Posts Tagged ‘Verizon IndyCar Series’

The “Region Racers” Series – Rudy Nichels

By: Wm. LaDow

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In 1908, a 10-year-old boy crossed the Atlantic Ocean. He and his father journeyed from Austria with the intent of settling in America.

Though his last name was Puja when he entered Ellis Island, it was soon changed. It’s unclear whether in his pocket rested a few coins or perhaps he was cared for by a kind immigration worker who gave him some change to get a meal, but from that day forward his last name was Nichels.

After establishing their residency in Chicago, a teenage Rudy could often be found at the corner pool hall, or participating in a local “game of chance.” But a few years later, Nichels settled down in the Calumet Region’s Griffith, Indiana, got married and eventually started a family — a daughter and three sons.

Nichels was a born entrepreneur and quickly sensed that the American automobile was fast becoming more of a necessity than a luxury. He made it a point to get involved in any auto-related businesses he could find.

FTIn time he was able to parlay his savings into the purchase of a small Fisk Tire store on Ewing Avenue in South Chicago. So small was the shop that an automobile couldn’t be completely parked under the roof while having its tires changed. Using the slim profits from this business, Nichels in 1930 purchased a restaurant located at the intersection of Fifth Street and Highway Avenue in Highland.

With his wife, Gladys, doing the restaurant cooking, Nichels turned his efforts toward another business, a gasoline service station, and auto repair shop.

q_in_highland_nichel_471942In 1936, he purchased a second restaurant and tavern just two miles east, on the corner of Ridge Road and Cline Avenue. Soon, he had a service station, an auto repair garage, a restaurant and a tavern all on the northwest corner of that intersection, which he christened “Rudy’s Place.”

With his early investment in restaurants and auto repair shops starting to pay off, he began a search for another moneymaking opportunity and uncovered midget car auto racing.

The more Nichels heard about midget car racing, the more he thought it might be a good fit with his other businesses. On Oct. 10, 1937, Nichels decided to take a look at this potential business venture, and with his oldest son, 14-year-old Ray visited the newly constructed Hammond Raceway located at the junction of Sheffield and Calumet avenues. With another 7,000 fans in attendance, Nichels witnessed his first midget car race. It would not be his last. A few weeks later, Nichels purchased his first race car.

At the Hammond, Indiana Speedway 5/8th’s mile track are two Nichels midgets. The car on the left is the #25 driven by Mike O’Halloran and on the right is Teddy Duncan in the #2. Both drivers would eventually be elected to the National Midget Racing Hall of Fame. Kneeling between the Nichels cars are from left: Dale “Tiny’ Worley, Ray Nichels and Rudy Nichels – Nichels Engineering Archives

At the Hammond, Indiana Speedway 5/8th’s mile track are two Nichels Service midgets. The car on the left is the #25 driven by Mike O’Halloran and on the right is Teddy Duncan in the #2. Both drivers would eventually be elected to the National Midget Racing Hall of Fame. Kneeling between the Nichels cars are from left: Dale “Tiny’ Worley, Ray Nichels and Rudy Nichels – Nichels Engineering Archives

From that day on, Rudy threw himself whole-heartedly into auto racing, owning several cars from 1938 through the late 1940s, giving drivers such as Ted Duncan, Tony Bettenhausen, Johnnie Parsons, Paul Russo, Ray Richards and Mike O’Halloran some of the finest midget race cars in the business. All of these drivers eventually became members of the Midget Racing Hall of Fame after capturing a series of track championships driving for Nichels Service. Johnnie Parsons used his 1948 Midwest Championship driving for Nichels as a springboard toward winning the 1950 Indianapolis 500.

Nichels established “Nichels Service” shop at the corner of Cline and Ridge Road as the cornerstone of Midwest auto racing. Working with racing equipment suppliers from across the country he built a superb reputation for racing expertise. Nationally known drivers such as Ronney Householder anchored their race teams and equipment at Rudy’s Place when barnstorming across America.

