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.

For James Hinchcliffe the 2020 Month of May marks a bit of a homecoming as the Canadian driver returns to Andretti Autosport, the team with which he celebrated his first INDYCAR® SERIES victory in 2013. Hinchcliffe will strap into the No. 29 Honda, carrying Genesys® colors as he enters the GMR Grand Prix, his eighth Indy 500 effort and the Texas 600 in June.

The 2016 Indy 500 pole sitter, Hinchcliffe, holds a total of 139 INDYCAR race starts, collecting six wins since his 2011 series debut, and counts seven Indy 500 race starts under his belt. Together, through the 2012-2014 seasons, Hinchcliffe and Andretti recorded three INDYCAR victories, 15 top-five finishes and nine front-row starts, including sitting twice on the famed front of the Indy 500.

The fan-favorite driver announced on Jan. 16 that Genesys, a leading provider of cloud customer experience and contact center technologies, will serve as his primary sponsor at two of INDYCAR’s marquee events. The No. 29 Honda will take on the orange, white and charcoal of Genesys, a company with a major employee presence in Indianapolis and nearly 60 offices worldwide. Genesys technology helps organizations around the globe connect more than 70 billion customer moments each year across voice, text, messaging apps, webchat, and social media.

Hinchcliffe joins five teammates for the Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Autosport’s full-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES stable of Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Honda, 2016 Indianapolis 500 champion), Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda, 2014 Indianapolis 500 champion), Colton Herta (No. 88 Honda, Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport), Marco Andretti (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda, Andretti Herta Autosport with Marco Andretti and Curb-Agajanian) and Zach Veach (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda).

The 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge kicks off with practice days beginning Tuesday, May 12, leading to Crown Royal Armed Forces Qualifying May 16-17. The main event goes green at 12:45 p.m. ET Sunday, May 24, with a live broadcast on NBC.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI – CHAIRMAN & CEO, ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT

“We’re really pleased to be able to welcome James back into the Andretti team. He has, for sure, been knocked down a few times by this sport and to be able to help him meet the challenge is really special. We had a lot of fun, and some great successes with James when he was part of the team before, and we’re really looking forward to picking up where we left off.

“I’d also like to welcome Genesys to the Andretti family for their first experience in INDYCAR racing. We now have three, major Indiana-based companies in our portfolio, along with several other brands that call Indianapolis home. It’s special to see these companies supporting Indiana’s home sport of INDYCAR racing, and we’re proud to carry them each with us. We are looking forward to working with James and the Genesys team to deliver both on and off-track success.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE – DRIVER, NO. 29 GENESYS HONDA

“Honestly, it’s so nice being able to announce some more good news. It’s no secret that the 2020 season isn’t going to be exactly what we were expecting, but being able to start the new year with the announcement that Genesys was stepping in to save our season and partner with us was awesome, and now adding the next big piece in my reunion with Andretti Autosport just really makes it feel like the momentum is going our way. I can’t wait to work with this group again and to get back behind the wheel of an IndyCar!”

TONY BATES – CEO, GENESYS

“We saw tremendous potential in James from the beginning – and now, with the power of Andretti Autosport behind him, it’s going to be an incredible ride. Our successes at Genesys are possible because of our team’s skills and the innovative technology that’s behind the many positive experiences consumers have with businesses. Success on the track requires the same winning combination.

“Between Andretti Autosport’s storied history and James’ talent behind the wheel, we couldn’t ask for a better way to kick off our inaugural presence in INDYCAR.”

About Genesys

Every year, Genesys® delivers more than 70 billion remarkable customer experiences for organizations in over 100 countries. Through the power of the cloud and AI, our technology connects every customer moment across marketing, sales and service on any channel, while also improving employee experiences. Genesys pioneered Experiences as a Service℠ so organizations of any size can provide true personalization at scale, interact with empathy, and foster customer trust and loyalty. This is enabled by Genesys Cloud™, an all-in-one solution and the world’s leading public cloud contact center platform, designed for rapid innovation, scalability and flexibility.

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Feb. 14, 2020 – A wide-ranging, multifaceted plan to boost and strengthen the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was unveiled today featuring significant improvements and financial investment that will resonate with fans from Central Indiana and throughout the globe.

