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Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato, James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter and Ryan Hunter-Reay were all smiles at the IndyCar Presents: Beer, Cheese and Charity party, which benefited Racing For Kids.

Racing fan Trace Roy arrived at the Verizon IndyCar Series’ “Beer, Cheese and Charity” fundraiser Aug. 15 with a Checkered Flag Limited Edition bottle of Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka and a mission: get it autographed by Verizon IndyCar Series drivers as a gift for a friend.

Roy and his wife, Cindi, donated $25 each to attend the party, held in downtown Milwaukee at the Indyfest fan event before the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250. Admission and funds generated by the party’s online auction benefited Racing For Kids, a 25-year-old charity that brings IndyCar drivers to children’s hospitals across the country.

The Roys positioned themselves at a back table at “Beer, Cheese and Charity” – an outdoor, catered living room-like spot where fans could interact with drivers and watch Indyfest activities. Tastes of Miller-brand beers, paired with cheeses and other hors d’oeuvres were offered.

One by one, 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, 2013 and 2014 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter Ed Carpenter, and drivers Takuma Sato, James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal arrived. They stopped to talk to fans and each other and sign memorabilia, including Roy’s bottle.

Even Andretti  Autosport  owner Michael Andretti dropped in on the party after a fan saw him nearby and asked if she could take a picture with him. And that gave Roy an opportunity to add Andretti’s signature to his bottle of Fuzzy’s.

By the time the Roys headed home to West Bend, Wis., their bottle had seven autographs and the couple declared the evening a success.

“It was a classy event without being over-the-top,” said Trace, who has been an Indy car fan for more than 30 years. “We could be ourselves.”

“Beer, Cheese and Charity” was a success for Racing For Kids, too. IndyCar donated $5,000 to the charity and the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

If you’re looking for Verizon IndyCar Series drivers tonight — as the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 gets rolling in Milwaukee — the place to be is downtown at the IndyFest Street party.

The event, which will be from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Hilton City Center, 509 W. Wisconsin Ave., offers a party atmosphere with music and Miller brand beers, as well as a VIP area called “Beer, Cheese & Charity,” where fans can rub shoulders with IndyCar drivers and the staffs that travel across the country with the racers.

2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, right, is one of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers who visits patients of children's hospitals across the country through the Racing For Kids program. The charity is in its 25th year this year and IndyCar is celebrating with a beer and cheese party at IndyFest tonight in downtown Milwaukee. Fans are invited.

Fans who buy a $25 ticket to “Beer, Cheese & Charity” receive unlimited tastes of some of Wisconsin’s most famous beer and cheese brands as well as a chance to chat with drivers, including 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay and pole-sitter Ed Carpenter, in an outdoor living-room atmosphere.

Proceeds from the party benefit Racing for Kids on its silver anniversary, this year. The charity travels with the Verizon IndyCar Series, too, and brings drivers for visits to children’s hospitals across the country.

Fans who can’t attend the party, but are headed to the race, can bid on several VIP experiences and memorabilia at the “Beer, Cheese and Charity” online auction at this address: http://qtego.net/auc/racingforkidsmilwaukee .

Lauren Bohlander found the perfect location to watch the premiere of her new series, “Garage Squad,” Aug. 1: Inside the paddock at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with Verizon IndyCar Series drivers and families.

Lauren Bohlander (right) and Joe Zolper (left), lead mechanic for in "Garage Squad" work on a car in one of the series' episodes. The show airs at 9 p.m. Fridays on Velocity.

“Garage Squad,” which focuses on classic car restoration projects, airs at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) Fridays on Velocity. Bohlander, the Verizon IndyCar Series at-track video host and wife of 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan, co-hosts the show with racing personality Bruno Massel.

So, after Verizon IndyCar Series practice Aug. 1,  Bohlander tweeted photos of her mini-premiere party, which involved folding chairs set up around an outdoor television in the motorcoach lot.

“Love the support of the @IndyCar fam tonight for the @GarageSquadTV premiere,” she Tweeted from Mid-Ohio, where the series was racing.

Bohlander is a natural choice to host a car restoration series. Not only does she work in racing, but she grew up in Indiana in a car- and truck-oriented family.

“My dad’s a big Corvette guy. The year after he graduated from high school, he bought a 1974 Corvette Stingray and he still has it in the garage,” she said. “He keeps it all fixed up and pretty.”

