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...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Q&A With Pippa Mann

Less than a week before her first IZOD IndyCar Series test, Pippa Mann sat down to answer a few questions.....

16th And Georgetown: You've been hinting at making progress towards a 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series effort and then you just announced about a week and a half ago that you'll be testing with Conquest at Texas on the 28th.  So, what are your expectations?

Pippa Mann: Well, I don't really have any expectations for the test as odd as that sounds. I'm kind of hoping it's going to feel fairly similar to an Indy Lights car on an oval just a bit bigger and a bit heavier and a bit faster. I tend to drive by feel so if i can get the feel of it fairly quickly then just get down to work, hopefully I can do a good job for the team. That's the most important thing about the test, is I need to do a really good job for them. It's their (Conquest) main oval test as well for the year, so it's important on two-fold. It's important for me personally to try and do my thing and it's important for them as well.

16th&GT: Being your first IndyCar test, have you spoken to any current or former IndyCar drivers about what to expect when getting behind the wheel?

Pippa Mann: To be honest with you, not really. I'm just going to get on with it and do my own thing. That's kind of the way I work. I'm not afraid to ask for advise, if I wanted advise I could think of people I might ask. I worked with a really great guy last year called Mike Zimicki at some of the races, and I asked him what to expect because he's worked with me and to be honest I trust him more than most of the other guys out there. Never let your competition see your weaknesses. [Laughs]

16th&GT: What will it take to get you in IndyCar, whether it be just full-time, part-time, or just Indy? Do you still need to put some funding together, or do you just need to get a bit of time behind the wheel of a big car to prove your skills?

Pippa Mann: It's funding. I think it's the same for every driver out there at the moment. Even someone like PT (Paul Tracy) really struggles to find enough funding to put things together. One of the other team owners was quoted as saying 'it's unfortunately true, you can't run a team on chairty', so while the team owners want to have good drivers in the cars, they can't run their teams on charity. So, their working really hard to try and find money, we're working really hard to try and find money, and some team owners work harder than others to really really help the drivers. Since we started talking to Eric (Bachelart) he's been extremely enthusiastic and he's still out there working just as hard - PT found the same thing - Eric is out there working just as hard as we all are to find the money to put behind me to get me in the car for more races. We have some money put together, I can't tell you how much, but it is not enough to do what we want to do. We're hoping that if the test goes well - doing the test has already generated interest - so if the test goes well it'll generate more interest and hopefully it'll help us seal one of these deals that we've got teeter tottering on the edge. And that applies to both Eric and for me.

16th&GT: The league just announced at the State of INDYCAR event in January that two-wide restarts will be making their debut in 2011. As a rookie in IndyCar, what are your thoughts on the new rule?

Pippa Mann: Well, I've never driven an IndyCar, so it's really hard to comment. From an Indy Lights perspective, I don't have a huge problem with it, and that may get me shot down in flames. It's going to be tough. There are going to be more wrecks. It's going to be like the start of the race. So, that's what we're going to have to expect. What we want as drivers and what I think came out of the drivers meeting, and I'm not sure how well it was actually portrayed or put across or how well the media listened to what we were saying. We were saying, 'hey, if you guys want to adopt two file restarts even the people who aren't sure about it will do it, but we want the same rules that apply at the start of the race. We want the gap between the cars, we don't want to be nose to tail two-wide. We want to have the gaps of rows between the cars. We want to go later, we don't want to go at turn four anymore, we want to go at the start finish line. And we want it to be done more orderly. At the same time we say 'hey, we know we're drivers so we know we're all going to try and get the unfair advantage. We're saying we want this, but it's your guyses job to police this and make sure it happens'. That was the big thing that came out of talking with the other drivers, and that's the big thing that I think all the drivers want. Most of them are happy to try it, even the ones who are a little nervous, but we want the same rules as we have at the starts of the race. We want the restarts to be policed.

16th&GT: When looking through the top of the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights points standings you have the Champion in JK Vernay, followed by James Hinchcliffe, Martin Plowman, Charlie Kimball and yourself. All of which have tested IndyCar's in the off season. Charlie is full-time with Ganassi, and the others are in contention for either a part-time or full-time rides. Just a few years ago it was nearly impossible for an Indy Lights driver to get a look from an IndyCar team. What's changed?