Rudy Nichels shop at the corner of Cline Avenue and Ridge Road in Highland, Indiana in 1947. Working on the two Nichels owned midgets in the front of the garage is 24 year old Ray Nichels. In the back on the right in the white tee shirt is Ronney Householder, who at the time was one of the most respected drivers in racing. He went on to manage Chrysler Corporation’s racing operations from 1955 thru 1972 – Nichels Engineering Archives

Rudy Nichels shop at the corner of Cline Avenue and Ridge Road in Highland, Indiana in 1947. Working on the two Nichels owned midgets in the front of the garage is 24-year-old Ray Nichels. In the back on the right in the white tee shirt is Ronney Householder, who at the time was one of the most respected drivers in racing. He went on to manage Chrysler Corporation’s racing operations from 1955 thru 1972 – Nichels Engineering Archives

The racing business was so profitable that Nichels began promoting and sanctioning races at tracks throughout Illinois and Indiana.

It was during this time that his son, Ray, went out on his own and entered IndyCar racing, eventually competing in 15 Indianapolis 500s and building a Hall of Fame career as one of the nation’s finest mechanics and race car builders.

Rudy Nichels died in April of 1955, leaving a lasting legacy of being one of the first in a long line of Region Racers.

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ECR-2016-Website

Carpenter, Newgarden Will Race Under ECR Banner in 2016

(SPEEDWAY, Ind.) January 28, 2016 – A familiar name will be part of Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016 as Ed Carpenter Racing returns to competition. Team officials announced today that the organization that operated as CFH Racing in 2015 will be known as Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR), effective immediately. The team will remain headquartered in its current location at 1255 Main Street in Speedway, Ind. Ed Carpenter, Tony George and Stuart Reed are the owners of ECR.

“After competing for a year as CFH Racing, we will be returning to ECR for 2016 and beyond,” stated Ed Carpenter. “While we had a great year as CFH Racing, we have had some partnership changes within the organization and it makes the most sense to return to ECR. I am proud of what we have accomplished as a team since we started in 2012 and look forward to building upon that success for another exciting Verizon IndyCar Series season.”

ECR and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) combined their single-car teams in August of 2014 to create CFH Racing. During their 2015 campaign, CFH won two races with Josef Newgarden, collected an additional three podium finishes and a earned a pole position.

Moving forward, SFHR’s Wink Hartman will return his focus to his company, Wichita, Kan.-based Hartman Oil. Sarah Fisher will concentrate on her new business venture, Speedway Indoor Karting, set to open on April 1. Fisher and her husband Andy O’Gara are finalizing construction on their new 60,000-square-foot facility, also located on Main Street.

Fisher will continue to assist ECR with sponsorship development and work with existing team partners. “It’s important for IndyCar to have strong entries on grid and this team needs to be two of them, so I will do what I can to help them with business developments and continue with solutions for our current partners,” said Fisher. “I am lucky to have been an owner in this series for eight years, having incredible memories along the way. Lastly, I am extremely thankful to Wink and Libba Hartman for everything they’ve done to help us get to where we are today.”

Newgarden will drive the No. 21 Chevrolet for ECR in 2016, featuring a special Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka scheme for the first four events. Carpenter will remain the driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet during the five oval events. ECR is continuing to work toward filling the seat of the No. 20 for the road and street course events, but at this time has plans to compete on only the ovals. “ECR is in a great position as we head into 2016 and have support from great partners like Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka and Direct Supply. We have been a Chevrolet team from the beginning, so we’re excited to continue that relationship and help them win another championship.” Carpenter continued. “We have had a very productive off-season and our plans are well underway for a successful year.”

The same year ECR began, Newgarden was hired to drive for SFHR after winning the 2011 Indy Lights championship. “I may never have had the chance to race an Indy car if it was not for Wink Hartman, Libba Hartman, Sarah Fisher and Andy O’Gara. They really were a huge turning point in my career and helped me break into the professional level. Their support was everything and more that a young driver could ask for,” commented Newgarden. “Moving forward, I’m extremely excited about 2016 with Ed Carpenter Racing. I enjoy working with Ed Carpenter so much, as both a teammate and a team owner. I look forward to putting 100 percent into the season and trying to achieve greater and bigger results. With the entire ECR team and the Chevy partnership we have, I feel there is absolutely nothing that can stand in our way from topping our very promising season in 2015.”