The series of nine episodes was filmed in the Chicago area between April 20 and July 18, a schedule that allowed Kanaan to be on the set during filming. He doesn’t appear on the show, but Kanaan helped work on some of the cars, Bohlander said.

“The car owners loved that,” she said.

It’s a good show for INDYCAR fans, who are interested in all types of cars, according to Bohlander.

“What we’re doing is going and helping car people,” she said.

A visit to the Honda Indy Toronto on July 20 was all it took to turn indie electro band Capital Cities into Verizon IndyCar Series fans.

“The race was incredible to watch. It’s an interesting display of human ingenuity and the desire of humans to push things to the limit,” said band co-founder Ryan Merchant. “I’ve always appreciated racing but I’ve never been to a race live.”

Members of the indie electro band Capital Cities got suited up and took a ride in a two-seated IndyCar during the Honda Indy Toronto.

Merchant and the rest of Capital Cities, best known for their tune “Safe and Sound,” were in Toronto as the opening act on Katy Perry’s “Prismatic World Tour.” When they weren’t performing for 20,000 at the Air Canada Centre, they spent time at the Honda Indy Toronto, serving as its grand marshals.

Merchant, who grew up near the Calistoga, (Calif.) Speedway, said he loves motorsports. So, now that he has witnessed an IndyCar race, he wants more.

Following the first-time IndyCar experience, Merchant offered a few tips to other first-time race goers:

• Walk around and watch the race and its activities from different angles.

“There’s always good food and drinks and activities to take part in.”

• Do some research on the cars and drivers so you understand what’s going on.

• Bring ear protection.

“We had a little decibel reader on our phones (and the race came in at about 110 decibels). It is like being in front of a speaker (at a concert).”

• Get VIP access.

“It’s always interesting to see something like racing up close and be able to walk into the pits area and see how fast they are changing the tires and refueling.”

With buzz about the apparent end to rock band Motley Crue’s tours in entertainment news this week, a little-known racing connection between the 33-year-old band and INDYCAR surfaced: Vocalist Vince Neal’s racing dreams nearly broke up the band, according to Indianapolis Star reporter David Lindquist.

“Vince Neil exited Motley Crue in 1992, the year he competed in Indy Lights races at Long Beach (Calif.), Milwaukee, Phoenix and Portland (Ore.). His best finish was 10th at Milwaukee,” Lindquist wrote in a story about the band’s final tour. “On Valentine’s Day, the other members of Motley Crue issued this statement related to Neil’s departure: ‘Race car driving has become a priority in Neil’s life, and he’s dedicated much of his time and energy to it. The Crue’s relationship to Vince began to deteriorate because his band mates felt he didn’t share their determination and passion for music.’ Neil’s ultimate goal was to drive in the Indianapolis 500. ‘Racing’s just a hobby — but a pretty serious hobby,’ Neil told Spin magazine at the time. The singer returned to the band in 1997.”

Neil qualified the No. 69 P.I.G. (Personal Investment Group) car 14th at Phoenix (finished 12th), 16th at Portland (finished 12th), 10th at Milwaukee (finished 10th) and 17th at Long Beach (did not finish, placed 17th) in the CART/Firestone/Dayton Indy Lights Series. He also participated in the celebrity race as part of the Gold Coast (Australia) Indy car race weekend that year. He earned $6,900 during his short-lived racing career.

Like most professional race car drivers, Neil started out karting. After receiving a gift certificate to the Skip Barber Racing School at Sebring International Raceway and running the Formula Fords there, Neil was hooked. When someone suggested Indy Lights to him he eventually became co-owner of the P.I.G. Racing Team with Eddie Chiva, an ex-Formula One driver, fielding the No. 69 entry under the “Say No To Drugs” sponsorship.

According to USA Today, the glam-metal pioneers are calling it quits after a final tour that launched July 2. The band also includes bass player Nikki Sixx, guitarist Mick Mars and drummer Tommy Lee.

Two whirlwind months were capped for Nicole Pollard when Miss Indiana Audra Casterline was crowned June 21 in Zionsville.

The reason: Pollard, who served as Miss Indiana 2009 operates Next Level Pageantry, a consulting business for pageant contestants. She gives help with everything from tips on how to gracefully handle the interview portion of competition to how to walk across a stage confidently in a swimsuit. At the same time, she’s Verizon IndyCar Series driver Martin Plowman’s fiancée.

