Chaves Confirmed To '500' Ride With New Team

The worst kept secret in INDYCAR was finally announced...

Napa Returns With Rossi

A.J. Foyt Racing announced...

Carpenter Signs Pigot

Ed Carpenter Racing announced...

Monday, January 24, 2011

HVM Announces Sponsorship Package

Three and a half months after the first reports that the 2010 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Simona De Silvestro will be returning to HVM, the team made it official today.  A secondary sponsor in 2010, Entergy has signed on to a 3-year deal with HVM Racing.

At an event at the InterContinental hotel in downtown Baltimore, the team announced that the De Silvestro will carry Entergy primary sponsorship in 2011, branding the #78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy entry.  Entergy, the second-largest nuclear generator in the United States delivers to 2.7 million utility customers in the South and has more than 15,000 employees with an annual revenue of $10 billion.

"This is great news for HVM and for Simona," said Keith Wiggins, owner of HVM Racing. "It gives Simona a long-term opportunity to develop into a top IndyCar driver while the team will have a stable platform over multiple years to support our championship effort. It is a terrific marketing opportunity with a strong partner who has an important message and role in our world's future. We are going to make an impact on many fronts; within the nuclear energy industry, with Simona as an individual driver and within our sport overall."

TDS Telecommunications Corp and BRM Watches have also signed on in an Associate sponsorship role with the team.

Following the announcement and lunch, De Silvestro performed a demonstration lap on the new Baltimore street course which is slated to hold their inaugural event in September.

Friday, January 21, 2011

ESPN Announces Broadcast Team

In the wake of last week's announcement that ESPN on ABC will air the races at St. Petersburg, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New Hampshire and Las Vegas, the broadcast team was announced today.

Marty Reid and Scott Goodyear will be returning to the booth for the majority of the lineup, with Vince Welch replacing Reid at New Hampshire.  1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever will also return to the booth for both the '500' and season finale at Las Vegas.

Rick Debruhl, Jamie Little and Vince Welch will be providing pit coverage, with Gary Gerould replacing Welch at New Hampshire. Dr. Jerry Punch will serve as the 4th pit reporter at Indianapolis.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Camaro SS To Pace 100th Anniversary '500'

For the 7th time in history and 3rd year in a row, a Chevrolet Camaro will be pacing the field for the Indianapolis 500.

"The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Chevrolet name have long been associated with one another beginning with Arthur, Louis and Gaston Chevrolet's participation as competitors in the Indianapolis 500," said Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation president and chief executive officer. "It's fitting in this 100th year for IMS and Chevy that we reinforce our longtime relationship through this year's Camaro Pace Car."

2011 will mark the 22nd year a Chevrolet branded vehicle led the 33-car field out of turn four, but this time with a twist.  One of the 50 limited addition Camaro's will be auctioned off this Saturday, January 22nd in Scottsdale, Arizona with Indianapolis 500 winners Arie Luyendyk and Tom Sneva on hand.  Televised LIVE on SPEED from 2 p.m.-1 a.m the pace car is set to go up for auction between 9-11 p.m. (ET), the winning bidder will receive not only the car, but also a once in a lifetime opportunity to pilot the White Camaro on a pace lap for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. All proceeds will be donated by Chevrolet to the David Foster Foundation.

The traditional celebrity pace car driver will be announced closer to May.

"It's an honor for Chevrolet to pace the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, especially during this landmark year," said Chris Perry, vice president of Chevrolet marketing. "This is also a great opportunity for us to build on Camaro's strong momentum, while supporting an important charity."

The 400-horsepower V-8 engine which requires no performance modifications, will power the SS model Camaro.  Decked out in a Summit White livery, complete with orange race stripes and door graphics will include an orange leather interior.

Interested bidders can find more information at BarrettJackson.com

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

State Of INDYCAR Breakdown

Held at the Westin Hotel in Downtown Indianapolis the newly re-named governing body of the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights, INDYCAR, held a State of INDYCAR event. Attended by drivers, team owners, media, sponsors and team & league employees the presentation portion of the program went as follows:

A short video featuring A.J. Foyt.

First on stage was a Starwood representative announcing that they had signed on to a 3-year deal to become the official Hotel & Resorts of INDYCAR. Starwood includes the Westin, W, Sheraton, Four Points and 5 other brands.

After a burst of smoke and two confetti cannon blasts the driver introductions began.  In attendance for the presentation were: Conor Daly, J.K. Vernary, Alex Tagliani, Scott Dixon, Justin Wilson, Will Power, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Vitor Meira, J.R. Hildebrand, Charlie Kimball, Graham Rahal, Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ed Carpenter, and Dario Franchitti. Unlike his peers, the 2010 Indianapolis 500 and IZOD IndyCar Series Champion was escorted to the stage from the rear by the Gordon Pipers. Simona De Silvestro, Paul Tracy and several other IndyCar and Firestone Indy Lights drivers were also on hand.

