By Amy Konrath
Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Teams test at Mid-Ohio to prepare for race
2. Rahal To Carry National Tire And Battery Colors For Mid-Ohio
3. Schmidt moves team to new shop in Indianapolis
1. Teams test at Mid-Ohio to prepare for race: Seventeen driver/car combinations were on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course July 29 to prepare for the Aug. 6-8 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance.
All four Andretti Autosport drivers (Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick) were joined by reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing; KV Racing’s Mario Moraes, Takuma Sato and E.J. Viso; Simona de Silvestro of Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing; Dan Wheldon of Panther Racing; Raphael Matos of de Ferran Dragon Racing; Bertrand Baguette of Conquest Racing; Milka Duno of Dale Coyne Racing; and Justin Wilson and J.R. Hildebrand from Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.
Additionally, Francesco Dracone was in a Conquest Racing car for his rookie test under the watchful eyes of IZOD IndyCar Series driver coach Al Unser Jr. and series technical director Kevin Blanch. Alex Lloyd, driver of the No. 19 Boys Scouts of America car for Dale Coyne Racing, took a few early laps to set up the car for Duno in the afternoon.
“The engineers had a pretty full list of items to test, and we have to take the time and use the opportunity to evaluate those items so we have a stronger baseline entering the race weekend,” said Matos, who also tested at Mid-Ohio on June 30. “We don’t get the opportunity to test that often, so being in the car as much as possible is important.”
In addition, Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon participated in a carbon fiber brake test at the request of the sanctioning body for potential use in the 2012 IndyCar Safety Cell.
2. Rahal To Carry National Tire And Battery Colors For Mid-Ohio: A company with a long history of getting cars started and keeping them rolling has stepped up to keep the 2010 IndyCar Series season of Graham Rahal moving forward, as National Tire and Battery® (NTB) will serve as the Ohio driver’s sponsor at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
“We are excited to add a second car to the Mid-Ohio race,” stated Bob Crostarosa, SVP Marketing/Advertising, TBC Retail Group. “Presenting the NTB® brand on the track, and associating ourselves with a proven performer in this key market compliments our regional marketing efforts and adds additional value to our motorsports program. We are looking forward to watching the NTB® and Service Central Indy Cars compete at Mid-Ohio.”
Newman/Haas Racing will field the #02 National Tire and Battery Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Graham at Mid-Ohio as the 21-year-old Rahal makes his second start of the year with the team. The NTB® sponsorship is in conjunction with Rahal Letterman Racing, with whom Graham competed in this year’s Indianapolis 500, and Newman/Haas Racing. Mid-Ohio will be the second of six races that Rahal will run with NHR this year, with the other five carrying sponsorship from Quick Trim®.
“We had a positive result in our first race back together this year,” said Rahal, about his fifth-place finish in Toronto with NHR. “And we are anticipating taking the National Tire and Battery® car to the front at Mid-Ohio! The track has a long history in my family and I am looking forward to climbing the podium that my dad stood on so many times during his career.”
NTB® and its service arm Service Central will be carried on the Newman/Haas Racing Indy Car, marking the first time that NTB® has been featured on an IndyCar Series machine.
3. Schmidt moves team to new shop in Indianapolis: After two races in Canada on consecutive weekends, the members of Sam Schmidt Motorsports have packed their bags for their return trip home, and more importantly, a new race shop from which they’ll work.
Beginning on August 1st, the team will officially be at their new address: 6803 Coffman Road in Indy’s northwest side of town.
“As an organization, we’re always seeking ways to grow on and off the track, and we felt the time was right to move into a bigger facility and give the team the ability to expand our racing capabilities,” team owner, Sam Schmidt said.
The race shop has a lot of history as it was the former home of Kelley Racing, an entrant in the IndyCar Series during the formative years of the Indy Racing League until their last race at the end of 2004.
The team’s assets, including the race shop, were then purchased by Tony and Laura George when they began their startup operation, Vision Racing, which competed full-time between 2005 and 2009 and just recently finished 15th in the 2010 Indianapolis 500 with Ed Carpenter driving. When Vision Racing ceased competition as a full-time operation earlier in 2010, the opportunity became available for Schmidt to pursue purchasing the facility and contents.
“The new shop is packed with state of the art motorsports equipment that we’ve managed to be without in our formative years,” Schmidt said. “The timing of all this couldn’t be better, and I know that the team and myself are looking forward to our new home. Combined with our experienced and technical staff already in place, this shop provides Sam Schmidt Motorsports the ability to compete in any series, if given the opportunity.”
The new space is effectively 3.5 times larger than the team’s previous base and incorporates the latest IndyCar technical equipment including a comprehensive fabrication shop, surface plates, dedicated shock and gearbox rooms, engineering space, carbon fiber manufacturing and body fit room, sufficient space for all transporters to park inside the shop, and most importantly according to Schmidt, a very large barbecue.
The team will say goodbye to their old shop at 7991 21st Street on Indy’s west side. The shop, owned by Bill Simpson of Impact Racing, had been the home to Sam Schmidt Motorsports since 2002. Before moving in, Schmidt’s IndyCar team that he drove for, Treadway Racing, had taken residence there.
It’s a nostalgic end to an era for Schmidt and the racing team.
“There’s been a lot of victories created out of that shop both personally and for the race team,” Schmidt said. “That was the home of the team that I got my first IndyCar pole position and win in, and our Firestone Indy Lights team has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success through the years being based out of there, including three driver championships and 36 race wins in the series.”
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues Aug. 8 with the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, presented by Westfield Insurance at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 212. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Mid-Ohio 100 on Aug. 8 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.