Archive for the ‘ Drivers ’ Category

Drivers pay tribute to Senna

Posted on: April 28, 2011 | Comments(15) | Drivers | By: Arni

Ayrton Senna's gravesite

SÃO PAULO –Racing drivers tend to avoid hospitals and graveyards because those places can remind them of the dangers of the sport.

Those reminders, however, didn’t stop two-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon from paying his respects to Ayrton Senna, the legendary Brazilian racing champion, who is buried in São Paulo’s Morumbi Cemetery.

“Popped out to see Senna’s grave,” Dixon wrote on Twitter. “Very quiet in a busy city. What a legend!”

Senna remains a hero to many drivers from around the world but no place more than in his home country. The fact that the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle occurs on the 17th anniversary of his passing (May 1) provides extra motivation to the five Brazilian drivers in the field.

“It would be an extremely important win to me because he was a hero not only to me, but for all of Brazil,” said three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves. “(Winning on Sunday) would be a memorable day for me not only to win here in Brazil, but on a very special day to many Brazilians. I am going to do everything I can to make sure that can happen.”

Like Castroneves, Ana Beatriz considers Senna her hero, even though she had only begun to race go-karts a few months before his death.

“Senna means a lot to me,” said Beatriz, who like Senna is a native of São Paulo. “He is still a big reference when I think about the sport. We can still watch his races on video and we can see his determination and focus when he raced. He’s still a big hero in Brazil and everyone remembers the anniversary of his death and his birthday.  Racing on May 1 and maybe winning the race in Brazil will be the perfect way to say thank you to him for all he did for us. “

Vitor Meira will carry a very personal tribute to Senna during the race weekend. Meira had his helmet painter Art Rotondo paint a mural of Senna’s racing accomplishments on the back of the helmet he will use in the race.

“I remember May 1, 1994, when he unfortunately passed away,” Meira said. “It’s just a way to say he’s still in our minds. I put him on my helmet and wanted to do something individually out of respect to what he meant to me.”

The perfect wedding gift for royals

Posted on: April 26, 2011 | Comments(2) | Drivers | By: Dave

Above gas prices and overspending for the 2012 Summer Games in London, the talk of the town in the United Kingdom is the Royal Wedding of HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29 at Westminster Abbey.

There’s a thriving business of commemorative items for sale — mugs with the mugs of the happy couple, thimbles, plates and T-shirts, etc. – and more than 4,500 street parties have been licensed.

So if IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights drivers who are subjects of the Crown were invited to the nuptials, what would they present as a gift? A sampling:

James Hinchcliffe (Canada): A gourmet bottle of maple syrup.

Alex Lloyd (UK): I would give the couple a pair of Indy 500 tickets. They can pay their own expenses, and get the opportunity to mingle with Mr. Trump. The Donald and Kate could enjoy a nice discussion about hair pieces.

Martin Plowman (UK): After thinking for a long time about what I would take as a wedding gift, I was torn between a toaster and a blender, as I’m unsure which one they needed more. On second thought, (girlfriend) Nicole is telling me that she would gladly be their ‘gift’ as she could fill in for Kate in all Princess roles.

Mike Conway (UK): Since they probably have everything, I’d take a certificate for a two-seater ride with me as the driver.

Paul Tracy (Canada): I’d bring a hockey stick for “Kate the Commoner” to whip out when William steps out of line.

James Winslow (UK): I’d probably take them a sponsorship package proposal … there are quite a few Brits here in Firestone Indy Lights and IndyCar, so it only makes sense for them to sponsor a team.

Stefan Wilson (UK): They’ll get plenty of nice china sets; I’d give them one of those souvenir Royal Wedding tea sets with their faces on it.

Justin Wilson (UK): I have no idea what I would get them.  (Wife) Julia is the gift buyer in the family.  I’m a guy; we’re lucky if we remember the day, so when it comes to the gift for the Royal Wedding I don’t have a clue what I would get.

