Archive for the ‘ Drivers ’ Category

Danica cheers on Dallas in NBA Finals

Posted on: June 10, 2011 | Comments(3) | Drivers | By: Dave

Danica Patrick appreciated an afternoon practice and qualifying session at Texas Motor Speedway on June 10.

The Andretti Autosport driver attended Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Dallas. It was a late night.

Danica Patrick

“My teammate Marco (Andretti) was very kind in getting tickets for me and my husband (Paul),” she said. “It was a fun game. We were up in an ESPN suite and then down below (in the lower bowl of the arena). I called it like watching in the pits. You’re behind the basket, and everyone gets rowdy and has their balloon-type things beating against each other, and it makes this god-awful noise that I can’t believe they don’t miss free throws when they hear that.

“So it was really exciting. I’m from the Chicago area, so I cheer for the Bulls. But after the Heat beat the Bulls, I’m definitely not a Heat fan. So I’m cheering for the Mavs, and they did a great job last night.”

Dallas took a 3-2 lead in the series, with the potential deciding game scheduled for 8 p.m. (ET) June 12 on ABC. With the Firestone Twin 275s during the evening June 11, she’ll be able to watch from the comfort of her Arizona home.

“This is definitely a lot different than golf,” Kelli Kuehne exclaimed as she stood in the bustling IZOD IndyCar Series garage area at Texas Motor Speedway.

Kuehne, a Dallas native and avid race fan, spent the afternoon learning about the ins and outs of the IZOD IndyCar Series with Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing driver Charlie Kimball.

Minutes later, the LPGA Tour pro suited up to take a high-speed ride on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater with Mario Andretti as the chaueffer.

Both share having diabetes. Kuehne was diagnosed at age 10 and carries an insulin pump as a means to regulate her blood sugar levels. She credits technology and the input of doctors as her way to stay on top of the disease. Kimball was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2007, and after doctors gave him clearance to keep racing he relies on the technology available through his sponsor to maintain his blood sugar levels.

As a fellow professional athlete, Kuehne identifies with Kimball but also is sympathetic.

“Charlie’s out there going 225 mph. I’m on the green for 5-6 hours,” she said. “I can eat an apple going from the tee to the green or the green to the fairway. Charlie has to drive a car, push buttons, shift gears and worry about getting sugar water or Gatorade in his system. We both are athletes, we both do something very different, but we still have very similar things going on.”

Charlie Kimball hosts LPGA Golfer Kelli Kuehne

Kuehne and Kimball

Both see the responsibility and opportunity to inform and encourage people with diabetes and educate the public about the warning signs. Kimball’s desire is to let people know that diabetes doesn’t have to “slow you down.”

“You can still dream big and follow your dreams, even with diabetes,” he said.

“Getting the word out is my big platform,” said Kuehne. “I’m in the position to reach more people than the average person and I love to take that initiative and impact the lives of people.”

LPGA Golfer Kellie Kuehne goes for a two seater ride with Mario Andretti

Kelli experiences a two seater rider with Mario Andretti

This month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been packed to the brink with IZOD IndyCar Series drivers, Firestone Indy Lights drivers, Mazda Road to Indy drivers, and returning Indy 500 legends. It had us thinking, what advice do the younger drivers ask the returning and former drivers for when preparing to race.

As the first African American to qualify and race in the Indianapolis 500, Willy T. Ribbs has helped paved the way for a diverse crop of younger drivers to reach their dream of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In his interview, Willy shared which drivers gave him advice back in 1991:

Firestone Indy Lights driver, Chase Austin shares his relationship with Willy T. Ribbs and talks about what it’s like to go from stock cars to Indy cars and still be successful at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Before today, the driver had only slipped in two practice laps at the track. Find out what his game plan is to run well in today’s Firestone Freedom 100:

Having the Indianapolis Fire Department represented on the car of Jay Howard will only make this year’s race more personal to the people of Indy. To show his support in an even deeper way, Howard took time out of his busy May schedule to visit with patients at the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Wishard Hospital yesterday morning. He was joined by members of the IFC including Fire Chief Brian Sanford and Chris Major the president of the Indianapolis Professional Firefighters Local 416. Howard took some time to visit with the firefighters before making his way into the burn center. “The Indianapolis Motor Speedway makes Indy what it is and we are very lucky to get the chance to be associated with IMS, ” said Sanford.