Ed Carpenter Racing will return to the track at Phoenix International Raceway on February 8 for their first test of the year. The 2016 season Verizon IndyCar Series season will open on Sunday, March 13 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

 

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INDIANAPOLIS (December 21, 2015) – Refinements to the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series rulebook, distributed to teams and suppliers December 19, clarify procedures established by INDYCAR in the past two seasons and highlight ongoing efforts to improve the overall fan experience in the upcoming season. Areas of interest in the rulebook include the following:

Aero Kits

• INDYCAR has established in the rulebook the aerodynamic bodywork parameters for each of the five ovals on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. The aero specifications for each oval include:

Phoenix International Raceway, which will see a 2016 return of Indy car racing for the first time in 11 years, will run the same aero configuration as used at Iowa Speedway in 2015.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway will run the same aero configuration as in 2015, with the addition of rear wheel guard infills that were implemented at Texas Motor Speedway in 2015, as well as a domed skid plate underneath the car and rear wing beam flaps. The skid plate and beam flaps were announced Nov. 24 as part of INDYCAR’s continuously evolving safety enhancements.

Texas Motor Speedway‘s aero configuration, which included the rear wheel guard infills in 2015, will add the domed skid plate and rear wing beam flaps in 2016, plus see a slight increase in available downforce.
Iowa Speedway will see a slight reduction in available downforce due to a reduction in rear wing angle.

Indianapolis 500 Qualifying

• Under the updated regulations, the provisional field of 33 cars for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will be set on the first day of qualifications at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval on May 21, 2016. This means that any traditional “bumping” of cars from the field of 33 will take place on the first day of qualifying.

• Procedures for the second day of 2016 qualifying, scheduled for May 22, will see race starting positions among the 33 provisional qualifiers finalized.

Awarded Points

• Race finish points awarded for the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and the season finale at Sonoma Raceway will again be worth double the normal race finish points, with first place at Indianapolis and Sonoma netting 100 driver and entrant championship points, second place 80 points and down to 10 points for 33rd finishing position.

• Allocation of championship points for Indianapolis 500 qualifying will be awarded based on final-day qualifying, with the Verizon P1 Award pole winner receiving 42 points, second fastest earning 40 and descending to the 33rd-fastest qualifier getting one point.

Other Updates

• The Indianapolis 500 rookie orientation test has changed its three phases for new drivers to be approved for competition. The phases for 2016 are: 10 laps at 210-215 mph, followed by 15 laps at 215-220 mph and 15 laps at 220-plus mph. Each phase sees an increase of 5 mph from 2015.

• Turbocharger boost pressure for the Chevrolet and Honda twin-turbocharged, 2.2-liter V-6 engines when push-to-pass overtake assist is engaged on road and street courses will increase from 160 to 165 kilopascals (kPa), yielding approximately 20 added horsepower. INDYCAR announced this change Dec. 15.

• Both engine manufacturers will use a uniform Sunoco E85R fuel in 2016, with the removal of an additive (HiTEC 6590) previously allowed for Chevrolet.

• The minimum car weight has been increased to accommodate for safety enhancements including the Suspension Wheel/Wing Energy Management System (SWEMS) additional bodywork component tethers announced Nov. 24. The car weights will increase 10 pounds to 1,610 pounds on road and street courses and short ovals, and to 1,580 pounds on superspeedways.

• The pit speed limit at all ovals will be 50 mph, another safety initiative. In 2015, the limit on superspeedways was 60 mph.

• A rules clarification stipulates that all cars using the Honda aero kit must include the chassis center line wicker. Cars using the Chevrolet or stock Dallara aero kit may not include the chassis center line wicker.