Pippa Mann: Well, a guy like J.R. (Hildebrand) last year only doing a really really good job, really helped everybody out. J.R.'s been picked up full-time this year by Panther which is absolutely awesome. I think it is getting a little easier to find money. Okay, it's still incredibly difficult, but it is getting that tiny tiny bit easier. JK has money from the series to help him out, it's not enough, I'm gonna make that clear right now. It's great, its so much better than nothing, but at the same time it's not enough to get him in the car a whole year. If he can take that money and use it to do a partial season and the team is allowed to do that with him, with that money and they can do a really good job, that would be a really good way for him to get into IndyCar, I believe. Hinch is in the same boat as me. We're still looking around trying to put it all together. I think with Charlie you've got a really interesting case, because you've got a great guy. He's personable, I actually gave an interview in Iowa last year where I reckoned Charlie would be one of the people to move up. I actually thought Hinch would as well and I obviously included myself in that list because I'm a driver and I'm going to. With both Hinch and Charlie, they're personable, and marketable as well as being good drivers. Charlie obviously is diabetic, while that nearly ended his racing career, he's taken that horrible thing happening to him and turned it around, turning it into such a good thing for him. You can't applaud him enough, he does so much for his sponsors and he thoroughly deserves the chance, all the work he does. Driving the race car these days in not just about driving the race car. It's about everything else you do outside of it.

16th&GT: You sat on Pole last year in the Lights race at Indianapolis, before being taken out early on by a spinning Jeff Simmons. You must feel like you have some unfinished business at the Brickyard...

Pippa Mann: Yes, in a word. I wish I could go back and do last years race from pole again now. Because the big thing which I think you saw with me later on in the year is the next time I sat on pole, I did not make the same mistake twice. People can complain that maybe I went a bit early or what ever, but hey, I learned that I'm on the pole and it's my decision as to when I start the race and I learned that the hard way at Indy. You know, that's what it came down to in the end, that's how I ended up in the position I was in and not leading into the first lap. I was trying to play by the rules and start the race when they told me to and because I did that everybody else knew when I was going to go before I went, practically. You learn the hard way, if I was back there now I would by P1 going into turn one, then we'd see what happens in the race.

So, yes I do feel I have unfinished business. My big goal has been to put together a program to race the big car and especially at Indy. If that all fell apart, would I do a 'Wade' lets call it and make a come back for the (Firestone Indy Lights) season, I don't know. If I did I would have to do it with Sam. [Laughs] I wouldn't consider doing it with anyone else after last year, I'd want to be with him again. But you know, my engineer would be working with someone else, my guys would be with someone else, it's probably more a pipe dream than a practicality. We are really really close to having a budget for Indy right now, so that's a decent starting point.

16th&GT: You've been tweeting lately about a big move to Downtown Indy, first off congrats, but now that your an owner, that means you plan on staying in Indy for a while which means that you see yourself in IndyCar for the long term. Correct?

Pippa Mann: Yes, I see IndyCar as my future for the long term. I had a place in the UK, the rent there was paying for my rent over here, because that was being rented out to someone else. I've been dating a guy over here for the past two years and he had some money saved up and I had some money in that place and we were just like 'you know what, it's time to be done renting. Lets get a place and we thought it would be kind of cool to live downtown for a while, but I tell you moving is a lot of hard work! [Laughs] And especially when it comes at the same time as your trying to get a test organized as well, it's really really tough.


Thanks to Pippa for taking the time out and best of luck to her in her Texas test with Conquest Racing on the 28th!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hinch Needs A Ride!

I'd say somewhere between the feeling you get when that bonus bag of Doritos falls in the vending machine and when you reach into an old jacket pocket to find a long lost $20 bill.  That's about the feeling I'm sure I'll get when my Blackberry buzzes signalling the arrival of a press release announcing the signing of James Hinchcliffe.

Sure, the first thing everybody wants to know when a driver is signed for their Freshman year in the IZOD IndyCar Series is the drivers credentials, and rightly so.  Unfortunately in this day and age a drivers accomplishments are rarely the most important section on their resume. More often then not a drivers financial backing has everything to do with their position behind the wheel. Sure, if and when Hinch signs he'll probably be bringing some sponsorship, but his on track credentials are there as well. Through his two seasons of Firestone Indy Lights competition he ran a total of 28 races with two teams, Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Team Moore. With 3 wins (all in 2010), 4 poles, 16 top 5's (57%), and 22 top 10's(79%), the young Canadian finished 5th and 2nd respectively in each of the season ending points standings.

