By the time Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay made it to the rooftop bar in Midtown Manhattan where friends, family and Verizon IndyCar Series staff gathered May 27 to celebrate his win, he was arguably already the toast of New York.

Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay toasts his victory with his wife, Beccy, and friends following his victory media tour in New York City on Tuesday. The party was held at Top of the Strand, a rooftop bar in midtown Manhattan.

After prevailing in a six-lap duel to the checkered flag with Helio Castroneves, Hunter-Reay captured hearts as he celebrated with wife Beccy and 1-year-old son Ryden. When they arrived in New York for a victory media tour, journalists couldn’t get enough of Hunter-Reay and his toddler look-alike, dressed in a pint-sized version of his dad’s firesuit. Affable Ryden accompanied his parents from an early morning appearance on “Today” to a stop to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange and finally to a late-in-the-day photo opp atop the Empire State Building as well as multiple interviews in between.

But even after all of that, Ryden was still up for more socializing.

The Hunter-Reays arrived at a cocktail party, organized in their honor at Top of the Strand (33 W. 37th St.) about 6 p.m.,  and it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see the child become tired and a bit cranky.  Even his parents were worn out. But the toddler busied himself unintentionally charming everyone in that room, too. Playing with a yellow balloon, Ryden bounced around the soiree as cocktails, champagne and appetizers were served to the adults socializing above his head.

The scene unfolded in the casual, open-air bar with spectacular views of the Empire State Building. The event’s décor included a photo of Hunter-Reay minutes after he passed the checkered flag at  Indianapolis 500, pouring the ceremonial winner’s milk on his head. Gift bags were stuffed with red and yellow tissue (the colors of Hunter-Reay’s sponsor, DHL), Indianapolis Motor Speedway hats and limited edition Indy 500-themed bottles of Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka.

The highlight of the party came, though, as the sun was setting over New York and the intimate group raised champagne glasses to the Hunter-Reays. They toasted Ryan’s win, the Verizon IndyCar Series and the end to a good day in New York.

Meanwhile, Ryden kept chasing his yellow balloon.

The Yard of Bricks that mark the finish line of a lifelong journey.

By David Craske

Sunday is Race Day in America.

For some, it is the glitz and glamour of the Grand Prix of Monaco, and the high shrills of turbochargers on the shore. For others, it is NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, 600 miles of raw power of man and machine, where stock car legends are born, or redefined.

But travel the world, and when you just say “The 500,” people know what you are talking about. It’s not the Daytona 500 that defines “The 500,” nor is it stock cars in general. F1 doesn’t use distances to define their races.

“The 500″ is synonymous with another word. A city — Indianapolis. When I say I’m from Indianapolis, people ask me if I am involved in racing. Is this reaction the same with Charlotte? How about Daytona? Perhaps, but probably not as powerful. “The 500″ is so symbolic that you may be carrying a representative in your pocket or purse – just check your loose change for the 2002 Indiana quarter.

In 1909, four businessmen discussed the construction of an automobile test track west of downtown Indianapolis, as more than 40 auto companies were based in the city. The first race, a hot-air balloon race, was held later that year. A 2.5-mile rectangular oval was constructed with tar and crushed rock, and, after several accidents in short auto and motorcycle races, was repaved with 3.2 million bricks (90 percent from Indiana) in a period of 63 days. To this day, the track dimensions remain the same, the banking angles identical, and 95 percent of all bricks used are still there, under about  4½ inches of diamond-ground asphalt.

103 years ago, Ray Harroun won the inaugural Indianapolis 500-Mile International Sweepstakes, averaging 74-plus mph over 6.5 hours.

Sunday, 300,000-plus people will rise as one, honor our country, honor our fallen, honor our defenders, honor our freedom.

Sunday, traditions will be renewed again — from the parade pageantry, to “On The Banks Of The Wabash,” to the balloon release, to “God Bless America,” to Jim Nabors and his “(Back Home Again in) Indiana,” to the command to start engines.