• During race weekends that include a promoter test day, teams are permitted to carry over one used set of tires from the promoter day to the next practice session of the weekend, but must return the set after that session.

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INDIANAPOLIS – Central Indiana based Jonathan Byrd’s and long time Verizon IndyCar Series team Dale Coyne Racing have partnered to bring a pair of young, American drivers to the 2016 Verizon IndyCar schedule.

Conor Daly will pilot the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing entry for the full 2016 season.  Sponsorship for the car will be provided by Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality & Restaurant Group with the exception of the Indianapolis 500 where it will appear on Clauson’s entry.  Coyne is exploring a number of options for primary sponsorship of Daly’s car for the 500.No18DalyCarBryan Clauson will drive the No. 88 Dale Coyne Racing/Jonathan Byrd’s Racing Honda as a one-off entry for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.  This attempt to make the 33 car field will be Clauson’s third, having qualified and raced in the 2012 and 2015 races.

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“All of us at Dale Coyne Racing are excited about the relationship with Jonathan Byrd’s.  Their continued support of Bryan and expanded support of Conor is unique in racing today,”  said team owner Dale Coyne.  “Conor stepped in for us at Long Beach last season and impressed everyone very much.  Bryan has a storied oval racing history at a very young age and together we look for a very competitive Indy 500 in 2016.”

Jonathan Byrd II, team principal of Jonathan Byrd’s Racing, added, “over the years, our family has entrusted many great names in racing to be our partner for our IndyCar efforts and being able to add Dale Coyne’s name to that list, with his successes within and passion for the sport, means a lot to us.”

The partnership to bring these talented American drivers back to the Verizon IndyCar series was assisted by John Lopes, CEO of LST Marketing.  Without the help of Lopes and his team at LST Marketing, the early start to the 2016 season would not have been possible.  All parties involved were quick to agree this partnership would be beneficial.

“When my son, David, came to me about this potential arrangement with Dale Coyne and related the story about how much Dale thought of their father, how he respected what he did in racing, and his love for racing in the Indianapolis 500, I was very pleased to give my blessing on teaming with Dale,” said Ginny Byrd, owner of Jonathan Byrd’s.

BryanBryan Clauson may be attempting to make only his third Indianapolis 500 field, but he is no stranger to racing.  The 26 year old has been one of the most prolific drivers to come through USAC by racking up 72 career USAC wins and four championships. Clauson has captured over 160 total career feature wins in the Sprint Car, Midget, and Silver Crown ranks.

Clauson could barely contain his enthusiasm for the partnership between Coyne and Jonathan Byrd’s.  “I’m excited to be returning to the Speedway in 2016 with the support of the Byrd family, the Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality & Restaurant Group, and Cancer Treatment Centers of America.  I hope this is the start of a long and successful relationship between two groups of passionate supporters of open wheel racing.”  Clauson continued, “the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 is the centerpiece of what is a very busy schedule for me in 2016 and I’m eager to get on track and build on the things that we learned this year.”

ConorConor Daly has participated in a variety of open wheel racing series in preparation of his debut Verizon IndyCar Series season.  Daly began karting at age 10 and quickly moved into car racing full time.  He completed two seasons in the Star Mazda Championship before moving up to Indy Lights. In 2011, Daly competed in five Firestone Indy Lights races and scored a sensational win at Grand Prix of Long Beach which vaulted him to the lead of the championship. He then made the difficult decision to leave the Indy Lights championship and move to Europe.  Daly spent the next four season racing in GP3, GP2, and acting as an F1 test driver for Sahara Force India.

2015 provided Daly his first chance to prove himself as an IndyCar driver.  With only 45 minutes notice, Daly strapped into the No. 18 entry for Dale Coyne Racing at Long Beach.  With limited practice and without having any experience in the current car, Daly drove to what some described as the most impressive 17th place finish in memory.  Daly went on to make several other starts in place of James Hinchcliffe during the 2015 season and earned a career best sixth place finish in Detroit.  Despite these unexpected opportunities, a full season in the Verizon IndyCar Series was always the goal.

