By Amy Konrath
Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
1. Servia making up ground in a hurry
2. Carpenter to serve as starter of 500 Festival Mini Marathon
3. INDYCAR to offer IZOD IndyCar Series races on YouTube
4. Fan Force United to field entry for Newton-John
5. USF2000 back on track with series of tests
6. INDYCAR, Lucas Oil team up with Indianapolis Motor Speedway to hold Indy 500 Soiree
1. Servia making up ground in a hurry: Oriol Servia has been on the move in the first four races this season. Now all he has to do is earn a decent qualifying position to be a podium contender.
Servia gained 12 positions relative to his starting spot in the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle to finish a season-best 11th. Overfour races, he’s advanced 39 spots.
The rundown (all races with 26-car fields):
St. Petersburg — Started 23, finished 16
Barber — Started 26, finished 13
Long Beach — Started 23, finished 16
Brazil — Started 23, finished 11
“Life, especially in racing, is very interesting,” said Servia, who was driving the No. 22 WIX Filters car for Lotus DRR that received a fresh engine after qualifications. “We almost didn’t make the start of the race. The guys did an amazing job. They were working until the last second putting the engine together and we didn’t think that we were going to make it.
“Somehow we picked up the best result of the year and we’ll take it. The engine got up and running, but it was definitely challenging as we lacked top speed on the straights, which made it difficult. I knew that I just had to survive and stay out of trouble. I was hoping to not get hit and we were lucky that didn’t happen.”
It was the final race of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing using the 2.2-liter, twin turbocharged V-6 engine supplied by Lotus through Engine Developments Ltd. Earlier in the week, the team and Group Lotus reached an amicable agreement to terminate the engine lease agreement. The team, which is in its 13th full-time season in the IZOD IndyCar Series, is expected to announce this week its engine plans for the Indianapolis 500 and the remainder of the season.
“We are now turning the new chapter,” Servia said. “This rough beginning of the season has helped us to mature together. We’ve grown a lot, very fast and it will be a great way to proceed for the rest of the season.”
2. Carpenter to serve as starter of 500 Festival Mini Marathon: IZOD IndyCar Series team owner/driver Ed Carpenter will be an honorary starter for the 36th OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis on May 5.
The “Mini” is the nation’s largest half-marathon with 35,000 participants.
Carpenter will join OneAmerica Chairman, President and CEO Dayton Molendorp, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and 500 Festival Board of Directors member Scott Thiems as starters for the 13.1-mile event.
“The ‘Mini’ really gets things going in Indianapolis for the Month of May,” Carpenter said. “It is a great event, and a spectacular view at the start downtown and at the Speedway with all of the runners.”
3. INDYCAR to offer IZOD IndyCar Series races on YouTube: INDYCAR announced today that it will offer IZOD IndyCar Series races to fans for the first time ever on the INDYCAR YouTube channel.
Starting with the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle, which took place this past Sunday on the streets of Sao Paulo, full broadcast or specially-customized broadcast versions of each 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series race will be posted on YouTube for fans in the U.S. to view within 36 hours after the telecast.
“This is more than merely a great opportunity for INDYCAR to populate its YouTube channel with more racing footage,” said Randy Bernard, CEO of INDYCAR. “It’s a chance for our drivers, teams and sponsors to receive more brand exposure and recognition and an opportunity to bring the thrill of INDYCAR racing to new audiences.”
In addition to making current IZOD IndyCar Series races available, INDYCAR will also bring archival footage, like historical fan-favorite races, to INDYCAR’s YouTube Channel.
To view the Sao Paulo Indy 300 online, visit INDYCAR’s YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/indycars.
4. Fan Force United to field entry for Newton-John: The Indianapolis 500 isn’t the only race hardcore open-wheel fans look forward to in the month of May. The Freedom 100, the premiere Firestone Indy Lights race of the season, is the feast of feasts for audiences looking to scope out the best of INDYCAR’s future stars, and the entry list just got one driver better.
Fan Force United announced that Emerson Newton-John, nephew of actress/singer Olivia Newton-John, will be joining the team in its second car for the Freedom 100 alongside season regular Armaan Ebrahim. The race will mark the new team’s first endeavor on an oval.
