2009 IRL Reports: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

IRL Team reports for the 2009 IRL season

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2009 IRL Reports: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Postby mlittle » Wed Apr 08, 2009 12:26 pm

(from Jan. 2009)
~~~CENTENNIAL ERA BALLOON FESTIVAL TO LAUNCH MAY SCHEDULE
Speedway celebrating 100th anniversary of first event

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Jan. 16, 2009 -- The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will start its 2009 season the same way the facility's rich history began 100 years ago: with a balloon race.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Centennial Era Balloon Festival will fill the city's skies with as many as 50 colorful balloons Friday, May 1-Sunday, May 3. It will be the first competitive event of the Speedway's 2009-2011 Centennial Era, celebrating the founding year of IMS in 1909 through the 100th anniversary of the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.

A helium gas-filled balloon competition was the first event to take place at IMS, on Saturday, June 5, 1909, more than two months before the oval was completed.

"Watching balloons glow in the night sky inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and then lift off in the morning will be a thrilling experience to witness," said Joie Chitwood, IMS president and chief operating officer. "We think it's a fitting way to honor our storied history and kick off the first month of May of the Centennial Era."

Three days of balloon activity will lead into the IndyCar Series Rookie Orientation Program and then practice for the 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500.

A balloon "glow" will be the first balloon activity Friday night, May 1.

Saturday, May 2 will be a busy day at the Speedway as more than 35,000 runners make their way around the 2.5-mile oval during the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, the largest half-marathon in the country. As the runners are passing through IMS, 50 balloons will ascend for the first of two competitions, the Founders Race. Saturday will end with another "glow" in the infield.

Sunday, May 3, will feature the second of two balloon events, the 100 Years Race.

Opening Day for the 93rd Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Wednesday, May 6, with the Rookie Orientation Program from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. and all drivers on track from 2-6 p.m. (See attached schedule for full May calendar.)

In 1909, there were two balloon "distance" competitions -- a National Championship Balloon Race and a Handicap Balloon Race for balloons that didn't qualify for the championship. Both were afternoon events on consecutive days.

Dr. Goethe Link and Russ Irvin, both of Indianapolis and flying the balloon Indianapolis, won the Handicap division by floating to Westmoreland, Tenn. John Berry and Paul McCullough, both of St. Louis and piloting the University
City, flew to a point just south of Fort Payne, Ala., to claim the National Championship event.

Additional information on the IMS Centennial Era Balloon Festival will be available in the coming months. Check www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com for updates.
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Postby mlittle » Wed Apr 08, 2009 12:27 pm

(from Jan. 2009)
~~~2009 INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY MONTH OF MAY SCHEDULE

Friday, May 1: CENTENNIAL ERA BALLOON FESTIVAL
Evening "Glow"

Saturday, May 2 CENTENNIAL ERA BALLOON FESTIVAL
Founders Race, OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, Evening "Glow"

Sunday, May 3 CENTENNIAL ERA BALLOON FESTIVAL
100 Years Race

Monday, May 4: NO TRACK ACTIVITY

Tuesday, May 5: ROOKIE ORIENTATION PROGRAM
9 a.m.-2 p.m.: Firestone Indy Lights Practice
2-5 p.m.: Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program

Wednesday, May 6: 93rd INDIANAPOLIS 500 OPENING DAY
9 a.m.-2 p.m.: Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program
2-6 p.m.: Indianapolis 500 Practice

Thursday, May 7: PRACTICE
Noon-6 p.m.: Indianapolis 500 Practice

Friday, May 8: AST FRIDAY
Noon-6 p.m.: Indianapolis 500 Practice
6 p.m.: Indianapolis 500 Pole Day Qualifying Draw

Saturday, May 9: POLE DAY
Indianapolis 500 Practice, Qualifying (Positions 1-11)

Sunday, May 10: SECOND DAY QUALIFYING
Indianapolis 500 Practice, Qualifying (Positions 12-22)

Monday, May 11- Wednesday, May 13: NO TRACK ACTIVITY

Thursday, May 14: PRACTICE
Noon-6 p.m.: Indianapolis 500 Practice

Friday, May 15: PRACTICE
Noon-6 p.m.: Indianapolis 500 Practice

Saturday, May 16: COKE ZERO MUSIC FEST/THIRD DAY QUALIFYING
Indianapolis 500 Practice, Qualifying (Positions 23-33)

Sunday, May 17: ARMED FORCES DAY/BUMP DAY
Indianapolis 500 Practice, Qualifying

Monday, May 18- Tuesday, May 19: NO TRACK ACTIVITY

Wednesday, May 20: AMERICAN FAMILY INSURANCE 500 FESTIVAL COMMUNITY DAY

Thursday, May 21: FIRESTONE FREEDOM 100 PRACTICE, QUALIFYING

Friday, May 22: MILLER LITE CARB DAY
Indianapolis 500 Final Practice, Firestone Freedom 100, Pit Stop Challenge, Miller Lite Carb Day Concert

Saturday, May 23: NO TRACK ACTIVITY
Public Drivers' Meeting IPL 500 Festival Parade (Downtown Indianapolis)

Sunday, May 24: 93rd INDIANAPOLIS 500 MILE RACE
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Postby mlittle » Wed Apr 08, 2009 12:29 pm