“This is truly the most meaningful announcement of my career,” said Conor Daly.  “After experiencing what I have in my career, especially the last three years, it is an incredible honor and opportunity to work with Dale Coyne Racing for a full season.  To be able to go head to head and take the fight to other drivers every weekend is very exciting.  I cannot thank Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality & Restaurant Group and all of Jonathan Byrd’s Racing’s partners enough for their effort in putting this program together.  I am ready to get to work and try my best to outwork everyone else in the field every weekend to get results for this team.”

“At one point in time, I specifically remember saying to Conor’s father, Derek, that if we ever had a chance to make it work, I would want Conor full time in an IndyCar and now here we are with it coming to pass,” said Jonathan Byrd II.  “What Conor did in Europe with his incredible talent has always impressed me and his dogged determination to work hard to get a ride in the series makes me know he will do incredible work in the Jonathan Byrd’s machine!

When festivities kick off at Indy, Bryan Clauson will be about a quarter of the way through his unprecedented 200 race 2016 schedule before shifting his focus to the Indianapolis 500.  The team and Jonathan Byrd’s Racing will begin preparations to have the car and team in top form for opening day on May 16th.  Conor Daly will begin to acclimate to the updated Honda HPD aero kit on December 14th and 15th as the Dale Coyne Racing team will take part in their second test of the offseason at Sebring International Raceway.

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The Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality & Restaurant Group has been feeding central Indiana residents for over 63 years. Jonathan Byrd’s flagship location in Greenwood has served millions of meals since its inception in 1988, while also delivering its experience to dozens of partner locations throughout the Indianapolis Metropolitan area through its extensive catering operation. Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality & Restaurant Group also manages the 502 East Event Centre, located in Carmel, and is Hamilton County’s largest event space. Jonathan Byrd’s will also have a large presence inside of Westfield’s Grand Park, as it lends in name to the newly opening Jonathan Byrd’s Fieldhouse, as well as the currently under construction indoor complex at Grand Park, where it will have restaurant and exclusive concessions operations in place. Jonathan Byrd’s is also the foodservice provider at Camp Atterbury in southern Johnson County, is the Official Catering Company of the Indianapolis Colts, and has recently launched the Jonathan Byrd’s Event & Entertainment Group.

Jonathan Byrd’s Racing was founded by the late Jonathan Byrd in 1982, and traces its roots to the Indianapolis Speedrome, where it found immediate championship-winning success. From there, the Jonathan Byrd’s team spread its wings to begin competing on short tracks across the country. While continuing its winning ways on the short tracks of America, Jonathan Byrd’s Racing made the leap to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In its various forms, Jonathan Byrd’s Racing has successfully fielded 18 entries in the Indianapolis 500 beginning in 1985, scoring 6 top ten finishes, with a best finish of 5th in 2005. The roster of Jonathan Byrd’s Racing Indy 500 drivers includes Rich Vogler (‘85,’86,’87,’88,’89), Stan Fox (‘91,’92), Gordon Johncock (‘91), Buddy Lazier (‘91,’05), Scott Brayton (‘93), John Andretti (‘94), Davy Jones (‘95), Arie Luyendyk (‘96), Mike Groff (‘97,’98), Jaques Lazier (‘01) and Bryan Clauson (2015). A Jonathan Byrd’s Racing car currently holds the all-time Indianapolis 500 1 and 4 lap qualifying records (Luyendyk ’96). Jonathan Byrd’s Racing has won 2 IndyCar races (Luyendyk – Phoenix ’96, Paul Jr – Texas ’98), along with 2 United States Auto Club National Midget Championships (’86,’87), and numerous regional and short-track championships in both midget racing and late model stock cars. Jonathan Byrd’s Racing, along with its partner teams, was responsible for the first ever “double” in 1994, when John Andretti raced in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the same day.  Jonathan Byrd’s Racing is also headlining Bryan Clauson’s “Chasing 200 Tour: Circular Insanity”, featuring Clauson’s unprecedented racing fete of attempting 200 race features in a single calendar year. 