Chris Major talked about the positive affects of the crest being placed on Jay’s car. “It’s a great way to make people aware of the efforts we make,” said Major. Stanford addressed Simona de Silvestro’s crash earlier this May. “It shows how far of a reach a burn center can make. It doesn’t only deal with house fires and accidental burns.”

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Once inside, Howard took time to visit with patients of the Wishard Burn Center. He signed autographs, took pictures, and chatted with some very excited patients. One lady kept telling Jay that he had made her day. She was given one of the Jay Howard/Indianapolis Fire Department shirts and Jay signed it for her.

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Howard was then given a tour of the burn unit. He learned that around 550 patients are treated at the burn center every year. Also, there are 7 other burn units in the U.S. modeled around the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Wishard Hospital. It was also shared with Jay that the staff of the burn center makes regular trips to Central America for mission trips. They have built the only burn center in Central America. Each trip costs around $30,000-50,000 and the burn center staff raises all the funds themselves. They are currently preparing for their 5th trip to El Salvador with a staff of 22 people.

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Howard is driving in this year’s Indy 500 to support burn victims. If you would like to show your support you can purchase the shirt Jay is wearing in the pictures above. For more information on the t-shirts and helping out the Wishard Burn Center follow this link: http://www.n-depthfiregraphics.com/jayhoin500sh.html

The month of May is known to be the most hectic month for the IZOD IndyCar stars, but it’s just as crazy for the helmet painters, in particular at the ArtRotondo.com shop, when you paint for many of the Indycar drivers. The month of May is an incredibly hectic month but that all comes to one big reward on that historical race day. This year being the centennial year, it is a tremendous honor for us to be part of this great race, alongside so many of this Series finest drivers. We’re truly living a childhood dream by being involved in this great race and hope that one of our drivers will be the first to cross the finish line on this coming May 29th, 2011.

This year’s Indy 500 will not only mark the 100th anniversary of the great American race, but it will also mark the heroic return of IndyCar star Mike Conway. He will return on board his Andretti Autosport IndyCar to face the track which prematurely took him out of his 2010 season. For this tremendous event we had no choice but to make a special Indy 500 themed helmet for his triumphant return, we put the complete focus on the speedway’s landmark tower and hope it will bring him that extra edge in this grueling 500 mile dash.

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Mike Conway's new helmet

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Car Town!

Alex Tagliani tweeted that the first person to win his Big Rig gets the gloves he’ll use in the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500.

Huh? It all makes sense if you’re playing Car Town on Facebook.

The game that features the IZOD IndyCar Series now includes actual races on 17 different tracks, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that is playing host to the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500, for players to compete.

Lead your favorite driver to first place on each track to unlock the team’s Big Rig.

Cars are available for multiple drivers plus the 2011 Indianapolis 500 Event Car, which honors the 100th anniversary of the first running of the race.

In the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Garage, users can select a car driven by top IZOD IndyCar Series drivers and complete the Indy 500 Challenge with the help of a pit crew they select from among their Facebook friends or by spending in-game points. Players can even race against the clock and compete against other Car Town pit crews, striving to top the Indy Pit Stop Challenge leaderboard.

Race now in Car Town. CLICK HERE

Ho-Pin Tung: History in the Making

Posted on: May 16, 2011 | Comments(2) | Drivers | By: Cassie

Ho-Pin Tung has raced numerous cars in numerous countries, but he has finally made his way to IndyCar. What’s more, he’s on his way to making history. He has become the first Chinese racer to enter the Indy 500, and is hoping to be the first Chinese driver to qualify for the race.

