Posts Tagged ‘ Racing ’

Similar to other Midwestern cities this week, Indianapolis was slammed with ice and snow storms causing team shops and even the INDYCAR offices to take a snow day. Despite the weather (and a newly formed ice rink in the INDYCAR parking lot) nothing can stop the momentum towards an exciting 2011 season.

Fans can now follow Verizon Team Penske driver, Will Power, on Twitter @12WillPower

Fans can now follow Verizon Team Penske driver, Will Power, on Twitter @12WillPower

Let’s start with Social Media (I might be partial) this week Verizon Team Penske driver, Will Power joined Twitter as @12WillPower. I know, I know, this is not the biggest news in racing per-say. BUT, it is a big deal when you consider the fact that now IZOD IndyCar Series fans can get live updates directly from Will. There’s nothing cooler at the track than an all-access pass, right? Well consider this piece of news to be your year-round all-access pass to learning more about one of your favorite drivers. This week, Will Power could also be found blogging on SpeedTV.com (check it out here). In the blog, Power shares what he’s been doing in the off-season to physically and mentally prepare for the 2011 season.

Will Power was not the only driver caught blogging this week. Ryan Briscoe shared his Super Bowl plans with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Australian ‘Cheesehead’ had plenty to say about the Packers and why he’s a fan. (Check out Ryan’s first post here and second post here). Read more about how Briscoe and his fellow Penske drivers, Helio Castroneves and Will Power, will be spending Super Bowl Sunday here.

Penske also announced new sponsors for their 2011 rides in Guidepoint and PPG. Check out two new schemes that will be on track this season:

Team Penske Guidepoint No. 6 car

No. 6 Guidepoint Team Penske IndyCar

Team Penske PPG No. 6 car

No. 6 PPG Team Penske IndyCar

From Social Media let’s jump over to this week’s announcement that Takuma Sato and E.J. Viso will return as anchors for the 2011 season at KV Racing Technology-Lotus (read more here). In the article, Viso shares the positive steps taken in 2010 that have the teamed poised for success in 2011. Lotus’ motorsport director, Claudio Berro wants fans to know that “last year was all about learning. This year, we would really like to achieve some podium finishes.”

Fans were excited to hear that Sebastien Bourdais spent this past week testing with Dale Coyne Racing along with Martin Plowman (full article here). Andretti Autosport unveiled that Mike Conway will be their fourth man in a 2011 line-up that already includes Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Find out more about what Conway’s done to rehab from last season’s Indianapolis 500 injuries here.

Edmonton Indy promoters plan to unveil the race’s new circuit layout and ticket plans this Tuesday, February 8 (read more here). So far, they have only shared that the new layout places a few grandstands incredibly close to racing action — something that should get fans excited for Edmonton. Keep an eye on IndyCar.com for the new circuit layout as soon as it’s announced.

Today the Super Bowl takes place in Dallas, Texas, so I will close with a little humor from nearby Texas Motor Speedway which found itself covered in snow just a few days ago. Check out their Facebook page for a photo of the track.

We’re officially seven (7) weeks away from the start of the 2011 IndyCar season, what in the news this week has you most excited?

24 hours and 1,400 Followers later, Team Penske driver, Will Power, has already made a splash in the Twitter INDYCAR fan community. Fans on Twitter can follow the Verizon Team Penske driver @12WillPower.

Fans can now follow Verizon Team Penske driver, Will Power, on Twitter @12WillPower

Fans can now follow Verizon Team Penske driver, Will Power, on Twitter @12WillPower

“Yeah, I’ve finally joined Twitter-nation. Even in the first couple of days I can tell it’s a great way to connect with fans and friends and I’m having fun with it,” says Power. I hope I can share a little bit of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season with everyone and talk a little bit about myself and what’s going on with the Verizon Team Penske guys.”

Fans are already having fun tweeting directly at Will– and so are fellow drivers including Tony Kanaan (@TonyKanaan), Ryan Briscoe (@RyanBriscoe6) and Graham Rahal (@GrahamRahal).

Stay up-to-date on the IZOD IndyCar Series and Will Power by following us on Twitter @IndyCar or check out updates from all the Team Penske drivers @PenskeRacing.

Fans can now follow Verizon Team Penske driver, Will Power, on Twitter @12WillPower

Fans can now follow Verizon Team Penske driver, Will Power, on Twitter @12WillPower

Friday at Daytona International Speedway is substantially quieter.  While there appears to be tremendously more fans here today, the teams are a bit calmer and more organized.  Most teams have an idea of what their race strategy is going to be and they’ve built their setup accordingly.  Today is a bit of a dress rehearsal.  Drivers are practicing quick driver changes, teams are practicing pit stops, fans are picking out where they’re going to watch from, and photographers are scoping out their hotspots for race day.