Jonathon Byrd’s Racing: www.jonathanbyrdsracing.com 

Twitter: @ByrdRacing 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jonathanbyrdsracing 

Leigh Spargur 1

Simon Pagenaud has watched his teammates since he joined Team Penske at the beginning of the season, but the frenchman stole the spotlight in the fifth practice session heading up into the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 mile race.

Driving the No. 22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet, Pagenaud logged the best of nearly 2,000 laps turned on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.5-mile oval, at 228.793 mph. Carlos Munoz, who eclipsed 230 mph in practice Wednesday, was second fastest today in the No. 26 AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda, at 228.126.

“Today was a really good day for the Avaya car,” Pagenaud said. “We’ve been focusing on understanding what the car does in qualifying runs. Very happy to see the preparation from Penske and how fast the 22 car is. So far, so good.”

Pagenaud is teamed with a pair of Indianapolis 500 winners – Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya – and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power in the Penske armada. Montoya and Power have each won a race this season, while Castroneves has won two Verizon P1 Awards for taking the pole position.

“We’re happy but we can be happier,” Pagenaud said. “At the end of the day we did some pack running and once again we’re very happy so far. What’s difficult is it’s really cold right now, so you get more downforce because the air is so thick. We know it’s going to be warmer in the race, that’s what makes it tricky. You’re trying to understand what the car’s going to do in the race. It’s definitely going to be warmer.”

Following Pagenaud and Munoz on the speed chart were Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Sage Karam (227.683), Scott Dixon (227.634) and Tony Kanaan (227.527). Friday marks the final day of practice prior to two days of qualifications that will set the lineup for the 500-mile race on May 24.

The lone incident of the day came in the last of the six-hour practice session. Josef Newgarden was uninjured when his No. 21 Century 21 CFH Racing Chevrolet spun and hit the SAFER Barrier exiting Turn 1 in nearly the same spot where Castroneves’ car hit a day earlier. Newgarden’s car slid on its top before coming to rest in the short chute between Turns 1 and 2.

“I got around pretty quick in Turn 1; it definitely surprised me,” Newgarden said. “I knew it happened when it did, so I’m just lucky that everything’s good. The Dallara tub held up pretty well. I just want to get back to my guys and see what the damage is. I’m sure it’s bad but we’ll see what we can do going forward. It was a hard bit, (but) I feel fine.”

Chris Jones SDSAndretti Autosport driver Simona de Silvestro returned to practice today, two days after her No. 29 TE Connectivity Honda sustained heavy damage from a fire sparked by a fuel leak. De Silvestro was uninjured in the on-track incident and the team rebuilt the car at its Indianapolis shop. “Today we ran mostly in traffic … we learned a lot,” de Silvestro said. “I have a little bit of work to do, and I’m looking forward to going back out there tomorrow and working on it.”

Meanwhile, Pippa Mann spent the day recuperating and watching her No. 63 Dale Coyne Racing Honda being repaired after a crash Wednesday that saw her car hit three different walls. She hopes to be back on track Friday afternoon to log important laps prior to qualifying this weekend.

MWY_3145“I can’t overstate how horrible I feel for these guys,” Mann said of her hard-at-work crew, “but at the same time, unfortunately it is a part of racing. … It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we’re going to work hard. That’s the biggest thing, the amount of work it’s created for these guys.”

Tristan Vautier will drive the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda in Indianapolis 500 qualifications this weekend in place of James Davison, who will be competing in a sports car race in Canada. Davison, who finished 16th in his first “500” start a year ago, is expected back in the car for the final two practice sessions, on Monday and May 22, before the race on May 24.

Vautier, meanwhile, is scheduled to compete in the Blancpain Endurance GT Series event on the same day as the “500.”