As skilled as Hinchcliffe is behind the wheel, I'm much more excited about his skills outside of the car, in an area that the IZOD IndyCar Series is desperately lacking.  No one can argue with the breath taking oval races and the tightening competition on road and street courses have turned the once mind-numbingly boring rounds into must see anybody can win events.  No doubt the entertainment factor is most definitely there, but the personalities - rather conveyance of those personalities - is not. That's where Hinch comes in.

If you follow the 24-year-old on Twitter, YouTube, or have seen any of his interviews you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Hinch has the proverbial 'it'. Well spoken and incredibly entertaining, Hinchcliffe is exactly what the IZOD IndyCar Series needs.  Someone for the fans to connect with outside of the car. Someone who labels his driving boots stop and go. Someone who uncovers a potential International Incident and remedies it. Someone who challenges paddock personalities to eat an Elkhart Lake Brat. Someone who uses a dog shower. Someone who bets their PR rep that they can't eat a 2lb Walmart deli sandwich.

With tremendous talents both in the car and behind the camera, IZOD IndyCar teams can't let Hinchcliffe slip through their fingers. 32 days and counting until St. Pete...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wait, Sooo Who's Eligible?

UPDATE 2-23 11:11am: INDYCAR PR rep Amy Konrath says that the league is "working with our competition department to define the rules/criteria and will make that available at a later date."
Seven hours after INDYCAR made the $5 Million challenge official, former driver and current owner Jimmy Vasser tweeted,"Getting my car ready for the 5mil in Vegas!! But The league says they will pick 5 drivers from around the world. Non Indy. Define please..." You raise a good question, Jimmy. A very good question indeed.

First what we do know. Five drivers will be chosen from a pool of entrants with a yet to be determined mid-summer deadline. "We will create a selection committee and I mean, don't forget, we are also dealing with the integrity of our drivers, and we want to make sure that we select the selection committee that selects racers that are great and have an opportunity to win," said INDYCAR's CEO Randy Bernard. "It won't be for a one‑off type of Indy drivers. This is a challenge to showcase the sport of Indy car to other motorsports around the world, and try to attract a new audience and some new drivers and showcase how important, how tough it is to be an INDYCAR driver."

The official press release announcing the challenge reads, "...$5 million challenge to any professional race car driver not competing in the IZOD IndyCar Series". Talk about a grey area. Any professional race car driver not competing in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Okay, so Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simona De Silvestro and anybody else running full-time is out. Simple enough, but now it gets tricky.

Obviously their looking for the Jimmie Johnson's of the world. The Kyle Busch's and Kasey Kahne's are the target, but what if a Davey Hamilton or John Andrettt, who only competed part-time last season, want to come back and have a go at the $5 Million prize? Who's eligible?

By IZOD IndyCar Series drivers I assume Ed Carpenter, who's currently slated to run a partial season with Sarah Fisher Racing, is ineligible. But does that also mean that if, say, Jimmie Johnson wants to take on the challenge he can't run an oval warm up? Randy Bernard confirmed in a post-announcement teleconference that additional testing will be provided, but what if they want real time, race experience? Could Johnson or anybody else for that matter run a, or multiple Firestone Indy Lights races for open-wheel experience?

What about a Tony Stewart, Scott Sharp, Robby Gordon, Sam Hornish Jr., or Juan Pablo Montoya who haven't piloted an IndyCar in several years, can they run?

What if A.J. Allmendinger wants to have a go at it? Although he raced, and raced well in Champ Car he's never competed in an INDYCAR sanctioned event. But, wait, do the newly merged historic stats count?

Michael Andretti, according to Marco Andretti has put a little thought into it. "Trying to talk dad into the 5mill! He seems interested :)," the 2006 Indianpolis 500 mile runner-up tweeted. Michael hasn't ran since the 2007 Indianapolis 500, is he an 'IZOD IndyCar Series driver"?

Currently without a ride for the season, I'm sure the 2005 Indianapolis 500 winner in Dan Wheldon would have some offers for a Las Vegas ride. Does he meet the criteria?