(from Feb. 2009)
~~~One-year unification anniversary teleconference, part 1

-------An interview with Terry Angstadt, Eric Bachelart and Graham Rahal
Indy Racing League IndyCar Series press conference
February 18, 2009

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. Our guests today are joining us to talk about the one-year anniversary of the unification of open-wheel racing under the IndyCar Series banner. On February 22nd of last year, the unification agreement was signed, and five days later a press conference was held at Homestead-Miami Speedway in conjunction with the first Open Test of the season.

Now one year later, the IndyCar Series is preparing to head back to Homestead for testing next week. There will be nearly a dozen Firestone Indy Lights rookies on track Monday, followed by the full field on Tuesday. The IndyCar Series will be on track under the lights on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the rookies getting some time on track on Monday night.

Also on Monday, the IndyCar Series will stage a major photo op at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. Past champions Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan will pose with a giant sand sculpture of the IndyCar Series trophy, and that is scheduled for 3 o'clock.

Joining us now this afternoon are Terry Angstadt, the president of the commercial division of the Indy Racing League, Eric Bachelart, owner of Conquest Racing, and Graham Rahal, driver for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.

Terry, let me ask a question of you first to get us started. Obviously it's been an eventful year for the IndyCar Series with the unification, all that brought about. Can you take a quick look back for us and also a look ahead to 2009, what we can expect.

TERRY ANGSTADT: I think the look back is really an easy one. That was the pride I think everybody felt when we had the number of cars, 26 cars or so, on track at our opening race. You really can't appreciate the work done to first complete the merger and then the work accomplished by the transition teams, in particular with the cooperation of existing teams, to get all those cars ready, built and pretty competitive race one. So that was an incredible accomplishment, I think.

Then shortly following that, Graham's win was unbelievable to our business and to our series and to me personally. That was shortly followed by Danica (Patrick) winning. And then Justin (Wilson) to win at Detroit, when (team co-owner) Paul (Newman) was still with us, I think was so memorable and so good for our business.

Again, from a memorable standpoint of last year and a bit of a look back those kind of highlights I think are pretty hard to top.

But I think looking forward, to me, I really think that the organization we have, and that includes drivers, teams, venues and our staff, I think look forward to taking on the challenge of really not kind of sustaining or maintaining our business in the most challenging economic times any of us have ever seen in our lifetimes, but really growing our business during this period. And I think we're really well-positioned and ready to take on that challenge.

So as a look forward, I think we're going to grow the business and have a fantastic 2009.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

Eric, Terry mentioned there briefly it was a scramble last year, indeed, for you and the other teams, especially that were coming over, and even the existing teams that were trying to share parts and help out in any way they could. Is it kind of fair to say that this year, you guys with a year under your belts, maybe we can call this the first true year of unification?

ERIC BACHELART: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's a good statement. If you remember about a year ago there were the transition teams and there were established IndyCar Series teams. When we showed up at the first race in Homestead, basically the transition teams were looking to be the best out of these transition teams, you know. And from there, first of all there was incredible solidarity between everybody and the league. I mean, we really did a fantastic job to accommodate everybody within three weeks. That was a very high spirit at the time. Everybody jumped on board and everybody was quite excited about this new opportunity.

From there, there was a lot of hard work just to keep up with the heavy schedule. Over the winter we kept working hard. I think that the transition teams managed to catch up quite a bit and understand the cars better, understand what it takes better.

So now we're going to go into 2009 with, I guess, a better understanding and probably even closer competition. I don't think that we're going to talk about transition teams anymore, just IndyCar teams. It will make things simpler for everybody. We won't have to explain what it was about before.

Open-wheel racing becomes quite simple now. This is just one IndyCar Series and everybody understands that. So it's much more simple and I think it's important for the sport to grow, simplicity and efficiency. I think that's what we're doing. Looking forward to it. I think it's going to be quite exciting just to have a good amount of teams and very close competition.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

Graham, a couple questions for you. I know when we talked earlier in January, you mentioned that this is going to be the first time in your career you've run a series in consecutive seasons. Tell us a little bit about that, how that adds to your confidence level from the experience you gained last year, to be able to come back now and do the same series for a second year.

GRAHAM RAHAL: Well, I think it's definitely one of those things, as I went on through my career, we always planned to have two years in pretty well every series. Obviously being with Eric's team in Atlantics only a couple years ago, having such a great season there, we moved on to Champ Car, and it never really made sense to kind of stay back.

So this will be the first year, even through the years that I was really in karting, that I will have driven the same thing for two consecutive years. And I think as far as the confidence that it gives you, it's one of those things that once you have an understanding of the tracks, understanding of the cars, and you can focus on what it takes and what you need to be more successful and more competitive the next season, it allows you to kind of put your head down and move forward and basically just highlight those things that you need.

In the past, every year - and it continues to be this way - every time you get in the car, every race, it's a learning experience. At the same time in the past for me, it wasn't just a learning experience. You're trying to figure something out that's completely new to you and yet be competitive at the same time.

So finally to understand what it takes and to be able to move forward as a team with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, again, I'm really looking forward to it. I think in my mind, I've definitely taken this off-season more serious than ever before and certainly focused on my fitness and everything else to make sure that, as a whole, we have a chance to go out there and win and hopefully fight for the championship this year.

MODERATOR: Last year you came into the series obviously off a very strong rookie season on the Champ Car side. You made a very quick first impression with the win at St. Petersburg. I know you talked about that win a lot before, but give us a little history there. What did that mean to you, especially to make your debut in a new series and to get that win with the unified series?

GRAHAM RAHAL: Well, it's obviously always a special time when you win any race. But for me, especially winning that, becoming the youngest winner, all of the records, all that type of stuff, certainly it didn't even hit my mind. To be honest, I hadn't even remembered that that was on the line.

So really just to win, it felt so good, after having a year in Champ Car where we had some success, finished on the podium quite a bit, but never really winning, it was a great feeling to do it.

I think it's one of those things that if I had won in Champ Car, it certainly wouldn't have gotten the same credibility if you win in IndyCar, the unified series. No matter what anybody says, a lot of people probably looked down upon some of the Champ Car guys and vice versa, as far as how good they are. Then once you put them together, it obviously showed that some of the best drivers in the world were out there competing against one another. It gives you more credibility.

So the win came at really a perfect time. As Terry touched on, you had (Scott) Dixon that won the first race. He's the deserving champion, obviously did a great job last year. Then me, and Danica shortly after. You had some exciting times there, really a storybook start to the unified series. That's what's just great. It's an honor for me to be a part of it. That's why I'm looking forward to this season so much.

Q: Graham, can you talk a bit from the team standpoint, the team last year had six weeks to bolt a car together, it was a miracle to get cars running at the first few races, just what it means from the team standpoint now to have had a winter off and start doing a little bit of work to close the knowledge and development gap that you faced last year.

GRAHAM RAHAL: Well, I think, from the team's point of view, everybody is excited to be a part of this. Everybody realized the unification was needed. We all knew it was going to be tough at the end of last year to make it happen. It wasn't going to be an easy task. Certainly with my crash at Homestead in the first test last year, I didn't make it any easier.

As far as this year goes, it's been nice. I've spent a fair bit of time up at the shop with the guys. It's been nice to see that everybody can take their time, we're bolting these things together properly, covering all the bases needed to make sure we can go out and compete with the big teams in this series.

We'd like to be one of those teams that can go out there and win on any given weekend. That's what we've done. That's what we've taken our time to do.

Obviously when you have several months to sit there and to kind of rub on the thing for a while, make sure that everything is fitting properly, all that stuff, it's obviously a nice thing, especially when last year, as you said, we pretty much bolted a car together in only a couple of weeks. Not only that, you didn't really have time to catch up the whole season because of how tight the schedule is.

Now when you start at a point where we hope to go out next week and be competitive in the Open Test, obviously looking forward to some of the road course tests, then back to St. Pete to start the season, I think we definitely feel like we're much further ahead than we were last year. Having some positive tests at the end of last season, you can probably tell, I definitely feel a helluva lot more confident going into this season, the 2009 season. I think we should have some great performances. For the team it should be an exciting time.

Q: Eric, could you perhaps add your two cents to that.

ERIC BACHELART: Absolutely. I remember when we went to Homestead last year, we were just happy to have a car on the track. We just built the car with the parts we could get, not the parts we wanted to put on the car. So that's how we started.

From there we had just to keep up for the whole year, sometimes just present the car. Didn't have much time at all to do anything. So, I mean, the IndyCar is quite a bit different than the Champ Car Series because of the nature of the racetrack that we were driving on, that we were racing on, and altogether the attention to details to this car has been quite incredible.

As Graham said, we've been rubbing the car quite a bit over the winter, really looking forward to go to these tests now and see how much improvement we managed to do over the winter.

Again, I think that everybody's been doing that, trying to catch up, understand better and analyze all the details from last year, do some more testing, I mean, on seven poles or whatever, and see what we get.

The challenge for us is really to do well on the ovals. When it comes to the road courses, that was obviously our forte. We showed that last year on the road courses - all the ex-Champ Car teams were competitive.

So again, it was good to have all these months, and we took advantage of it. Basically, again, see what we get in Homestead and that's going to be our goal, just to feel as competitive as we can be now.
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Postby mlittle » Wed Apr 08, 2009 12:30 pm

-------One-year unification anniversary teleconference, part 2


Q: Eric, how has the economy affected this off-season, your trying to find sponsors and drivers? Where are you with that now? Will you have one car or two cars?

ERIC BACHELART: Obviously it's been a challenge. We were all excited about the unification. Of course, we don't want to be hit by the economy. That's something we are facing. We have to have the best reaction with it.

And altogether I think we have to change our approach of sponsorship. In today's economy, I think that people are looking for a short-term impact on their business. If we can provide a solution just on short-term impact to the business, then I think we can find sponsorship.

It takes more time, that's for sure. People are careful. As a matter of fact, we're still negotiating right now as we speak. So I'm quite confident that we're going to be there with the car for the whole season. We might have to piece it a bit together. From there, we'll see if we can do more.

We were a two-car team last year. It's our ambition to stay a two-car team. We have to be realistic. It's very possible that we might have to share the car between two drivers for the season.

I think sometimes it's important just to last and go through some difficult times, looking for better times. It's certainly not the series' fault or whatever. You see it everywhere, in Formula One, in NASCAR, in IRL. So this is the fact.

I think that when you look at it we haven't lost any teams, and everybody is working hard, being positive about it. I think that we have some very good things ahead of us: a new television package, and a very strong schedule with some new venues such as Long Beach and Toronto. All these things are very positive.

So it's certainly a good help. Within a few weeks we should know a bit more where we stand.

Q: Terry, could you get into a little bit more the how and why you think the IRL might be in the position to expand and grow from last year? If there is a car count and a sponsorship issue with some of the teams this year, would the league consider subsidizing them as a bridge to get you to better times in a year or so?

TERRY ANGSTADT: On the how and why, I really think that, as Eric touched on, everyone has challenges. I think motorsports is certainly one that might even be, you could argue, a bit more impacted than others because of some of the connections to the OEMs. The automotive industry, we are not as dependent as others, but at the same time there is an effect.

At the same time, we really feel that the value proposition within the IndyCar Series versus some of the other choices is quite strong. Translation being if you had a couple of million bucks to spend, we think we may be able to deliver not only some compelling results against that, but you would get more for that same amount of money. Position-as-to-value proposition, we think we will do better in a challenged economic environment.

That's kind of one of the whys.

On the how, I think we have a pretty strong organization. We did some reorganizing over the last couple of years and have a pretty seasoned team in place. People kind of know where the restrooms are and know how to go about our business. I think we've got a very motivated and experienced team taking on this challenge. That's why I think we're going to win more than we lose.

In terms of the car count, again, as Eric touched on, it's challenging out there, and that's one of the challenging parts of this - not only league sponsorship but team sponsorship.

You ask the question, I think we're looking at I would say a low of 22 cars - and it could be 24, 26. We've got to have a couple things happen certainly to hit the high number. I think the low number's relatively secure. So we feel real good about that during this particular time.

In terms of subsidy, that's always challenging for any business. Ours is not unlike others in that we have our own challenges in terms of making our series financially viable. As we know last year, to assist, we had the engine-based lease and chassis. This year it is just the chassis. It really is up to the talent of those teams to close the lease of the engine value gap.

This is no news to anyone, certainly, that we're in close touch with. We're not in a position to subsidize teams. It will be what you see is what you get. We are working real hard to help secure sponsorship for teams with a dedicated sales team, doing presentations, doing research, trying to do all the things to assist. But writing checks we just can't do.

But we feel good about the number of cars that are going to show up and the competitive nature of those cars and teams. Again, in a pretty tough time, I again could not be more proud - to the drivers, to the teams, to the organization going forward.

Q: Terry, it seems you've hit some bad luck. Kind of the story of the IRL: there's momentum, bad luck hits, the economy, Helio's situation. Does it almost feel like you got hit with another dose of bad luck, given all the things that have happened, on the heels of what was a good start to unification?

TERRY ANGSTADT: I appreciate that question.

You really can't control those developments. We really don't focus on those. Again, you deal with them. As I said, I think the good organizations answer the call as strongly and as aggressively as they can. That is our approach. That's why I do think we're going to grow this year.

Yeah, we've been tossed a couple of curve balls. You have to know how to hit those on occasion. Again, I'm not trying to sugarcoat anything. We've got some challenges out there. At the same time I think we're going to have 18, 18 plus, at the test next week. I think that's a pretty good sign. And by the time we get to Homestead, we're going to be very proud of the guys that answer the bell down there and get ready to race for '09.

Q: Graham, I know you don't make the decisions at the team. If you were guessing how many cars ended up from Newman/Haas at Homestead, one, two or three?

GRAHAM RAHAL: You know, to be honest, it's one of those things that I don't know exactly where everything stands at this time with the team. That's a question that's better posed to Carl (Haas) than me.

As I said, to be quite honest, for me this off-season obviously being that I'm not necessarily in Chicago all the time, I don't hear all the stuff that's going on. I just honestly have focused on what I have to do to be successful this year.

Obviously there's a lot of reports that there's a lot of things happening up at NHL. I can't confirm anything. I'm quite honest. I'm focused on being there next week. I know my car's ready to go. I'm just looking forward to getting the season started.

Q: Your father's team, if it doesn't participate, what kind of message does that send for you personally?

GRAHAM RAHAL: Well, I think obviously for dad - and I can't exactly speak for him - but if it's not a viable thing to do as far as the business goes, then it doesn't make sense for him to put a car out there. Knowing him, if it can't compete, if it can't win, he doesn't want to take part in it.

I don't know exactly what happened with the sponsorship situation at the end of last season for them, but it just came down to it and it wasn't happening for them at this point.

I know I can guarantee you they're still working very hard over there to get something put together. Everybody knows that certainly dad's heart is in open-wheel racing and he definitely wants to have a team here. Unification is something he obviously pushed hard for for many years. For it to finally be there, I'm sure he wants nothing more than to be a part of it.

Q: Graham, it was great with you and Justin being able to win for Newman/Haas/Lanigan. There were a couple difficult things as the year progressed. What can you say are official reasonable expectations now that you've had a full off-season of preparation as opposed to just a few weeks, with teammates sharing information? Since it's been so long since off-season tests, how do you stay focused on the task at hand when you've been out of the car for so long?

GRAHAM RAHAL: To touch on last year, obviously with my victory, then Justin in Detroit, we certainly had a lot of ups and downs. Everybody knows that certainly I didn't personally make that any easier on the team. I had several incidents that I'm not exactly proud of or anything like that.

But, as we go forward this year, we talked about the time that we've had to basically improve the cars in the off-season. Having the positive test we did at the end of last season, I think as a whole, we don't want to set the expectations too, too high, but at the same time I see the effort that's being put in up there at the shop in Chicago, and I know that the guys certainly want to win.

As it's been for everybody, it's been a tough off-season for them. They want nothing more than to go out there and to do well. That's what we're aiming to do.

The way I look at it, if we can get some victories this year, if we can fight and be in the top five on the ovals, do the same on the road courses, we can finish I'd like to say in the top five in the championship at the end of the year, that's certainly doable. It's going to take a lot of consistency and a fast car, and I think we can achieve that.

As far as keeping sharp for me, it's gonna be interesting because I don't think I've ever spent as much time as I have this year outside of a racecar. In years past I've done Daytona, Sebring, things like that. This year it's obviously different with the Barber test being right after Sebring, I'm not going to be able to do them both. Unfortunately it throws a bit of a different mix in it.

As I said, I'm just looking forward to getting out there next week and getting back in the car and seeing what we can do. I think that it's gonna be interesting to go back to Homestead, knowing the last lap I did there I put it in the fence. Certainly we're looking to move on. As I said, I think we've done a lot, made a lot of improvements in the car.

As far as my off-season effort, it's never been the same. I'm looking forward to it.

Q: Terry, how big a blow would it be to the IRL if Castroneves can't drive this year? There's no question he's one of the two drivers you have promoted the most for your races. There's a good chance he won't be able to drive. If that happens, how big a blow to the IRL?

TERRY ANGSTADT: Helio is a fantastic competitor, arguably one of our well-known, if not the most highly recognized drivers we have. So that's never good.

I kind of go back to you really try to focus on the things you can improve and control, not the ones you can't. Unfortunately, we're not in control of Helio's situation.

You could also look at it that as one door may partially close at this stage for Helio, we hope that goes well, one opens for Will Power. Will is a fantastic talent that has been given an opportunity to step in, a great seat from one of our premiere teams. Again, I think that's what we'll stay focused on, and that is a strong entry for Will.

We wish Helio the best. I thought, as one would expect out of the Penske organization, when Tim (Cindric) was up here to announce that, they did it in a first-class way and made it very clear that that's Helio's seat whenever he gets beyond his particular issue.

That's our approach. We would love to not have had that happen. But we're going to focus on the things we can control and improve and look forward to hopefully Will having a good experience for however long that exists for him.

Q: Terry, can you talk about the status of finding a series sponsor. Obviously with this economy, what's been said today, I'd like your comments on that.

TERRY ANGSTADT: Absolutely. And that's one that I think I tend to be an optimistic guy, and I think you need to be in this business, I would have bet a large amount of money we would have had one by now. I would have lost that, so I'm glad I didn't (laughter).

But we have active conversations going at present, not only for the title, but in hotel, travel, quick serve, insurance, spirits and beer, just to name a few, some pretty good possibilities.

We would even - I'll certainly say to this group anyway - you like to start a season with a title sponsor. We're prepared to do anything we can to lure one in as quickly as possible, transition to those marks and opportunities for that sponsor if we secure it and really hit the ground running for next year.

So still like our prospects. Wish it would have happened by now. We are hard at a few key categories to try to make that happen.

MODERATOR: All right, gentlemen. Thanks again for the time, sharing your insights with us about 2009, the one-year anniversary of unification. We wish everybody the best of luck throughout the season.
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Postby mlittle » Wed Apr 08, 2009 12:31 pm

(from Feb. 2009)
~~~ALL-NEW CHEVROLET CAMARO TO PACE 93RD INDIANAPOLIS 500

