By Amy Konrath
Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. AirMed, LVCVA, AVIS and Others On Board for 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series; Sunoco and PerkinElmer entitle the Rookie of the Year Awards
2. Scheckter to drive for KV Racing Technology – SH Racing in 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500
3. Gregory & Appel to honor Firestone Indy Lights’ top winner
1. AirMed, LVCVA, AVIS and Others On Board for 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series; Sunoco and PerkinElmer entitle the Rookie of the Year Awards: With the IZOD IndyCar Series’ successful season kickoff this past weekend at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, INDYCAR enjoys new and renewed relationships and deeper investments from several of its partners.
AirMed International, the award-winning air ambulance company, has been signed as the official air ambulance of the IZOD IndyCar Series. The fleet of ICU-equipped jet aircraft will transport injured drivers and staff to hospitals in an emergency.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Association also has begun a partnership with INDYCAR, the sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights, to support the 2011 IZOD INDYCAR World Championships on Oct. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Sunoco, the official fuel of INDYCAR, has expanded its involvement by entitling the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. The highest-ranked driver based on points will receive a $50,000 bonus.
Awarding the $15,000 Rookie of the Year prize to the Firestone Indy Lights first-year standout will be PerkinElmer. The technology company, whose focus is in the business areas of human and environmental analysis, has for seven years tested the fuel composition at each racetrack to ensure it meets INDYCAR’s standards.
AVIS follows PerkinElmer’s suit, expanding its relationship with INDYCAR by implementing numerous activation elements in key race markets, with special emphasis placed on airport displays.
“These partners bring great value to INDYCAR,” said Greg Gruning, INDYCAR’s vice president of sales. “AirMed provides the peace of mind that our emergency medical transportation needs will be met; the LVCVA offers unparalleled promotional and media support for our crowning event, the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships; and the investment in our up-and-coming stars by Sunoco and Perkin Elmer helps the longevity of the sport by recognizing its best drivers.”
AirMed, LVCVA, AVIS, Sunoco and PerkinElmer join IZOD, Verizon, Philips and Mattel Hot Wheels in amped-up activation and promotional investments.
2. Scheckter to drive for KV Racing Technology – SH Racing in 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500: KV Racing Technology – SH Racing announced today that Tomas Scheckter will drive the No. 07 Team REDLINE Xtreme car in the 2011 Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“Scheckter embodies everything we were looking for in a pilot for the Team REDLINE Xtreme entry,” said SH Racing Principal James “Sulli” Sullivan. “Scheckter and our organization have gelled from day one and I could not be more pleased to have him in the seat,” added Sulli.
“REDLINE Xtreme and Scheckter are the perfect marriage of intense focus, energy and high speed reaction,” said Jack Owoc CEO/CSO of VPX Sports. “These university proven benefits of Redline Xtreme will propel Scheckter to the top and change the game of performance racing forever! The IZOD IndyCar series, Scheckter and REDLINE Performance Energy Drink all share one important trait: they’re Xtreme!”
Commenting on the relationship with SH Racing and the choice of Scheckter, KVRT co-owner Jimmy Vasser said, “We are thrilled to have formed a partnership with SH Racing and its primary sponsor REDLINE Xtreme Energy for the 100th Anniversary of the Indy 500. Sulli, his partner TJ Humphreys, KVRT General Manager Mark Johnson and I talked extensively about the possible candidates to drive the Team REDLINE Xtreme machine and I am very excited that we all agreed that Tomas was the right driver.”
Scheckter, 30, will be competing in an IZOD IndyCar Series race for the 10th consecutive season and will be making his 10th Indy 500 start. In nine previous races at the Brickyard, Scheckter has a best qualifying position of 10th (in 2002, 2004 and 2007) and a best finish of fourth in 2003 for Target Chip Ganassi Racing (finished seventh in 2007 with Vision Racing). In his inaugural Indy 500, in 2002, Scheckter led 85 laps and was leading the race as late as lap 173 of the 200 lap contest when an incident in Turn 4 knocked him out of the race. Never-the-less he was named the Indianapolis 500 co-Rookie of the Year.
“I am jacked to announce that I’ll will be driving the REDLINE Xtreme machine for the Indy 500,” said Scheckter. “I had been speaking with SH Racing for about six months, and when I found out they were partnered with KV Racing Technology, I knew this was the complete package. I can’t wait to get plugged in with the whole KVRT-SH crew and am ready to get the No. 07 Team REDLINE Xtreme Machine on track.”
The announcement was made at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where Scheckter formally presented his entry for the race making him the ceremonial first entrant into the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, scheduled for May 29, 2011.
The talented South African, who is the son of 1979 Formula One champion Jody Scheckter, has made 115 IZOD IndyCar starts earning 43 top-10 finishes with 18 top-five showings, two wins (Michigan in 2002 and Texas in 2005) and eight poles. His best season was in 2003 when, driving for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, he placed fourth in the final standings.
For the second year in a row KV Racing Technology will have four cars running in the Indianapolis 500. In addition to Scheckter, KV Racing Technology – Lotus will field cars for Tony Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, Takuma Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus and E. J. Viso, No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus.
3. Gregory & Appel to honor Firestone Indy Lights’ top winner: Gregory & Appel Insurance announced today that it is continuing the tradition of presenting the “Securing Tomorrow” Award for the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season. The award is in its sixth year.
The “Securing Tomorrow” award is a $5,000 cash prize given to the Firestone Indy Lights driver who wins the most races during the season. The past winners include Alex Lloyd (2007), Dillon Battistini (2008), JR Hildebrand (2009) and J.K. Vernay (2010).
“We are very pleased to continue to give back to the series”, said Darren Hickey, Vice President and Motorsports Practice Leader at Gregory & Appel. “The Firestone Indy Lights series is a vital part of the Mazda Road to Indy. We look forward to presenting our award to a driver who will be racing in INDYCAR in the near future.”
Based in Indianapolis, Gregory & Appel has a nationally-recognized Motorsports insurance practice that represents drivers, teams, promoters and other companies with direct motorsports involvement. Gregory & Appel provides an unmatched service platform and industry expertise to its motorsports sector clients.
Firestone Indy Lights serves as an essential step for drivers who aim to race in the IZOD IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500. It is part of the Indy Racing League’s Road to Indy developmental ladder system and will run 13 races in conjunction with the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2010.
“The pairing of Gregory & Appel Insurance with Firestone Indy Lights has been such a good fit for the last five years,” said Roger Bailey, executive director of Firestone Indy Lights. “Just like the goal of Gregory & Appel is to help their clients secure their future, the goal of Firestone Indy Lights and the Mazda Road to Indy is to help drivers secure their future in racing. I’m very happy to see our relationship continue.”
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series continues with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 10 at Barber Motorsports Park. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 212 and www.indycar.com. The 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season continues April 10 at Barber Motorsports Park with the Barber 100. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at Noon. (ET) by VERSUS.