Sooo, who's eligible?

Potential $5 Million Payout To Vegas Winner

In addition to confirming the season ending 300 mile race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, INDYCAR also announced today a potential $5 Million payout.

"I said at the INDYCAR State of the Sport in mid-January that we must give our fans a great experience with three primary elements -- great entertainment, competition and value," INDYCAR CEO, Randy Bernard said. "There is not a city in the world that can provide entertainment like Las Vegas. Las Vegas Motor Speedway will provide some of the fastest and most exciting racing fans will see anywhere, and the ticket promotion is true value. This is a time when INDYCAR can tell our fans that we thank them for their support."

With only 5 drivers eligible for the prize going into the race, it's believed that regulars will not be eligible. Participants interesting in competing in the challenge will submit applications, with the final five being selected by mid-summer.

The October 16th IZOD IndyCar Series season finale is the same weekend but after stock cars take to the track in Charlotte. The NASCAR Cup Series runs the day before on the 15th while the 2nd tier Nationwide Series runs on the 14th, making the $5 Million payday although not easy, doable for stock car drivers.

Tickets to the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships go on sale today through Ticketmaster.com.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Board Expanded, TG Reinstated

During a regularly scheduled shareholders meeting, Hulman and Company added four members to it's board of directors.  Anton "Tony" George,  was reinstated to the board after resigning his position just over a year ago, and was joined by Andre B. Lacy, Michael L. Smith and Jerry W. Throgmartin as the boards newest members.

“As we strive to position Hulman & Company to be more competitive and relevant in this marketplace, the current board believes we can strengthen our position by calling upon the successful business expertise of these additional board members,” said Mari Hulman George, IMS chairman of the board. “We are pleased to welcome Andre, Mike and Jerry to the board. In addition, I am particularly pleased that we will be adding Tony to the Hulman & Company board, a board upon which he has been a member in the past."

Tony George, Lacy, Smith and Throgmart join Nancy George, Josephine George, Katherine George-Conforti and Mari Hulman George as the current 8 person Hulman & Co. board.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway board remains the same, with members Mari Hulman George, Nancy George, Josie George, Kathi George-Conforti, and Jack Snyder.

New member bios courtesy of IMS PR:

Andre B. Lacy

Lacy serves as chairman of the board of LDI Ltd., based in Indianapolis. Under Lacy’s leadership, LDI grew from a corrugated box manufacturer to a diversified holding company whose business units have earned the number-one and number-two positions in their respective industries.

Lacy began his career at LDI’s predecessor company, U.S. Corrugated, as an office clerk during summer breaks from school. After graduating from Denison University in 1961, Lacy took on more responsibility with the company as an analyst, sales rep, plant manager and regional manager. He was named president and CEO in 1983.

Ernst and Young named Lacy “Indiana Master Entrepreneur of the Year” in 1994. He serves on the boards of The National Bank of Indianapolis, Herff Jones, Inc., Patterson Companies (NYSE-PDCO), National Association of Wholesale Distributors and the Nature Conservancy of Indiana. Lacy was recently appointed by Governor Mitch Daniels to serve as the chair of the Indians State Fair Commission. Lacy’s strong commitment to central Indiana is reflected by his current and past leadership roles with these organizations: Indianapolis Public Schools, Indianapolis 500 Festival Association, United Way, Hudson Institute, Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, Community Leaders Allied for Superior Schools (CLASS), Economic Club of Indianapolis, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, Indianapolis Downtown Inc., St. Vincent Hospital Advisory Board and the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. Lacy is also active with Butler University’s Butler Business Accelerator.

Lacy and his wife, Julia, have three sons and nine grandchildren. He is a motorcycle enthusiast, a pilot and enjoys outdoor adventure travel.

Michael L. Smith

Mike Smith served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Anthem, Inc. and its subsidiaries, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield – which merged with Wellpoint (NYSE:WLP), before retiring in 2005. His retirement followed the merger of Anthem and WellPoint Health Networks, Inc.

Prior to joining Anthem, Smith was chairman, president and CEO of Mayflower Group, Inc. from 1989-95. Mayflower operated a worldwide relocation service. He started his business career with Arthur Andersen after graduating from DePauw University in 1970.

