IZOD Indy Car Series

Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:

1.      INDYCAR stars meet. MLS Draft Hopefuls in asphalt friendly

2.      Field for Skip Barber Racing School INDYCAR Academy named

1. INDYCAR stars meet. MLS Draft Hopefuls in asphalt friendly: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has hosted a myriad of competitive events in its history. Whether the first soccer match held on the Speedway is remembered remains to be seen.

IZOD IndyCar Series drivers Simona de Silvestro, Graham Rahal and Josef Newgarden joined Indiana University’s Eriq Zavaleta to take on MLS draft hopefuls Carlos Alvarez, Kyle Bekker, and Andrew Farrell on a field set up on the main straightaway of the famed 2.5-mile oval.

“I’ve been here to see races, but never seen soccer here, so it was an honor to be part of it,” said Zavaleta, a native of Westfield, Ind., who helped lead his team to the NCAA men’s national championship in 2012. “The drivers were great. I didn’t know what to expect from them but they did great. They showed they had some skill.”

What was supposed to be a friendly game between the drivers and the draft prospects got serious once the drivers team took an early 1-0 lead on a goal by de Silvestro.

“It got super competitive,” Newgarden said. “We’re race car drivers and they’re soccer players. Soccer players are always competitive and with race car drivers whatever you’re doing ends up being competitive. If it’s board games, it gets competitive.

“There’s never a bad time to be at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We had fun. Everyone was going at it pretty hard.”

The prospects – all expected to be drafted in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft – scored the next three goals to take a 3-1 halftime lead, but in the second half Rahal led a comeback for the drivers.

Trailing 4-2, Rahal scored a pair of goals to tie the game – including an impressive shot from the right wing – and after the prospects again took the lead, Rahal then set up Zavaleta who scored the equalizer from midfield to send the game to penalty kicks.

“I’ve lost my (soccer) skills, but it was still fun to be out here today kicking around with these guys,” said Rahal, who said he last played soccer as a boy growing up in Ohio. “It’s a big week for (the prospects) here in Indy. It was exciting for us and exciting for them. More than anything it was a lot of fun. I scored a couple of goals, and it’s been a while since I did that.”

But in the end, soccer skills reigned supreme as the MLS Draft Prospects outlasted the drivers in a sudden death penalty shootout. Though they didn’t win the game, the drivers still came out proud of their performance as a group.

“I think it’s pretty exciting to be on the yard of bricks playing soccer,” de Silvestro said. “I never thought I would be able to do that. It’s a just great opportunity to play with the future MLS players, and I think we held our own as drivers. If they were in a race car, that would be a different story. It was great fun. I think we did pretty well, considering we’re not soccer players. The competitiveness was there and we finished 5-5 before we lost on penalties. I think we did all right.”

Added Bekker: “The drivers definitely showed well. They really gave us a run for our money.”

And it might lead to a new hobby for a few of the drivers next offseason.

“Simona and I were saying next year, we’ll have to get an indoor league going,” Rahal said.

2. Field for Skip Barber Racing School INDYCAR Academy named: An Olympic gold medalist is among the drivers who will participate in the Skip Barber Racing School INDYCAR Academy on Jan. 25-27 at Sebring International Raceway.

Tyler Clary, who claimed the Olympic title in swimming at the 2012 London games, is among the field of 33 drivers that also includes students, U.S. military personnel, salesmen and doctors.

They are all vying for a sponsored ride in either the 2013 summer or winter Skip Barber Regional Race Series presented by Mazda and the opportunity to climb the Mazda Road to Indy ladder.

Clary qualified for the INDYCAR Academy after he participated in the Skip Barber Formula Car Racing School after visiting IZOD IndyCar Series races last summer. Finalists applied for the Academy after graduating from a three-day Skip Barber Formula Car Racing School. All of them have no professional racing or karting experience.

The Skip Barber Racing School, which was named the Official Racing School of the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Mazda Road to Indy, has trained and developed racing talent for almost four decades.

“Skip Barber Racing School is committed to continuing to be the launching pad for many of the world’s top drivers and the Skip Barber Racing School INDYCAR Academy is another tremendous opportunity to discover those drivers who will be the next generation of the best of the best,” said Michael Culver, CEO, Skip Barber Racing School.

“INDYCAR stars Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco and Michael Andretti, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Josef Newgarden and Bryan Herta have all benefited from Skip Barber Racing School programs, and the Skip Barber Racing School INDYCAR Academy is another chance for those who desire to race professionally to achieve their goals based on merit, not money.”

The 33 finalists selected from 84 applicants, in alphabetical order by first name (hometown, occupation, age):

  • Aaron Gravelle, San Francisco, Marketing, 24
  • Aaron Walker, Philadelphia, Landlord, 22
  • Adam Diamond, Atlanta, Project Manager, 24
  • Alan Baker, Vancouver, British Columbia, Computer Consultant, 51
  • Andre Gomes, Nashua, N.H., Computer Technician, 25
  • Andrew Baxter, Runsom, N.J., Student, 23
  • Brandon Pratt, Milford, Pa., Air National Guard, 26
  • Cody King, Clarkalke, Mich., Sciences Promoter, 21
  • Connor Clifford, Chicago, Bartender, 25
  • Corey Wright, West Green, Ga., Student, 20
  • David Alpert, Naples, Fla., Web Consultant/Student, 24
  • David Matlock, Springfield, Mo., Emergency Physician, 33
  • Doug Peterman, Bend, Ore., Student, 21
  • James Allard, Hoosick, N.Y., IT Specialist, 27
  • Jaime Colmenares, San Francisco, Senior Manager, 39
  • Jarrett Overstreet, Roanoke, Va., Student, 17
  • Javier Cantu-Lucero, Seattle, Kart Track Operator, 20
  • John Howe, Grass Lake, Mich., Test Driver, 24
  • Joshua Lenhard, Las Vegas, Single Father/Data Entry, 25
  • Justin Finkle, Delmar, N.Y., Gemologist, 30
  • Kevin Woods, Newark, Calif., 41
  • Mac Wolff, Katy, Texas, New Homes Sales, 23
  • Matthew Donmoyer, Aurora, Colo., Field Engineer, 24
  • Matthew Ivanhoe, Greenwich, Conn., Internet Entrepenuer, 25
  • Matthew Wilkes, Chapel Hill, N.C. Student, 21
  • Max Hanratty, Hartland, Wisc., Student, 19
  • Michael Wu, Woodbridge, Va., Software Engineer, 27
  • Michai Stephens, Evanston, Ill., Construction, 20
  • Reza Kianersi, Fresno, Calif., Engine Tuner, 29
  • Sabastian Cedeno, Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador, Floor Specialist, 24
  • Todd Soukup, Chicago, Mechanical Engineer, 29
  • Tyler Clary, Riverside, Calif., Professional Swimmer, 23
  • Wolfgang Obergin, Ukiah, Calif., Construction, 22