The most unique starting lineup in racing: 11 rows of three. The flying start. The sheer speed. The 3.2 on the Richter Scale as the field barrels into Turn 1. The Yard of Bricks, the Pagoda, the Borg-Warner Trophy, and the culmination of hard work and dedication … with cold milk.

Sunday, names of the past will be remembered as legends. Names of the present will be ready to lead. Names of the future will become names of the now.

An American tradition; distinctly international.

33 drivers representing 10 countries … 32 men … 1 woman … 7 rookies … 6 former champions …

Different drivers from vastly different backgrounds, focused on the same goal – a white line, painted on a yard of brick, 500 miles ahead …

Sunday, May 25, 2014 – The 98th running of “The Greatest Spectacle In Racing” – The Indianapolis 500.

Flames, food and high-end cocktail party fashion filled Pagoda Plaza on May 9 along with more than 1,500 who attended the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s inaugural Rev soiree.

The party, which continued late into the night, offered guests tastes of Verizon IndyCar Series drivers’ favorite foods re-imagined by more than 40 Indianapolis-area chefs. Revelers snapped photos of the racers and were offered hors d’oeuvres-sized dishes, including  prosciutto goat cheese bruschetta created by Bluebeard, Indianapolis, made for Charlie Kimball, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp. Board Chairman Mari Hulman George’s jalapeno cornbread  and French canapés created by McFarling Foods, Indianapolis, in honor of Sebastien Bourdais.

Two celebrity chefs – Vic Vegas, a self-trained chef who appeared on “The Next Food Network Star” and Spike Mendelsohn, who was a runner-up on “Top Chef” – came to town for the event.

The pair of restaurateurs dined at Indianapolis’ famous St. Elmo Steak House, took rides in a two-seat Indy car and toured the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before Rev.

“Spark the flame,” was the party’s theme, so its décor came in red, orange and chrome. Contemporary torches burned outside. Hoosier rocker Jon McLaughlin entertained, as did locals Endless Summer and DJ Lockstar, Blair Clark and Chad Mills. Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon and his wife, Emma, served as the event’s honorary chairs.

Plans are already in the works to bring the party back next year.

“It was one of the best events I’ve attended,” said Bronte Tagliani (wife of Verizon IndyCar driver Alex Tagliani), who wore a shimmering blue and green mini dress to the event. “Everything I expected for the food, the fashion and the music was far above and beyond.”

Bronte Tagliani, left, said the Rev party was a great kick-start to the Month of May.

The  Methodist Health Foundation event that benefited IU Health Statewide Trauma programs, including medical services for the drivers and patrons of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was planned to kick off the month of May at IMS with a new party. It celebrated Saturday’s inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25 and all of the IndyCar pageantry that happens here annually.

“It is exactly what this series needs to kick off the month of May,” said Tagliani.

Megan Krisiloff (wife of IMS Senior Director of Marketing Jarrod Krisiloff) looked to be having a great time in a cream Zara midi top and matching pencil skirt and carrying a checked Kate Spade bag with silver closure shaped like a vintage Indy car.

“It’s a nice new event,” she said. “It brings the Indianapolis community out.”

It’s unofficial, but Verizon IndyCar Series fashion week is in full swing in Indianapolis as drivers prepare for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Alex Tagliani’s wife, Bronte, is writing about track style in her blog, bellennoir.com.  And on May 6 she organized a fashion shoot with drivers, 500 Festival princesses and Fox 59’s Sherman Burdette at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

They all looked to be having a great time as Tagliani checked styles and, in the case of IndyCar driver Martin Plowman, carefully rolled and cuffed a sleeve or two.

Driver Sage Karam, who made waves this week when he announced plans to field a car for the Indianapolis 500 with country music star Brantley Gilbert’s face on it, participated, too.

“Events like these are fun because it kind of takes the stress and all the pressure off of the racing,” said Karam, who added that he had a lot of fun wearing a pair of fur boxer shorts in an Indy 500 fashion show two years ago.