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009 -- The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Feb. 26 it has selected the all-new 2010 Chevrolet Camaro to pace the 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 24, 2009.

The Camaro Pace Car was unveiled during a ceremony at the IMS Hall of Fame Museum with IMS President and Chief Operating Officer Joie Chitwood, and Indianapolis 500 winners Johnny Rutherford, Al Unser Jr. and Eddie Cheever Jr.

"The Chevrolet Camaro first paced the Indianapolis 500 in 1967 with one of the most loved Pace Cars of all times, followed by the 1969 Indy 500 Camaro Pace Car with the hugger orange paint scheme," Chitwood said. "Just 40 years after that car made its mark as a Pace Car favorite, we're pleased to have Camaro return to the streets and to the track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to start our Centennial Era."

2009 marks the fifth time the Chevrolet Camaro has been selected to pace the Indianapolis 500 (1967, 1969, 1982, 1993, 2009). It will be the 44th time a General Motors vehicle has paced "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," with 20 by a Chevrolet.

Powered by the 6.2-liter LS3 all-aluminum Chevy V-8, the all-new 2010 Camaro produces 426 horsepower at 5,900 rpm and 420 lb-ft of torque at 4,600 rpm. It features a Tremec six-speed manual transmission and 3.45 axle ratio.

No drivetrain or suspension modifications are required to prepare the Camaro for its Pace Car duties. The only modifications to the vehicle include a fully integrated strobe system, including a GM-designed custom light bar utilizing Whelen 500 series linear strobes.

The car carries a bold paint scheme for the Indianapolis 500, created by GM Design. More information on the production version of the all-new 2010 Camaro can be found at chevy.com/camaro.

