Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

By Ashley Peek

LEXINGTON, Ohio — Whether you come out on the first weekend of August for the Keyhole, the Carousel or the Jakesy Jamboree, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has it all.

James Jakes

The Jakesy Jamboree is a first-year event of the Jakesy Nation — a group of dedicated, inspiring, loud and proud fans of Dale Coyne Racing’s James Jakes that is making its temporary home in the campground in support of the second-year IZOD IndyCar Series driver.

It also happened to be his  25th birthday Aug. 4. He went over the river and throught the woods to meet the boys and have some cake.

Jakes was welcomed with erupting applause from the Columbus and Cleveland natives.  One member of the Jakesy Nation considers what they are doing extremely important.

“Jakesy Nation is important because we like to support up-and-coming racers because, like ourselves, we like to see everyone succeed in life at whatever they’re good at,” Brian Bellows said.

The members of Jakesy Nation have ranks, as well. The president, Joey Recktenwald, has recruited many people to become part of the growing fan base and has put in many hours traveling to support the driver of the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America car. Rookie of the year James Irwin spent the weekend wandering the pits in an apron to show his support for Jakes.

“We don’t stop supporting Jakesy even when the sun goes down,” Irwin said.

Be on the lookout for the Jakesy Nation, which plans to take the Jakesy Jamboree to new tracks.

Bobby Rahal and his father, Mike, visited the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for its first-ever race in 1962, and throughout his motorsports career Rahal has been tied to the track and its former owner Jim Trueman.

Bobby Rahal victorious in 1985 at Mid-Ohio.

In addition to other series, Rahal competed in 16 Indy car races on the road course, earning victories in 1985 and ’86 (on his way to the CART championship), six other podium finishes, and pole starts in 1983 and ‘85.

1985 box score | 1986 box score

He returns this weekend with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and driver Takuma Sato for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. Rahal will be the grand marshal for the sixth IZOD IndyCar Series race at the track.

Rahal, born in Medina, Ohio, and a longtime suburban Columbus resident, relayed his thoughts about the venerable venue:

“I don’t know if I have been to Mid-Ohio every year since (1962) but it has to be pretty close. Personally, I have some big wins here. Brian Redman and I drove here in the 1979 Lumberman race, which was a ‘You bring it, you run it’ sort of race and won it, and I think I won more prize money in that than I did in most Indy car races until I won the Indy 500 in 1986. If I look back, winning two Indy car races here in a row, the Lumberman’s 500 with Redman and then I won again later on with Jim Trueman in 1983; I have a lot of success here over the years. It’s a special place for me.

“I’m not sure what led to the success at Mid-Ohio; I just always liked the track. I should have won three (Indy car races) in a row instead of two. In 1987, I made a mistake and tried to pass a guy I was lapping and he came down on me and flattened the tire with a few laps to go and (Roberto) Guerrero won instead and I had been well in the lead.

“In the old days, you couldn’t run here until you were 21 years old, even though everywhere else was 18. Having said that, when I finally did get to run at Mid-Ohio in 1974 (he won) I loved the track and was immediately successful. And then my mentor, Jim Trueman, bought the track in 1982, and he certainly transformed it from being just a racetrack to a place that was great for spectators. Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has really been part of the fabric of my life.

“My experiences at Mid-Ohio, for sure, are part of what inspired me to be a professional race car driver. I would come to the track to watch Can Am races while in college because my university (Denison University) is only about 30 miles south. And we came here a lot in part because my grandparents lived in northern Ohio, so it was a place we always went to. I saw a lot of great racing at Mid-Ohio — Can-Am, USRC, Formula 5000 — you name it. It’s certainly one of the better circuits in North America.”

The inaugural “Rally for the Ranch,” hosted by the Bobby Rahal Foundation for the benefit of The Buckeye Ranch, will take place at Easton (Ohio) Town Centre beginning at 4 p.m.  Aug. 1. LOCATOR MAP

The event will showcase 75 of the area’s most exotic collectible automobiles from local car clubs and private collectors and will support programs at the Ranch to help area youth and their families dealing with behavioral issues.

The event is free and open to the public until 8 p.m. A fundraising component will be a private dinner hosted by the Bobby Rahal Foundation at the Hilton Easton. 

The honoree is three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford.

Boys & Girls Club of Edmonton members with Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti

EDMONTON, Alberta – Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti didn’t want to overload their young audience explaining the intricacies of an IZOD IndyCar Series pit stop, so to mention that it takes only about 6 seconds to change the four tires and refuel the car was the hook.

“Whoa, that’s so cool,” said Desmond Cook, who was among the participants in the Q&A with the IZOD IndyCar Series champions during the Target Canada- Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton event at the Africa Centre.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Edmonton operates five full-time and three-part time clubs, which serve more than 5,000 young people each year. The Boys & Girls Club youngsters enjoyed a healthy lunch courtesy of Target, which enters Canada in 2013, while hearing about sportsmanship and being a team player.