Speed style: Verizon IndyCar Series driver Simon Pagenaud and girlfriend Hailey McDermott.

Later in the day, driver Simon Pagenaud and his girlfriend, Hailey McDermott, were the guests of honor at a Raleigh Limited cocktail party. The men’s clothier — with the help of the European line, Sand — is providing  Pagenaud with off-track clothes this month in Indianapolis. To celebrate, Raleigh Limited invited a few customers, served a few cocktails and an IndyCar was parked in front of the store, causing a buzz.

Pagenaud arrived in an elegant, tapered Sand suit, a pair of Donald J. Pliner shoes but no tie.

“I don’t wear a tie, no. You know why, because my dad  (who owns a supermarket in France) wear ties every day,” said Pagenaud.

As for the rest of his look, Pagenaud was pleased.

“I like dressing well because it gives me confidence. I feel stronger and I feel happy,” he said. “Sand gave me this opportunity and I shop here in Indianapolis and we connected together. They are interested in my image and I am interested in their clothes and the look they have. That’s what we connected.”

Pagenaud prefers tapered, elegant pieces, so Sand is a good choice, said Gerard Moreau, Raleigh’s manager and buyer.

“It’s a very updated but elegant style,” said Moreau. “Everything (race car drivers) do is at a fast pace and everything they wear is going to show that type of personality.”

Right is all right at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week.

Screaming around right-hand turns in a Verizon IndyCar Series car is a new thing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s new to racers because, until this year, turning right in competition on the track’s iconic oval meant bad news. You’d probably wrecked.

But, beginning this month, it’s all right to make rights. Required, actually.  There are nine rights and five lefts in every one of the 82 laps of the  inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 10.

Wanting to see what that’s like at 200ish miles an hour, I put on a firesuit and took a ride in an Indy Racing Experience two-seater with former Indianapolis 500 competitor and Verizon IndyCar Series team co-owner Davey Hamilton behind the wheel. In 2013, my trip around the IMS oval with Mario Andretti at the wheel left me comparing the experience to seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. So, I wanted to see how the road course ride compared to racing’s equivalent of one of the seven wonders of the world.

Since road racing is supposed to be a bit more genteel than oval racing, thoughts of a fancy hat entered my mind. But only fleetingly, as a helmet was buckled on. A helmet that I was immediately grateful for when Hamilton hit the pedal and we screamed onto the front straight of the IMS oval, going clockwise , the opposite way the cars travel in the Indianapolis 500.

In seconds, the Pagoda flew by on my right. Weird.

And it got increasingly weirder as we screeched around Turn 1, then 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 at mind-numbing  speeds. While I felt pinned to the seat on the oval with Andretti, I felt like I was in a wilder-than-any-amusement-park ride over the 2.493-mile lap I took twice with Hamilton. I shifted right. Then left. Then repeated, over and over, until I’d been around. And around again.

By the time Hamilton hit the brakes, and I was helped out of the car (something I desperately needed given the G forces that were still resonating through my body) , I couldn’t wait to watch the Grand Prix. How anyone, let alone 25 someones, can go 82 laps (200 miles) on that twisting, turning course and have any wits lets left at the end is a mystery to me. Add in a bunch of other drivers on the same roadway racing to win and it seems impossible.

But that’s what professional athletes do. They perform 360-degree slam dunks on basketball courts with grace, return kickoffs for touchdowns and, apparently, negotiate crazy turns at 200 miles an hour in IndyCars while racing other IndyCars. And they love it.

Me? Not so much.

I think I’m going to try and slip on that fancy hat and spend time on a spectator mound. While I do, though, I’ll know that right is right for IndyCars at IMS.

If you’ve eaten at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Staples Center in Los Angeles, Churchill Downs in Louisville and a lot of other arenas and ballparks in between, you’ve already had dishes created by the chefs of Levy Restaurants.