The Friday morning practice session started out rather slowly as many teams were still putting the finishing touches on their cars from last night.  Most of the teams had the cars completely disassembled last night so there was quite a bit to be done this morning.

Crew members disassemble the cars

Crew members disassemble the car

Mechanics work on the motor

Mechanics work on the motor

The biggest portion of the morning practice was dominated by the GT class cars but when the Daytona prototypes made their way back on to track Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates showed that they weren’t concerned with their qualifying efforts yesterday.  Scott Pruett put the car at the top of the leader charts having run a 1:41.019.  Scott Dixon wasn’t far off either, finishing the session with a fast lap of 1:42.464, landing him in 3rd position.  Unfortunately, only four prototypes made it on to the track for the morning session so the other IZOD IndyCar Series competitors were forced to wait for the afternoon session.

During the downtime between practice sessions Chip Ganassi stopped by the media center to discuss his incredibly successful 2010 season.  When asked if he would be disappointed if his success did not continue in 2011 Chip responded with, “We’re always focused on the next race and that’s it.  It just so happens that this (Daytona) is the next race.  After this we’ll look forward to the next one.”

Chip Ganassi in the media center at Daytona International Speedway

Chip Ganassi in the media center

The second and final practice prior to the race took off at 11:00am and it would showcase the entire field.  There was quite a bit of action going on as everyone was making last minute install checks, practicing pit stops, and driver changes.

Crews practice pit stops and driver changes

Teams practicing driver changes

NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson and his GAINSCO/Bob Stalling Racing team would jump to the top of the timing charts for the first time this weekend with a 1:40.878.  The Ganassi cars would continue to flex their muscles finishing the session with the #01 in 2nd position and the #02 in 9th position.  Ryan Briscoe and his SunTrust Racing team would end the session in 7th place.  Justin Wilson’s team struggled finishing a tough 13th position.

Justin Wilson's #6 negotiates through some slower traffic

Justin Wilson negotiates through some slower traffic

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Raphael Matos’ car, which hadn’t run since final practice yesterday having skipped qualifying, was re-assembled just prior to practice and would finish the session a hard fought 15th place on the practice charts.  There are no more practice sessions between now and the race, so teams have taken to their respective garages once again.  They will spend the majority of the afternoon making sure the car is ready to go, tightening bolts down, changing fluids, and getting it shiny and new for the big day tomorrow.

Here’s where the INDYCAR drivers are starting:

3rd Place: Graham Rahal (with Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, and Joey Hand)

5th Place: Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti (with Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray)

8th Place: Justin Wilson (with A.J. Allmendinger and Michael McDowell)

16th Place: E.J. Viso (with Alex Popow, Romain Iannetta, and Glynn Geddie)

17th Place: Ryan Hunter-Reay and Raphael Matos (with Scott Tucker and Richard Westbrook)

Once again, be sure to follow us tomorrow.  We’ll be live blogging starting at Noon (ET).  The race takes the green flag at 3:30pm (ET) and we’ll be there giving you all the inside info on our IZOD IndyCar Series drivers the entire time!

This week was full of signs of a quickly-approaching INDYCAR season. With IndyCars back on the track testing, Pace Cars on the move, and members of the Indy 500 Centennial Troops Tour making their way back to the U.S. from Europe and the Middle East, fans have plenty to be excited about.

The first open test is on March 14 at Barber Motorsports Park but some teams have already been out testing new drivers and new techniques. Photos and rumors circulated online this week with teams eager to get back on track for the 2011 season. Newman/Haas Racing completed a two-day test at the 1.65-mile Sebring International Raceway road course with Canadian rookie James Hinchcliffe (Read more here).

Milwaukee Mile embarked on bringing the excitement of their 2011 pace car to Milwaukee-area hotspots including University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. The event asks fans to find their Pace Car and e-mail of photo of you and the car. They will post the photos to their website and fans get a chance to win 1 race ticket. INDYCAR races at the Milwaukee Mile on June 18th and 19th, so fans have plenty of time to spot the Pace Car and win. See where the Pace Car has been so far, here.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Chevrolet unveiled the 2011 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, AZ. The car, a Camaro Convertible, was then auctioned off on Saturday, January 22 with live coverage provided by SPEED and proceeds benefitting the David Foster Foundation. The winning bidder (with a bid of $225,000 USD) also received the opportunity to drive the Pace Car on a Parade Lap at the Indianapolis 500. As one fan put it, “Only $225k for the chance of a lifetime? Now that’s a deal!”