Miss Indiana 2009 Nicole Pollard, IndyCar driver Martin Plowman's fiancee, spent a lot of time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May. When she wasn't talking racing, she was talking pageant preparations with this year's Miss Indiana contestants.


The two roles kept her busy during Spring 2014 as Plowman prepared for his first Indianapolis 500 in May while would-be pageant royals turned to Pollard for her expertise.

That meant that after the Indianapolis 500 Victory Banquet on May 26, when most of the IndyCar community was taking a breather, Pollard switched gears from racing to pageant preparations. She didn’t stop until pageant season was over.

Pollard and Plowman were in the audience for the Miss Indiana finals .

She learned about racing through her romance with the English driver and Plowman learned about pageants.

“I started dating Martin after I was crowned Miss Indiana but before I went on to Miss America so I was full-fledged in preparing. It was a weird way to invite (a person) into your life,” said Pollard. “One of my best friends, Rachel (Vogle, of Indianapolis) pulled him aside and said, ‘you need to understand how important this is to Nicole.’ She said, ‘it’s like if you could only compete in the Indy 500 once in your life.’”

That’s when Plowman seemed to really understand Pollard’s Miss America bid – she didn’t win but she placed in the top 15.

“He was very supportive once he grasped the concept of it being that one shot and you’re done,” Pollard said. “He flew out to Las Vegas to watch me compete. The first pageant he had ever gone to and he got to see the biggest pageant in the nation.”

If the dinner Verizon IndyCar Series driver Marco Andretti hosted at his home in Nazareth, Penn. June 18 had been typical, sausage and peppers would have been involved.

It wasn’t. Rather than a bunch of 27-year-old Andretti’s hometown friends — the usual group found hanging around his home’s pool and its nine-hole golf course — a group of journalists dropped by to dine and talk racing in advance of the Pocono INDYCAR 500 on July 6. So, instead of the simple Italian dish of sautéed red and green bell peppers and sausage links on a roll, the menu was more sophisticated: grilled chicken, beef and shrimp kabobs were included as well as angel hair pasta, tossed with tomatoes, local mozzarella and basil in a white wine reduction and topped with bread crumbs.

Chef Tim Frey, a childhood friend of IndyCar driver Marco Andretti's, cooks a boutique meal for the racer's pre-Pocono INDYCAR 500 dinner. The race is July 6.


But, an unusual day or not, there are a couple standards at the home. One of them is the culinary stylings of Andretti’s pal, Chef Tim Frey, a restaurateur who has known the driver since they both were in first grade. Another one is littleneck clams, steamed in white wine, which Frey served.

“No matter what, if it’s just a dinner with friends, 100 percent of the time, he will (ask for) sausage and peppers and every single time, it’s clams,” said Frey. “And then he will go run like 10 miles.”

After the meal, Andretti turned in early so he would be ready for testing at Pococno Raceway on June 19. Frey went another way in the morning – to his restaurant, Cherry Lane Café.

Frey said he enjoyed watching the guests tour Andretti’s luxe home, which boasts six bedrooms, six bathrooms, a library, an exercise and game room, a wine cellar and pool and golf course. When Frey visited as a child and Marco’s father, Michael Andretti, owned the place, the chef recalls marveling at it. Now, after spending his adult life visiting, he’s accustomed.

Still, he loves to cook there, which is perfect — because Marco doesn’t.

“He is much more talented in a race car than he is in the kitchen,” said Frey. “And, his kitchen — someone like me would kill for a kitchen like his.”

Also attending the dinner was Marco’s girlfriend, Marta Krupa, and Nick Igdalsky, chief operating officer of Pocono Raceway, and Kevin Heaney, director of media relations.

Verizon IndyCar Series driver Ed Carpenter was a busy man after winning the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, but not too busy to slip on a tuxedo and do a little socializing at the biggest party of the summer in Indianapolis.

Verizon IndyCar Series driver Ed Carpenter and his wife, Heather, took time to enjoy Zoobilation 2014 -- the biggest party of the summer in Indianapolis.

After winning in Texas on June 7, Carpenter was in Iowa testing on June 10 and then on June 12 he tested again in Milwaukee. If he was tired, he didn’t look it when he got home in time to escort his wife, Heather, to Indianapolis’ Zoobilation on June 13. The event, Indianapolis Zoo’s annual summer mega-fundraiser, is always a sellout. It draws about 5,000 and last year raised more than $1.6 million.