That’s because, Levy, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s newest food provider, has been feeding hungry — and discerning — sports fans for years. But the Chicago-based company, which has been operating since 1978, isn’t interested only in filling stomachs. Its chefs try to make trips to concession stands culinary experiences rather than a simple stops for hotdogs and fries.

At IMS this year, race fans can choose from a menu that includes a barbecue brisket dog  (smoked brisket, fried onions and spicy barbecue sauce over a hot dog),  garlic Parmesan fries  and Indiana sweet corn (covered in spicy chili mayo and grated Parmesan cheese with a lime on the side). There are signature cocktail options, too, and even breakfast: salsa verde, sweet potato hash and cilantro queso fresco topped with a fried egg. (Yes, all of those ingredients are in one dish.)

“It’s nice and filling and gets your day started,” said Jason McGraw, executive chef with Levy. “It’s a whole other experience and it’s great raceway fare.”

McGraw was offering taste tests of the new concessions at IMS on Wednesday.

Ingredients for the new menu, which also includes fancy versions of burgers and tenderloins, come from local producers, said McGraw.

“The Indianapolis Motor Speedway likes to be part of the community,” he said.

Other inspiration for the dishes is the iconic nature of the track.

“This is a very prestigious sporting venue with a very rich history,” said McGraw. “We wanted to take…track food and make it more of a high end championship racing food. So we’ve taken some standard fare and given it new twists. We’ve taken some old favorites and and kicked them up a notch. And then we’ve  just flat out thrown the rules out the window for some new things.”

Bronte Tagliani is comfortable in front of a camera. A professional model, she’s been photographed in swimsuits, pantsuits and more for magazines, websites and newspapers.

Bronte Tagliani

But Bronte – the wife of Verizon IndyCar Series driver Alex – will be the one pointing the lens when the busy month of May begins at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As Alex prepares for a run in the Indianapolis 500 on Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s team, Bronte will be walking around the track, collecting snaps for a fashion blog, BellenNoir.com (which means “beautiful in black” in French). She’ll document what she wears while Alex races and at Indy 500 parties and appearances, too.

She also plans to include the paddock’s other style mavens, so expect shots of Scott Dixon’s wife, Emma, James Hinchcliffe’s girlfriend, Kirsten Dee, and Charlie Kimball’s fiancée, Kathleen Thompson. And photos and commentary on anyone around IMS whose look catches her eye also will be included, she said.

“It’s just another social media outlet for me. I love Instagram and I love Twitter,” said Bronte. “It’s going to be a more expanded Instagram, more like a story in pictures. I don’t know where it’s going to take me.”

The site launches from Indianapolis in May, but Bronte, who is Australian, plans to update it as she travels.

“I just want to highlight street style – what people are wearing, what I’m wearing and the cool things I’m seeing,” she said. “The Speedway is going to be a great place to get pictures.”

Although she says she doesn’t have expected results for the project, anyone who knows Bronte knows to expect the unexpected.  Even in her own look.

Bronte Tagliani's new blog will feature street fashion from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May.

Racing fans who have seen hundreds of photos of Bronte will immediately recognize her, or most of her, when they visit BellenNoir.com.

One thing is different. She recently traded her long-time short brunette hairdo for a bleached blonde look. The reason: She wanted to know what it’s like to be blonde, so she’s giving it a try.

Raising funds for a good cause

Posted on: April 12, 2014 | Comments(7) | Drivers, Sponsors | By: Arni

LONG BEACH, Calif. – What would make Ryan Hunter-Reay don an evening gown? Raising money for Racing for Cancer, of course.

The 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion put on a red Michael Costello creation during a live auction at the Yellow Party at Long Beach’s Federal Bar.

It sold for $15,000 – part of the more than $85,000 raised during the event, which featured live music from multi-platinum recording band LIVE and Art Alexakis from Everclear.