The goal of the plan is to produce a legendary Month of May. Enhancements revealed exactly 100 days from the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 24 include:

– The largest purse in Indianapolis 500 history

– Improvements to the Indianapolis 500 qualifying format and television schedule

– New sponsors investing long term in the “500,” IMS and NTT INDYCAR SERIES

– A multimillion-dollar investment in the fan experience at IMS

Since Jan. 6, following the change in ownership, the IMS team moved quickly to implement significant upgrades to the GMR Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500 and the Big Machine Vodka 400 during the Fourth of July weekend.

“This is the Racing Capital of the World,” Roger Penske said. “It is on par with some of the most historic sporting institutions in this nation and across the globe, from Churchill Downs to Augusta National. Today, we’re announcing a meaningful investment in our fan experience that will produce rapid results. It’s part of a long-term plan to ensure the legendary status of the Speedway continues to grow and evolve for generations to come.

“I am very excited about the enhancements to the qualifying weekend, the largest-ever ‘500’ purse, new sponsors and the significant investments we are making to the INDYCAR SERIES and to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

Indianapolis 500 Purse

The event purse for the 104th Indianapolis 500 will be the largest in the history of the event. The purse will grow by $2 million to more than $15 million, boosting the prize pool for NTT INDYCAR SERIES teams and drivers.

Indianapolis 500 Qualifying

Qualifying weekend for the 104th Indianapolis 500 – Saturday, May 16 and Sunday, May 17 – will feature a variety of changes to its format and broadcast to create even more memories and drama. 

Multiple attempts will return to the Last Row Shootout, expanding it to 75 minutes. Previous versions of the Shootout featured one attempt per car. While fans enjoyed that format, feedback indicated they wanted even more drama as drivers try to seize one of the three final spots in the field.

A boost in turbocharger level will see speeds climb this year during the Indy 500 qualifying sessions. Turbocharger boost will increase horsepower by 45 HP this year.

An expanded weekend TV schedule will ensure NBC televises coverage of qualifications on both Saturday and Sunday, with total network exposure increasing over 2019. Full weekend broadcast details will be released soon.

New Sponsors

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES and IMS will add six new major sponsors in 2020. Pennzoil, Verizon, Snap-on Tools, DEX Imaging, Road & Track magazine and Global Medical Response will make significant investments in the racing series and Speedway.

Multimillion-Dollar Fan Experience Investment

The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016 saw large investments made to the Speedway. Beginning with this year’s GMR Grand Prix, fans will experience many new upgrades to IMS. These enhancements are all projects that will be finished before gates open, with several additional opportunities under consideration for future seasons.

Technology upgrades are a major component of this plan. More than 30 additional large-screen video boards will be added, including 24 along the Paddock seating. The Paddock screens will bring race action and vital information to an additional 25,000 fans. In addition, all seven large infield big-screen monitors will receive a running order addition.

Another exciting addition is the IMS Media Wall. This video board, measuring 100 feet wide by 20 feet tall, will be installed at the base of the Pagoda facing the Pagoda Plaza as a cornerstone of a plan to transform the popular gathering area for fans. It will also provide data-driven race insights to fans from NTT.

Verizon and their 5G Ultra Wideband network will transform the iconic Speedway into a first of its kind technology-led entertainment complex. IMS will be the first motorsports facility with commercial 5G service that will enhance both the consumer experience and track operations.

Infrastructure improvements will be noticeable inside and outside of the fabled, 110-year-old facility.

Pedestrian traffic on Georgetown Road will be widened by two lanes to make ingress and egress easier for more than half of the venue’s Race Day customers.

More than 125 restrooms are being renovated inside IMS. New pavement will be added to the Parcel B lot near the IMS Main Gate to improve the parking experience and create a cleaner look for the “front door” of the facility. Approximately 3 miles of fencing will be added to the entire grounds.

The winning driver and team of the Indianapolis 500, Grand Prix and Brickyard 400 will receive higher honors, as the winner’s car will be elevated to the same level as the Victory Podium after each race. This will give fans a better vantage point for pictures and social media sharing of the most prestigious Victory Lane in global motorsports.

The atmosphere of the massive facility also will be enhanced through detail-oriented improvements throughout IMS.

