BC 39 Moves Date, Expands Schedule

A week that began with some sour Indycar notes is ending with a more positive spin Today IMS announced a new date and format for the BC39 USAC midget race. I like the new date because it is after the Indycar season and follows the new IMSA race by a couple of weeks

The announcement from IMS:

Driven2SaveLives BC39 Expands
to Four Nights, Weekend in September 2023

 INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, Dec. 9, 2022) – The Driven2SaveLives BC39 will celebrate its fifth running in 2023 by moving to a new date as a standalone weekend event, Sept. 27-30 at The Dirt Track at IMS, featuring a new format placing the wheel-to-wheel racing of United States Auto Club (USAC) NOS Energy Drink National Midget Championship in an even bigger spotlight.
Action under the lights will start Wednesday, Sept. 27, continuing every night through the 39-lap BC39 feature race Saturday, Sept. 30.
Event format, ticket information and other event details will be announced in the future.
“The BC39 continues to draw fans and competitors from around the country as it has become one of the most prestigious dirt track races in the United States,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “In 2023, fans will see more racing on more nights, which is great news for everyone who shares the passion for this incredibly competitive series and its talented drivers.“
An expanded schedule also will encourage more people to register for organ donation through the Indiana Donor Network, a cause that was so important to Bryan Clauson and remains a focus of the Clauson family.
”The event on the quarter-mile dirt oval inside Turn 3 at IMS will continue to honor late USAC champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 starter Bryan Clauson and increase awareness of and participation in the Indiana Donor Network and Driven2SaveLives.
“We are excited to see the Driven2SaveLives BC39 return for 2023,” said Tim Clauson, Bryan Clauson’s father.
“We are humbled that Roger Penske and Doug Boles see this event worthy of having a dedicated weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Getting to honor Bryan’s memory, as well as share the story of organ and tissue donation at a place so special to Bryan, is simply amazing. Thank you to Roger, Doug and USAC for continuing to grow this event.”Said Taylor McLean, marketing program specialist for Indiana Donor Network and Bryan Clauson’s sister:
“Everyone at Indiana Donor Network and Driven2SaveLives is thrilled to see the BC39 return for the fifth year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2023. It is an honor to be able to be a part of an event that Bryan would be proud of. We are so excited to continue to give drivers and fans a place to honor Bryan and continue building support for organ donation and transplantation within the racing community through our Driven2SaveLives ambassador program.”
Buddy Kofoid won the Driven2SaveLives BC39 in August en route to his second consecutive USAC National Midget Championship. He outdueled Cannon McIntosh in a cushion-riding thriller. 

‘100 Days to Indy’ Coming to The CW Network in Spring 2023

Penske Entertainment announced this morning plans to significantly increase their marketing budget. This news which just broke may be the first sign of the new budget

From IMS:

Penske Entertainment, NTT INDYCAR SERIES Partner
with VICE Media Group for New Documentary Series

INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022) – Penske Entertainment and The CW Network announced Dec. 8 they are joining forces with VICE Media Group for “100 Days to Indy,” a first-of-its-kind broadcast series about the road to the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, the world’s premier motorsports competition.
Produced by Penske Entertainment and VICE Media Group, the six-part series will take fans behind the scenes to chronicle the bold and brash personalities of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES as they begin the 2023 season and start their epic quest for racing’s greatest prize. “100 Days to Indy” will air on The CW Network in spring 2023.
“The Indy 500 is the most unique, exhilarating and engaging event on the planet,” Penske Entertainment President and CEO Mark Miles said. “It’s an unrivaled spectacle fueled by ambitious, fearless and captivating personalities. This series will give viewers an unprecedented front row seat as the racing season begins and the countdown to Indy accelerates. Ultimately, through the compelling creative lens and massive reach of both VICE and The CW, we will bring the world-class competition and drama of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES to a newer and more youthful audience.
”The 100-day window is benchmarked by drama, intrigue and fierce competition from the very first race of the season all the way to the checkered flag at the Indianapolis 500. For the winner, it is a life-changing experience, etching his or her name into the history books. This year, four-time Indy 500 winner and former “Dancing with the Stars” champion Helio Castroneves is eyeing a record fifth win but will face stiff competition from a rising generation of young talent all eyeing “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” and its multimillion-dollar purse.
“100 Days to Indy” will showcase what it takes to compete at the highest levels and at the height of danger, while providing a window into the on- and off-track lives of some of the sport’s most engaging drivers.“
‘100 Days to Indy’ is a high-octane adventure grounded in emotional sports storytelling,” said Brad Schwartz, president, Entertainment, The CW Network. “Alongside our partners at VICE Media Group, Penske Entertainment and NTT INDYCAR SERIES, we have come together to deliver a series that will follow these champions of the racetrack and keep viewers on the edge of their seats.”
The compelling docuseries will be produced by multiple award-winning VICE World News, with Emmy Award-winning Patrick Dimon directing and Bryan Terry executive producing for VICE. The series will have a fast re-air on VICE TV and be supported across VICE’s global social media channels.
“VICE is honored to produce the first sports project with Nexstar and The CW since the acquisition and to bring this series through the checkered flag with everyone at the network,” said Morgan Hertzan, president, Global TV at VICE Media Group. “The team at the NTT INDYCAR SERIES has an incredible journey for the world to join, and VICE is looking forward to being in the driver’s seat with them.”
About VICE Media Group
VICE Media Group is a global multiplatform media company. Launched in 1994, VICE has offices in 25 countries across the globe with a focus on five key businesses: VICE.com, an award-winning international network of digital content; VICE STUDIOS, a feature film and television production studio; VICE TV, an Emmy-winning international television network; a Peabody award-winning NEWS division with the most Emmy-awarded nightly news broadcast; and VIRTUE, a global, full-service creative agency. VICE Media Group’s portfolio includes Refinery29, the leading global media and entertainment company focused on women; Pulse Films, a London-based next-generation production studio with outposts in Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Berlin; and i-D, a global digital and quarterly style bible defining fashion and contemporary culture and design.
About VICE World News
Building off the success of VICE News in the U.S, VICE World News is VICE Media Group international news network, producing hundreds of hours of television, digital and audio news programming for a global audience. The premium documentaries, docuseries and original podcasts will focus on the core issues that so define VICE’s content: extremism, climate, drugs, privacy, politics, inequality and race.
About The CW Network
The CW Network, LLC is America’s fifth major broadcast network, offering 14 hours of primetime programming, Monday through Sunday. The CW is 75%-owned by Nexstar Media Group, Inc. For more information about the network and its programming, visit www.cwtv.com.

It’s Not the End of the World

News Tuesday afternoon that the anticipated 2.4 liter engine, set to debut in 2024, has been shelved sent a tsunami of gloom and doom through the Indycar fan base. Soaring production casts and issues with the new hybrid componen, as well as a lack of a third OEM, all contributed to the decision by Honda, Chevrolet, and the series to rake a step back.

The two engine manufacturers also had to redirect some of the resources for the new engine to help develop the ERS hybrid system.

The higher cost of the 2.4 liter twin turbo meant that fewer cars would be on the grid. Only as many as 12 cars, maybe fewer, could be supplied at that price. Indycar would have had a smaller grid, and likely a shrunken field for the 500.

Am I disappointed? Yes. i was looking forward to the sound of the bigger engine. Is the series doomed? I don’t think so. Indycar is coming off a great season and is anticipating a larger full time grid for the coming season. This is a setback, no doubt, but it prevents a shrinkage of the grid for 2024 and beyond.

I am more concerned about the series marketing efforts. When a new marketing director is on board, that needs a budget at least quadruple what it is now. The series has for far too long relied on others to promote for them. They need to be more proactive and give the new director more tools to work with.

While the optics of the engine n3ws looks bad, it is not the end of the world. Let’s enjoy what we have for now.

