This week was full of signs of a quickly-approaching INDYCAR season. With IndyCars back on the track testing, Pace Cars on the move, and members of the Indy 500 Centennial Troops Tour making their way back to the U.S. from Europe and the Middle East, fans have plenty to be excited about.
The first open test is on March 14 at Barber Motorsports Park but some teams have already been out testing new drivers and new techniques. Photos and rumors circulated online this week with teams eager to get back on track for the 2011 season. Newman/Haas Racing completed a two-day test at the 1.65-mile Sebring International Raceway road course with Canadian rookie James Hinchcliffe (Read more here).
Milwaukee Mile embarked on bringing the excitement of their 2011 pace car to Milwaukee-area hotspots including University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. The event asks fans to find their Pace Car and e-mail of photo of you and the car. They will post the photos to their website and fans get a chance to win 1 race ticket. INDYCAR races at the Milwaukee Mile on June 18th and 19th, so fans have plenty of time to spot the Pace Car and win. See where the Pace Car has been so far, here.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Chevrolet unveiled the 2011 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, AZ. The car, a Camaro Convertible, was then auctioned off on Saturday, January 22 with live coverage provided by SPEED and proceeds benefitting the David Foster Foundation. The winning bidder (with a bid of $225,000 USD) also received the opportunity to drive the Pace Car on a Parade Lap at the Indianapolis 500. As one fan put it, “Only $225k for the chance of a lifetime? Now that’s a deal!”
Going from Pace Cars to politics, the Indianapolis 500 Centennial Troops Tour contingency has made their way back to the States after spreading goodwill to troops stationed in the Middle East and Europe. Amazing photo and videos emerged from the tour and can still be viewed on the IndyCar YouTube and Flickr pages. Through the tour, Mario Andretti provided continuous coverage for USA Today, Sarah Fisher for ESPN for Women, and Al Unser Jr. for ESPN. Their articles and a running story on IndyCar.com provided fans with an inside look at the tour.
Penske Racing driver, Helio Castroneves, jetted off to Brazil and spoke with the Mayor of São Paulo, Gilberto Kassab, and discussed the upcoming Sao Paulo Indy 300. “Mayor Kassab has always been open to suggestion on how to improve the Sao Paulo Indy 300,” said Castroneves. Read the full article here.
At the same time, IndyCar CEO, Randy Bernard, was sitting down with SPEED.com this week to explain oval restarts for the 2011 season. “We want to do what’s in the best interest of the series,” said Bernard. “I don’t think our drivers realized how many fans wanted this two-abreast restart and we want to make sure to do it in a way our fans approve.” See more of what Randy Bernard had to say here.
We might be a few months away from the official start to the 2011 INDYCAR season, but the signs of the season are everywhere and INDYCAR is sliding into gear.