“Teamwork is a massive part of our sport,” said Franchitti, noting the pit stops during the Edmonton Indy this weekend as an example. “We have about 100 people involved just to make our two IndyCars run and hopefully win. We get to drive the cars, but it takes every single person on that team to do their job to their best abilities. That’s something I learned when I started racing when I was 10 years old.”

Groups of youngsters posed for photos with the drivers and received autographs, and they wished Dixon success in the race July 22 – his 32nd birthday.

“I started racing go-karts when I was 7 and it’s a great family sport,” Dixon told the audience. “Without the support of family and friends, it’s hard to get through anything. You have to lean on your family and friends, and be there for them, too.

“Starting young with good goals and a good mind-set, and being proud of what you do, is a big point in any career. We’re lucky in that we get to take the car across the finish line and reap the rewards, but as Dario mentioned it’s a huge team sport. And life in general is that way.”

Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti and Leroy.

NEWTON, Iowa — In honor of Take Your Dog to Work Day, Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti brought his German Shepherd, Leroy, to the Andretti Autosport garage at Iowa Speedway after the first IZOD IndyCar Series practice.

Andretti bought the Leroy – who is trained as a protection dog – for his wife, Jodi, earlier this week.

“He was watching the cars go around earlier,” Andretti said. “I think he likes being here.”

Take Your Dog to Work Day began in 1999 to celebrate dogs as companions and to promote adoptions by showing off the bond between dog and owner.

JR Hildebrand — IZOD IndyCar Series driver and San Francisco Giants fan.

Traveling from a test at Iowa to Milwaukee for the Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by XYQ, the 24-year-old Sausalito, Calif., native got to his hotel room off a late flight and was greeted by a text message from a Bay-area friend:

“(Matt) Cain’s perfect through eight innings. You better find a TV.”

“It was definitely one of those spaz-out moments,” Hildebrand said. “I was thinking if this game isn’t on my hotel room TV I’m sprinting to find a bar to see this game. Luckily, they had it on ESPN at that point, and it was just a nail-biter. You know how much pressure that is on a pitcher in that moment, but also the entire team – the catcher, anybody in the field in that stadium at that time.”

Cain completed the feat, earning the first perfect game in San Francisco Giants’ history.

Hildebrand exchanged text messages with a friend who among the 43,000 at AT&T Park to witness history.

“Honestly, I’ve been to plenty of baseball games – and I’m biased – but San Francisco Giants fans are the best in Major League Baseball, and I can only imagine how crazy the atmosphere must have been in that building,” Hildebrand said. “Cain’s been a Giant since he got in the league, just got a mega contract, and then he comes out and delivers. He’s one of those pitchers – like Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee – that in the ninth inning, he looks like he’s in the first.

“He’s a guy you just hope is on the team forever.”

It may look like a simple green clover, but the emblem that adorned Katherine Legge’s helmet during the 96th Running of the Indianapolis 500 is much more. 

The Girl Scouts are celebrating their centennial year and hope to bring recognition to new programs and initiatives. 

“Without a strong belief in myself, I would not be one of the few women to compete at the highest level in the male-dominated world of motorsports,” said Legge, who started 30th and finished 22nd. “Carrying the Girl Scouts’ logo on my helmet reminds me of what got me here. When I was a young girl, Girl Guides inspired me to believe that if I set my mind to it, nothing could prevent me from achieving my dreams.”

In her first season in the IZOD IndyCar Series, Legge was the ninth female to race in the Indianapolis 500. Additionally, Legge will become the first ambassador to the Girl Scouts’ STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Program, along with the Girl Scouts’ first motorsports athlete as a national spokesperson.

Additionally,  TrueCar Inc., which is an online automotive information and communications platform, has formed an initiative to provide support to aspiring women drivers.

“TrueCar, in my mind, has done something very unique and forward-thinking,” Legge said. “And it is something that will grow and I think that’s going to be a really cool thing to be a part of from the very beginning, and it’s going to be pretty huge.”

Vice President of Marketing for TrueCar, Rene Villegas, believes it is just the corporation doing their small part to give back to females everywhere.

“And really what TrueCar is about is using data to find talented race car drivers that have the potential for excellence,” Villegas said. “And when we analyze that data, it became clear to us that women have a strong potential to excel at motorsports.”

Legge’s efforts to help stabilize and emphasize the importance of becoming a strong female leader are infectious. The Girl Scouts of the USA is using the 100-year anniversary as a time to launch a campaign in which they want to engage mothers, fathers, corporations, government and nonprofits — to encourage girls to reach the leadership skills and level that they are capable of.

ToGetHerThere is doing just that. The campaign strives to create balanced leadership in one generation, and is the boldest advocacy campaign dedicated to the cause in history.

“At Girl Scouts USA, we want all girls to have the opportunity to be leaders in their own lives and realize their full potential,” said Chief Executive Officer Anna Maria Chávez. “But girls can’t get there alone.”

