INDYCAR - NEWS AND NOTES (April 12)
Today’s IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Gilbert contests another kind of race 2. National Press Club to talk Ethanol at Indy 500 3. Chastain Motorsports reunites for another Indianapolis 500 run 4. By the numbers: Going to Japan 5. Ganassi drivers on Ice
1. Gilbert contests another kind of race: April 16 will be one of the biggest days in Micky Gilbert’s life. The man who is six weeks away from driving an Indy Pro Series car 190 mph at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time will compete in the prestigious Boston Marathon. Gilbert, whose first marathon came in 2000, has been on a mission to complete a 26-plus mile run in less than three hours. He almost did it Dec. 10 at Tucson, Ariz., when his 3:06 effort qualified for Boston. “I’ve been on a lifelong mission to go sub-3,” said Gilbert, 36, who was 41st overall and eighth in his age group at Tucson. “It’s beaten me every time. At Tucson, I moved my wall to about the 22-23 mile mark. My wall is usually around 18 or 19, so I feel pretty good.” Since Tucson, Gilbert had to take some time off from running to focus on the start of the Indy Pro Series season. He’s the driver and co-owner of the No. 54 Mile High Motorsports team that is based near his hometown of Golden, Colo. “I’ve only been training for about two weeks, which is probably not the best thing in the world, and I’m battling a cold, but I feel stronger than anything,” said Gilbert, who recorded an 11th-place finish in the most recent race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. “We went to Homestead and St. Pete, and it’s really hard to mix in a two-hour run at the track. I ran 60 miles last week and felt strong because I had a really strong base.” The green flag will drop for Gilbert and more than 22,000 other runners beginning at 9:25 a.m. “I want to go sub-3 but I’ll know pretty early on if I can do it or not,” said Gilbert, who will be starting his ninth marathon. “If nothing else, to finish the Boston Marathon would be pretty cool.”
2. National Press Club to talk Ethanol at Indy 500: The National Press Club will turn its attention to the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series’ switch to 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol shortly before the month of May kicks off at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Rahal Letterman Racing co-owner Bobby Rahal and Tony George, founder and CEO of the Indy Racing League, sanctioning body for the IndyCar Series, will discuss the “Greening of Racing” at the club’s luncheon on May 4 in Washington D.C. The two racing figures will deliver remarks on ethanol’s role at the Indianapolis 500 and take submitted questions from the audience, which typically includes journalists, government officials and interested members of the general public. Reservations can be made by calling the National Press Club at 202-662-7501. Cost of luncheon admission is $16 for National Press Club members, $28 for their guests.
3. Chastain Motorsports reunites for another Indianapolis 500 run: Ten years after he formed Chastain Motorsports to field a car in the Indy Car Series, Indianapolis entrepreneur Tom Chastain is reunited key members of the team for a 10-year anniversary Indianapolis 500 program. Veteran crew chief, Darrell Soppe, who held the same position on Chastain’s original team will once again head the program and be reunited with the team’s original driver, Stephan Gregoire. Chastain was one of the original team owners who joined the Indy Car Series when a totally new Indy Car chassis was first introduced in 1997. In its two seasons of competition, Chastain Motorsports became known for its distinctive “blue car” and achieving results that far surpassed its resources. With Gregoire at the wheel, the team finished in the top 10 in half of its races and came within a fraction of a second of victory in finishing second when Tony Stewart won his first IndyCar Series race at Pikes Peak in 1997. Chastain’s new car will once again sport its distinctive blue livery as well as its original number, 77. “Growing up in Indianapolis, I never dreamed I would ever be able to field a car in this race,” said Chastain. “We had a real promising program back in the ’90s with very talented and dedicated people and encouraging results, but we couldn’t find a way to financially sustain ourselves. Being a part of Stephan’s effort last year is what made me think about doing the ‘500’ again. When I realized that 2007 would mark 10 years since the launch of my original team, that just gave me the reason I needed to return to the Speedway.” Gregoire is a seven-time veteran of the Indianapolis 500 and competed in last year’s race in the EFFEN Vodka Team Leader Special. Chastain’s company, electrical contracting firm Miller-Eads, was an associate sponsor of that effort and his limited involvement whetted his appetite to once again field his own team. Chastain has already invested in equipment for the program. “We’ve purchased two beautifully prepared Panoz chassis, plus equipment and support from Rahal Letterman Racing,” said Chastain. “I intend to field a quality program not only for this year, but also again in 2008.” Sponsorship for the effort is being generated through an innovative program for the promotion of the Linux computer operating system. The massive community of individuals who have collectively developed Linux is being mobilized to promote Linux using the visibility of the world’s most famous race as the communication platform. The cherubic penguin mascot of Linux, affectionately known as Tux, will be featured on the car. The Linux community leader on the project, Bob Moore, in conjunction with Lobby4Linux.com and Acceleration Marketing have established a web site on this unique sponsorship program at www.Tux500.com.
4. By the numbers: Going to Japan: Early in the morning of April 13, IndyCar Series teams will begin their trek to the Far East for the series’ only international event, the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi on April 21. To get from the U.S. to Japan is a daunting task and involves more than just packing for a week away from home. Here’s a look at the move:
425,000 – Pounds of equipment shipped to Japan 13,500 – Miles, the equipment would earn for the roundtrip if it had frequent flier status. 450 – People who make the trip, including drivers, crews and series officials. Most leave on a non-stop chartered flight on April 16. 300 – Miles, the race distance of the event 36 – IndyCar Series chassis shipped to Japan 13 – Hour time difference between Indianapolis and Motegi, Japan. 2 – 747 Cargo planes to carry all equipment. Three IndyCar Series officials are assigned to fly on each plane. 1 – Pit stop for the cargo planes (Anchorage, Alaska) for maintenance and fuel.
5. Ganassi drivers on Ice: Each race weekend, Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series teams cheer drivers Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon and Chris Festa on to victory. On April 13, the drivers will join their teammates in cheering on the Indiana Ice, Indianapolis’ junior developmental hockey team. Dixon, Wheldon and Festa will great fans and sign autographs during the Ice’s 7 p.m. game with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders at Pepsi Coliseum in Indianapolis. They’ll be joined at the game by the race teams and administrative staff of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, who will be attending the game as their a team-building activity. *** The 2007 IndyCar Series season continues with the Indy Japan 300 at 11:30 p.m. (ET) on April 20. It will by broadcast live by the IMS Radio Network with live video streaming on www.indycar.com. The race will be telecast at noon (ET) on April 21 by ESPN. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The sixth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Freedom 100 on May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast as part of ESPN2’s coverage of Carb Day at 4 p.m. on May 25.