Night light signage will be installed over Gates 1 and 2, while IMS will assume responsibility for the beautification project along Crawfordsville Road. Fans will notice the fresh paint and new signage on more than 50 concession stands inside IMS, picnic tables added throughout the grounds for more gathering space for families and friends, and the placement of more than 230 racing-themed flags around the facility and Crawfordsville Road.

All aspects of this fan experience investment plan are underway and will be completed before IMS gates open for the Month of May on Friday, May 8.

Tickets are on sale now at IMS.com and the IMS Ticket Office for the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, GMR Grand Prix, Big Machine Vodka 400 and all other activities at IMS.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – FEBRUARY 12: Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, drives during NTT IndyCar Series testing at Circuit of The Americas on February 12, 2020 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

AUSTIN, Texas (February 12, 2020) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES concluded its first open test of the season Wednesday with 27 drivers using 25 cars to complete 1,480 laps at Circuit of The Americas.

The field included six former series champions and seven drivers who have yet to start an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race. And it was one of those former champs who posted the fastest lap around the 20-turn, 3.41-mile road course that will host the season’s fourth race, the AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge on Sunday, April 26.

Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet), the 2014 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champ, recorded a lap of 1 minute, 46.7603 seconds/114.987 miles per hour that was not far off his pole-winning speed of a year ago at COTA. He was inside 0.8 of a second from his pole effort of 1:46.0177/115.792 mph last March.

 “It always feels great, you know,” Power said. “It’s good for all my guys to see we have the pace. We went through as many items as we could. Obviously, It was very rushed at the end there with red flags and everything, so didn’t get everything done, but kind of some of the big stuff that we needed to know, we understand.”

Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA Auto Parts Honda) posted the second-fastest lap at 1:46.9999/114.729 mph. Interestingly, he qualified second to Power here last season.

“It was obviously great to finally get back on track,” Rossi said. “It’s been a long offseason. The waiting around for weather was hard, but I think the team did a good job. We got through a lot of our run plan with no dramas, despite the delays.

“The Aeroscreen was tentatively less dramatic than everyone was expecting it to be, and didn’t have any real issues until some slight, reflection issues at the end which we should be able to rectify. So that was positive. We worked through a good test list and found a pretty decent place in adapting the car with the 2020 needs within a half day. Generally, pretty happy.”

Two-time defending Virgin Australia Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin (No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet) made an immediate impression, recording the third-fastest lap of the session (1:47.2630/114.448 mph).

McLaughlin was followed by Team Penske teammate and defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Josef Newgarden (No. 1 Team Penske Chevrolet), who was fourth at 1:47.2750/114.435 mph. Colton Herta (No. 88 Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport Honda), last year’s winner at COTA, rounded out the top five (1:47.3672/114.337 mph).

Inclement weather hampered Tuesday’s opening day of the test, with just 17 laps being run collectively by the field.

AEROSCREEN UPDATE

This week’s test featured a full-field debut of INDYCAR’s latest safety innovation, the cockpit-protecting Aeroscreen that is mandated for all cars on all tracks beginning this season. The Aeroscreen will make it competition debut March 13-15 at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network).

Graham Rahal (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda): “So far, so good. The Aeroscreen has been no issue. Little bit warmer on the car but not too bad. Visibility is great. I followed someone through a puddle and actually a ton of water came up on the Aeroscreen and it dissipated immediately. Better, better than what we would have experienced honestly before this.”

Andretti Autosport’s Zach Veach (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “Honestly, I think the first real test day with the Aeroscreen was a complete success. The cooling was adequate for the conditions – and a little too good for as cool as it is. I think we’re going to be in good shape when we get to St. Pete and it’s hotter. We got to run in the rain, and I had no visual issues with the Aeroscreen at all. As different as it is for the car look, I was very happy with what I saw from the cockpit.”

Takuma Sato (No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda): “The experience was very interesting and quite cool actually but very different from anything I drove before. It was a lot quieter with no air moving inside the cockpit. Overall, I think it is very positive. I felt really safe and protected. The visibility is better than I expected.”

Sebastien Bourdais (No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “No particular complaints at all, you just have to get accustomed to the new environment. We ran somewhat in the wet, a tiny bit, (there were) projections dirtying up the screen when you follow someone, but it seemed under control, so no major complaints. Obviously, it is very cold today, so it was actually not a bad thing that it was warmer than usual inside the car.”