Newton-John brings a wide span of experience into Firestone Indy Lights. Most notable was his time in the Australian open-wheel Formula Holden Series, former stomping grounds of current IZOD IndyCar Series driver Will Power.
“As my goal is to compete in the [IZOD] IndyCar Series within the next two years, the Firestone Indy Lights series just makes complete sense for me,” Newton-John said, “and the Freedom 100 is the best way to kick off my return to the sport.”
The Charlotte, N.C., resident recently tested a Firestone Indy Lights car with the team at Putnam Park Raceway, just west of Indianapolis. His first effort impressed team principals Scott Williamson and Tyce Carlson, especially with poor weather conditions.
“All of our guys at the test were impressed with his feedback and how he got up to speed. He didn’t bobble at all and that shows good composure,” Williamson said. “He was aggressive and confident. He was really pushing, braking very deep in the corners. It was windy and cold and we didn’t have a lot of tire temperature. Still, he was focused on getting up to speed regardless of the conditions. Very impressive.”
Before Newton-John can hope to participate in the race, he must pass the rookie oval test and gain his license. All rookie drivers will head to Iowa Speedway to make the final preparations for their oval debut.
Newton-John is confident that his past experience will make for a smooth transition into the series, and noted that his time in the Formula Holden Series helped him ease into the Firestone Indy Lights car. It’s not an easy task to enter a new series in the largest event on its schedule at one of the most famous racetracks in the world, but he has set goals that he fully plans on accomplishing.
“My goals for the race are to stay out of the crashes that are bound to happen, and to finish in the top 6,” Newton-John said. “Don’t get me wrong though…if I can figure that magical place out quickly, then there is no reason why I won’t push for more.”
5. USF2000 back on track with series of tests: The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda is back in action this week as a field of 24 drivers will take to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course tomorrow for a pair of official series test days on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn permanent road course.
The outing will offer 15 total hours of track time to prepare drivers for Rounds 6 and 7 of the championship when the series returns to the Lexington, Ohio-based circuit on August 4 and 5, and additional road course events at Road America and Virginia International Raceway.
On Friday, drivers will travel to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Oval Clinic, joining their fellow competitors in the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear and Firestone Indy Lights. Hosted by INDYCAR’s Director of Grassroots Initiatives Jason Penix and led by multiple driving champion and USF2000 driving coach Gerardo Bonilla, the clinic covers all aspects of oval racing with the intricacies supported by video footage.
The panel of experts who will be sharing their oval racing knowledge include INDYCAR President of Competition Beaux Barfield, IZOD IndyCar Series driver and team owner Ed Carpenter, former Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year and Elite Engines owner Steve Knapp, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team owner and former Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, and former driver, INDYCAR race steward and Cooper Tires Technical/Driver Consultant, Performance Advisor and spokesman Johnny Unser.
Drivers – many of whom will be turning their first oval laps – will have the opportunity to put these lessons to practice the very next day during a test at nearby Lucas Oil Raceway on Saturday, May 5. Sharing the track with Star Mazda, USF2000 drivers will have five hours of testing on the 0.686-mile oval in preparation for the popular “Night Before the 500” on May 26 – Round 5 of USF2000 competition and the only oval event on the series calendar.
“May is always a great month of learning for our drivers,” said Dan Andersen, President and CEO of Andersen Promotions, the series promoter. “With 20 hours of testing, the oval clinic and Mazda Road to Indy Summit activities around the Indy 500, the goal is to provide our drivers with all the tools to be successful on track, gain exposure and move up the racing ladder. INDYCAR is a tremendous supporter of the next generation of talent as witnessed by these programs and they are continually striving to bring more to the table. The entire ladder system is just a fantastic program.”