Smith serves on several boards of directors, including the following Kite Realty Group Trust, Vectren, hhgregg Inc., Emergency Medical Services Corporation, LDI, Ltd. and Carestream Health. Smith is also serving as chairman of the Commission for Higher Education in Indiana, is a trustee of DePauw University and the Lumina Foundation.

Smith and his wife live in Carmel, Ind.

Jerry W. Throgmartin

Jerry Throgmartin serves as executive chairman and a director of hhgregg (NYSE:HGG), a leading specialty retailer of premium video products, brand-name appliances, audio products and accessories that originated in Indianapolis. He joined hhgregg in 1975. He has served as chairman and CEO since January 2003 and a director since 1988. From 1999 to January 2003, he also served as hhgregg’s CEO and president. From 1988-99, he served as president and chief operating officer. Other positions held by Throgmartin within hhgregg include store manager, district manager, advertising director and vice president of store operations.

Throgmartin is a trustee of the University of Indianapolis and serves on the boards of the Indiana University Cancer Center, LDI, Ltd. and Throgmartin-Henke Development.

Friday, February 11, 2011

BAM Foyt Racing Hopes For Full-Time Effort

For the first time since 2000, A.J. Foyt Racing may become a two-car operation.

BAM Racing, who competed in NASCAR for several years, has turned their focus to the IZOD IndyCar Series.  Personal friends of A.J. Foyt, Beth Ann Morgenthau (BAM) and her husband Tony have formed a marketing partnership with A.J. Foyt Racing in hopes of competing full time in IndyCar, branded BAM Foyt Racing.

According to a BAM Foyt Racing representative, "A.J. Foyt racing wants to expand to a two-car team, in order to make both cars more competitive."

Both BAM Foyt and A.J. Foyt Racing have confirmed that a deal is not complete, however they are 'aggressively' searching for sponsorship for the 2nd car.

A Sad, Sad Day....

Today is an incredibly sad day. A day in which I, and I'm sure many of you wish had never come. In the Indianapolis suburb of Zionsville, at the age of 91, Tom Carnegie has passed away.

Born Carl Kenagy (And still his legal name), the legendary voice of the '500' spent 61 years behind the mic at Indianapolis. Famous for that deep, rich voice Carnegie was most famous for his trademarked calls, "And, Heeee'sss on it", "It's a newww track rrrecord", and so many more.

A great read from last May on the Connecticut native can be found over at Oilpressure.

My last run in with the Indianapolis legend came last May. While taking the elevator up to the fourth floor of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Media Center, a few seconds into the ride it stops. The doors opened to the 3rd floor cafeteria and in came the one and only, Tom Carnegie.  I remember the short and very simple moment vividly. I greeted him with "How are you doing Mr. Carnegie?", and after the brief conversation I exited to the fourth floor. One of the many memories I'll never forget.

Rest in peace, Mr. Carnegie.

Reaction from around the paddock...

Marco Andretti via Twitter, "RIP Tom Carnegie. Indy isn't the same with out you!! Thanks for the memories!"

Helio Castroneves via Twitter, "Sadness in Indy. He died today, aged 91, Tom Carnegie, the narrator of the Indy 500 for 61"years! In our hearts forever!

Danica Patrick via Twitter, "Tom Carnegie died at 91 yrs old. It was always cool to hear "and he's on it" well she in my case. Almost made it to the 100th anni at Indy."

Ana Beatriz via Twitter, "RIP Mr. Carnegie"

Alex Lloyd viat Twitter, "Very sad to hear of Tom Carnegie's passing today. He will always be the voice of Indy!"

Roger Yasukawa via Twitter, "Very sad to hear the news about Tom Carnegie. His voice will be missed at IMS. RIP"

Graham Rahal, “Tom Carnegie was a legend of our sport, a voice and a name which will never be forgotten. I only wish I could have heard those famous lines of his more often. It's an absolute shame to lose a guy who single-handedly changed the way the Indianapolis 500 was broadcast to the world. I wish the best to his friends and family, and send my most sincere condolences.”

Dario Franchitti, “Tom Carnegie was a legend. He was such a huge part of the Indianapolis 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The first time I went to IMS I heard his iconic, booming voice and I’ll always remember his commentary of the races. He will be missed.”