“Tonight’s Yellow Party event was a blast, we raised a crazy amount of money to beat Cancer,” Hunter-Reay wrote on Twitter after the event, which attracted Hunter-Reay’s Andretti Autosport teammates as well as model Joanna Krupa and cast members from Bravo’s reality shows “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” “Real Housewives of Orange County” and “Shahs of Sunset.”

“I can’t tell you how much we appreciate the support.”

The cause is near and dear to Hunter-Reay’s heart as he co-founded Racing for Cancer in honor of his mother, who lost her battle with colon cancer in 2011.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” Hunter-Reay said. “Long Beach was my mom’s favorite race. She always came here to watch me race. It makes this one very special.”

Hunter-Reay, who won at Long Beach in 2010, and his wife Beccy will co-host in The Yellow Party in conjunction with four more Verizon IndyCar Series events this season.

“This is the first full year that we’re trying to branch out beyond Indianapolis,” Hunter-Reay said. “Last year, we had parties in Houston and Baltimore but this is going to be a busy year. It seems like we have a promising bunch of venues. I’m thrilled for how long this charity has come in such a short period of time.”

Rahal lobbies for car swap

Posted on: March 26, 2014 | Comments (1) | Uncategorized | By: Dave

Graham Rahal is lobbying for the ride swap that he proposed March 23 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. to drive the No. 15 National Guard car on an oval TBD and Rahal to get behind the wheel of Earnhardt’s National Guard-sponsored stock car – to come to fruition.

“It’s something I really wanted to do,” Rahal said. “Of course, I felt with the National Guard that it could potentially happen.  Media-wise, for sponsor exposure, I think it would be tremendous for them.  But I also thought it would be something that would be fun to do.

“We have a tie here now.  Let’s see getting Earnhardt and a Rahal, I think the last time those two names were on the same track were the IROC days with my dad.”

Bobby Rahal and Rick Hendrick, owner of the team for which Earnhardt drives, are longtime friends. Hendrick has said he’s OK with Earnhardt taking the IndyCar out for a spin.

As for a potential stumbling block of engine manufacturer cross-pollination, that could easily be rectified by Honda Performance Development president Art St. Cyr and Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports. There’s precedence: Kurt Busch, a Chevy driver in NASCAR, will drive an Andretti Autosport-prepared Honda-powered car in the Indianapolis 500 in May. Additionally, Jeff Gordon drove Juan Pablo Montoya Formula One car and Tony Stewart swapped cars with F1 driver Lewis Hamilton.

“Hopefully we can get some power behind this and make it happen,” Rahal said.

Getting Connected to #IndyCar

Posted on: March 17, 2014 | Comments(10) | Fans, New Media | By: Cassie

We’re rounding the fourth turn of the off-season, and the start of 2014 IndyCar action is in our sights. With the announcement of Verizon as title sponsor, the return of drivers like Jacques Villenueve and the debut of drivers like Kurt Busch, this season is shaping up to be an exciting one. Don’t miss out on a second of it!

IndyCar at Texas Motor Speedway in 2013

Below is a list of the best ways to stay connected to everything IndyCar related in the coming months.

iOS Devices | Android Devices

  • Follow @IndyCar on Twitter – We’ll provide live updates during races, insider news on teams and driver announcements as well as tons of fun photos and videos
  • Use #IndyCar – Using the official hash tag will keep you in the IndyCar conversation all season long. If you fall behind on your IndyCar news, just search the hash tag on Twitter and read up on the latest info
  • Like IndyCar Series on Facebook – Join over 200,000 other IndyCar fans on Facebook. We’ll share YouTube videos, race results, behind-the-scenes photos and more
  • Follow @indycar on Instagram – Photos from pit lane, the garages, press conferences and anywhere else the fastest drivers in the world might be
  • Visit IndyCar.com – This is the IndyCar information hub! Daily news articles, driver stats, the season schedule, TV tune-in information and so much more

These are your best bet to being the first to know any and all IndyCar information. How do you usually get your IndyCar news?