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.

IRVING, Texas — They stand as MacArthur Boulevard burger sentries, welcoming/enticing visitors to the mercantile district off State Route 114.

On the east side is Five Guys Burgers and Fries, which has three walk-in plaza locations in the Metroplex, offering all the toppings you can stuff between two fresh-baked rolls to complement its heaping bags of fresh-cut fries.

Fries animal style complement the double-double at In 'N Out.

Directly across the street is the standalone building with the drive-thru of In ‘N Out, which has spread like crabgrass from the West Coast with 15 locations opening in the past year in the Dallas area.

They’re 3.5 miles east of INDYCAR’s headquarters hotel for events at Texas Motor Speedway, including the Open Test this week and the Firestone 550 on June 8-9 – enticingly close for the IZOD IndyCar Series technical operations personnel to even eschew their usual Outback Steakhouse run.

This entry isn’t to compare the franchises – both of which began as family businesses. In ‘N Out does offer intriguing menu options such as a 4 x 4 and fries animal style (photo left), while Five Guys will assemble its thick beef patty with any combination of toppings and condiments on the menu. It doesn’t, however, offer milkshakes. You have to cross the busy thoroughfare for chocolate, strawberry or vanilla.

This entry to make IZOD IndyCar Series fans aware of the stores that have made an impact on American culture and waistlines. So if you’re heading to Fort Worth for the Firestone 550, look up the nearby locations. You’ll be glad you did.

If you’re in Indianapolis for the “500,” check out another fine burger place – 96th Street Steakburgers at 4715 96th Street – not only for its fare but for the “Burger Bash” on May 25 (6:30-10 p.m.). The free event, hosted by Indianapolis Star sportswriter Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee of NBC Sports Network, will have auctions, giveaways, a live radio show and special guests. It benefits St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf and The Indianapolis Star’s “Our Children, Our City” campaign.

Of course, burgers, fries and shakes will be available for purchase.

All hands on deck, er, helmet

Posted on: April 26, 2012 | Comments(3) | Uncategorized | By: Kate

At first sight, the top of Josef Newgarden’s helmet could look like a jumble of letters and numbers that predict some sort of Mayan prophecy.

Josef Newgarden's new helmet.

But get him talking about it and he can decode each and every symbol, all representing someone special that he takes with him every time he steps into the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car.

“The top of the helmet has the letterings and initials, with middle name, for each mechanic, each person that’s on the team and that touches the car,” he explained. “Anyone that touches the car is on top of this lid. Anyone that has placed their hand on the car is basically on here.”

Throughout a long journey that took him over to Europe and ultimately back to the U.S., where he won the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights championship, Newgarden learned to appreciate his crew members. To him, those were the people that really fueled his career and helped him attain his goal of racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Beginning in December, days after he signed with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, Newgarden made it a point to immerse himself in everything he could around the team shop in order to familiarize himself with his new crew members. He gathered lists of everyone’s name and birthday to accumulate on his first helmet for the season opener in St. Petersburg.

“I didn’t really know everyone super well at that point, and through exchanging emails I left a few people out by accident on my first helmet,” Newgarden said. “So it became kind of a joke around the shop, like ‘Hey! You left me off the helmet!’ The guys were joking with me that they got left off. It was all fun and games, but I made sure to get the names right on the second one.”

He’s confident he’ll be sporting the complete list on the Brett King Design helmet in Brazil this upcoming weekend, and is honored by the idea of having his career enablers with him every step of the way.

“I think I liked the idea of having them on the helmet with me, just because we bonded really well, really quickly,” he said. “I think because we had all that chemistry, it was really important for me that they have a place on the helmet as well. It was something that meant something.”

Racing for bonuses in Car Town

Posted on: April 12, 2012 | Comments(8) | Uncategorized | By: Dave

Owning Scott Dixon’s ride in Car Town could earn a bonus if the Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver wins an IZOD IndyCar Series race. 

The bonus, which includes other drivers, is part of Car Town’s 2012 Indy 500 Challenge.

Featuring the new Dallara chassis, players can build and tune up their car for optimal performance on the popular Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the other 15 racetracks that are part of the season schedule.

The popular Facebook game was developed by Cie Games.

Go to https://apps.facebook.com/CarTown to experience all the thrills of the IZOD IndyCar Series.

This is my first blog as a Firestone Indy Lights team owner on the Mazda Road to Indy for Jeffrey Mark Motorsport. In fact, this is my first blog ever.

I want to give race fans an inside perspective of the second best thing to being a race car driver.

From as far back as I can remember, and my wife will tell you that’s about two days, I wanted to be a race car driver. Unfortunately, there were two things that stood in the way of that ever happening: my mom and my mom. As a kid I was invincible. Others would call it clueless and my wife prefers the latter.