Tung is driving for Schmidt Dragon Racing for this year’s Indy 500 and sees this race as a huge learning experience.  Drivers such as Arie Luyendyk and Al Unser Jr have inspired and motivated Tung to meet his Indy goals this May. So come out to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and cheer Ho-Pin Tung to his goal of being the first Chinese man to qualify for the Indy 500.

Watch the interview below and listen to everything Ho-Pin Tung has to say about his racing career, IndyCar, and the experience of racing in the Indy 500.

What is your prediction for Ho-Pin Tung’s performance in the Indy 500 this season?

Hunter-Reay revels in Indy history

Posted on: May 16, 2011 | Comments (1) | Drivers | By: Arni

Ryan Hunter-Reay hopes to race in his fourth Indianapolis 500 later this month, but he took advantage of the rainout of practice May 15 to visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum for the first time.

Ryan Hunter-Reay with gallery of winners.

“I can’t believe I hadn’t been there,” said Hunter-Reay, the 2008 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. “It was amazing. The place is what Indy car racing is all about, and that’s what makes Indy car racing special. To go there as a current Indy car driver made it even more special. To see the cars that were driven by owners of team’s I’ve driven for and the ones driven by my heroes and know they all went to Victory Lane here at Indy made for a very special day.”

The one car that that the Andretti Autosport driver wanted to see was Rick Mears’ 1984-winning Pennzoil Z-7 Special. Hunter-Reay’s first go-kart was modeled after Mears’ race car and seeing the real car for the first time brought back childhood memories for the IZOD IndyCar Series standout.

“The No. 6 Pennzoil car, in smaller form, was my first ride,” he said. “That’s what I got into a lot of trouble in. It was my neighborhood wheels and I did my first right front wing damage in that car when I hit a stop sign.

“It was really cool to see the actual car. I’ve never seen it before, but to see the evolution of the Indy car was really neat to see. To see where the sport actually started and how the cars have developed over the years, and see what made these cars go faster and faster. Indianapolis has always been a proving ground as much as it is a huge race.”

Hunter-Reay was far from the only driver in the Museum. 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones and Dreyer & Reinbold’s  Justin Wilson were visitors to the exhibit of 67-winning Indianapolis 500 winning cars.

And while Hunter-Reay told all the well-wishers in the Museum his plan was to have his Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car join the winning cars in the Museum next year, he hopes to get another visit to see the cars on display again.

“I’m going to go back again before I leave this month,” Hunter-Reay said.

@, #hashtag, RT, FF

Posted on: May 14, 2011 | Comments (1) | Drivers, Fans, New Media | By: Daniel

It’s an odd post title, but it’s a fitting one for a discussion on Twitter. Twitter has hit it’s stride this season with more and more teams, drivers, journalists and sponsors joining the online dialogue. The most pleasant surprise are the amount of driver’s genuinely using Twitter to reveal their personalities. A video interview in pit lane isn’t always the best way to know someone. 140 characters in a tweet on the other hand…

TK Tweet

TK ready for Indy

Twitter is obviously on the rise. It’s a social tool that people are finally understanding and utilizing. IndyCar blogger, @pressdog wrote a four-part series earlier this year, illustrating it’s growing importance within the sport. Followers of @IndyCar have grown over 300% in just over a year. It’s become a more accepted method of communication and we use it to share race updates, official results, news stories, videos, Flickr images, blog posts and lots more.  There are now multiple voices around the INDYCAR experience. We are listening.

Yesterday, we interviewed James Hinchcliffe (video below). It got me thinking about driver’s that are web savvy. I remember watching Hinch last season and being impressed by his personal online strategy. His site, videos, and use of Twitter were exceptional. He was ahead of the game. And now, the game has caught up with him and embraced the web community. In my opinion, it’s the most important way we (and I mean ‘we’) can help grow the INDYCAR brand. We all have a voice to help grow this sport.

