Posts Tagged ‘ Firestone Indy Lights ’

Greetings from Homestead, Fla., where it is NOT in the single digit temperatures like it is in Indianapolis! I arrived yesterday for the first Firestone Indy Lights open test in advance of 2013, and currently have a great view of the road course from race control. I’m usually sitting in the media center in the infield where I don’t have a clear shot of the full track, so our Timing & Scoring staff are giving me a treat this time around.

We have nine awesome drivers out here today. Star Mazda (now Pro Mazda) is really representing, with last year’s champion Jack Hawksworth, 2012 standouts Zach Veach and Gabby Chaves and former competitor Peter Dempsey running in the top five this morning. Carlos Munoz, who’s going into his second season in Firestone Indy Lights, has been fastest all day. Check out this story on him and his quest to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 this year AND earn the Firestone Indy Lights title.

It’s great to see some familiar faces on the INDYCAR tech side and the team side. Chatting with one of them during the lunch break today, I was asked, “So…what is it you actually do here?” It’s funny how much time we spend around each other without asking that, so I didn’t mind.

During a test, I find a good place to camp (qualifiers: wi-fi, a decent view, safe to leave my things behind) with a radio so I can keep posted on what’s going on. I still have to do the things I do on a daily basis, like post to our Facebook and Twitter pages and respond to my email. Also, if we have any media attend, I work with them to make sure they have what they need and get to talk to the drivers they want interviews from. This test, we weren’t able to bring a photographer out, so I went up to the spotter stands to test my artistic abilities so I can have photos to post with web stories I’ll file after the day is over.

After the session is over and I see who’s fastest, or who went notably fast, I hunt them down during the lunch break and conduct interviews. I try not to interrupt debriefs or meal time, but I’ll take an interview with food rolling around in their mouths over no interview any day! We usually haven’t seen each other in a while, so it’s also a great time to catch up for a bit before the afternoon starts up. Today’s lunch break included new photos of Zach Veach’s puppy that he’s about to get.

From there, it’s back to my post to write and prepare stories for the new www.IndyCar.com/RoadtoIndy, where we’ll be posting all of the latest Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy news from now on. Hope you enjoy its new home, our web staff did a great job getting it up and ready, and we’re excited to get more news flowing through it about these great, up-and-coming drivers.

Let me know in the comment section below anything you’d like to see from our time here at Homestead and I’ll do my best to get it to you in the second day of testing tomorrow! We have a gallery of photos up on our Flickr page. — Kate

Twinterns in Trois-Riveres

Posted on: August 7, 2011 | Comments(3) | Race Tracks, Road to Indy | By: Kate

My Public Relations twintern Emily Lewandowski and I hit the streets of Trois Rivieres Thursday night in an effort to give away 20 free tickets to the Grand Prix de Trois Rivieres. As my only foreign language is Spanish, the experience was a hilarious mess of me running up to random people asking “Parlez voux anglais?” in a Spanish accent. However, I got through to several people who did indeed walk away with a three-day pass to the event. My personal favorite, Rose, was an elderly (yet extremely hip) local woman who actually flagged me down and demanded tickets (a woman who knows what she wants). I also gave one to our very sweet waitress at dinner in a desperate effort for a free drink, which worked like a charm. Look for our video blog coming soon!

As I went through our adventure, the most amazing thing was how alive the city was. When we landed in Trois Rivieres and eventually trekked over to our hotel, the city seemed quiet and fairly unassuming. As evening hit, the city roared to life with a street festival that brought in hundreds of people of all ages. There was a swaying pirate ship ride, men on stilts walking the streets, street musicians and booths along the beautiful Rues de Forges. We learned that the festival runs the Wednesday through Sunday of the Grand Prix week, and is a major attraction of the area.

It’s a totally different experience than racing anywhere else on the schedule. People have no idea what the IZOD IndyCar Series is, so it gives them a bigger appreciation for the Firestone Indy Lights, which can often be overshadowed when scheduled with their big brother. The track is a first for all but five of the Indy Lights drivers, who raced here with Star Mazda. It was with a bit of pride that I observed the fans watching practice today, knowing they were getting their first look at an extremely talented group of drivers who deserve every bit of the attention they get this week.

Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres

Spotted around Rues des Forges: Star Mazda drivers Sage Karam, Gustavo Menezes and Patrick McKenna; Indy Lights drivers Anders Krohn, Peter Dempsey, David Ostella and Gustavo Yacaman.

This month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been packed to the brink with IZOD IndyCar Series drivers, Firestone Indy Lights drivers, Mazda Road to Indy drivers, and returning Indy 500 legends. It had us thinking, what advice do the younger drivers ask the returning and former drivers for when preparing to race.

As the first African American to qualify and race in the Indianapolis 500, Willy T. Ribbs has helped paved the way for a diverse crop of younger drivers to reach their dream of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In his interview, Willy shared which drivers gave him advice back in 1991:

Firestone Indy Lights driver, Chase Austin shares his relationship with Willy T. Ribbs and talks about what it’s like to go from stock cars to Indy cars and still be successful at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Before today, the driver had only slipped in two practice laps at the track. Find out what his game plan is to run well in today’s Firestone Freedom 100:

150 Miles of Carnage

Posted on: October 26, 2010 | Comments(2) | iRacing | By: Brian

It has become our league’s standard for our races at Phoenix to have quite a few cautions at the start and then generally a long green flag run.  This seasons opener at the one-mile oval in Arizona was no exception.

We had a decent sized field of 28 drivers show up to take to the track and practice showed (with multiple crashes) that this was going to be a race of attrition.  Qualifying was as close as ever with the top three drivers being seperated by less than a tenth of a second.  Yang Ou started the season off with bonus points by taking the pole with John Paquin, Tim Holgate, Tim Doyle, and Larry Foyt filling out the rest of the top 5.  I made a small mistake in qualifying which slowed what should have been my fastest lap resulting in a disappointing 10th place starting position.

John Paquin

John Paquin

Lap 1 of the race didn’t last very long as the caution came out before we’d even made it down the backstretch.  I assumed it was going to be a long race and settled in, preparing myself for multiple cautions.  When we went back to green flag racing Firestone Indy Lights driver James Davison and Firestone Indy Lights Manager of Business Development Tony George Jr.  made it three-wide as they took an aggressive line to my inside.  I lifted and let them through.  As we came back around the next lap James’ car began to understeer resulting in a late spin.  I was about 8 inches off Tony’s gearbox and tried to pick the correct line through.  Unfortunately James came back across the track and collected me ending my race on lap 7.  A disappointing result as I felt I had one of the best cars on track.

Sciuto

Dan O and Niles Crash

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Photo Shoot: 33 Indy 500 Winning Cars

Posted on: October 12, 2010 | Comments(50) | Indy 500 | By: Arni

Ellen Bireley had no choice but to make Oct. 12 a free admission day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. That’s because 27 of the Indianapolis 500-winning cars usually found in the museum were being used for a unique photo opportunity on IMS’ front straightaway.

Sitting front and center

Dario Franchitti's #10 Front and Center

“It’s probably been our biggest undertaking,” said Bireley, who has served as the Hall of Fame Museum’s director since 1996. “We’ve never emptied out the museum to my knowledge.”

The photo, which commemorates next May’s 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500, featured 33 winning cars of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” (OK, there were 32 winning cars, because Mario Andretti’s 1969 winner is in the Smithsonian Institution, but the replica was the next best thing).

Set up in the morning...

Setting up the grid at IMS

“It’s pretty amazing to have this many iconic cars here,” said track historian Donald Davidson. “We have 33 cars here and every one of them has won the race at least once. I think it represents 37 victories because there have been four cars to win the 500 in consecutive years and they are all here today.  I could probably do 30 minutes on just one car here and we have 33 of them.”
Davidson and Bireley helped select the field of cars used and helped bring in the six cars from private collections. From there, they invited 16 qualified people, ranging from Hall of Fame Museum staff to veteran Indy Car mechanics, to move the cars from the museum to the track side garages used by Firestone Indy Lights and MotoGP teams during race weekend.

Then, in the early morning hours, the group pushed the cars into the traditional 11 rows of three.
The front row consisted of the 1911-winning Marmon Wasp, Dario Franchitti’s 2010-winning Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda-powered Dallara and A.J. Foyt’s 1961-winning Bowes Seal Fast roadster, but iconic cars from the race’s first 99 years were spread throughout.