11 in 11 featuring Ryan Hunter-Reay

Posted on: April 15, 2011 | Comments (0) | Drivers | By: Admin

We’re following up on the fan generated video series, 11 in 11. This weekend, we’re featuring reigning Long Beach Grand Prix champion Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Marco Andretti, Michael Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay

RHR with the Andretti's

Find out what race he wants to win. His opinion on neck pillows, yes neck pillows. The Indianapolis 500. Winning at Long Beach, and more.

Charlie Kimball – 11 in 11Charlie Kimball has joined the IZOD IndyCar Series for the 2011 season and before he ever turned a lap he was setting records.  Having been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2007, he is the first IZOD IndyCar Series competitor to have driven with the disease.

Charlie Kimball

Charlie Kimball

Charlie uses a complex set of tools and rigid self-discipline to maintain his edge as a competitor.  We were lucky enough to catch up with Charlie at Barber Motorsports Park for a few minutes and asked him questions submitted by you, the fans.  Sit back, enjoy the video, and get to know one of the young, up and coming stars of the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Dario Franchitti sits down and tells CNN why he’s sticking with IndyCar. View video interview below. Full story available here.

“There are a lot of drivers that talk about wanting to race in INDYCAR. We believe that the skill set it takes and just the toughness and willpower to get behind the wheel of these cars is pretty amazing.” -Randy Bernard (Read more about the $5 Million Dollar Challenge at the IZOD IndyCar World Championships)

It’s your turn: tell us what skills a driver needs to be successful in multiple series. Are you a fan of drivers that compete in multiple series such as Danica Patrick, or do you prefer to see drivers stick to their “roots?” Which drivers do you think have what it takes to compete for the $5 Million Dollar purse at the IZOD IndyCar World Championships this October?

Inside Pitfit Training

Posted on: April 4, 2011 | Comments(3) | Drivers | By: Leslie

It takes more than a carbon fiber wing and a prayer to maneuver an IndyCar around a track at speeds up to 220 mph. Say for example, strong core muscles. It’s no secret that IndyCar drivers strive to maintain peak physical fitness during race season but what about the rest of the year?

As drivers and teams prepare for the second race of the season in Alabama, I headed over to Pitfit Training on the Northside of Indianapolis to find out how these athletes keep their bodies and minds in tip top shape.

Pitfit is known as an industry leader in the world of motorsports-specific human training. Serving approximately fifteen to twenty Indianapolis-based motorsports athletes on a regular basis, in addition to many more around the world, Pitfit utilizes the benefits of technology to coach clients year round regardless of their location.

Pitfit Participants

PitFit Veterans and Rookies

For drivers who are traveling, or those who don’t live in the Indianapolis area, Pitfit owner Jim Leo and his team of trainers are able to email fitness routines to their clients. During their off-location training sessions, drivers wear a heart rate monitor and log in their workouts online daily. That way, they are held to the same accountability in their remote workouts as they are when training in the Pitfit facility.

There are, however, major benefits to working out at Pitfit. In house, there is a long roster of fitness experts in a wide range of areas from boxing and yoga to rock climbing and swimming that coach the drivers in those areas. Leo strongly believes in providing his clients with a wide range of exercise to keep them in the best possible shape. How does a Pitfit workout compare to a standard gym routine? Leo cites Pitfit client and IndyCar Scott Dixon as an example. “Scott is in the best shape I’ve ever seen him. He is focused and motivated like I’ve never seen him before,” Leo said.

Despite feverishly taking notes and touring the Pitfit facility, I suspected I wasn’t getting the full effect of what it’s like to endure the training session of an IndyCar or IndyLights driver. Leo was kind enough to set me up with a conditioning class to find out. My one and only goal was not to vomit, as Leo had warned me this is not uncommon for first-timers. Brilliant.

The class consisted of Pitfit rookies and veterans, each one of the former paired with one of the latter. I had the pleasure of partnering up with IndyLights driver Pippa Mann who has been a Pitfit client for almost three years. Mann says she’s seen incredible results since joining. “When you train yourself, however hard you work, there is only so much you can do, only so much you can learn, and only so much variety you can add,” she said.