The 2009 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car driver will be announced at a later date.

***

2009 IMS tickets: Established in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has long prevailed as an icon of motorsports excellence. Beginning in 2009, the Speedway celebrates its Centennial Era, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the facility in 2009 and the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 2011.

Tickets for the three events in 2009 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- the 93rd Indianapolis 500, 16th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and second Red Bull Indianapolis GP -- can be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com at any time.
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Postby mlittle » Wed Apr 08, 2009 12:32 pm

CENTENNIAL ERA GALA NOTES, QUOTES
Plenty of star power during celebration of 100 years of racing at IMS

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, March 2, 2009 -- Nineteen of the 27 living Indianapolis 500 winners attended the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Centennial Era Gala on Friday, Feb. 27 at the Indiana Convention Center: Mario Andretti, Kenny Brack, Eddie Cheever Jr., Gil de Ferran, Scott Dixon, A.J. Foyt, Dario Franchitti, Gordon Johncock, Parnelli Jones, Buddy Lazier, Arie Luyendyk, Rick Mears, Bobby Rahal, Jim Rathmann, Johnny Rutherford, Tom Sneva, Al Unser, Al Unser Jr. and Bobby Unser.

Those champions combined during their careers at Indianapolis to write major portions of the "500" record book, including 35 victories, 29 poles, 312 starts and 5,050 laps led.

1997 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner Ricky Rudd also attended, while multiple Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winners Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart participated in Gala festivities via satellite from Las Vegas, where they were racing in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.

Other Indianapolis 500 veterans attending the Gala included Janet Guthrie, Sarah Fisher, Lyn St. James, Bill Puterbaugh, A.J. Foyt IV, Ed Carpenter, Ryan Briscoe and Will Power.

A variety of team and racing officials also joined the festivities, including Pat Patrick, Jim McGee, Tim Cindric of Penske Racing, Scott Roembke of Rahal Letterman Racing, Kim Green and Kevin Savoree of Andretti Green Racing, and Al Speyer of Firestone Racing.

The IMS Radio Network community also was well represented, with all living "Voices of the 500" in attendance -- Paul Page, Bob Jenkins and Mike King. But Jenkins, who served as Gala master of ceremonies, noted after introducing legendary IMS Public Address Announcer Tom Carnegie that Carnegie "always will be the real Voice of the '500.'"

Other VIP's at the Gala included artist Thomas Kinkade, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and famed racing beauty queen Linda Vaughn.

All Gala attendees had the opportunity for a picture taken with the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy, presented to the winners of the main auto races in 1909 and 1910 at IMS, which preceded the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.

***

Mears impressed: Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears, who had the reputation as one of the most laid-back drivers in the history of motorsports, was in awe of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Centennial Era Gala Feb. 27 in downtown Indianapolis.

"It's hard to imagine, and you've got to go back and look at some of the videos and photos of the real early years of the Speedway and the cars," Mears said. "Those guys were crazy back then, driving some of the things they were driving. That's history that can never be repeated, so it's great to keep it going."

***

Mario is a good sport: Mario Andretti is widely recognized as one of the best drivers in the history of auto racing. He's also a very good sport, given his 29 starts at the Indianapolis 500 and only one victory, in 1969.

Andretti was asked if ever thinks, "What if?" about the "500."

"Yeah, probably that 10-20 dollars would have got me another couple of races," he said with a laugh. "Small pieces and small parts. There's a luck factor involved, and luck is an abstract. Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don't. God knows I tried hard and I dominated some races here, more so than some guys who won multiples here, but couldn't quite see that last 100 miles.

"Even though I only have one trophy to show for it, I think I'm one of the all-time (lap) leaders, and while you're leading this race, you're having a great time. So I had a great time here."

***

Arie helping out: Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk will coach rookie Robert Doornbos and Milka Duno of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing during the month of May this year at Indianapolis.

"Robert is a rookie on the ovals," Luyendyk said. "He won a couple of races in Champ Car a few years ago, so he doesn't need much coaching there, and Milka started running last year, I believe maybe the year before at Indy. Rick Mears still coaches very experienced drivers at Penske Racing, and I think it's a good idea for her to have me as a coach."

***

Guthrie happy to break tradition: Janet Guthrie became the first woman to race in the Indianapolis 500, in 1977. She was happy to pave the way for subsequent female starters Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick and Milka Duno.

"I'm very glad of it, of course," Guthrie said. "You know, it's funny, even though I was breaking an Indianapolis tradition, I really enjoy the tradition associated with the Speedway, and this (Centennial Era Gala) is a wonderful celebration of it."

***

De Ferran could return to Indy -- as owner: 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran returned to the cockpit of an Acura prototype in the American Le Mans Series last season for De Ferran Motorsports, which he owns. De Ferran will continue in that role this season and also is eyeing a possible return to the IndyCar Series, where he drove for Penske Racing in 2002 and 2003.

"I don't see me driving an IndyCar again, but this is all about the team, really," de Ferran said. "It's really not about me reliving the dream as a racing driver. That's not to say that I'm not enjoying driving the car, but the most important thing or my priority is making the team a success with me behind the cockpit or not.

"I would certainly like to grow the team and given my, to say the least, emotional ties with IndyCar racing, I would love to run an IndyCar at some point in the future."

***

Common ground: 1960 Indianapolis 500 winner Jim Rathmann is the oldest living Indy winner and one of only two living drivers to capture "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" in a front-engine roadster, along with A.J. Foyt.

While Rathmann acknowledged the challenge of driving the roadsters around IMS with their narrow tires and lack of aerodynamics, he said the task of driving today's low-slung aerodynamic cars is just as daunting at IMS.

"I think you still have to fight for it," Rathmann said. "You just have to work your (rear) off until there's nothing left."
note.....continued in next post
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Postby mlittle » Wed Apr 08, 2009 12:33 pm

IMS Centennial Gala, part 2...................


Friday night fights: Rivalries in racing never die, although they might mellow just a bit. That was Bobby Unser's sentiment Feb. 27 at the IMS Centennial Era Gala.

A reporter asked three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Unser whether old rivalries between the Unsers, A.J. Foyt and others might heat up. Unser joked that he was skeptical the Gala would stay peaceful.

"I can't promise you that," he said with a laugh. "There could be some problems. But I noticed Foyt's down in Houston with airplane troubles, so that takes care of half the fights right there. Parnelli (Jones) is here, though, to take care of Foyt."

Foyt arrived from Houston in time for the Gala.

***

Nice rides: Six rarely seen cars from the IMS Hall of Fame Museum were placed on display during the cocktail reception at the Gala. Among those priceless vehicles were:

^ÕThe 1949 Jaguar XK120 that Speedway owner Tony Hulman purchased for Clark Gable to use when the actor came to Indianapolis.

^ÕA 1909 Buick driven by Louis Chevrolet in some of the 1909 races at IMS.

^ÕA rare 1925 Duesenberg Model "A"

^ÕA Sears Motor Buggy that was built by Sears, Roebuck and Company that could be ordered through the Sears & Roebuck catalog from 1909 to 1912.

***

Mears' heroes: Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears retired from driving following the 1992 season, still among the elite drivers in the sport and with an unprecedented fifth Indianapolis 500 win very much within reach. Given his success in IndyCars, Mears is an idol for many drivers. He reflected on who his idols were while learning the fundamentals of racing.

"The first professional driver I got to meet was Parnelli Jones," he said. "My real hero, and who I patterned after was my dad (Bill Mears). Even though he got out of it when I was very young, he was the most instrumental in getting my brother and I up and running. It was family recreation and sport.

"I met him (Jones) in off-road racing long before I got into IndyCars, not knowing I'd ever get into IndyCar at that time, but I had always admired Parnelli's style, his tenacity, the hard-charging, go-fast type of driver.

"I didn't really try to mimic anybody as I did what I thought was right for me, right for the car, right for the track at the time and try to look at the big picture and best way to get to the win."

***

Sneva still seeks speed: 1983 Indianapolis 500 winner Tom Sneva was the first driver to exceed 200 mph in qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, and he still is searching for speed at his Arizona home.

"I'm just out in Phoenix working on the world's fastest golf cart and playing a little golf and trying to make sure my 401K doesn't look like a 101L before it's all over," Sneva said.

***

Lazier has eyes on Speedway: 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier hopes to make his 17th career Indianapolis 500 start this May.

"No, they're not finalized yet," Lazier said of his plans. "The economy is difficult, so there's a lot of guys in my shoes looking and trying to put deals together, but I certainly look forward to having another opportunity at the Speedway."