With Legge carrying the Girl Scouts’ logo on her helmet, the organization will help get the recognition they desire to help carry out the success of their programs and campaigns.

“It also shows girls that if you have a dream, and if you believe in yourself and work hard to accomplish that dream, you can do anything,” Chávez said.

Dario Franchitti tours the National Museum of American History.

A student of motorsports history, Dario Franchitti naturally had an enjoyable — albeit brief — visit to the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., earlier this week.

In the nation’s capital for a day of media obligations following qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, the Scot requested stopping by. He received a tour from two of the curators.

“I went through the whole place quickly; a couple of the curators were very nice and they took us around and showed us a lot of the exhibits,” the two-time Indy 500 champion said. “It’s just a wonderful place. I had never been, and it’s something (wife) Ashley and I have talked about for years. We’re definitely planning to go back and spend a little time there and really explore.

“It’s a fascinating city.”

Franchitti was particularly moved by the display of the 30-by-34-foot flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the lyrics for The Star-Spangled Banner. The exhibition explores the flag as a family keepsake in the 19th century, the Smithsonian Institution’s efforts to preserve the artifact since 1907, and how Americans have used the Star-Spangled Banner — both the flag and the song — to express diverse ideas of patriotism and national identity.

“They have an exhibition on the different wars the U.S. has been involved with and that was an interesting thing to see,” he said. “And they had an old Honda Civic that was quite cool. It’s the kind of place that’s kind of overwhelming there are so many cool things.” 

One regret: “I wanted to go see Mario’s car but it was in storage.”

Ana Beatriz and Sebastian Saavedra clown around at marketplace in Miami.

“It’s a small world,” Sebastian Saavedra says (without breaking into song) while seated next to Ana Beatriz at the Bayside Marketplace in Miami.

Saavedra, who turns 22 on June 2, was relating how he and “Bia” reconnected in INDYCAR a few years after they took different paths in motorsports. For the 96th Running of the Indianapolis 500, they’re teammates.

Saavedra, from Colombia, moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil, at a tender age to pursue his racing dream.

“When I started go-karting back in 2001, I wanted to be a champion and I wanted to be a race car driver,” he says. “Right away my dad said to be able to do that we need to search for a better level (of competition). Brazil is the top level, and we went there.

“It was an amzaing experience. I lived for two years in Sao Paulo and I was fortunate to meet Bia, who was already running in some formulas. We trained together with the same physical trainer. Every day we went to the same park to run. We just started a friendship from very early.”

Saavedra ventured to Europe to race while Beatriz was competing in Formula Renault Brasil and Formula 3 Sul-Americana.

“Six years or so later we bumped into each other in Firestone Indy Lights,” Saavedra continues. “Here she is, the same amazing person. We caught up very fast, and now — a couple of years later — she’s my teammate.”

Saavedra, driving for AFS Racing through a partnership with Andretti Autosport, will compete in both the Freedom 100 and Indianapolis 500 for the second time.  He’ll start 24th in the 500 Mile Race. Beatriz will make her second start of the season with Andretti Autosport and qualified 13th for the “500.”

Saavedra, who was the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Rookie of the Year, and Beatriz are race winners in the series. Entering the Freedom 100 on May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Saavedra is the championship leader by two points over Tristan Vautier.

“It’s great to have strong teammates and a strong team at Indianapolis,” says Saavedra, who competed in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2011 with Conquest Racing. “It’s crucial for us to keep focusing on the (Firestone Indy Lights) championship because that’s our main goal, but never lose focus on the big picture, which is INDYCAR.”

Scott Dixon turns the tables and interviews Ericka Flye and Stephanie Ortmann of WRTV-6.

Women of Indianapolis print, television, radio and online media got a special surprise when they showed up at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for their Indy Racing Experience two-seater ride. To prepare them for the moment, the four Chip Ganassi IZOD IndyCar Series drivers showed up to do some “coaching” for the participants.

After the initial squeal of delight (which no one would admit to when I asked who screeched), the ladies were divided into four groups, one for each driver. There was a long line for rides, so they got some one-on-one time with their new mentors to calm their nerves before zooming around the track in the hands of Indy car great Mario Andretti and former Indy Lights driver Logan Gomez.

Scott Dixon, who was assigned to the WRTV-6 ABC group, was asked about practice so far at IMS, what his favorite track was (Watkins Glen) and was prodded to convince Mario Andretti to boost up the speed a bit for the ladies’ first ride.  Following that, all four drivers did an on-camera interview … as the reporter.

“You think I’m good enough to take over AC’s (Anthony Calhoun, Sports Director of WISH-TV) job?” Grahal Rahal asked the reporters of the CBS affiliate.

My opinion at the end of the process was that all four drivers have promising futures in driver coaching. Watching them call the team around for a conference with the same very pointed hand gestures and stroking-of-the-chins usually done by engineers came very naturally, but I’ll be happier if these guys stay behind the wheel for many more years to come before I have to get used to that transition.