“It is an interesting tradeoff,” said Vautier, the 2011 Pro Mazda and 2012 Indy Lights champion who earned Verizon IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year honors in 2013 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. “Obviously, we’re not going to get out there trying to break records but work toward the qualifying. It’s an interesting task to be in an Indy car and qualifying it for another driver, but I’m approaching it like I would any other race.”

Vautier completed his refresher program on the 2.5-mile oval today and logged 93 laps with a top speed of 225.406. Davison recorded the fourth-fastest lap (228.043 mph) in practice Wednesday before departing for Canada.

“It all came together last minute, but we have been talking about it for quite a while: that if James’ deal would come through I would qualify the car,” Vautier said. “So, yeah, it was not really a surprise for me but more of a long wait to see that everything was confirmed. But it’s really cool. I was happy to get back in an Indy car – it’s been a year and a half now. The first two or three laps were kind of weird, but it came back pretty quickly, so really cool. It was cool to have Simon (Pagenaud, his former teammate) on the track with me for quite a while. It reminded me of the Schmidt (Peterson Motorsports) days, so it was fun.

IMS to Honor World War II Vets at Race

In observance of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, 11 WWII veterans will be honored before the national anthem at the Indianapolis 500. Among those honored will be U.S. Army Air Corps Capt. Jerry Yellin, 91, of Fairfield, Iowa, who flew the final combat mission of the war on Aug. 14, 1945, the day the war ended.

The veterans recently took a trip to Washington, D.C., on an Indy Honor Flight, a program that offers free-round trip travel to veterans so they may visit the memorials in our nation’s capital that stand in their honor.

MWY_3143The No. 91 Wynn Iowa Vision Research Chevrolet driven by 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier became the 34th entry to take to the track this week. Larry Curry is team manager for the Lazier Racing Partners entry, with David Cripps the engineer. … All entries will receive an additional 10 kPa of engine turbocharger boost beginning in practice Friday, which should equate to approximately 40 additional horsepower. The engine boost bump will continue through qualifying weekend, with the original limit of 130 kPa reinstated for next week’s final two practice sessions and the race. … INDYCAR announced that the chassis centerline wickers, added to all cars prior to the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 9, are optional for the Indianapolis 500.

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Photos courtesy of IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Images created by Leigh Spargur, Chris Jones and Mike Young

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By: Jeff Majeske

Special Correspondent for Speedway Sightings

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

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

A few things about Newgarden and his win:

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Joe Skibinski/Verizon IndyCar Series

Originally Posted on Jeff’s Indy Talk

JR-CFH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Data and Photos provided by CFH Racing

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The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) today announced it will honor one of auto racing’s all-time greatest champions with a display of his Indianapolis 500 cars at its June 11-14 Brickyard Invitational at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Jimmy Clark, nicknamed by fans and press “The Flying Scot,” will be honored for his many accomplishments in the 50th anniversary year of his 1965 Indianapolis 500 triumph.

Regarded by many of his generation as the greatest race driver that ever lived the Hall of Famer and Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) racked up an impressive list of achievements to earn such recognition. His Indianapolis career alone would have made him a legend but the two-time Formula 1 World Champion (1963 & ’65) was one of those versatile drivers who not only won but dominated in numerous branches of the sport from Formula One to Indy cars to saloon cars, stock cars and sports cars. He tackled NASCAR once and scored a third-place overall very early in his career at Le Mans in a private entry Aston-Martin behind two factory-backed Ferraris.

In just five Indianapolis 500s Clark not only won once but also came home second twice, both in controversial finishes that bench racers continue to debate today. He could easily have been a multiple winner. Victory was within sight in 1964 when tire chunking triggered suspension failure on his pole-winning car. On the Formula One front Clark established the all-time record for race victories when he won his final Grand Prix outing at South Africa in 1968. While that record has been surpassed by several drivers Clark’s mark was set in just seven full seasons during an era that conducted about half as many events as are presented today. He still ranks at the top in winning percentage at nearly 35 percent. His record of F1 pole positions (33) even now ranks fifth in the history books.

imsc5578“We just could not come to IMS on the 50th Anniversary of Jim Clark’s victory and not do justice to this great champion,” said SVRA President & CEO Tony Parella. “I also thought it appropriate to announce this decision to remember him on April 7, the anniversary of the very sad day of his passing.”