***

Rocket Rick's favorite moment: Rick Mears often counts his fourth Indianapolis 500 victory in 1991 as his favorite. What moments during his 15 races at Indy stand out? His top two are among the overall legendary moments of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

"The pass with Michael (Andretti) back and forth for the fourth win, the next one was the race with Gordy (Johncock), in '82," Mears said. "To be down as much as we were after the last stop, and to try to reel him in when I came out of the pit 10-12 seconds behind him, I wasn't sure we could make it up. We put our head down and got after it.

"To catch him and have the good battle we did, even though we lost, that was a great moment for me. I knew we'd got everything we could out of the car.

"I was happy to see Gordy win it, too. Earlier in the race when he was running strong and we were going back and forth, I remember thinking if we can't, I hope he did, because his earlier win (1973), he didn't get to enjoy it as much as he needed to."

***

Indy is tops for Gordy: For 1973 and 1982 Indianapolis 500 winner Gordon Johncock, the Centennial Era Gala was as much of a homecoming as it was a celebration of the fabled Speedway.

"It's a special occasion, for sure, to see the guys because there's very few you see all the time, you might see Rick Mears at a race, or Al Unser or (Johnny Rutherford), but other guys, you don't see them unless you have a special occasion like this."

Johncock and the 18 other Indianapolis 500 winners in attendance experienced life after Victory Lane at Indy. He also experienced winning a championship, in 1976, but said it will never compare to his life-altering experience at IMS.

"It sparks your career in racing, for sure," Johncock said. "You might better win Indianapolis than the other races put together that year. You're going to be better remembered for winning at Indy than 15 other races in different cities."

He is 17 years removed from his last start at "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," but the feisty Johncock's competitive spirit hasn't diminished. When asked if he felt he could beat the drivers of today, he laughed and responded: "I don't think there would be any problem. Not at all."

***

It stays with you: Bobby Rahal said waking up the day after winning the Indianapolis 500 is like waking up to a new life.

"Your life as a driver, at least for me, you could say 'before Indy and after Indy,'" 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Rahal said. "You're always introduced as Indy 500 champion. I won three IndyCar championships and that's always the second thing they say when introducing you, so I think that shows the level of importance it's given by everybody. Can you measure what it means? I don't think you can because it just continues to grow."

***

Tight squeeze: The 2010 Chevrolet Camaro Pace Car, which was unveiled Feb. 26 at IMS, was the centerpiece of the Gala ballroom during the cocktail hour. But the car almost was unable to show off for the guests.

The Camaro measured 83½ inches from outside mirror to outside mirror, and the doorway to the ballroom was only 84 inches. Crews taped the mirrors for protection, and rolled the car through the doorway without a scrape.

***

CENTENNIAL GALA QUOTES

GREG BALLARD (Mayor of Indianapolis): "I think it's a great event. I love the Speedway -- I always have since I was a kid. I tell people all the time, I've watched this race around the world. I've been in Europe, Asia, Latin America -- I've seen this race on TV. It's just like you say, it's synonymous with Indianapolis. This is a great celebration."

GIL DE FERRAN (2003 Indianapolis 500 winner): (About the Centennial Era Gala and the differences in participating at the Speedway in IndyCar and Formula One): "Obviously there are obvious differences with Formula One racing is all on road courses and Indy 500 famously on a square oval, but you know, like most types of shall I say, high-end motorsports, you know once the flag drops, all teams are remarkably similar. The red blood starts boiling and it's all back to basics. I had a great time working in Formula One and I have to say that (inaudible) in '05 U.S. Grand Prix or '06, I forgot, where we couldn't participate, that was probably one of the worst days of my life. But, you know, apart from that experience, I enjoyed it."

SARAH FISHER (Seven-time Indianapolis 500 starter): "This is awesome, you know, just to be a part of the history of the Speedway. And to see all of the fantastic things that have happened in the last 100 years is just amazing and it's wonderful to see it and hear it told all the time." (Did you have thoughts of racing at IMS when starting your racing career?): "I did. You know, I actually had a good offer at the time, but it wasn't for a really great team and I was having a really great time racing sprint cars with my dad, so I wanted to keep doing that. You know, when the call came to run an open-wheel car, an IndyCar, with the goal being to run the Indy 500, I jumped at it and drove out West and took my rookie test instantaneously." (About her team's chances this May at Indy): "We're working on the car and making it better than it was last year. We've invested again in our people. We've hired some great engineering folks and that's the core of it. So, we've invested in our people, and that's going to turn out to be a great result for us."

A.J. FOYT IV (Five-time Indianapolis 500 starter): "Obviously this is huge for the Speedway, and my grandfather's been around for half that, he's been around for 50 years, going on 51, 52, so it's huge. It's great that he's coming in from Texas tonight for the dinner, and my grandmother, my cousin Larry, so it's just awesome. This place just means everything to my family and just every race that you think about every day of your life, and it's just awesome that everyone's here."

RICK FUSON (Chief Operating Officer, Pacers Sports and Entertainment): "It's a wonderful night, not only because I'm part of the Pacer organization that runs Conseco Fieldhouse, but because my father worked the Indianapolis News for nearly 50 years, came in 1946 from Terre Haute, friend of Tony Hulman and the Hulman-George family and is just a part of the history of our entire life, so it's a great night to be here."

BOB JENKINS (Master of ceremonies of Centennial Gala): (About what it means to host Gala as a native of Liberty, Ind.): "I first became aware of the Speedway when I was 7. I came to qualifying for the first time in '58 and to the race in 1960 for the first time. To have even a small role in helping or doing whatever I do is the thrill of a lifetime. I always dreamed when I was growing up in Liberty that I would have a small role perhaps in the Speedway, and to be asked to emcee this event is very special. But at the same time, it is the Speedway and it is just more than life to me, it really is. I can't explain what the Speedway has meant to me down through the years, and I'm just so excited to have a role in getting it to its second century."

PARNELLI JONES (1963 Indianapolis 500 winner): "Well, certainly the Indianapolis 500, especially if you're a winner there, it means the world to you because you carry that for the rest of your life. But, the Speedway, actually when it first opened in 1909, I understand it was dirt and it was so dusty that they put the bricks down the next year or something like that -- of course the first race in 1911. I'm so proud to be a part of the Indianapolis 500 and especially the people. I've lived back here during the summers that I raced and a lot of great Hoosiers here and love coming back."

BUDDY LAZIER (1996 Indianapolis 500 winner): (About Centennial Era Gala): "I think it's spectacular. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway just means so much to American motorsports, you know, and growing up wondering if I'd ever get to compete in it as a driver and then being able to win it and continue to compete in it, it's a thrill."

ARIE LUYENDYK (Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner): "It's always meant a lot to be part of the Indianapolis 500 history, especially winning the race once and then again, so you know, Indy has always had a special place in everybody's hearts that drives here. I mean, it's just an event that is so unique and stands alone, so it's a good thing I wasn't around for the first race. I'm glad to be a part of it."

MARK MILES (President of Super Bowl Bid Committee and Chairman of Super Bowl Host Committee Board of Directors): "This is exciting. There's a lot of nostalgia. I think of the Speedway as a little kid watching great races, but also at the time in 1987 when the Hulman family led us at the opening ceremonies for the Pan-Am Games. It was a first event that wasn't a 500-mile race or leading up to that. That's now in the history department and one of my fondest memories."

PAUL PAGE (Former IMS Radio Network and ABC broadcaster for Indy 500): "When I was a boy growing up in Chicago, all my friends in high school knew that I wanted to be an announcer at the Indy 500. They didn't know why, because we didn't know that much about it in Chicago. I came down here, and Sid Collins took me under his wing, taught me and it led to the most incredible time in my life -- 25 races to call between radio and television and meeting the greatest people in the world. I've been really lucky. This night ties it all together -- it makes it special."

BILL PUTERBAUGH (1975 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year): "One hundred years, well, I've been here about 50 years of it. I started coming with Arnold Knepper in '66 as a mechanic and then in '68, Bobby Unser got me a ride in Mickey Thompson's 16-valve Chevrolet and so got my first chance in Mickey Thompson's car. Hey, I'll be 73 years old this year, so yeah, just lucky to be around. I drove a lot of cars without roll cages, came through midgets, sprint cars, Silver Crowns, stock cars to get to Indy cars. I finally made the race in 1975 and was the fastest-qualifying rookie, so it's been an honor and it's stuck with me and it's helped me all my life. I'm retired now, but my son is running and we're helping him a little bit."

JIM RATHMANN (1960 Indianapolis 500 winner): (About memories of 1960 race): "I guess the winning. Right after the flag, I stood up in the race car and waved at everybody and whatnot."

