INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES Feb. 19, 2008
1. Helio, Danica on Oprah, Ellen
2. Andretti Green Racing hires Paul “Ziggy” Harcus
3. AirTran Airways using Danica look-alikes at LaGuardia
4. Sherman joins Panther Racing
5. Indy Racing League launches new INDY DownForce website, inks deal with Race Fan Radio
1. Helio, Danica on Oprah, Ellen: Two of the IndyCar Series’ most recognizable stars will appear on national television shows this week.
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show on Feb. 21 while Danica Patrick will appear on Ellen on Feb. 22.
The Oprah show will feature winners from ABC’s ‘Dancing with the Stars.’
“My experience with ‘Dancing with the Stars’ has been an amazing opportunity,” Castroneves said. “Now that my reign as the show’s newest champion is coming to a close, what better way to cap it off than to appear on ‘Oprah?’ I’m very excited and honored to be a guest on her show, she has been a true pioneer in the industry and it really makes you realize how much success ‘Dancing with the Stars’ has achieved. Not only will Thursday’s appearance on ‘Oprah’ be a fantastic way to introduce the cast for the sixth season, but it will also be an excellent chance to get all of the IndyCar Series fans across the country excited about the start of the 2008 season at the end of March.” *** 2. Andretti Green Racing hires Paul “Ziggy” Harcus: Andretti Green Racing has hired racing veteran Paul "Ziggy" Harcus as team manager. Harcus, who has nearly 30 years of racing experience, will oversee various aspects of the team’s four-car IndyCar Series program.
Harcus spent the previous three racing seasons as the director of operations for the Champ Car World Series. As the director of operations, Harcus oversaw all technical aspects of the race cars. He was charged with administrating all inspections as well as managing all race officials.
Harcus also spent two seasons working in the IndyCar Series with Kelley Racing where he served in the team manager role. He directed all aspects of the two-car operation and worked with drivers Al Unser Jr., Scott Sharp and Tony Renna. Before his stop in the IndyCar Series, Harcus spent more than 10 years working at PacWest Racing. Harcus began working as a chief mechanic before moving into the team manager position of PacWest's Indy Lights program and working with future IndyCar Series champions Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon.
"Paul is a great addition to our team," said Andretti Green's chief executive officer Kim Green, who co-owns Andretti Green with partners Michael Andretti and Kevin Savoree. "He has a wealth of experience and great knowledge that allows him to join Andretti Green and make an immediate contribution to our organization." *** 3. AirTran Airways using Danica look-alikes at LaGuardia: AirTran Airways, a sponsor of Danica Patrick’s, recently announced that passengers at LaGuardia Airport in New York will have the privilege of their own personal pit crew to get through check-in fast, thanks to a hustling team of Danica Patrick look-alikes. Instead of changing tires and fueling cars, the “Danica Pit Crew” will work the AirTran Airways ticket counter, assisting travelers with their luggage and helping customers speed through check-in. To complete the racing theme, passengers will exit the check-in area by crossing a “finish line” between two checkered flags.
The airline will use the Danica Pit Crew to kick off its new IndyCar Series promotion, sending racing fanatics to select races throughout the 2008 IndyCar Series.
“AirTran Airways continues to be a great sponsor on the No. 7 Motorola Team car,” Patrick said. “The pit crew promotion is a great opportunity for race fans to get closer to the action than ever before – just remember to bring your ear plugs.” *** 4. Sherman joins Panther Racing: Panther Racing has signed veteran Brent Sherman to drive its Indy Pro Series car for the 2008 season. Sherman recently completed a test with Panther on the road course at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Panther team owner John Barnes believes the Minnesota-born driver can lead his Indy Pro Series team to another championship season.
“It says a lot about the Indy Pro Series when a driver of Brent Sherman’s caliber wants to make this historic move from NASCAR to open-wheel racing,” Barnes said. “I was surprised when I got the first call from Brent, but after getting to know him and seeing his talent first-hand in Panther’s (Indy Pro Series) car, I realized this is a guy that can win races and deliver another championship to our race team."
Sherman competed in the Barber Dodge Pro Series and Grand Am before making the move to the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2004. He racked up more than 60 starts in the Nationwide Series from 2004-2007. He began the 2006 season as a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup driver with BAM Racing.
“Open-wheel racing is where I started my career and I’m happy to be back with a team like Panther Racing,” Sherman said. “I want to be successful, and I’m here to win races and championships. I’ve been a lot of places in my career, but the opportunity to drive for a championship caliber team like Panther is the opportunity I haven’t had elsewhere.”
“I’m just really excited to join Panther Racing and a great series like the Indy Pro Series,” Sherman said. “I don’t think a lot of guys in NASCAR realize the kind of opportunities the Indy Racing League has. Guys down there are scraping together all the money they can find to run a partial season or a test in ARCA, Craftsman Trucks or the (Nationwide) Series when they could run a full season of Indy Pro Series. I’m happy to be here.” *** 5. Indy Racing League launches new INDY DownForce website, inks deal with RaceFanRadio: INDY DownForce, the official fan club of the Indy Racing League, launched a new Website – www.downforce.indycar.com – on Feb. 18. Among the many benefits of membership, the site includes a fantasy racing game that features a grand prize of four tickets to every race in 2009.
The league also partnered with RaceFanRadio.com on a 60-minute, behind-the-scenes radio program titled “All Access IndyCar Series.” The weekly, pre-produced show will debut March 6 at 7:30 p.m. ET with Patrick Stephan as host.
“We continue to work hard to deliver what fans want,” said John Lewis, vice president of marketing and league development. “The INDY DownForce website and the new radio program are great ways to deliver extraordinary opportunities.” *** The 2008 IndyCar Series season begins under the lights with the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 16-race schedule, one of the most diverse in all of motorsports, features races on 11 ovals, three permanent road courses and two temporary street circuits, all broadcast worldwide through a comprehensive, long-term agreement with ESPN. All races in 2008 will be telecast in High Definition. The 2008 Indy Pro Series season also begins on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 16-race schedule, which features eight ovals and four road/street course doubleheader weekends, will be televised by ESPN2.