Charlie Kimball (No. 4 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I think there are still some cooling issues to work through. It is not particularly warm today but at the same time, I didn’t have any vision issues and it’s a lot quieter in the car. There is a lot less wind noise, and I think the radio is clearer, so if we can figure out how to stay cool on a really hot day we’ll be in good shape. Even with the puddles and the dirt and all the other stuff that’s been on the Aeroscreen today, I haven’t felt like I lost any significant vision.”

Marcus Ericsson (No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Huski Chocolate Honda): “Today was the first time for me with the Aeroscreen. It was a new experience. I think it worked really well and did what it should do. There were no issues whatsoever driving with it. Obviously, it feels a bit different compared to when there is nothing there, but you quickly get used to it. I think INDYCAR has done a really good job there to implement it on all cars for this test – it’s very impressive! I look forward to continuing with it.”

Felix Rosenqvist (No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing NTT DATA Honda): “I think mainly the Aeroscreen worked really well. In terms of cooling, it was better than expected. Also, visibility was really good. The only thing was when the sun got low there was a lot of glare going on, which will be something to look at and see what the other drivers’ feedback will be. I think honestly the biggest difference is the way it affects the car handling in terms of weight and aerodynamics. Otherwise, it was a really smooth day!”

SUPER EFFORT

Two-time defending Virgin Australia Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin was among the NTT INDYCAR Series newcomers for the COTA test. McLaughlin drove Team Penske’s No. 2 Chevrolet, running 62 laps and recording the third-fastest time among the 27 drivers on the day.

“It’s an altogether new feeling,” McLaughlin said. “I’m a race driver. I like going fast, so this is a lot faster. I’m having fun. A lot of grip and it’s tough to drive.

“You turn that pit speed (limiter) off and there’s a lot of power and a lot of braking. I’m just really privileged to drive this car. Roger (Penske) and Team Penske have given me a go. I’m just trying to enjoy it as much as I can with a smile on my face.”

McLaughlin also is enjoying the benefit of working with the accomplished Team Penske trio of two-time and defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Josef Newgarden, 2019 Indy 500 champion and former series champion Simon Pagenaud, and former series champ and Indy 500 winner Will Power.

“I’m really lucky to have them and privileged,” McLaughlin said. “But I also have Roger and TC, Tim Cindric, and my engineer Jonathan Diuguid, who has been fantastic with me. I’m just trying to soak it all up like a sponge and at the same time, I’m living the dream. I’m having a great time.”

McLaughlin is scheduled to make his series debut with Team Penske on Saturday, May 9 in the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. He already is yearning for more after two days in Austin.

“I’d like to explore (the NTT INDYCAR SERIES) more,” he said. “And I’d like to explore more in America. I’d love to get to America one day. That’s my ultimate goal. Whether it’s here or whether it’s anywhere, I just want to try to be here one day. I love the country. I love the people. I love the sport that it is, and we’ll see what happens.”

ROOKIE CROP

The contingent of drivers competing for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie of the year honors currently consists of 2019 Super Formula Rookie of the Year Alex Palou (No. 55 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda), 2019 Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Honda), 2019 Indy Lights championship runner-up Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet) and Indy Lights graduate Dalton Kellett (No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet).

Kellett is the only one among the group who is not scheduled for a full season. He will be competing in nine races in the No. 14 entry and sharing the seat with veterans Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais. He split time with Bourdais at the COTA test.

Askew was the fastest of this group, finishing seventh on the charts with a lap of 1:47.5611/114.130 mph among the 76 laps he ran. VeeKay completed the most laps of the day with 82.

MENTALITY SHIFT

One of the more significant moves of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES offseason occurred when team owners Mike Harding and George Steinbrenner IV merged Harding Steinbrenner Racing – with driver Colton Herta (No. 88 Capstone Honda) – with Andretti Autosport to form Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Racing.

Not only is the 19-year-old Herta, who won two races last season, expected to be stronger in 2020, Steinbrenner said the program’s momentum is generating more interest with sponsors. Herta’s inaugural NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory at COTA last season was historic as he became the youngest race winner in the sport’s history. His second victory came in the season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

“Winning is everything,” Steinbrenner said. “It’s made the conversations easier. It legitimizes you.”