Early morning shot of the "front row"

Front Row: Ray Harroun, Dario Franchitti, A.J. Foyt

Cars driven by iconic names of the’ 500’ such as Unser (Al, Bobby and Al Jr.), Andretti, Mears, Meyer, Shaw, Rutherford and Jones were all included.
“They had to convince me (to do this),” Bireley said. “When they first said they wanted to do this product, I said no, but this was a really neat idea and after multiple conversations, we decided to do it and it was worth it.”

The line up

33 Indy 500 Winning Cars

“To see the cars in natural light, the colors really pop. When the cars are inside in the museum, the indoor lighting just doesn’t do them justice. They look spectacular out here.”

It all started in Nazareth, PA at IndyCar’s 100th race back in 2004, where like many other start-up companies, we went knocking on every transporter door in the paddock offering our services. The first and only one to open that weekend and accept our service offer was none other than Dan Wheldon’s, whom at that time was still racing for the AGR team. The rest is history, being such a tight knit family, one driver spoke to another and the ball starting rolling from then on.

Scott Dixon with Art

Scott Dixon with Canvas

Even translating into other racing series such as Nascar and the world renowned Formula 1. Many names such as Dan Wheldon, Scott Dixon, Max Papis, Jenson Button, Adrian Fernandez, Sebastien Bourdais, Sebastian Vettel, Patrick Carpentier to name a few. Some of our paintings are also proudly displayed at the Ferrari F1 racing team factory in Italy as well as in Ferrari President Mr. Di Montezemolo’s office.

Sebastian Vettel with the Rotonto Bros

The Rotondo Brothers with Vettel & Canvas

Then from there our helmet painting division started in 2007 when we were hired to design two helmets for Dan Wheldon and from then on we opened the helmet designing and painting division of the company which today accounts for as much for our company as the canvas paintings.

Each canvas painting, which Art creates is completely done using the finest oil paints and completely from scratch by Art.  Our biggest differentiation to other canvas painter’s is that Art is able to capture the thrill and speed of the race car in every one of his paintings. His young age of 30 translates directly into his work, especially being in a Motorsport Canvas Painting industry which mainly consists of older aged painters which prefer keeping their work clean cut.  The ArtRotondo.com company thrives off being ahead of the rest by doing such works of Art, each masterpiece requires between 60-80hrs of work from beginning to end. What is also really interesting is that for any fan who wants to gets close to an original at a lower price, from every painting we produce, a limited edition series of Lithographs becomes available, so that the fans can get their hands on the same image that their favorite driver owns the original of.

With  2 races to go and 5th place in the series getting ever closer the heat was on us to figure out the last scraps of speed in the car on ovals and  keep the awesome streak of top 5 finishes going. Kentucky was up and another demanding 1.5 mile flat out oval challenge we had to tackle with  both hands.

Qualifying went extremely well. Once I’d gotten over the initial running around a new oval flat out at 190 mph we  managed to eek out a pretty decent setup and overall speed to place the  car 5th for the race. Things were really looking up as we figured our car’s strongest point wasn’t in outright speed on it’s own, it was  better suited for running in traffic in the race. It usually stays strong and helps me bring it home in the top 5.

Dan Clarke

Dan Clarke

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Now the road courses are over and done with, it’s time for us to knuckle  down and figure out this 1.5mile oval car. 190 mph flat out banked oval  racing in packs is thrilling stuff and you need to keep your wits about  you at all times because everybody will generally stay in a big bunch  and constantly be dicing for position. You also need a good car to be  fast in clean air and stay flat out in traffic. And that’s what we as a  team had to develop.

I’m not pleading poverty though. I’ve  probably harped on about the disadvantages we’ve faced as a team from the outset enough already. The reality is I’m more than pleased with  what Derrick and his team have provided me with at each race and the  chances I’ve had to really race hard against a lot of good drivers and  teams. I knew at the beginning of the year the advantages of being with Walker Racing would always far outweigh any disadvantages.

Chicago  was a really solid weekend us. Qualifying 11th showed again that some  of these Lights teams know something about Qualifying that we don’t. I  don’t think it comes down to engineering ability, I know I have a really  good engineer, it’s just they’ve ran this car for nearly 10years  already and we are new.