For Parella and all of SVRA a connection to Jim Clark holds a special and personal meaning. Sally Swart, the former Sally Stokes, who was Clark’s close companion during his most triumphant years from 1963 through ’65, is the wife of West Coast SVRA executive Ed Swart.

“I have nothing but golden memories of Jimmy,” says Sally. “His mastery in the car made him a true artist. I am so pleased Tony and the SVRA have chosen to honor Jimmy in this way.”

While the tribute to Clark has yet to be fully defined it will involve an array of his Indianapolis 500 cars, all Lotus, including the entry he won Rookie-of-the-Year with in 1963, his ’65 winner and the Lotus Turbine he took his very last laps around the Brickyard in just before his fatal accident weeks later in Germany on April 7, 1968.

The SVRA today also announced two more additions to its second annual “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am field that has now grown to 12 drivers. Indianapolis 500 veterans John Martin and Scott Harrington, who competed last year, have filed entries.

Harrington began his motorsports career on two wheels earning success in both AMA Motocross and Supercross. He transitioned to four wheels racing in Formula Atlantic and SCCA Can-Am, where he won the 1992 series championship. He earned a starting spot in the 1996 Indianapolis 500 and later won the Rookie-of-the-Year award for the series in 1999, his first year running the full season.

John Martin is a five-time starter in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing but also boasts outstanding credentials in road race competition. Martin, who was featured last year on the cover of Vintage Motorsport magazine, launched his career in sports car racing. An excellent mechanic he converted his 1963 Corvette Sting Ray into an A-Production race car and entered Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) competition. He was national champion in 1964 and went professional in 1966. He drove an AMC Javelin in the classic days of Trans-Am and tackled the Indianapolis 500 in 1972. He is one of those amazing competitors who wore several hats as driver, mechanic, engineer and owner.

Like last year, the SVRA, America’s premier vintage racing organization, is presenting the “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am as a return to competition for veterans of the Indianapolis 500. The event is a 40-minute race of American muscle cars on the Speedway’s 2.43-mile Grand Prix road course on Saturday, June 13. The SVRA expects to attract a field of 33 Indianapolis 500 veterans. All the veterans will be in 1963 to 1972 vintage Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs of “Group 6,” with an engine displacement limit of 355 cubic inches. Professionals will be paired with amateur drivers, splitting stints at the wheel at their discretion.

The Indy Legends Pro-Am is the crowning event of the Brickyard Invitational but there is literally a festival of other activities. Like last year, the storied 2.5-mile oval will be utilized with exhibition runs by a wide variety of cars including several of the crowd-favorite 1950’s Indianapolis 500 “roadsters.” The 2015 weekend not only promises a huge gathering of race cars but also some of the finest collector cars. Motostalgia, with offices in Austin, Mexico City and Monaco will stage a June 12 auction of select automobiles from around the world. The Brickyard Invitational will also expand out onto the world-famous infield IMS golf course with car corrals for organizations and clubs united by special marques and vintages.

The SVRA has 11 groups of race cars spanning 100 years of vintage machines and all will be at IMS. The array of entries include select pre-war machines, classic sports cars, Formula One and Le Mans prototypes as current as 2009. Race fans can enjoy every minute of the action with overnight camping inside IMS. Pro-Am cars and drivers will also participate in a Fan Walk through the starting grid prior to the opening ceremonies allowing fans to see the cars up close, take photos and chat with the drivers. All entry fees will be donated to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum Foundation.

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

Photos courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Data courtesy of SVRA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— The 63rd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring …

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

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

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

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

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

IndyCar Notes …

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read more about the partnership.

Conor Daly Photo courtesy of of Darren Pierson Motorsports Photography

Other images courtesy of IndyCar and the 12 Hours of Sebring