John Andretti, "Tom Carnegie will always be remembered by not only myself, but my entire family. I remember going to the track as a kid with my father (Aldo), uncle (Mario) and cousin (Michael) in the month of May and hearing his voice and the phrase, 'A new track record!' That excitement he made you feel. He made the hairs on your neck stand. And the same when he said, 'He's on it!' These are staples of racing history now because of Tom.

"Anything that ever happened at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Tom had that special way of making it feel even bigger, greater than anything else happening that day. The track will remain the same, but its voice will never be. Tom Carnegie will be forever a part of the history of the Speedway. My family and I send our condolences to his family and friends."

Mario Andretti via Twitter, "Tom Carnegie has died, Indy 500 track announcer for 60 yrs. His iconic voice made the 500 a richer event. Good-bye my friend."

Mari Hulman George, “This is a very sad day for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and everyone worldwide who loved Tom Carnegie. Millions of race fans who never met Tom still felt as if they knew him because of his distinctive voice and his passion for the Speedway, its events and its people. Tom cared about everyone at the track, whether it was a four-time Indianapolis 500 winner or a young fan attending a practice day. He provided the soundtrack for the greatest moments of 61 years at IMS, and he never will be forgotten. Tom was a dear friend of four generations of the Hulman-George family, and we will miss him dearly.”

Randy Bernard, "It was truly an honor to meet a man that played such an important role in creating the legacy of the Indianapolis 500.  If there are two sayings that truly resonate with race fans around the world, it is 'Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines' and Mr. Carnegie's iconic 'It's a new track record.'  His warm personality and booming voice will always be remembered as an important part of what made fans and competitors fall in the love with 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.'  His enthusiasm for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the sport of Indy car racing will be greatly missed."

Terry Angstadt, "What you remember, of course, is the voice. It is the Indy 500 to everyone. Those who have had the pleasure of knowing the man understand what an incredibly warm and endearing person he was. He was one of those special people that cross your path in life and I'm fortunate to have known him for more than a decade."

Brian Barnhart, "Tom Carnegie was an institution at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and recognized around the world for his contributions to making it the world's most famous course. His booming voice and signature 'It's a new track record' will live on in the minds of all race fans. More importantly, he was a friend to hundreds of competitors who attempted to find their way into Victory Circle at the Speedway over the years. I'll remember him as the essence of 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.' "

Andretti Autosport via Twitter, "We are saddened today by the loss of Tom Carnegie. Please keep his family in your thoughts. We've lost an Indy 500 legend."

A.J. Foyt, “People like Tom, you can’t replace them. I thought so much of him and one of the highlights I remember is when people would break records and you’d hear him say in that voice, ‘And it’s a new track record.’ No one is going to replace that. He just had a voice that you’re not going to replace and it’s a shame to see someone like that pass on. He was at Indy so many years and he loved Indy so much. We were very good friends. I thought the world of him and I think he thought the world of me.

“When I retired in ’93, [May 15, Pole Day] it was so hard because I was choking up and Tom was right there with me. I think he hated to see me retire. He told me later, not on the p.a., ‘Well there comes a time when we all have to do this AJ. I know how hard it was for you to do that and I just appreciate you doing the interview with me.’ I would rather have done it with him than anybody else even though I’ve got a lot of good friends there. He knew how to ask questions and when to ask. He knew when something was bad and he just knew how to do it. I think it’s born in you, it’s not something you learn.

“I did a lot of interviews with him and through the years, I’d be walking down the pit lane and he’d say, ‘Come over here A.J., talk to me’ and I always did. Anytime he wanted anything from me, I was more than glad to do it for him. I’m going to miss him, we’re all going to miss him.”

Roger Penske, "Tom Carnegie was a true gentleman and a legend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and throughout the state of Indiana. For so many years his unmistakable voice signified the beginning of the month of May and the Indianapolis 500. We will certainly miss Tom and his spirit, his unique style of announcing and his passion for racing."

Michael Andretti, "This is a sad day. Tom was one of a kind and was as much a part of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy 500 as the 'yard of bricks.'

"Even though he is gone, I think you'll always hear his voice when you think of the Speedway or the '500.' He was the voice for so many great moments in the history of that place and he will never be replaced. He was the best."

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing via Twitter, "Very saddened to learn the racing community has lost a legend - the voice of IMS has passed away. Rest in peace, Tom Carnegie."

