driven, full-service creative agency that builds brands and businesses through data-driven human insights and powerful brand ideas. A simple mission – We work for humans™. – fuels our entrepreneurial, results-obsessed culture. Based in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, SCC was named Small Agency of The Year Midwest by Ad Age in 2018 and has been consistently named one of the Top Workplaces in Chicago. We are privileged to work with amazing client partners including Kellogg’s, Danone, the Chicago Cubs, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC., Casey’s General Stores, First Midwest Bank, University of Chicago Medicine, Home Partners of America, Portillo’s Restaurants and Solo Cup. For more visit www.WeWorkforHumans.com/

By: Stan Kalwasinski

“Back in the Day”

Santa Fe Speedway, located off the southwest corner of 91st Street and Wolf Road in Willow Springs, Ill., was probably the Chicago area’s most well-known motorsports venue.

The dirt raceway, featuring both quarter-mile and “short” half-mile ovals, operated from 1953 through 1995 and featured weekly stock car racing and motorcycle competition in addition to midget and sprint car racing and the track’s popular demolition derbies.

Over the years, pretty much every type of motorsports action took place there.

Santa Fe Park Speedway held its first stock car racing program on Sunday afternoon, May 31, 1953 on the property once known as Santa Fe Park, a picnic grove/horse race track complex founded by Frederick Tiedt in the late 1800s.

A number of automobile races were held there in the early days. Tiedt’s son, Howard, was the driving force of the new Santa Fe Speedway with his family operating the track until it closed after the 1995 season.

An unexpected letter to competitors in January of 1996 announced the raceway’s closure. The speedway sat idle until March of 1999 when the wrecking ball came a coming, making way for a $70 million upscale housing development.

How did that radio jingle go? “There’s only one speedway, it’s the track of clay. You ain’t seen nothing till who’ve been to Santa Fe. Racing on a track of clay.”

Today, on the corner of 91st Street and Wolf Road, a rock monument keeps the memory of Santa Fe Speedway alive.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (February 25 2020)

Arrow McLaren SP and Fernando Alonso will join forces with title partner Ruoff Mortgage to compete this year in the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500, the team announced today. The Spaniard will join Arrow McLaren SP drivers Oliver Askew and Pato O’Ward as the team fields three cars in a blend of youth and experience at the iconic event.

Alonso, a double Formula 1 World Champion, World Endurance Champion, twice winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona, will compete in his third Month of May this year, driving the No. 66 Ruoff Mortgage Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet and returning to continue his quest for motorsport’s elusive and prestigious “Triple Crown”.

Ruoff Mortgage is no stranger to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, having won a thrilling Indy 500 in 2017. The livery of the No. 66 Ruoff Mortgage Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet will be revealed in the near future.

Fernando Alonso, No. 66 Ruoff Mortgage Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet:

“I am a racer and the Indy 500 is the greatest race in the world. I love the incredible fans who make it so special for all of us drivers and make me want to come back. I have maximum respect for this race and everyone who competes in it and all I want to do is race against them and give my best, as always.

“It was important for me to explore my options for this race but Arrow McLaren SP has always been at the top. I have a special relationship with McLaren; we’ve been through a lot together and that creates a bond, a loyalty that is strong.

“But more than that, I am impressed with how the new organisation and operation is developing into a strong package with the Chevrolet partnership. The team has experienced, well-qualified people and great resources, and I’m confident we can be competitive.

“I’m focused and excited to begin our preparations. It will also be great to work with Oliver and Pato, two fantastic young talents for the future who are growing all the time.”

Sam Schmidt, Co-Owner, Arrow McLaren SP:

“Adding Fernando to the team brings a level of experience and expertise that will benefit our two young, talented full-time drivers in Oliver and Pato. We have fast cars at Indy and fully believe he has the talent to run at the front, not just participate. That, combined with Chevy power and the experience of the team, will make this trio of drivers one of the strongest in the field.”

Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing:

“We’ve always said we’re open to running Fernando in a third car for the 500, so we’re delighted he’s decided to join us. Fernando is one of the greatest drivers in the sport and it’s fantastic to have him as part of the team. It’s a fine way to contest our first Indy 500 as Arrow McLaren SP and to have Ruoff Mortgage backing Fernando is a perfect partnership.