There have been lots of memorable Twitter moments recently. These are bringing the online world into the at-track world. They are bringing together the personalities of the sport into a new environment. They are giving our faithful, loyal fans new ways of connecting to the speed and racing action. Twitter is removing traditional walls. Some quick examples -

Tomas Scheckter’s blog post last December got some real chatter online and then on Twitter.

Most races are followed by some interesting driver banter – all before our Twitter eyes.

Today, Scott Dixon gave away a watch to one lucky fan. All of this was done through Twitter!

Scott Dixon & a deserving fan

Tweet with drivers and you could win!

And a current contest from Ryan Briscoe: “Who wants to win a trip and be my guest at this years Indy500? Guess my qual speed to win! Go to www.ryanbriscoe.com for details”.

For fans, I can’t think of a better way to follow the sport or a favorite driver. You can tweet directly at them and there will be a lot of chatter this month of May. What are you waiting for?

So – we’ve created a full listing of IZOD IndyCar Series drivers on Twitter for you HERE.

Check them out, follow their tweets, join the conversation and as always, let us know what you think.

You can follow @IndyCar, here.

It’s evident when driving through the streets of Sao Paulo that Brazilians are extremely passionate about motorsport.   Ayrton Senna murals are painted on building sides and under bridges all over this massive city.  As a result this South American country has not only produced the world’s most legendary driver (Senna) but also some great racing circuits and outstanding INDYCAR drivers.

One of my favorite racetracks is here in Brazil.  Without a doubt, it was one of the most unique ovals ever built (the exception being Trenton, NJ). The Circuito de Jacarepaguá in Rio was quite a site to be seen in the mid-90’s when INDYCAR came to town.

Rio, in every definition of the word, was a Roval.  Turn 1 was a sharp corner, requiring the drivers to get on the brakes, downshift once (maybe twice) and jump back on the throttle. Turn 2 was wide open all the way to turn 3 which was full throttle for some drivers and then back on to the brakes for turn 4.  The layout produced great passing and promoted aggressive driving.

Rio was also the site of one of the most spectacular shunts in INDYCAR history.  Mark Blundell essentially tore down the outside wall in Turn 1 when his brakes failed going down the front stretch.  He made an attempt to collect his teammate to help soften the impact but he just  barely missed.  The resulting impact is terrifying and miraculously Blundell emerged from the car unscathed.  Fast forward in the above video to the 10:40 mark for video of the incident.

The list of Brazilian drivers who have driven in INDYCAR is long and prestigious.  With names like Fittipaldi, Kanaan, and Castroneves, Brazilian drivers have proved that they are and will continue to be a force to be reckoned with.

Emerson Fittipaldi, one of the greatest drivers in any car, was one of my favorite drivers growing up. “Emmo” was fast, brave, and exciting to watch.  Below is video from one of Emerson’s hard fought battles with Nigel Mansell.

For many people when they think of the IZOD IndyCar Series they think of Helio Castroneves.  The personable, excitable, and energetic Brazilian 3-time Indianapolis 500 winner has been a staple of the IZOD IndyCar Series for many years now.  His personality, passion for racing, and on camera antics have been great for the sport.  What some seem to miss, especially lately, is how impressive Helio is behind the wheel.

Tony Kanaan is without a doubt one of the fiercest competitors in the IZOD IndyCar Series.  The tough driver from Salvador, Brazil has proved this year that just because he’s changed teams it doesn’t mean he can be ignored.  Taking KV Racing Technologies to some of their best finishes in recent memory TK has proudly positioned himself in 3rd position in the overall points standings.  If you watched the Indianapolis 500 last year and didn’t pay attention to Kanaan’s drive you missed one of the most exciting and entirely legendary performances a the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Starting 33rd and passing 22 cars to finish in 11th position was nothing short of miraculous.  TK showed once again that he’s not lost a step and certainly hasn’t lost any of his nerve, the man is still a master of the outside pass.