Panther Racing via Twitter, "Panther Racing would like to extend its thoughts and prayers to the family of Tom Carnegie. He will forever be part of the fabric of IMS."

Chip Ganassi,“My heart goes out to the whole Carnegie family in this difficult time. Tom was an icon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - every bit as much as the Pagoda and Gasoline Alley. The whole racing community mourns his passing.”

Newman Haas Racing via Twitter, "Our condolences to his family too. Part of what made previous #Indy500s so special."

FAZZT Race Team via Twitter,  "Sincere condolences to Tom Carnegie's family. The IndyCar community mourns the loss of a great man, voice & integral part Indy500 history."

500 Festival via Twitter, "Our thoughts are with Tom Carnegie's family. Tom was a great addition to the legacy of Hoosier racing! We will miss him.

Jack Arute via Twitter, "RIP Tom Carnegie. The Indy 500 will never be the same"

Steve Schunck via Twitter, "RIP Tom Carnegie - "The Voice of the 500""

Arni Sribhen via Twitter, "RIP Tom Carnegie"

Peter Windsor via Twitter, "Tom Carnegie, the legendary 'voice" of the Indianapolis 500, passed away today: "On the front row! Maareeoo Andreddii.!." We'll miss him."

David Cripps via Twitter, "A new track record will never be the same at Indy......RIP Tom"

Robbie Floyd via Twitter, "R.I.P Tom Carnegie. He was always a pleasure to be around and will forever be the voice of Indy"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Prediction Of The Month: TK Wins In '11

(Editor's note: Prediction of the Month is just that.  A new monthly post where I make predictions, and in 8 months you make fun of me for being completely and utterly wrong.)

You heard it here first, or maybe second and possibly third depending on who you talk to, but it's gonna happen. In his first season at de Ferran Dragon Racing 9-year IZOD IndyCar Series veteran, Tony Kanaan, will take his 15th trip to victory lane.

Yes, Kanaan has just 2 wins over the last three seasons and his new team had an average finishing position of a not so impressive 15.7 in 2010. However, there are explanations for both of those circumstances, and the new combination remedies both of them.

In his first 5 seasons of full-time IZOD IndyCar Series competition with Andretti Autosport, Kanaan had 12 wins, 26 podiums, 8 poles, a Championship, and an average finish of 3rd in the season ending points standings. In the next three the Brazilian had two victories, 13 podiums, 2 poles, and an average finish of 5th in the Championship.  The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding has been a little lumpy since 2008.

Kanaan's teammates at Andretti last season, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick were no slouches. Each of the three has at least one win, and the trio earned both Series and Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year honors. Their talent is not questioned, but it's no secret that TK was responsible for much of the set-up work. Take Indianapolis for example, the perfect microcosm of Kanaan's recent career.

Opening Day at Indy found Kanaan piloting all five of the Andretti Autosport entries. Running a total of 36 laps, he had this to say following practice:

"We just wanted to make sure that all of our cars had the same feel and make sure that we had the same starting point for everybody. So, they voted me the guy to do that. They tell me it's because I'm a veteran, but usually that means you're old and I definitely don't see myself that way, so I'm not sure. But, I'm glad to do it and I think we've got a good idea of where we are as a team and where we need to go for the 7-Eleven car."

As TK said, he's the "old guy"on the team. The experienced one. From 2003 to 2007, his most successful stretch, Kanaan's teammates had a combined average 20-years of major open-wheel experience each season.  From 2008 to 2010, his Andretti Autosport peers had a combined 8-years of experience on average each season.  It's natural, if Ryan, Marco, or Danica needed a bit of guidance, of course they take a beeline for the former series champ.  As a one car full-time operation in 2011, Kanaan can concentrate 100% of his efforts on himself. With the exception of a few oval track events where 10-year veteran Davey Hamilton will drive a second entry, every second of both on track and off track preparation goes to his #2 Dallara.

The separation of Kanaan and Andretti Autosport ends a very successful 8-year partnership, but it also brings a conclusion to both on track and off track 'misunderstandings' with and between his teammates. The issues have been well documented, everything from on track scuffles to closed door meetings and everything in between. The level of distraction can not be underestimated, and it's a complication that shouldn't be lingering in 2011.