Coming from someone who drove Toronto and Edmonton with a broken hand, I figured Mann must be doing something right. “I had to use muscles I didn’t even know I had to hang onto the car in those circumstances, but thanks to Pifit those muscles were prepared and ready to step in and help me out.”

Mann and I, along with the other members of the group were instructed to complete eight circuit stations listed on a white board. Each set of partners was alternate between two activities for three 60 second intervals. A few of the tasks were familiar (confirmed I still hate the Jacob’s ladder) while others were completely foreign, for example the Dynavision D2™. The Dynavision D2™ is one of the many high-performance training machines that drivers use to enhance their training. Just as a strong core is crucial in conducting the body to maneuver the car, exceptional visual awareness is also imperative in relation to reaction time, peripheral awareness, and concentration.

PitFit Training

Working out at PitFit

As I walked out of the class, with my heart rate through the roof and a level of fatigue I haven’t experienced in years, I tried to imagine what it would be like to go return the next day and do it all over again. My conclusion? Not even on a carbon fiber wing and a prayer.

Surrealism, Servia and Speed

Posted on: March 25, 2011 | Comments (1) | Drivers | By: Daniel

Yesterday, Newman Haas driver Oriol Servia stopped by the new Dali Museum, located in the heart of the St. Petersburg Grand Prix. He was greeted by the museum’s director, Hank Hines. They toured the museum, talked art, engineering, surrealism and racing. It was an unlikely pairing, but the two hit it off immediately.

Inspiration

Oriol reveals his inspiration

[More]

11 in 11 is here

Posted on: March 24, 2011 | Comments(2) | Drivers, Fans | By: Daniel

Well, the season is here, congratulations, you made it. It’s time for racing. It’s time for racing updates. It’s time for lots and lots of racing video content.

Back in January, we pitched a new video series to you – something we called 11 in 11. It was a simple premise. We would gather 11 of our favorite fan submitted questions and ask as many drivers during the 2011 season. 11 in 11, get it?

You responded with lots of suggestions, lots of questions. You left comments on our blog. You tweeted at us, you wrote on our Facebook wall. As always, you surprised us with your passion and enthusiasm for the sport.

Today we’re bringing you the first video in this series, featuring Target Chip Ganassi Driver, Scott Dixon.

IZOD IndyCar Series Driver Scott Dixon at the 2011 IZOD photo shoot

Scott Dixon posing during an IZOD shoot

What were the questions we ended up with? Here’s the general outline:

•    Which race are you looking forward to this year and why?
•    Talk about circuit layouts— what makes for a challenging course?
•    Talk about the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500 and what it means….
•    From Paige: If you were a cartoon character, who would you want to be?
•    From Ken (possibly in Idaho): What retired Indycar driver do you respect/admire the most, and why?
•    From Gina: which type of track do you prefer- ovals or road courses and why?
•    From Neil: What is your biggest challenge now that you’ve made it to the pinnacle of racing?
•    From Canada: what’s the best prank each driver has played on other drivers/crew members?
•    From Joe: What are you most looking forward to in 2012 with the new car and engine?
•    From Susan: Tell us about the first race that you won (no matter how old you were, what type of race it was) and how it made you feel.
•    Megan wants to know: Everyone wants to win the Indy 500. After that what is the race you would most like to win?

And finally – here is the video. Enjoy. Lots more to follow throughout the season.

To start, I have a confession to make. I test drive cars with no intention of buying them. If it’s a sunny and warm Sunday afternoon and I have nothing better to do, I will haul myself up to a car dealership part of town (yep, you know the areas I’m talking about, where you can hit up six dealerships on the same road) and I will happily park my 2005 Ford Taurus (it’s the ugliest shade of green) and locate a salesperson.