Two-Time Indianapolis 500 Winner, Arie Luyendyk and David Foster

Two-Time Indianapolis 500 Winner, Arie Luyendyk, Prepares to Drive David Foster and the 2011 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car onto the Auction Block

Going from Pace Cars to politics, the Indianapolis 500 Centennial Troops Tour contingency has made their way back to the States after spreading goodwill to troops stationed in the Middle East and Europe. Amazing photo and videos emerged from the tour and can still be viewed on the IndyCar YouTube and Flickr pages. Through the tour, Mario Andretti provided continuous coverage for USA Today, Sarah Fisher for ESPN for Women, and Al Unser Jr. for ESPN. Their articles and a running story on IndyCar.com provided fans with an inside look at the tour.

Jack Arute, Martin Plowman, and Davey Hamilton pose with soldiers at the USO Warrior Center

Jack Arute, Martin Plowman, and Davey Hamilton pose with soldiers at the USO Warrior Center

Penske Racing driver, Helio Castroneves, jetted off to Brazil and spoke with the Mayor of São Paulo, Gilberto Kassab, and discussed the upcoming Sao Paulo Indy 300. “Mayor Kassab has always been open to suggestion on how to improve the Sao Paulo Indy 300,” said Castroneves. Read the full article here.

At the same time, IndyCar CEO, Randy Bernard, was sitting down with SPEED.com this week to explain oval restarts for the 2011 season. “We want to do what’s in the best interest of the series,” said Bernard. “I don’t think our drivers realized how many fans wanted this two-abreast restart and we want to make sure to do it in a way our fans approve.” See more of what Randy Bernard had to say here.

We might be a few months away from the official start to the 2011 INDYCAR season, but the signs of the season are everywhere and INDYCAR is sliding into gear.

For us, the off-season is like pressing a “reset” button. After the checkered flag at the last race of the season, the cars usually aren’t in their full, recognizable, 100 percent form until the green flag of the next season’s opening race.

Attention to detail

Attention to detail

It starts in the composite department of the shop with a body fit. To start, the car is stripped down to the bare carbon to check each piece’s weight and check for damage from wear and tear throughout the season. It’s like bringing the car back to square one. After the car is bare, the composite guys will start to glue the car back together. They make sure all of the pieces have nice seams, so the car is as smooth as possible to create better aerodynamics. The glue is a mixture of a high-solvent and resin, which holds each carbon fiber piece together. The carbon usually sets overnight or bakes in the oven for about 2 hours, depending on our time constraints.

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Fans of NASCAR spent years preparing for the “Car of Tomorrow.” During the 2007 season, as NASCAR worked to integrate the “COT” and teams tested the new design, analysts would remind the viewers watching at home what changes were coming with the Car of Tomorrow. The supposed improvements did little to instill confidence in viewers as it was always in reference to whichever car was in last place, struggling to keep up with the field, or out of commission before the final lap.

In February 2008, the Pittsburgh Tribune recorded video of the Car of Tomorrow chassis as presented by a NASCAR tech inspector. The inspector listed the benefits of the new chassis as safety and less costly. Safety meaning that the wider, taller design was created to make it easier to pull drivers out of the car in the case of a severe accident and keeping costs down not just from less-costly frame rails, but by requiring the rails to stay within 1/4 inch of NASCAR’s regulations. In other words, keeping teams on a level playing field.

NASCAR’s intention was to improve performance and competition with the Car of Tomorrow, but fan reviews state otherwise. So in July, when Randy Bernard announced new engine regulations and a new chassis design, who could blame race fans for airing concern that the changes would have the opposite effect intended? Fortunately, the impact was crystal clear- that rather than move the IZOD IndyCar Series closer to a spec series, we were moving even further away. The changes emphasize the value of competition and collaboration as the direct sources of innovation. Similar to NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow, the new chassis, produced by Dallara, will reduce costs for teams. It is also designed to be lighter and safer than the current chassis.

Mayor Greg Ballard, Randy Bernard, Graham Rahal and others

Dallara breaks ground in Speedway, Indiana

But then came the engine manufacturers. Helping to fuel the competition and joining Honda in 2012 will be Lotus and Chevrolet. Most exciting? Each of these engine suppliers not only represent a different continent, but they also bring unique memories from racing history along with their names.

Green and yellow, a beautiful sight

Lotus Display at the LA Auto Show

And don’t forget about the aero kits. Teams will be able to personalize the product they place on the track with custom aero kits produced by Lotus, Chevrolet, and Dallara. The diversity in these kits will help avoid a situation similar to NASCAR’s announcement in early 2010 that spoilers would be reintroduced to their cars to help improve races and, admittedly, return to a more-comfortable look on the cars.