Mark Music, CEO, Ruoff Mortgage:

“We are beyond thrilled to sponsor such a world-class and respected driver and to partner with Arrow McLaren SP this year. We hope Fernando takes home the coveted Triple Crown of Motorsport in the Ruoff Mortgage car at this year’s Indy 500. It’s going to be a very exciting race.”

About Arrow McLaren SP:

The name Arrow McLaren SP marks a new chapter for our team, as three determined entities – Arrow Electronics, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and McLaren Racing – join forces with the combined goal to challenge for success. Arrow McLaren SP fields two cars in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES: the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet piloted by Pato O’Ward and the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet piloted by Oliver Askew. Fernando Alonso will compete for the team at the Indy 500 in the No. 66 Ruoff Mortgage Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

About Ruoff Mortgage:

Ruoff Mortgage is a full-service residential mortgage company with 70+ locations throughout the Midwest and originates in 45 states through their online consumer direct division. They have been ranked on the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America list for seven consecutive years and have appeared in the Top 100 Mortgage Companies in America and Top Mortgage Employer lists by several industry publications. Ruoff Mortgage has a 98.2% customer satisfaction rating, as compiled by CX leader, Customerville. www.ruoff.com

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is pleased to recognize driving legends Janet Guthrie and Dale Earnhardt as the newest inductees to the IMS Hall of Fame.

Guthrie is the first woman at IMS to be assigned a car on the entry list (1976) and the first female to qualify to race (1977). She held the record for best finish by a female driver (ninth) for 27 years from 1978 to 2005.

Earnhardt earned five top-10 finishes in seven starts at the Brickyard 400, including a win in 1995, and is tied for the most NASCAR Cup Series championships at seven. He was fatally injured at the 2001 Daytona 500 but his legacy endures.

Guthrie and Earnhardt will be honored at the 2020 IMS Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Indianapolis 500 Oldtimers Dinner presented by Firestone on Thursday, May 21, in downtown Indianapolis.

IMS Museum Borg-Warner Society members will be invited to attend the ceremony and dinner. 1909 Founders level members will receive an invitation. Pole Sitter members may claim two complimentary tickets. Winner’s Circle level supporters will each have one complimentary table for eight at the banquet.

For more information about the Borg-Warner Society, contact Jennifer Hiatt at 317-492-6563 or jhiatt@brickyard.com.

By: Jeff Majeski — Jeff’s Indy Talk

Robbie Buhl drove the Purex car in the Indy Racing League — IndyCar Image: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Former IndyCar driver Robbie Buhl announced he’s returning as an owner for a team that will field entries for both the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 this May.

The new entity that Buhl is part of is Citrone/Buhl Autosport, which is a partnership between Robert and Nick Citrone and Tom and Robbie Buhl. Robert Citrone is the founder of Discovery Capital Management and the largest minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Detroit native competed in 78 IndyCar races between 1993 and 2004, including every 500 from 1996 through 2003. His best finish was sixth in 1999 after starting in the last row (32nd) driving for A.J. Foyt.

Buhl had a good chance for the win in 2001, hounding leader Helio Castroneves as the race entered the final 100 miles. Buhl spun coming off Turn 2 and into the inside wall on the back straight. While the car wasn’t damaged, the incident dropped him from contention, and he wound up 15th.

Buhl believed Castroneves, then a rookie, had blocked him during previous overtaking maneuvers – a charge others have since lodged from time to time against the now three-time Indy 500 champion.

“Castroneves blocked me all over the place,” Buhl said in the 2001 Indy Review yearbook. “But that’s not why I spun. I’m not making excuses.”

Johnny Lightning produced this nice diecast replica of Robbie Buhl’s Purex car.

After retiring from driving, Buhl was involved with the Dreyer & Reinbold operation for several years. It was with that team that he scored one of his two IndyCar wins – the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World in 2000, driving the colorful Purex car.

His other victory also came on a short oval as he took advantage of Eddie Cheever Jr.’s exploding gearbox in the late stages to claim the 1997 Pennzoil 200 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Since leaving Dreyer & Reinbold, Buhl has been active in Detroit through Buhl Sport Detroit, a motorsports marketing company in the revitalized Corktown area that operates a rallycross team, Racing4Detroit, and an advanced driver training program called Teen Street Skills.

Click here to read the official press release.