Summit activities surrounding the Indianapolis 500 include an autograph session on Community Day, a shop tour of Andretti Autosport hosted by Michael Andretti, track laps at the famed Brickyard, a driver fitness and wellness course by PitFit Training, a meet-and-greet with IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights team owners as well as the opportunity for the winners of the “Night Before the 500” in USF2000, Star Mazda and Firestone Freedom 100 races to be interviewed on victory podium minutes before the start of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
6. INDYCAR, Lucas Oil team up with Indianapolis Motor Speedway to hold Indy 500 Soiree: INDYCAR and Lucas Oil Products announced today that they have partnered with Indianapolis Motor Speedway to celebrate one of Indianapolis’ richest traditions, the Indianapolis 500, and give back to the community with the Indy 500 Soiree presented by Lucas Oil.
The Indy 500 Soiree presented by Lucas Oil will be an evening filled with distinctive entertainment, gourmet food, cocktails, live music, dancing and other surprises. It is scheduled to take place at the Lucas Estate, Friday, May 25 at 7 p.m. This annual event will raise money for charities which support Indianapolis and the surrounding community. Garth Brooks’ Teammates for Kids Foundation and its Riley Hospital for Children Child Life Zone project will be the beneficiary of the proceeds raised during this year’s party.
“We wanted to give Indianapolis a spectacular event that residents could look forward to each year and also support the community that has loyally followed Indy car racing and the ‘500’ for decades,” said Randy Bernard, CEO of INDYCAR. “With each annual soiree, we plan to celebrate the Indy 500 and champion a cause worthwhile to our community. Teammates for Kids’ Child Life Zone at Riley Hospital for Children is the first of many causes we hope to benefit.”
“The Indianapolis 500 is one of Indiana’s most celebrated traditions. What better way is there to join the celebration than to get the community involved in such a meaningful initiative that we hope to pull off successfully for Riley Hospital,” said Forrest Lucas, president and CEO of Lucas Oil Products. “As a proud board member of this organization, I am thrilled that Teammates for Kids has committed to improve Riley Hospital by bringing their Child Life Zone to our community. Charlotte and I are so excited to open our private estate and welcome everyone who chooses to partake in the exciting festivities that the Indy 500 Soiree presented by Lucas Oil will bring. We are honored to be given this opportunity to help Riley Hospital reach its goals as one of our many efforts in this community!”
Brooks co-founded the Teammates for Kids Foundation in 1999 to develop and implement innovative concepts that generate funds for the benefit of children’s charities. The foundation partnered with the Troy Aikman Foundation to build Child Life Zones in hospitals across the country. These zones are state-of-the-art therapeutic and educational environments for children and families filled with high-tech electronics/games, a multi-use theatre, performance stage, interactive broadcast studio, kitchen/eating area and a therapeutic craft and play center. To date, the partnership has built seven Child Life Zones throughout the United States. Riley Hospital for Children is one of the next recipients.
“Teammates is honored to team with Riley Hospital for Children in bringing the Child Life Zone to the great city of Indianapolis,” Brooks said. “Not only will the Zone improve the lives of Indiana’s children, it will also improve the lives of children around the globe. Teammates is a large believer in Child Life programming, and we look forward to the many great opportunities the Zone at Riley Hospital for Children will create.”
Said Dr. Jeff Sperring, president and CEO of Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health: “We are honored and grateful that Teammates for Kids has selected Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health as one of the next children’s hospitals to receive their gift of a Child Life Zone. Teammates for Kids recognizes the important role Child Life plays in children’s healing. The Teammates for Kids Child Life Zone at Riley at IU Health will feature spaces where children and their families will be able to receive therapy together. We know the space will be incredible. Even more incredible, however, will be how our Child Life professionals use this space to produce better outcomes for our Riley patients and families. We’re very thankful to INDYCAR, Lucas Oil and IMS for working with Teammates for Kids to put on the Indy 500 Soiree for our benefit.”
The Indy 500 Soiree presented by Lucas Oil will offer an exclusive VIP reception with red carpet for guests to mingle with Brooks, Indy 500-qualified drivers, and other celebrities from 6-7 p.m. The doors for general admission guests open at 7 p.m. For opportunities to support the event through sponsorship or donations, or for more information, please visit www.lucasoil.com/indy500soiree or call Detail & Design at 317 423 3590.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Indianapolis 500 Mile on May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be televised by ABC at 11a.m. (ET) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network on SiriusXM (XM 94 and Sirius 212). The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 25 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be televised live by NBC Sports Network at Noon (ET).