Herta said his expectation is to be in championship contention at the season-closing Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, Sept. 20. With title aspirations, Steinbrenner said the team must alter its mindset.

“Last year, we were the little team that could,” he said. “This year we have to shift mentalities.”

JACKED UP

Excuse Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda) for being one of the most eager to get the season started. Officially, this is his fourth season, but the first time he is scheduled for all of the races.

Harvey drove in three races in 2017, six in 2018 and 10 last year – 19 in all – and now prepares for the upcoming 17-race NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. This season also will come with an alliance with Andretti Technologies, which means his car will work in tandem with all of the Andretti Autosport drivers and their engineers.

“It’s such a good situation for us,” Harvey said. “It’s sort of two teams in one, which gives us a wealth of information.”

That information should be especially helpful at the tracks where Harvey has not raced an Indy car: Texas Motor Speedway, Richmond Raceway, Iowa Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. Iowa is the only one of those tracks where he raced in Indy Lights.

RIDESHARE

Felipe Nasr, who competed in Formula One for two seasons and was the 2018 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype champion, shared Carlin’s No. 31 Chevrolet with fellow Brazilian Sergio Sette Camara during the COTA test.

Despite the two testing the car at COTA, Carlin has not confirmed a driver for the entry this season. Nasr is scheduled to compete in all of IMSA’s sports car races this year for Action Express Racing while Sette Camara’s plans are unsettled on the heels of finishing fourth in the FIA’s Formula 2 Championship last year.

THAT’S A WRAP

While Tuesday’s inclement weather limited on-track activities, it helped give Andretti Autosport time to give Alexander Rossi’s No. 27 Honda a different look.

Rossi’s car will alternate primary liveries between NAPA AUTO PARTS and AutoNation this season, and the team wanted to showcase both during these two days of COTA testing. Thus, the complete rewrapping of the car, which took five hours.

NAPA AUTO PARTS and its blue-and-yellow colors will be the primary sponsor of nine races, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on May 24. AutoNation and its pink-and-black colors will be the branding for eight races, including the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (March 15) and the AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at COTA on April 26.

AutoNation was introduced to the sport through Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda) in 2013.

ONE CAR: TWO LOOKS …

Posted: February 13, 2020 in Uncategorized

Alexander Rossi Showcased Both NAPA AUTO PARTS and AutoNation Liveries at INDYCAR COTA Open Test

INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 13, 2020) – When 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi takes the grid for the 2020 NTT INDYCAR® SERIES season, his No. 27 Honda will not only feature the familiar blue and yellow of NAPA AUTO PARTS but will also debut a new Drive Pink inspired AutoNation livery.

As first announced by the Indianapolis race team in August, primary sponsorship roles for Rossi’s 2020 effort will be split by two long-time team partners NAPA AUTO PARTS and AutoNation, each showcasing a distinct race livery as Rossi vies for his first series championship.

AutoNation will kick off the season as Rossi’s primary sponsor on the Streets of St. Pete. The No. 27 will then carry the primary sponsorship at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) for the AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge, the Grand Prix of Indy, the Streets of Detroit, Road America, Richmond and Iowa. Launched in 2015, AutoNation’s Drive Pink initiative, which has raised over $22 million, is committed to drive out cancer, create awareness, and support critical research. Through his livery, Rossi will help AutoNation continue raising awareness for its Drive Pink initiative and finding a cure for cancer.

Already familiar to Rossi fans, NAPA AUTO PARTS will dress the No. 27 for races at Barber Motorsports Park, Long Beach, the Indy 500, Texas Motor Speedway and Toronto. NAPA will then finish the season in Mid-Ohio, St. Louis, Portland and Laguna Seca.

Both liveries were showcased at INDYCAR open testing at COTA this week, with fans getting their first glimpses of AutoNation’s pink and grey Wednesday morning via social media. After weather caused a condensed test day Tuesday, the Andretti Autosport team worked into the overnight to completely rewrap the No. 27, debuting new colors with Wednesday testing.

The fight for the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship begins March 15 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete goes green at 3:30 p.m. ET with live broadcast on NBC Sports.

For more information, visit AndrettiAutosport.com