Although de Ferran Dragon Racing has had more lows than highs since their inception in 2007, the young team has shown flashes of brilliance. Signing-on a rejuvenated Ryan Briscoe for their one-off race at Indianapolis in '07, the then named Luczo Dragon Racing started from the inside of row 3, moving up two positions to a solid 5th place finish in their debut.

The following year the team expanded to a 6-race schedule with veteran pilot Tomas Scheckter. Although three top seven starts, Scheckter never finished higher than 21st. Either dropping out due to contact or mechanical failures in five events, the #12 entry took just one checkered flag, 31 laps down.

In 2009 Rookie driver Raphael Matos took the reigns of the Luczo Dragon Racing entry. With mixed results, Matos wracked up 8 top 10 finishes and a 13th place in the season ending IZOD IndyCar Series points standings.  For his Sophomore season, the young Brazilian returned to a newly merged de Ferran Dragon Racing. With greater expectations the team could only manage half the tops 10's as they had in 2008, although two of the finishes were 4th's, the teams all-time best finishing position.

2011 seems to be a match made in heaven for both the maturing team and veteran driver.  de Ferran Dragon is getting a proven entity. A driver who has sat on poles, won races and a Championship.  Kanaan is getting an up and coming team, with great management and no distractions.  They have the management, crew, and equipment in place to finish on top of the podium, it's just a matter of finding the right driver.  TK is that driver.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sato, Viso Return To KVRT - Lotus

Nearly a year after signing with KV Racing Technology for the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series, Takuma Sato and E.J. re-signed with the team today.  As part of the announcement Lotus will provide primary sponsorship duties for both Dallara's, branding the entries 'KV Racing Technology - Lotus'.

 “For us last year was all about learning, this year we would really like to achieve some podium finishes – we want to start to contest with some of the front runners," said Lotus Director of Motorsport Claudio Berro. “What we’re doing with IndyCar is very similar to the way we tackle all our race involvement, first we test the water with an established team, we then explore ways in which to expand our involvement – increasing our commitment to KVRT is one such step as is our intention to supply engine and aero body kits from 2012 onwards.”

Sato struggled in his rookie season, finishing 21st in the points standings, but will return for his sophmore year running the #5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus Honda/Dallara/Firestone.

Viso's 4th year in IZOD IndyCar Series competion will find him piloting the #8 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus Honda/Dallara/Firestone car supported by PDVSA, Herbalife, CANTV, SBA Airlines and team partner Plantronics.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bourdais/Plowman Test With Coyne

Four-time Champ Car Worlds Series Champion, Sebastien Bourdais, could be back in American Open-Wheel Racing.  The 31-year-old Bourdais tested at Sebring on Monday, turning the quickest laps ahead of the 8 other drivers that tested at the track earlier this year.

“The car was very good and it really felt good to be back in an Indy Car,” said Bourdais.  “I was not sure what to expect, but I was impressed with the way the car handled, and look forward to putting together the pieces to get back into Indy Car racing.  I really believe in what Dale is doing with his team and it can be a great workable opportunity for both of us this year.”

“We have talked with Sebastien before and this is an opportunity that has great potential,” reported team owner Dale Coyne. “We are very serious about moving our effort forward and this, coupled with the continuing Boy Scouts of America program from last season, is one of the most important steps in that direction we can possibly make.”

Firestone Indy Lights pilot Martin Plowman also tested with the team.

“I am very pleased that everything went exceptionally well today,” said Plowman.  “The car was very stable and quick right out of the box, allowing me to improve our times all day long.”

Conway Signs With Andretti Autosport

First breaking the news via Twitter, Mike Conway posted "Big News....Will be racing for Andretti Autosport for the full 2011 season!". A few minutes later the team confirmed the announcement.

Returning from the horrific late race incident at Indianapolis in May, Conway has signed on to compete full-time in 2011 with the 2005 & 2007 Indianapolis 500 winning team.

"This is a really exciting moment in my career to be racing for Andretti Autosport," said Conway. "It's going to be an honor working with some great people and great teammates, and I can't wait to get started. Everyone is fired up, especially me, and I'm ready for the challenge ahead. I can't wait to hit the track and start achieving some great results."

The 27-year-olds sponsorship package and other details on the entry will be announced at a later date.