Following the National Anthem, INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard took to the stage.

"I will start off by saying one of the biggest questions I'm asked: Will IndyCar make a profit in 2011? Let me make it very clear, the most important thing that we can do is not take shortcuts," said Bernard "We have to set a foundation that is going to continue this legacy for the next hundred years. That's the most important thing that we can do.Of course we want to make a profit, but the most important is lay down that foundation."

Bernard went on to explain to the teams, drivers, media, sponsors and promoters what he expects, and what he expects to provide each of the groups.

INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations, Brian Barnhart, was the next on stage.  Key pieces of news included:

  • First 2011 open test March 14-16 at Barber Motorsports Park
  • Second and final open test May 9-10 at Kentucky. IndyCar's 5-9 Lights 5-10.
  • New Hampshire, Las Vegas, and Iowa will include additional track time on the Thursday after moving in.
  • Milwaukee will include an additional practice on Friday. 
  • Pit selections process will be determined by the qualifications on the previous LIKE event. Ex: If Justin Wilson qualifies on pole at St. Petersburg, he'll have first selection of pits at Barber. If Will Power is on pole at Brazil, he'll have dibs on pit selection at Toronto, the next road/street course event, not at Indy.  Indianapolis pit position procedures will remain unchanged. 
  • 107% rule has been lowered to 105% on all road and street course events.
  • Only one set of tires will be able to be used on each segment during the knock-out rounds of non-oval qualifications.
  • Double-file restarts will debut at some point in 2011. The date is TBA because the use of the new rule may or may not be used at Indianapolis, the first oval event of the season.
  • Restarts will begin on the straightaway rather then turns 3-4

"Another change, for the first practice session, we'll be going back to something we did in 2009. The first practice session will be a 75-minute practice session. The first 45 will be for rookies and cars outside the top 10 in points," said Barnhart "An extra set of tires will be made available to these participants for purchase to their discretion. The final 30 minutes will be for all cars after the first 45 minutes are run for the cars outside the top 10. After the conclusion of the first practice session, the entrants will be required to return tires to Firestone. Those in the top 10 will have to return one set of tires. Those that ran the first 45 minutes will have to return two sets of tires.

2012 IndyCar project manager Tony Cotman was the next on stage. Highlights include:

  • Engine capacity reduced from 2.4 to 2.2 liters
  • Engine regulations have been published, but for manufacturers only. (At this time)
  • The three power levels for speedways, short ovals and road/street circuits will be adapted by different boost levels
  • Fuel cell will be 5-6 gallons fewer
  • Aero kit information will be made public closer to May
  • At least 4 aero kits are expected in 2012.
  • From May to October of each year Aero kit manufacturers can commit to providing the pieces the following year
  • Manufacturers must commit to at least a 2-year deal
  • Expect to have 2 show cars on display at IMS in May

Executive Director of Firestone Indy Lights, Roger Bailey was next up.

"The Barber champion will get a scholarship of $200,000 to take with him or her up to the new USF 2000 series," Bailey said "The champion of the USF 2000 series will take a $350,000 scholarship up to the very well-established and long serving Star Mazda Series. And the Star Mazda champion will take a $500,000 scholarship to the Firestone Indy Lights Series. The Firestone Indy Lights Series will take between $500,000 and $1 million to the IndyCar team of his or her choice.

"In addition to the scholarships that we've just mentioned, we've created an additional scholarship that will welcome the USAC national driving champion into the Firestone Indy Lights Series. This year it will be Bryan Clauson. Bryan will run all of the six oval races, and for the remaining races, I think it will be the five or seven remaining, Conor Daly will take the driving duties for all the road and street courses."

Robby Greene, senior vice president and general manager of IMS Productions followed up. Highlights

  • ABC will carry: St. Pete, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New Hampshire, and Las Vegas. 
  • VERSUS will carry the remaining events and Indianapolis 500 qualifications.
  • Merger of Comcast and NBC expected by the end of January
  • All Firestone Indy Lights events will be aired on VERSUS. Broadcasts will be on Wednesday fallowing the race at 6pm est

Terry Angstadt, President of the commercial division was next on stage at the Westin, and quickly announced the return of Edmonton to the schedule. The event will return to their previous July date.