JOHNNY RUTHERFORD (Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner): "It's the 100th anniversary. It means so much to a bunch of us, you know and everybody that's ever been involved with the Speedway for any length of time, or even once, you never forget it and it has a place in your heart. Being a three-time winner of the race here means so much to me and has meant so much to my career. It's been a great thrill. The Speedway has made all of us that have won the race once or four times, and as a competitor at Indianapolis, it puts you in a special category."

TOM SNEVA (1983 Indianapolis 500 winner): (About IMS Centennial Era and his place in history): "It makes you proud to be a part of that history. It's unbelievable history, and I'm glad I'm a little part of that whole scheme of things."

AL SPEYER (Executive Director, Firestone Racing): "I can't emphasize enough how special this evening is and thinking about all the different generations of people from Firestone who have worked at the Speedway and to be involved on an individual level right now, is something I think that a lot of people would be envious of. There's so much history for the Speedway, and you think back about it and the fact that it was actually built as a test track and became 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing' and greatest racetrack in the world is great. It's so special to see many faces from the past here, and we're just going to enjoy the evening. I think from both Firestone's perspective and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it's a very, very special time."
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Postby mlittle » Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:54 am

~~~CENTENNIAL ERA GALA VIDEO SERIES TO DEBUT APRIL 13 ON IMS SITE

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, April 7, 2009 – The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has etched a remarkable number of significant dates into racing history for the last 100 years. The most recent addition to that list was Feb. 27, 2009, the date of the Centennial Era Gala.

There was magic in the air that night at the Indiana Convention Center as the Speedway began its Centennial Era celebrating the 100th anniversary of the opening of the track in 1909 and the 100th anniversary of the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. Nineteen Indianapolis 500 winners attended the elegant affair, as well as 1997 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner Ricky Rudd and many other Indy legends.

"I really enjoy the tradition associated with the Speedway, and this is a wonderful celebration of it," said Janet Guthrie, the first woman to race in the Indianapolis 500.

Fans can share the wonderful memories of that night in a series of Centennial Era Gala videos that will appear at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com starting Monday, April 13. A new video will appear every weekday from Monday, April 13 through Thursday, April 30.

Interview subjects will include the four-time Indianapolis 500 winners A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears, other legendary Indy winners Mario Andretti, Gordon Johncock, Parnelli Jones, Arie Luyendyk, Bobby Rahal, Johnny Rutherford, Tom Sneva, Al Unser Jr. and Bobby Unser, recent "500" winners Kenny Brack, Eddie Cheever Jr., Scott Dixon, Gil de Ferran, Dario Franchitti and Buddy Lazier, and Indy fan favorites Tom Carnegie and Guthrie.

All of the videos and photos will be archived for easy access by fans. Interactive community features also will allow fans to comment on video and images, and also post the videos on their blogs and Web sites.

IMS also will post selected videos on its MySpace and Facebook pages, with links to the complete package on www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.

***

2009 IMS tickets: Established in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has long prevailed as an icon of motorsports excellence. Beginning in 2009, the Speedway celebrates its Centennial Era, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the facility in 2009 and the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 2011.

Tickets for the three events in 2009 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – the Indianapolis 500, Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and Red Bull Indianapolis GP – can be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com at any time.

Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are on sale. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.
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Postby mlittle » Sat Apr 18, 2009 12:01 pm

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Friday, April 17) -- The IndyCar Series today released the following statement from Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for the Indy Racing League, regarding Helio Castroneves return to Penske Racing and the IndyCar Series:

"We couldn't be happier for Penske Racing, Helio Castroneves and his family and look forward to having him back on the race grid at Long Beach. Helio has played an integral part in the growth of the IndyCar Series on and off the race track the past few years and has an incredible legion of fans. He is a true star in every sense of the word and his infectious personality, popularity and success on the race track is welcomed back."
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Postby mlittle » Tue Apr 21, 2009 5:34 am

~~~~STRONG INDIANAPOLIS 500 FIELD INCLUDES FOUR WINNERS, 40 ENTRIES

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, April 20, 2009 -- Four past winners are among the highlights of the 40 entries received for the 2009 Indianapolis 500, scheduled for Sunday, May 24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The four winners on this year's list are Helio Castroneves (2001-02), Dan Wheldon (2005), Dario Franchitti (2007) and Scott Dixon (2008).

Twenty-eight drivers have been named to the 40 entries filed this year for the 33 starting spots in the world's most prestigious auto race. Seventy-seven cars comprise the 40 entries. There were 39 entries on the initial 2008 entry list.

The 2009 Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday, May 24 and will be broadcast live by ABC, the IMS Radio Network and XM 145/Sirius 211. Opening Day is scheduled for Wednesday, May 6.

Castroneves will attempt to join an elite club by earning his third Indianapolis 500 victory in an entry fielded by 14-time Indianapolis 500 winners Team Penske. Just eight drivers have won the race three times or more since the inaugural event in 1911.

Franchitti and Dixon are historic new teammates for Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 2009. They won the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series title in the same season in 2007 and 2008, respectively, marking the first time in history that teammates entered a season with that distinction. Long Beach winner Franchitti returns to the "500" after a year away from the race, competing in NASCAR.

Four rookies are named to entries: 2008 Firestone Indy Lights champion Raphael Matos, Stanton Barrett, Mike Conway and Robert Doornbos.

Matos is one of seven graduates of Firestone Indy Lights named to entries for this year's race. Other veterans of the premier ladder series for the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 named to entries include 2002 champion A.J. Foyt IV, 2007 champion Alex Lloyd, Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, Hideki Mutoh and Graham Rahal.

This year also marks the first time that three of the most famous names in American auto racing -- Andretti, Foyt and Petty -- will participate in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

Popular veteran John Andretti is named to drive the entry fielded by Richard Petty Motorsports/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. It's the first Indy entry for legendary seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty. 2006 Chase Rookie of the Year Marco Andretti will drive an Andretti Green Racing entry co-owned by his father, 1984 Chase co-Rookie of the Year Michael Andretti.

Foyt IV will drive one of three entries fielded by A.J. Foyt Enterprises, owned by Foyt's grandfather, four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt. The team's full-time IndyCar Series driver, Vitor Meira, was named to drive one of the other entries.

Two women will attempt to race in the Indianapolis 500, as 2005 Chase Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick and popular veteran Sarah Fisher were named to entries.

Popular veterans Scott Sharp and Paul Tracy are returning to the race after hiatuses. 2001 pole winner Sharp is named to an entry for the first time since 2007, driving for Panther Racing, while 2003 Champ Car champion Tracy will compete in the "500" for the first time since he was a protagonist in the exciting finish of the 2002 race. Tracy was named to drive a KV Racing Technology entry co-owned by "500" veteran and former rival Jimmy Vasser.

Andretti Green Racing filed four entries, more than any other team. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing is involved in four entries, with three of its own entries and one under the Richard Petty Motorsports/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing banner.

DRIVERS [17]

Former race winners (4): Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002), Dan Wheldon (2005), Dario Franchitti (2007), Scott Dixon (2008).

Former pole winners (4): Helio Castroneves (2003, 2007), Scott Sharp (2001), Tony Kanaan (2005), Scott Dixon (2008).

Rookies (4): Stanton Barrett, Mike Conway, Robert Doornbos, Raphael Matos.

U.S. born (11): John Andretti, Marco Andretti, Stanton Barrett, Ed Carpenter, Sarah Fisher, A.J. Foyt IV, Davey Hamilton, Graham Rahal, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Danica Patrick, Scott Sharp.

Foreign born (17): Ryan Briscoe, Australia; Helio Castroneves, Brazil; Mike Conway, England; Scott Dixon, New Zealand; Robert Doornbos, Netherlands; Dario Franchitti, Scotland; Tony Kanaan, Brazil; Alex Lloyd, England; Raphael Matos, Brazil; Vitor Meira, Brazil; Mario Moraes, Brazil; Hideki Mutoh, Japan; Will Power, Australia; Paul Tracy, Canada; E.J. Viso, Venezuela; Dan Wheldon, England, Justin Wilson, England.

Youngest: Graham Rahal, 20.

Oldest: Davey Hamilton, 46.

Most previous starts: Scott Sharp, 13.

***

2009 IMS tickets: Established in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has long prevailed as an icon of motorsports excellence. Beginning in 2009, the Speedway celebrates its Centennial Era, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the facility in 2009 and the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 2011.

Tickets for the three events in 2009 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- the Indianapolis 500, Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and Red Bull Indianapolis GP -- can be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com at any time.

Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are on sale. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.
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Postby mlittle » Thu Apr 23, 2009 12:42 pm

FIELD OF 33 BALLOONS SET FOR IMS CENTENNIAL ERA BALLOON FESTIVAL

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 22, 2009 -- Paying honor to the traditional starting field of 33 cars for the annual Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, a field of 33 balloons and pilots will compete in the three-day Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T Real Yellow Pages on Friday, May 1 to Sunday, May 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hot air balloon pilots hailing from 13 states, stretching from California to Michigan, will launch from the IMS infield in both corporate-sponsored and unsponsored "sport" balloons. Indiana is well-represented with 13 pilots vying for prize money and the prestige associated with winning a race during the Speedway's Centennial Era celebrations.