I’ve driven BMW’s, Jeeps, Nissans, Honda Pilots (my secret first choice for when I’m a full-fledged soccer mom), and a variety of Cadillacs (always with the windows rolled down and rap music blasting). Yet for six years now, I’ve driven the very same Ford Taurus and have no immediate intentions of selling my “whip” and to much chagrin, I’m sure, from the many salespersons I’ve encountered on my Sunday drives.

My confession having been made, when I heard that Chip Ganassi drivers Scott Dixon and Jamie McMurray were about to swap rides for the day at Barber Motorsports Park I thought, wow, I get it. (Not sure what I’m talking about, read more on the swap here and check out video of the swap here.)

Scott Dixon and Jamie McMurray

Scott Dixon gives Jamie McMurray pointers on handling an IndyCar

What do I get? It’s that secret thrill of sliding into the driver’s seat of a car that isn’t yours and attempting to get comfortable in an awkward and different environment. How do the brakes feel? Can I go from zero to sixty (well, okay, in their case a bit faster) in under a minute? How do I shift? Do I need to adjust the mirrors?

Scott Dixon climbs into a Stock Car

Scott Dixon climbs into McMurray's stock car

These questions and more run through your mind when testing a different car but so does the important question, “Is this the kind of car I can see myself in for years to come.” For Dixon and McMurray, it’s no different. The question, which they may joke about after getting out of the cars, still surfaces in a far corner of their mind. In racing, it does happen. Drivers go from open-wheel racing to stock cars and back again. In even some cases, such as Danica Patrick, both.

Jamie McMurray and Scott Dixon at Talladega

Jamie McMurrary and Scott Dixon pose together at Barber

Perhaps the drivers emerged the same way I did when I test drove a Subaru. It was great, handled well but I could not picture myself taking on the lifestyle decision that a Subaru driver must make. It’s a stigma. One that says I kayak on the weekends and always have a bag of granola and my Five Finger running shoes in the trunk. Which, scary enough is true, but was I willing to let the world know? I stuck with my Taurus that day and have yet to look back. However, there’s always that thought in my mind saying someday…. someday I’ll be ready for a change.

As members of the media, Brant James and Tony Fabrizio are used to getting interviews from winning race drivers.

On March 8, the reporters were giving interviews after winning the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg  Media Go-Kart Enduro at Andersen Race Park in Palmetto, Fla.

James, who covers motorsports for SI.com, and Fabrizio, the motorsports reporter for the Tampa Tribune, teamed with Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg VP/GM Tim Ramsberger and IZOD IndyCar Series driver Alex Tagliani to win the 50-minute go-kart race.

“I’m not going to say it was fixed, but look at our team,” James joked as he pointed to Ramsberger on the podium following the event.

Hail to the victors.

Media and VIPs were allocated to nine teams of three and joined by professional racing drivers who will compete in the five series that will race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., later this month.

The Mazda Road to Indy was well-represented with Shannon McIntosh, Zach Veach and Spencer Pigot attending for the Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda, Nick Andries and Joao Horto representing the Star Mazda Championship and Martin Plowman and Tagliani representing the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Andries, a St. Petersburg-area native who will race on the streets of St. Petersburg for the first time, topped the field to take the fastest lap award.

“I have a little unfair advantage over the others because I’ve been here so many times,” said Andries, who nearly ran down Veach’s Team Rocket kart for second place. “ I think if Veach or Plowman had more time here, they would have been closer.”

The star of the day, though, may have been Veach, who finished second though Tagliani accused of having an unfair advantage because of his small stature.

“I’m glad Zach is here because I’m not the shortest,” said Tagliani, who carried the teenage racer over his shoulder and lifted him over his head. “But how much weight do we get to add to his kart?”

Veach’s weight advantage, though, helped Tagliani in the race as the pair used a stock car-style bump draft to gain on their competitors.

“You saw the Daytona 500,” Tagliani told Veach. “Some people are pushers, and some get pushed. You my friend are definitely a pusher.”

Turns out Tagliani didn’t need the push.