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Brothers, Mauro and Art Rotondo own and operate ArtRotondo.com. This dynamic duo is based out of Montreal and specializes in the art of motorsport helmet design.

Front view- Rahal's Mid-Ohio Helmet

Graham Rahal's Helmet for the Mid-Ohio Race

We have quite a roster of IRL drivers under our brand, one of our first- Graham Rahal- is always looking for the most unique and stylish helmets out there. This weekend’s Mid-Ohio Race marks the home race for Rahal. For the occasion, ArtRotondo.com actually kicked it old school by paying tribute to Graham’s father Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, by painting his helmet in his father’s original colors. Who thought a few shapes on a helmet could make so much of an impact? In a sport where helmets are getting busier from race to race, it’s nice to come back to down to basics and create this great tribute. Hopefully this helmet will bring Graham the luck needed to be first to cross the finish line this Sunday.

Rahal's Sonoma Helmet

QuickTrim colors for the Sonoma Race

After an entire season of sponsorship uncertainty for Rahal, the great people at QuickTrim came through and decided to come on board with Rahal to sponsor the rest of his racing season starting at the Sonoma race. For the occasion, the ArtRotondo.com company made sure to incorporate their unique corporate colors into Graham’s helmets.

Graham Rahal Custom Cartoon

Cartoon Rahal Design

Each of our helmets is unique its own way right down to the custom painted cartoon Graham on each helmet top even suited up in his QuickTrim suit! These helmets were a blast to work on and hope they will bring Graham the extra boost to bring the QuickTrim car to victory lane!

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Perfect weather here in Edmonton today for a race of any kind, especially an IndyCar race. The weather is perfect for race fans as well. Mentioning the fans, Edmonton has some enthusiastic and supportive ones. They have shown up everyday ready for some IndyCar action and sporting their favorite driver’s colors. Being a newbie here at City Centre Raceway I decided to get some insight from the fans. I wanted to know the best places to be, the favored drivers in Edmonton, and how the fans spend their City Centre race day.

Woo hoo, Qualifications!

Fans in Edmonton!

When I asked the fans the way they spent their time at the track most responded with the Paddock. In the Paddock area fans can be up close and personal with the teams, the cars, and even the drivers. It’s a great place to get pictures of your favorite drivers and racing legends like A.J. Foyt and Rick Mears. What fan wouldn’t want to spend time in the Paddock area?

The best place to be at the Edmonton race track? The answer was unanimous, Turn 1 of course. However, this year the stands in Turn 1 have been removed. Most of the fans said Turn 1 holds some of their favorite racing memories and they are sad to see the stands go.

I then put the fans on the spot by asking them if they could have a ride with one driver who would it be and why? The answers varied. Will Power was one answer, simply because he is fast was the reasoning for one fan. Dario Franchitti was another answer, who wouldn’t want to ride with an Indy 500 champion? The answer for most was Danica Patrick. Answering Danica came as no surprise, especially if you were to walk around the City Centre track today. Danica Patrick shirts are every where you turn!

Then a special pair of people caught my eye. The two were sitting in the stands watching the Firestone Indy Lights warm up and looked as if they were great fans. Father and daughter Ben and Kristina were shaded from the sun in their IZOD IndyCar hats that had been autographed by their favorite drivers. I decided to ask their opinion on Edmonton.

3DRG1196

Father and Daughter Enjoy Race Day

Favorite part of the Edmonton experience?

The race, of course. Ben and Kristina are big fans of the Indy Lights series too. Turn 1 was always a favorite aspect for the two, and they too were sad to see the stands go.

What driver would you like to see win?

For the Indy Lights Edmonton 100 Kristina and Ben would like to see Dan Clarke take the victory. As for IndyCar, Justin Wilson is who they would like to see in the winner’s circle.

If you could ride with one driver who would it be? Why?

Ben’s answer was Paul Tracy. “Tracy is an aggressive driver,” said Ben. For Kristina it would be Graham Rahal. She has always enjoyed watching him.

The fans were great in Edmonton and they all seemed to be dedicated fans. Every one of them had a reason for coming to Edmonton and returning year after year. My first time in Edmonton was made that much better by the willingness of the fans and I’ll be sure to check out Turn 1.  Edmonton is a great stop on the IndyCar schedule, eh?