"Just as the Indy 500 showcases the best in motor racing, we have selected a strong lineup of colorful balloons and professional and personable pilots for the Centennial Era Balloon Festival," said event balloonmeister Scott McClinton. "The pilots are ready to put on a show, both at the evening glows and morning races from the IMS infield, that the public will not soon forget."

The Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T Real Yellow Pages is one of many events over the next three years that will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which was founded and built in 1909, and the 100th anniversary of the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.

The Energizer Bunny "Hot Hare" Balloon, celebrating its 20th anniversary, will dwarf the competition in size. It's the world's tallest balloon at 166 feet. Balloons representing national brands such as AT&T Advertising Solutions, Target and RE/MAX will add their unique splash of color and character, mixing with Indiana favorites such as Bloomington-based Oliver Winery and the Riley Children's Foundation.

The public is invited to attend the Friday and Saturday evening balloon "glows," as well as the launch of the 100 Years Race on Sunday morning, all of which are free and will take place in the IMS infield. Public parking will be available in the IMS infield, and guests should plan to enter IMS via the Gate 2 tunnel on 16th Street.

For a complete schedule and list of Centennial Era Balloon Festival presented by AT&T Real Yellow Pages activities, visit http://www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/balloonfest.
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Postby mlittle » Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:03 pm

CARA Charities Gearing Up for 2009 Fashion Show

INDIANAPOLIS, IN April 30, 2009 -- The worlds of fashion and auto racing will once again come together at the 28th annual CARA Charities Fashion Show and Luncheon on Thursday, May 21 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom. Hosted by popular race broadcaster Bob Jenkins, the event will feature past and present Indy 500 drivers, with scheduled appearances by Will Power, Bruno Junqueira, Mario Moraes as well as some surprise guests that you absolutely won't want to miss!

The show is known as one of the most anticipated social events during the month of May and this year's edition promises to maintain the rich tradition of high-energy entertainment, quality fashion and community collaboration.

The theme "Everyone Pull Together" represents the collaborative spirit of the organization, its partners and participants. Proceeds from the day will benefit CARA's award-winning Buckle Up Baby program, Riley Children's Foundation, the Cody Unser First Step Foundation as well as the Lyn St. James Foundation.

CARA is proud to welcome Charlotte Lucas and Anne Ryder as Honorary Community Co-Chairs, and Mary Weiss as the Honorary Media Chair. "It's important to be there for people in need," Charlotte Lucas said. "You never know when it might be you or someone you love needing help. We drag race, and we do so knowing the risks involved because we've seen other people get hurt. If we can help these great charities along then we know we can reach people that may need some assistance. It's something that's very important to us.

"Last year I modeled in the CARA Fashion Show and had such a great time. I hope this year's event is an even bigger hit."

Guests can expect to see designer duds, courtesy of Berny Martin of Catou Couture and The Secret Ingredient. The younger set will be outfitted by Piper Children's Boutique. Media personalities, community leaders, special Riley kids and their families will take to the runway alongside professional models.

There will be a fabulous live auction offering everything from Colts tickets to Randy Owens original art to fine jewelry courtesy of Kirles Jewelers-a bit of something for everyone. Door prizes and raffle items promise to be equally exciting.

Both the downtown Embassy Suites and the Conrad Indianapolis are offering special rate packages for CARA Fashion Show attendees. For details, as well as updates on the show, be sure to check out www.CARAFashionShow.com.

The event begins with an 11 am social hour followed by the luncheon at noon. The much-anticipated fashion show begins at 1 pm. Individual tickets are only $75 and reserved tables of 10 are available. Reservations can be made by calling (317) 299-2277 or online at www.CARAFashionShow.com.
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Postby mlittle » Tue May 05, 2009 11:14 am

Indy 500: IMS salute to DAV news

-----B-25 BOMBERS TO SALUTE DISABLED VETERANS WITH INDY PRE-RACE FLYOVER

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, April 30, 2009 -- Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the non-profit organization dedicated to helping wounded veterans, will be honored by a special flyover of two vintage B-25 Mitchell bombers at the 2009 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on Sunday, May 24. The B-25s, named Special Delivery and Take Off Time, are fully restored, World War II-era aircraft. These warbirds will twice pass over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the National Anthem before the beginning of the race.

"The DAV is honored by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's decision to use the world's most prestigious auto race as an opportunity to turn the national spotlight on our wounded veterans," said DAV National Commander Raymond E. Dempsey.

"It still amazes me to think about the brave men who flew these awesome aircraft into battle." Said Joie Chitwood, president and COO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: "It is fitting that we honor our nation's wounded veterans with this extraordinary flyover. The sacrifices these brave men and women have made for their country make them true heroes."

While modern military aircraft are standard for such flyovers, IMS chose the venerable B-25 "War Dog" as a symbol of the courage and can-do spirit of our veterans and active duty military throughout history. DAV National Adjutant/CEO Arthur H. Wilson said this special tribute comes at a crucial time in the fight for preserving the benefits and vital medical care for our veterans, including those returning from the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"In these tough economic times, our wounded veterans unfortunately can get lost in the shuffle," Wilson said. "The DAV is fully dedicated to preventing this from happening, and recognition from the Hulman-George family and the IMS is deeply appreciated."

The B-25 Mitchell is a twin-engine, medium bomber that saw extensive action in all theaters of World War II. The aircraft is perhaps best known for the Doolittle Raid, America's first counterstrike after Pearl Harbor during which Lt. Col. James "Jimmy" Doolittle led a squadron of sixteen B-25s from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet on a daring, top-secret daytime raid on Japan.

"It's a rare opportunity for folks to see one of these aircraft flying, let alone two at the same time," said Larry Kelley, a warbird owner and enthusiast who will pilot Take Off Time. "This truly is a unique tribute to the brave men and women from all wars who have been injured in defense of our freedom."

The 1.2 million-member Disabled American Veterans, a non-profit organization founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932, represents this nation's disabled veterans. It is dedicated to a single purpose: building better lives for our nation's disabled veterans and their families. For more information, visit the organization's Web site, www.dav.org.
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Postby mlittle » Wed May 06, 2009 9:41 am

2009 INDIANAPOLIS 500 NOTEBOOK Tagliani joins Conquest; Rookies and refreshers to take to track Tuesday

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, May 4, 2009 -- Experienced open-wheel driver Alex Tagliani will attempt to race in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in the No. 34 Conquest Racing entry, team officials announced May 4. Tagliani, 36, from Lachenaie, Quebec, will attempt to qualify for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" on Sunday, May 24. He will participate in the Rookie Orientation Program on May 5-6 at IMS.

"It's every driver's dream to be at the Indianapolis 500," Tagliani said. "As a kid I never thought I would make it here and even later on in my career because of the split, so it has always remained a dream of mine. It's the one race that has always sat atop my list.

"Finally, more than nine years after my first start in a major open-wheel series race, I will get to experience all that surrounds the famous 'Month of May,' and get to experience it during the kick off of the Centennial Era Celebration, which makes it even more memorable. I know that the first few laps around the track tomorrow will be quite special, and I'm super-excited and really looking forward to it."

Sponsorship and the livery for the No. 34 Conquest entry will be unveiled Tuesday, May 5 at IMS. Tagliani has made four starts in IndyCar Series points events, including at St. Petersburg and Long Beach this year. He earned his first Champ Car World Series victory in 2004 at Road America and finished in the top 10 in series points every year from 2002-07.

***

Rookies and refreshers: Six Indianapolis 500 rookies will participate in the Rookie Orientation Program on May 5-6 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, completing 10 laps in each of four speed phases. The 2009 rookie class: Stanton Barrett, Mike Conway, Robert Doornbos, Raphael Matos, Nelson Philippe and Alex Tagliani. Veteran drivers who haven't competed in the IndyCar Series this year also can take "refresher" laps May 5-6 before Indianapolis 500 practice starts at 2 p.m. May 6. Drivers in that category include John Andretti, A.J. Foyt IV, Davey Hamilton, Buddy Lazier, Alex Lloyd, Scott Sharp and Paul Tracy.

***

Legends returning to Indy in May: A number of Indianapolis 500 winners and veterans will participate in fan question-and-answer and autograph sessions on the Coke Zero Stage during the Month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The lineup:

•Saturday, May 9: A.J. Foyt (stage chat only), 11:15-11:45 a.m.