About 70 area restaurants volunteer to feed party-goers, so the party is something of a taste-of-Indianapolis experience. Thousands of cocktails are poured, too, and multiple bands play, making nighttime dancing on the zoo’s grounds appealing.

The Carpenters arrived for Zoobilation’s VIP party in black tie attire. Ed sported a black tuxedo and Heather embraced the zoo’s “rock your orange” theme, in honor of its new International Orangutan Center, in a full-length look that included a bright orange skirt. After posing for photos, the Carpenters were handed a couple of orange cocktails and headed inside.

They weren’t the only ones from Indianapolis’ racing community to join the party. Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles and his wife, Beth, attended, as did Chief Marketing Officer C.J. O’Donnell, his wife, Mary and Jarrod Krisiloff, senior director of marketing, and his wife, Megan.

Ryden Hunter-Reay isn’t one to wear the same thing two weeks in a row in The Big Apple.

Dressed in a pint-sized replica of the yellow fire suit his dad, Ryan Hunter-Reay, wore when he won the Indianapolis 500, 1-year-old Ryden accompanied his parents as they traveled across Manhattan last week, making appearances and melting hearts on “Today,” at the New York Stock Exchange and more.

Then, after a difficult weekend of racing at the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans, the family returned to New York on June 2. This time, an appearance on the “Late Show With David Letterman” was on the agenda, as was a trip to the premiere of “The Fault in our Stars” feature film a few blocks from the Ed Sullivan Theater where Letterman’s show is taped. But the popular firesuit was out of sight. Instead, the toddler was styling in mom Beccy Hunter-Reay’s arms in a pair of white jeans and a plaid shirt.

After the taping of his appearance on the 'Late Show With David Letterman,' Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay (left), his son, Ryden, and wife, Beccy, joined best-selling author and IndyCar fan John Green and his wife, Sarah, at the premiere of "The Fault in Our Stars" movie. Green wrote the book that the film is based on.

But don’t think the child’s popular Verizon IndyCar Series look is shelved forever.

Seems it made such an impression that there have been discussions about creating onesies with the design, said Beccy.

“It’s not a bad idea,” she said. “Maybe we need to create little onesie fire suit pajamas or something.”

As it is, there’s another firesuit for Ryden on order from OMP, an Italian racing safety equipment and gear maker. Ryan asked for the first one months ago when he signed a deal with the  company and it arrived in Indianapolis on May 24, the day before he won the Indianapolis 500. It fit the growing child like a glove.

“He literally cannot gain a pound, an ounce or grow an inch,” said Beccy, adding that the new suit will be big enough to last the child for the rest of the 2014 season.

That’s a good thing because the suit is as important to Ryden as it is to his public.

Because Ryan and Beccy refer to Ryan’s suit as “the magic suit,” Ryden seems to think it has special powers. So he was thrilled when he received his look-a-like.

“He thought he was a super hero,” said Beccy. “He couldn’t figure it out. He just kept staring like, ‘what is going on right now?’ He was in heaven.”

The fact that the tiny firesuit has turned into an effective marketing tool is completely unintentional, said Beccy.

“We just love our little guy so much and it was so cute,” she said. “We call Ryan’s suit ‘the magic suit’ so whenever da-da has ‘the magic suit’ on, Ryden goes nuts.”

Maybe it is magic. That same thing happens to almost everyone else when Ryden wears his version.

Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Sage Karam finished an impressive ninth in the 98th Indianapolis 500 on May 25. But at Belle Isle this weekend, his attention is aimed outside the race car.

Karam, 19, who was in the spotlight when he missed his high school prom to race in the Indy 500, is at the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans supporting Verizon IndyCar Series driver Sage Karam (left), who missed his prom to race in the Indianapolis 500, is at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit this weekend, supporting his girlfriend, Anna de Ferran (right), who will perform.his girlfriend, pop singer Anna de Ferran. De Ferran, the daughter of 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner and two-time Indy car champion Gil de Ferran, is performing a set from 11:15-11:45 a.m. June 1 at the MotorCity Casino Hotel Entertainment Stage on Belle Isle. Afterward, she’ll sing “God Bless America” before the start of the second race of this weekend’s grand prix.

That’s when Karam and de Ferran will change roles from those they held last weekend in Indianapolis. He’ll watch while she works and lead her cheering section.