In the coming year, keep an eye on IndyCar.com/2012 for updates and announcements on what changes are coming to the IZOD IndyCar Series and voice your opinion on how these changes will affect the quality of racing for the fans. Submit your own design for the Future IndyCar or connect with us on Facebook and on Twitter and tell us what you think of the IZOD IndyCar Series efforts to increase competition and improve the quality of racing on the track, you might even see your comment right back here on the IndyCar blog. What other announcements are you hoping to hear during the 2011 season to make for a better 2012 season?

Another fan design

Future IndyCar Design Submitted by Rick Jones

When I was a kid, Christmas used to be easy. I’d write my letter to Santa, asking him for the latest slot car set or hot wheels track so my brother and I could live our dreams of the Indy 500.Nowadays, it’s not so easy.

We still make lists in my family, but gifts are so much more practical. I take gift giving seriously, so if you’re like me and you’ve stumped your family on what they should get their favorite INDYCAR fan for Christmas? Here are a few suggestions from my lists of Christmases past. (Note to my family, I already have most of this so, don’t bother).

JIM SWINTAL PRINTS

You may know Jim Swintal as the longtime starter of CART or the current voice of INDYCAR’s race control, but he’s also an accomplished motorsports artist. Two of his latest prints involve the Firestone Indy Lights and both are available on his website.

LEARNING CURVE

“In regard to “Learning Curve,” the title of the JK Vernay Champion’s painting, it’s the most recent of fourteen paintings commissioned by Firestone since they entered the series as title sponsor. The first piece I did was for Eric Bachelart’ s championship back in 1991. When Firestone rejoined the ’second era’ of the series in 2008, we picked it right back up again. I always select an important moment to portray in the champion’s painting and JK made a decisive pass on James Hinchcliffe for the lead at the Watkins Glen ‘bus stop’ chicane. I knew it was big as soon as I saw it on the monitors from race control, so at the end of the day I went out there with a camera while everything was being packed up and recorded the reference photos and angles of the background that I needed.

Vernay

JK Vernay painting

25 YEARS of Champions

“The “25 Years of Champions” painting honoring Roger Bailey was a thrill because I’ve been involved with the series for so long. It was my first officiating gig as the Starter for the first Indy Lights Series in the early Nineties, and Roger played a large part in the decision to let me up there! Tony George Jr. and Arni Sribhen with the series deserve the credit for coming up with the painting idea and I just filled in with the ‘ 25 Champion’s’ bit as I had already created images of 13 of the cars. I created smaller versions of those same car images from the champion’s paintings over again and found suitable angles for the rest, back to 1986. The only one I needed help on was Jon Beekhuis’ 1988 winner. I remembered a red, white and blue paint scheme but I only had a black and white reference photo. Jon helped out by showing me a video that was made of his ‘88 Mid-Ohio victory, which he ran for me in the broadcast booth in Sonoma.”

Bailey

Roger Bailey "25 Years of Champions"

IRACING SUBSCRIPTION

You may never run 225 mph down the Frontstretch at Indianapolis in a real IZOD IndyCar Series machine, but with iRacing.com’s simulator, you can in a virtual replica of the Dallara/Honda/Firestone that races every May.  An added surprise is that you may end up racing against IZOD IndyCar Series drivers as Justin Wilson, Will Power and Martin Plowman are avid users of the game. For just $24.00, get a three month iRacing.com membership, and the Dallara IndyCar for FREE!

INDY 500: A CENTURY OF EXCITEMENT BOOK

Officially licensed in cooperation with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis 500: A Century of Excitement celebrates the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 and is a must-have for any fan of the 500. Ralph Kramer’s book features beautiful photos and an eloquent foreword by David Letterman, which are the highlights of the book for me. I’ve heard that even Randy Bernard is giving these as gifts this holiday season.

RETRO IZOD T-SHIRTS

Classic liveries of winning Indianapolis 500-winning cars inspired IZOD to create a line of t-shirts that make a great gift for race fans. Drivers such as Bobby Unser , Mark Donohue, Bill Vukovich and Ray Harroun are honored by the 100-percent cotton shirts.

While it may be too late to grab these items for the holidays, keep in mind that birthdays are a good time to gift these items as well. What did you buy for your favorite INDYCAR fan this Christmas?

Race fans in Indianapolis had plenty to cheer about today– despite being weeks away from the new season. As part of Macy’s Santa Tour, the official Macy’s Santa visited the track to receive letters from children. For each letter received, Macy’s will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Fans were rewarded with free admission to the Hall of Fame museum, cookies and hot chocolate, as well as a special holiday story from the big guy himself.