•Sunday, May 10: Former Indianapolis 500 Chase Rookies of the Year Mario Andretti, 1-1:30 p.m. (stage), 1:45-2:45 p.m. (autographs); Rick Mears, Larry Rice, Jerry Sneva, Josele Garza and Steve Knapp, 3-3:45 p.m. (stage), 4-5 p.m. (autographs).

•Sunday, May 17: Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, 1-1:30 p.m. (stage), 1:45-2:45 p.m. (autographs)

•Friday, May 22: Willy T. Ribbs, 9-9:45 a.m. (stage), 10-11 a.m. (autographs)

Times are subject to change. Visit the event schedule at www.indy500.com for updates.

***

Indy Live streaming online: "Indy Live," the popular live talk show hosted by IMS Radio Network host Mike King, will be streamed online at www.indy500.com and www.indycar.com throughout the month of May. The show airs from 8-9 p.m. (ET) May 5, 7, 14, 21. Scheduled guests for Thursday, May 7 include Vitor Meira, A.J. Foyt IV and Sarah Fisher from 8-8:30 p.m. and Raphael Matos, Ed Carpenter and Ryan Hunter-Reay from 8:30-9 p.m.

***

Foyt offers Indy VIP weekend: A.J. Foyt Racing is offering an Indy 500 VIP Weekend to the highest bidder in the Continental Airlines Frequent Flyer Program's Onepass Online Auction. It is the fifth straight year for the popular program. The winner and a guest will receive two race tickets and two Bronze Badges for the Indianapolis 500 race weekend.

They will meet A.J. Foyt and race driver Vitor Meira on Saturday, May 23 in the team's garage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and see the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda as it is being prepared for the race. After meeting Foyt and Meira, the winner and guest will attend the Drivers' Meeting at the track and tour the famous Gasoline Alley garage area. Bidders can participate by visiting www.continental.com and clicking on the Frequent Flyer tab, then to the Online Auction section. The Indy 500 package is listed in the Sports section. The auction closes at 9:30 a.m. (ET) Friday, May 15.

***

Racing to Recovery Gala May 13: The 10th Annual Racing to Recovery Gala hosted by the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation will take place Wednesday, May 13 at the Ritz Charles in Carmel, Ind. The annual gala celebrates the achievements of the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to funding scientific research, medical treatment, rehabilitation and technological advances to help those who have been afflicted with chronic and acute paralysis, as well as other neurological disorders such as ALS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Besides food, fun and socializing, annual SSPF Racing to Recovery Gala includes awards and a silent auction to benefit research.

***

Exhilarating golf available in May at BYC: The Speed of Play promotion continues in May at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, an 18-hole championship layout designed by Pete Dye at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Unique opportunities await those who choose to "Come Play Our Track" during May at Brickyard Crossing, as there will be eight days when the course and the racetrack will be open, providing golfers the incredible experience of playing while IndyCar Series cars zoom past at 220 mph. Golfers can play Brickyard Crossing on both qualifying weekends -- May 10, 17 and 18 -- for the first time, and during practice May 5-7 and May 14-15.

Other May promotions include:

•All moms play for free on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 10, when accompanied by a family member.

•Fast Fridays on the Fairway. Play 18 holes with a GPS-equipped cart and a box lunch for just $100.

•Twilight Golf. Play 18 holes after 4 p.m. for just $55, including a GPS-equipped cart. The course is closed for public play on Saturday, May 9, Friday, May 22 and Sunday, May 24 but will reopen for public play at noon (ET) Monday, May 25.

***

Andretti breakfast benefits charity: The Michael Andretti Foundation's annual "Breakfast with Michael" fundraising event will take place at 9 a.m. (ET) Thursday, May 14 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The popular, unique program provides an opportunity for fans to become VIPs for the morning by enjoying breakfast at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's North Chalet and receiving an inside look at the activities that take place at IndyCar Series events. In addition, an event ticket comes with a non-transferable Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage pass, allowing participants to get behind the scenes during the day's IndyCar Series practice session. Guests also will experience a special greeting from Michael Andretti, guest appearances by Andretti Green Racing drivers Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, Hideki Mutoh and Danica Patrick, and an interview with guest speaker Al Unser Jr. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be donated on behalf of The Michael Andretti Foundation to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose main goal is to help feed people in need.

The charitable donation for this limited event is $125 per person, of which $100 is tax deductible. To reserve your tickets, send an e-mail: foundation@andretti.com or call Ryann Rigsby at (317) 872-2700. Payment must be received in advance.

***

Vitale named parade grand marshal: Legendary college basketball analyst and ambassador d#$% Vitale will serve as grand marshal of the 2009 IPL 500 Festival Parade on Saturday, May 23 in downtown Indianapolis. As parade grand marshal, Vitale also will attend the Regions 500 Festival Snakepit Ball, presented by Cindy and Paul Skjodt, and take part in some ceremonial pre-race activities at the 2009 Indianapolis 500.

"I am absolutely flattered and really thrilled to be honored in this way," Vitale said. "The Indy 500 is one of the greatest sporting weekends and to be grand marshal will be an incredible treat. My entire family is really looking forward to it."

Vitale is best known for serving as a college basketball analyst for ESPN. He joined the network in 1979, following a successful college and professional coaching career. Vitale coached at the University of Detroit from 1973-77. In May 1978, he was named head coach of the NBA's Detroit Pistons, which he coached during the 1978-79. On Dec. 15, 1979, Vitale called ESPN's first major basketball game -- Wisconsin at DePaul. Since then he's called nearly 1,000 games. In 2008, Vitale was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

***

Cody Unser documentary begins Oscar runs: The theatrical release of "CODY: The First Step," a documentary about Cody Unser, has started Oscar qualifying runs in Los Angeles and New York. Unser is the daughter of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. and granddaughter of four-time Indy winner Al Unser. "CODY" is a powerful documentary that charts the extraordinary story of Cody Unser, 22, who became paralyzed from the chest down at age 12 from transverse myelitis. But she refused to let that diagnosis define her and instead at age 13 founded the Cody Unser First Step Foundation to ensure that money would be raised to find a cure.

For the last five years, Unser has lobbied state legislatures and Congress to push for stem-cell research, which offers the key to her recovery. During the film, Unser shares with the viewers her determination to walk again. The film takes the viewers on an intimate journey with Unser detailing her daily emotional and physical struggles. The film also charts where science and politics intersect. Visit www.cufsf.org to see the trailer.

"I hope my story will shed some light on what it is really like to live with paralysis," Unser said. "I also hope that the film will lead to more research dollars so that paralysis -- not just for me, but for all people -- will become a treatable and reversible diagnosis. I want to thank all the people who have made these Oscar Qualifying Runs possible, especially Don Chalmers Ford, the Off Shore Super Series Powerboat Racing Association, Johns Hopkins Project Restore and the Al Unser Jr. Children's Charities."

***

CARA Fashion Show on May 21: The 28th annual CARA Charities Fashion Show and Luncheon will take place at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 21 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis. VERSUS IndyCar Series anchor Bob Jenkins will serve as host, with scheduled appearances by Indianapolis 500 veterans Will Power, Mario Moraes and Bruno Junqueira and other special guests. Proceeds will benefit CARA's award-winning Buckle Up Baby program, Riley Children's Foundation, the Cody Unser First Step Foundation and the Lyn St. James Foundation.

Individual tickets are only $75, and reserved tables of 10 are available. Reservations can be made by calling (317) 299-2277 or online at www.CARAFashionShow.com.
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Postby mlittle » Fri May 29, 2009 7:54 am

Vitor Meira medical update 2009-05-27


Vitor Meira is Released from Hospital

INDIANAPOLIS May 27, 2009-- Vitor Meira was released from Methodist Hospital today and headed straight for the A.J Foyt Racing garage in Gasoline Alley where the team is preparing the No. 14 ABC Supply car for the upcoming race at Milwaukee.

"I feel pretty good today," said Meira who sounded chipper on the phone. He did a round of interviews with local TV stations at the hospital before heading out to the Speedway. At the garage, he was talking with his crew guys and gathering his stuff to pack up in his motorcoach.

"I am going to see the doctors tomorrow to make sure it's okay for me to fly home to Miami this weekend," said Meira. " Then I will get an x-ray down there in two weeks to make sure the spine is healing the way it should.

"It's going to be very hard for me to do nothing for the next two weeks. The doctors said after that, I can do a light workout but nothing that would load the spine. So I can work on my chest and arms and ride a stationary bike. I can't ride a regular bike because they don't want me to risk falling."

Meira's progress will be monitored by Miami-based doctors who were recommended by Dr. Terry Trammel, the orthopedic surgeon who is in charge of Meira's case. Meira said that the doctors believe his recovery would be faster if he did it at home rather than staying in Indianapolis and living in a hotel.
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