Juan Pablo Garcia

My driver this year is Juan Pablo Garcia. Juan Pablo is a very talented race car driver from Mexico City. He is as nice a person as he is a driver and has a good sense of humor. Bryan Herta Autosport, 2011 Indy 500 winner, is running my race team for 2012 and Jeffrey Mark Motorsport is being run out of their race shop in Indianapolis. This was the best option for me in my first year.

Bryan Herta and Steve Newey have been great mentors and great people to work with. Our first race is March 24 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. We have had a couple of test days for Juan Pablo in Sebring, Fla., Putnam Park road course west of Indianapolis and Barber Motorsports Park road course leading up to that race.

I look forward to having everyone follow along as I pursue my rookie season. It will be exciting and filled with laughter, sweat, tears and many podium finishes.

How St. Petersburg got its name

Posted on: March 19, 2012 | Comments (1) | Uncategorized | By: Dave

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Walk past the large building at 215 Central Ave. in downtown St. Petersburg for a glimpse of the city’s foundation.

According to local lore, city co-founders John Williams and Peter Demens devised a simple way of assigning names to the town and its first hotel in 1888. Demens, a Russian aristocrat, won a coin toss and christened the burg after his hometown of St. Petersburg. Williams, a railroad exec, did the same with the Detroit Hotel.

Many a celeb and politician have occupied rooms at the hotel during its heyday. Now a residential condominium, it’s on the National Register of Historic of Places.

Q&A with Shannon McIntosh

Posted on: March 16, 2012 | Comments (1) | Drivers | By: Kate

Shannon McIntosh is beginning her second season of USF2000 competition. She competed in the season opener at Sebring International Raceway on March 15 and advanced two positions to finish 15th. The 22-year-old St. Petersburg, Fla., resident is part of the Women Empowered initiative of TrueCar, and spoke about gearing up for the next chapter of her career. 

Q: Before we get talking about the season-opening races at Sebring, it’s been a busy offseason for you. Recap what you’ve been up to.

Shannon McIntosh

A:

The offseason has been a whirlwind. Once the season was over, we started reaching out to some teams as I began looking toward a fresh 2012 in USF2000. I tested with Pabst Racing at IMS in October, and being at the Brickyard was a experience in itself. After the test, I started working toward putting a program together with Pabst because I felt it was a place where I had the support I needed to excel, and a team that was behind me and my success. It was shortly after this that my management BRANDed and I were able to close a deal for the 2012 season with TRUECAR.com along with an opportunity to represent Tag Heuer in their Time for Rebels campaign alongside Actor Neil Patrick Harris. Before we knew it, the season was here.

Q:  The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda is going to look a bit different than it did when you ran last year, with a whopping 35 cars this year. How great is it to see the series grow so much over such a short period of time?

A: I think it is phenomenal; the car count that we’ve got this year. I couldn’t be more excited to be in a premier series with a stacked field because I’ve always said you gain the most from racing the toughest competition you can find. I am so proud of Andersen Promotions/USF2000 for getting this series to where it is today.

Q: How do you feel you’ve grown as a driver over the break, and what new knowledge do you take into the season opener?

A: I feel like a new person. After lots of time reflecting on what the reality of last season was, I am in a great position as I start what I have recently referred to as “year one”. Not only do I have a new sponsor and team, I have the incredible opportunity to work with driver coach Mike Zimicki, who has an extremely impressive track record and resume in working with champion drivers. The greatest knowledge that I think I have as I enter the new season, is that it is essential, to have an entire team that is behind your success, in order to be successful.

Q: Sebring is going to be bustling this week! How much fun is it to run with a big event like the 12 Hours of Sebring, and later in the season when USF2000 races with the IZOD IndyCar Series events?

A: When I jumped to the open-wheel side of the motorsports world, the beauty of the ‘Mazda Road to Indy’ was that we raced at high profile events alongside series’ like American Le Mans and the IZOD IndyCar Series. Not only is it inspirational and motivating, it gives my sponsors greater value, and I feel very fortunate to have that opportunity.

Q: Which race on the schedule are you most looking forward to?

A: I think that St. Pete is going to be the most exciting for me. Not only am I a resident of St. Pete now, it was one of my favorite courses last year. St. Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities and racing a few blocks away from my home makes it even better.

Q: On another note, you’ve been chosen as the host of the famous Grand Prix After Party at PUSH in St. Pete, something that Dan Wheldon did for several years. Tell us a little more on how special is it to you to take over that honor.

A: As a resident of the same city that Dan Wheldon called “home” for many years, I am honored to be able to be a part of a celebration that we are having to benefit the Dan Wheldon Family Trust. It is important to me that I help carry on his legacy in even the slightest way, and I hope that the Grand Prix After Party is a success for the Dan Wheldon Family Trust for many years to come.