Indy Racing League CEO Randy Bernard isn’t usually a man of few words, but that one sufficed after exiting the Indy Racing Experience two-seater at Texas Motor Speedway. Johnny Rutherford was the driver for four laps on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval a few hours before the Firestone 550K.
Top speed was about 175 mph – about 40 mph slower than Ryan Briscoe’s four-lap pole average – and Bernard felt the G forces that pinned him to the right side of the stretched Dallara.
In 15 years as CEO of the Professional Bull Riders, Bernard hadn’t once boarded a mechanical bull. Three months into the IZOD IndyCar Series gig and he’s taken a wild ride.
“I’ve never had an experience like that in my life,” Bernard says. “I can’t even fathom going faster than we did. I was blown away with how fast we were going, and to know that Johnny can still go that fast was amazing.”
Johnny Rutherford and Randy Bernard
The three-time Indianapolis 500 champion wasn’t about to take the jab without landing a left hook.
At The Nest on West Pratt Street – across from the Baltimore Convention Center where city and state officials announced that an IZOD IndyCar Series race would be held in Baltimore beginning in August 2011 – lunch patrons were curious, if not outright enthusiastic, that a major sporting event would be coming to downtown. View Larger Map
As Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said in opening remarks, “You don’t win a race by reversing and going backward. You win a race by putting it in drive and giving it full throttle.”
Over crab cakes and house salad alfresco at The Nest (which overlooks the main straightaway of the circuit and start-finish line; think this will be a hotspot?), Daniel McLaughlin highlights the economic impact projected, the tens of thousands of spectators that will flock to the circuit that includes the scenic Inner Harbor and Oriole Park at Camden Yards. A fan, who watched flag to flag coverage of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, McLaughlin sees it as a win-win for the city and the series.
“We have the Orioles, who aren’t that good right now, and the occasional soccer (friendly) match and NCAA lacrosse finals,” he says, “but we miss out on much more because a lot of sporting events like the Final Four go to Washington. Sure there are going to be some people upset when they resurface the streets, but it’s a long-term gain. Plus the streets will be paved.”
The Inner Harbor is a few blocks east – with the National Aquarium, numerous restaurants (former First Daughter Jenna Bush lives in the neighborhood) and nightlife options – will be bustling.
“I might have to volunteer for the weekend,” McLaughlin says. “Maybe I could be the guy holding the umbrella over Danica while she’s in the car.”
Apex-Brasil – the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency – represents more than 70 business sectors, ranging from fashion to technology to energy.
I have to thank Apex-Brasil for the manicure and hair styling … hey, it was part of blog research about the fashion and cosmetology sectors.
In 2009, Apex-Brasil partnered with the Indy Racing League to promote Brazilian exports through business-to-business channels. One of those is sugarcane ethanol, which is used by the IZOD IndyCar Series to power its Honda engines. Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of ethanol.
In the video below, Indy Racing League commercial division president Terry Angstadt talks about the partnership.
As I catch up on my blog posts, I thought that my Barber adventure was best displayed in pictures. One of my favorite events so far this year, Birmingham and its rolling hills did not disappoint. And at one point, we did experience the “backwoods of B-ham” while detouring around a traffic jam (someone nominate Zepp to be a full-time pace car driver).
Here’s a summation of the weekend:
I was most impressed by the race fans who came out for this race. They came with their motorcoaches and weekend sporting set-ups. And if we could get everyone to paint their car like a super spirited cheer parent, we’d have the largest and cheapest mobile marketing campaign EVER. Get on it, people!
[ADMIN NOTE: Indy Lights drivers Martin Plowman and James Hinchcliffe were in Kansas this past weekend, performing their duties as Pace Car drivers. Check out what they got into, or their blog first post, here.]
Kansas marked the first weekend that James and I travelled to a non-Firestone Indy Lights race weekend together as part of the Pace Car Team, and it didn’t disappoint. “Hinch and Plowey” sounds like a circus sideshow; we are more like a circus freak show! But less talk about Hinch and more talk about our weekend.
First off, we flew out to sunny Kansas (ironic comment), bright and early Friday morning. We were flying out in style on the IRL’s private jet out of Indianapolis International Airport. We rocked into the INDYCAR aviation hanger, walked inside, no check in lines, no security lines, nothing. “This is the life,” I thought. That was until we boarded the plane, sat down in the second row behind IRL CEO Randy Bernard, and prepared to taxi to the runway.
Six years ago when I first visited Kansas Speedway for an IZOD IndyCar Series race, there was a McDonald’s and the racetrack’s yellow-blue checkerboard seats. That’s about it. Want BBQ? Drive to KC (Masterpiece in Overland Park; also the abbreviation for Kansas City, Mo., about 25 minutes away).
Today, despite the continued sluggish economy, acreage at the confluence of I-70 and I-435 in Wyandotte County continues to be red hot with retail, entertainment and restaurant development.
The latest structures being erected are an 18,000-seat stadium for the Wizards of MLS just off France Family Drive (positioned nicely near the massive Cabela’s, Nebraska Furniture Mart and family-themed water park Great Wolf Lodge) scheduled to open in 2011 and a 100,000-square-foot casino/hotel complex that will overlook Turn 2. Starting in 2012, maybe you’ll be able to place a wager on the race while you’re watching it live.
We just spent most of last week in Long Beach and Los Angeles. It was a great week, with great weather, great racing and lots of stars. The Long Beach race is a crazy atmosphere and a great time. We took tons of pictures over the weekend – on-track action, pit lane activity, fans shots, driver photos and lots more. The celebs were also in attendance, out and about throughout the week, and here’s my celebrity recap from the weekend. I probably missed someone, but I figured you would let me know. So here’s a quick recap.
Watch the latest blindfolded challenge with Tags as he traces the Long Beach Circuit.
Last weekend Simona’s Barber tracing got a lot of attention. Look for more clips through the season. Let’s hear some chatter about these two clips…Comment Below and vote for who you think did a better job.
Just noticed that the second practice session from Long Beach made page one on digg. Great to see that the fans dugg the highlight reel and are enjoying the coverage of the event. I also noticed that fans are enjoying this season’s Flickr sets. Take a look at Daniel’s post about Flickr and digg that too!
There are also a lot of great video pieces out there that are being produced by our friends at IMS Productions, including a great list of Vlogs from Hideki Mutoh and Conquest Teammates-Mario Romancini and Bertrand Baguette…Click here to view all driver Vlogs…
There are also a couple of clips from the Hollywood BLVD take over event on Thursday evening. You can check those and all the IZOD activation clips out here.
Lot’s of great content this weekend form LBC, look forward to more all season long.