Santa stops by to visit the children of Indianapolis

Macy's Santa visits the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

As one IndyCar fan recently mentioned via Facebook: “I love to see the Indy(Car) drivers do good things for people. They need PR and more in the news. I really dont think that they get the mentions they deserve!”

The visit to Indianapolis Motor Speedway marks yet another charitable initiative supported by race fans this off-season. From children’s hospital visits to food drives and community donations, IndyCar fans, teams and drivers have all been decidedly, extra good this year.

Bitter cold and heavy snow covered the IMS grounds, but many fans came out, undaunted, to represent the racing community and support the charitable initiative. After visits to the Pagoda and Yard of Bricks, Santa headed inside to greet the crowd and tour the Museum. Upon closer examination of the Marmon Wasp, Santa declared that it might even be time to trade his sleigh in for an IndyCar.

Santa and his elves debate trading in his sleigh for a nicer ride

Santa Decides it might be time to trade in his Sleigh

Unable to make it out today or not from the Indianapolis-area? Check out a video from the event here.

Hi, my name is Josh Freund. You may have seen me around the paddock or on pit lane with Andretti Autosport. I work as the crew chief for the #11 team. During the off-season and through the 2011 season, I’ll be updating you on everything that goes on inside an INDYCAR race shop. From composite work to decals, and from testing to the first race, I’ll let you become a part of the team.

#11 Crew Chief, Josh Freund

#11 Crew Chief, Josh Freund

Growing up, I can’t say that I knew I would end up working on race cars. I did grow up in Indianapolis, the racing capital of the world, but I had intentions of being involved with aircrafts in some way, either as a pilot or a mechanic.

I got my start in racing the same way as a lot of others—karting. In 1998, I was offered a job at Players/Forsythe as a front-end mechanic for driver Lee Bentham who drove for the Toyota Atlantic Series, better known as go-karts.

In 2000, I moved into the IndyCar Series as a mechanic for driver Patrick Carpentier and in 2003 I became lead mechanic. After the end of the 2003 season, I joined the Andretti Autosport team and became a lead mechanic on Dario Franchitti’s car. We earned four wins that year—definitely a good year. In 2007, I was a part of Andretti’s ALMS team as a mechanic before going back to Indy cars shortly after as crew chief for Hideki Mutoh. As I mentioned before, I’m now crew chief for the #11 car in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Andretti Autosport #11 crew at Mid-Ohio

The #11 Andretti Autosport pit crew

During the race, you can find me in the pits changing the outside front tire. Back at the shop during the off-season, I work on the car to be the best we can for the next season. As chief mechanic, I work with the engineers to get a sense of what works and what doesn’t. We do a lot of testing and fiddling with certain parts of the cars to get an extra tenth of a second in speed. It can be really fascinating to see first-hand how even a tiny change (either in the shop or during a pit stop) can make a relatively big difference on the track.

My favorite part about my job is being with the guys. I’ve met many people working in this industry and I can say I enjoy working with the people here. Most of the guys here are my good friends. Even with a busy travel schedule and a lot of time away from home, we find a way to enjoy the time on the road.

Andretti Autosport #11 crew in pit lane

The #11 team at Mid-Ohio

Looking back at my career, I’m not sure what I would be doing if I wasn’t part of a race team. Fortunately, it’s not something I’ve never had to think about it. However, if I had to it all over again, I’d probably have my own business of some sort. My goal for now, though, is to keep winning races.

Now that you’ve heard a bit about my background, what do you want to know about the racing industry?

Friday is finally here and rather than work all day long, we thought fans would rather talk about racing. Fortunately for us, so did our friends over at Just Pop In! The Official Gourmet Popcorn of the IZOD IndyCar Series.

In time for the quickly-approaching holidays, Just Pop In! decided to give away a prize pack to the fan with the best post comment below that shares a favorite moment from the 2010 season IZOD IndyCar Series season.

To makes things more interesting, the folks from Just Pop In! and the IZOD IndyCar Series will be monitoring your comments all day to share some of the best and most entertaining moments of the 2010 season on Twitter @IndyCar and @JustPopInOnline and at Facebook.com/IndyCarSeries and Facebook.com/justpopin.

CONTEST OVER– Congratulations to our winner, Sean, who will receive a holiday prize pack from Just Pop In! The Official Gourmet Popcorn of the IZOD IndyCar Series. Check out his comment below on the 2010 St. Pete race…

Just Pop In! The Official Gourmet Popcorn of the IZOD IndyCar Series

Just Pop In! The Official Gourmet Popcorn of the IZOD IndyCar Series