Kasey Coler, director of Marketing announced that children 9 and under will be permitted into the garages (with the exception of Texas) and was then followed by Amy Konrath, Denise Abbot and Steve Shunck from the INDYCAR PR department, and then Greg Gruning the vice president of sales spoke.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and CEO then introduced Mark Dill, the vice president of marketing and public relations. Highlights included:

  • All 269 living Indianapolis 500 veterans invited back for an autograph session the day before the race
  • 'Unique' flyover
  • Stage the 'most powerful and mind-boggling stunt ever performed at an auto racing facility'
  • ourgreatest33.com, a site to vote on the greatest 33 drivers of all time from a list of 100 nominees organized by experts and media will be launched in March. (I'll post the 33 drivers I nominated in March as well)
  • Hope to have 70 of the 74 surviving Indianapolis 500 winning cars on display
  • A sweepstakes for a 2011 Indy 500 pace car will be held benefiting the David Foster Foundation, and will kick off on the Jay Leno Show at a date TBA
  • Sports Illustrated will produce a commemorative 100th anniversary Indy 500 issue. 
  • A Spanish-language version of the Indy 500 broadcast will be available on WEDJ in Indianapolis

Month of May highlights include:

May 7 - Emerging Tech Day
Collegiate Alternative Energy Racing (Electric, Solar)
Sustainability Showcase
3rd Annual Balloon Festival Glow

May 14 - Opening Day
Classic car show awards competition with awards - Celebration of Automobiles
Featuring 24 manufacturers of 1911 Indy 500
Marmon, Stutz club exhibits

May 15 - Indy 500 Practice
INDYCAR Practice
Rookie Orientation
Autograph Sessions
Final Day of Celebration of Automobiles

May 21 - Pole Day Qualifications
Peak Performance Pole Position
Largest collection of historic Pace cars
Pole winners of the past

May 22 - Bump Day Qualifications
Final day of qualifications
Famous 'Last Row' Drivers of the past

May 25 - Community Day
FREE to public
Autograph sessions

May 26 -Firestone Indy Lights Practice

May 27 - Miller Lite Carb Day
Final Practice for Indianapolis 500
IZOD Performance Pit Stop Competition
Miller Lite Concert
Firestone Freedom 100

May 28 - Day Before the Race
FREE to public
Public Drivers Meeting
Autograph session
Indy 500 Memorabilia Show
Grounds Tours

May 29 - Race Day
Gates open at 6 am
Start time TBD
Mattel Extravaganza Stunt
Legendary assembly of cars/past drivers
Unique entertainment

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

INDYCAR To Open Office In LA

Santa Monica to be exact.

Managed by Sarah Nettinga, a 2007 ESPY Award winner for Talladega Nights as executive producer, and named 40 under 40 most influential people by the Sports Business Journal, an office for entertainment outreach has been organized.  Just West of Los Angeles, an office utilized by IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Indianapolis Motor Speedway representatives will be based in Santa Monica.

"If we want to grow the sport, we need to be fully vested in relationships with the entertainment community that can tell the storylines of our sport," INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard said. "This will be a one-stop shop to pursue opportunities and make deals across multiple business lines and entertainment outlets."

Previously working with Walt Disney, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros International Television Production, and NASCAR, Nettinga was a key player in landing stock car driver appearances on such networks as FX, E!, TNT, Biography Channel, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, OLN, and various MTV platforms and on the Television shows Wheel of Fortune, Pyramid, Family Feud and Are You Smarter Than a Fith Grader?.

"Having an INDYCAR office in Los Angeles will provide our sport and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway a strong presence in an important global community," said Indianapolis Motor Speedway President and CEO Jeff Belskus. "The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has a great story to tell in 2011 as we prepare for the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. In addition to the business reasons to have an office in Los Angeles, it is a very fitting location because many of the celebrated stories and personalities associated with the Indianapolis 500 over the last century have deep roots in southern California."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Meira, ABC Return To Foyt

Just a few weeks after an accidental leak on Twitter by Vitor Meira, A.J. Foyt Racing made official Friday the return of the veteran pilot in 2011.

“I am really glad to have both ABC Supply and Vitor back with us,” said team owner and 4-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt “ABC has been with us since 2005 and their loyalty and support means a lot to me.  Over my career, I have always had just one or two main sponsors at a time. It works for me and I think it works for them because they usually work into long-term deals. ABC has stood by my team through some tough times recently and I’m planning to give them some great times this season.

2011 will mark Meira's 10th season in the IZOD IndyCar Series and his 3rd with A.J. Foyt Racing after 93 starts between Team Menard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, and Panther Racing.

“I am really happy about working with A.J. Foyt and his ABC Supply team again. Being able to continue the progress that we made at the end of last year will make for a good season this year. We know the areas that we have to work in to improve and we have already started to do that in the off season. Besides that, ABC Supply is an awesome sponsor and I really enjoy working with their people. They make great use of the racing program throughout the year, not just during the racing season, and I think that benefits everyone because it keeps the IndyCar name out there 12 months of the year.”