Indycar Recaps Sustainable Initiatives

From Indycar

INDYCAR Continuing Path
with Sustainable Leadership in Motorsports
 INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022) – The 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season saw the announcement and implementation of many significant steps to a more sustainable motorsports racing series.
Perhaps the biggest announcement was the strategic partnership with Shell where the INDYCAR SERIES will compete with 100% Renewable Fuel beginning with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on March 5, 2023. In addition, all INDYCAR team transporters supporting the series, will continue with 100% Renewable Diesel as they journey from their race shops to all 2023 race venues.
The Firestone Firehawk race tire with a green sidewall made from guayule rubber debuted in August at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. This scalable, sustainable and domestic source of natural rubber will be utilized in 2023.
INDYCAR is also continuing its path toward the introduction of a hybrid engine platform for the 2024 race season. This program is being developed through the collaboration of Ilmor, Chevrolet and Honda Performance Development. Testing of the hybrid motor has commenced and will continue through the 2023 season. With the introduction of the hybrid motor, the 2.4-liter engine will be paused to allow the innovative hybrid technology to be paired with the proven 2.2-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engines.
“We are most proud of the many advancements that the NTT INDYCAR SERIES has made in leading the motorsports world toward a more sustainable future”, INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “The 2.2-liter INDYCAR engines supplied by Honda and Chevrolet have provided the most competitive racing in the world. The 2024 hybrid engine package will provide even more excitement with horsepower increases over the current engine.”
The 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season will begin Sunday, March 5 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding. Coverage will be available on NBC and simulstreamed on Peacock. Coverage also will be available from the INDYCAR Radio Network with audio available on the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA.

Marcus Armstong Joins CGR for 2023 Road and Street Courses

In a bit of a surprise move, Marcus Armstrong will drive for Chip Ganassi Racing in the 2023 season. Armstrong was rumored to be the full time driver of the number 51 Dale Coyne with Rick Ware entry.

The announouncement from CGR:

Chip Ganassi Racing announced today that Marcus Armstrong will drive the No. 11 Honda in road and street course races across the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. 

“I’m ecstatic to be a part of the INDYCAR SERIES, but especially with Chip Ganassi Racing because it is such an iconic and successful team. I have an extraordinary opportunity in front of me to learn from people that have been performing at the absolute highest level in this sport,” said Armstrong. “As a Kiwi, I’ve always watched Scott Dixon succeed in the championship with this team, so on a personal level this is quite special for me. I am a hard worker that looks to improve every single day. With the knowledge and personnel that this team has, I’m very excited to take on this new challenge.”

“Marcus driving the No. 11 car for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2023 is exciting. As a 22-year-old, what is in common to others who have climbed into INDYCAR with CGR is that at that age he already knows how to win,” said Mike Hull, Managing Director of Chip Ganassi Racing: “That’s been repeatedly proven at the highest global level. Besides talent, the intangible that he brings creates measurement through opportunity. Bring on 2023!”

Armstrong, 22, is set to make his North American professional debut after competing in the FIA Formula 2 Championship from 2020 to 2022 where he earned four wins and eight podiums. Armstrong scored his first victory in the series in 2021 at Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia, and then registered three wins across the 2022 campaign in Italy, Austria and the Netherlands. Armstrong also served as a development driver for the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team in 2021.

The Christchurch, New Zealand, native launched his racing career behind the wheel of go-karts at 10 years old. He won five go-karting national championships in New Zealand before moving to Europe in 2015 to compete on the world stage. In 2017, Armstrong made the jump to Formula 4 where he won the Italian Formula 4 championship in his first season competing in the series. Armstrong competed in Formula 3 across the 2018 and 2019 seasons, where he tallied four wins, four pole positions and 16 podiums. 

Armstrong is set to meet his Chip Ganassi Racing teammates in Indianapolis next week. He will become the first driver in Chip Ganassi Racing history to pilot a No. 11 entry when he races the Streets of St. Petersburg on March 5. 

Chip Ganassi Racing will share an update on the driver of the No. 11 Honda for oval races at a later date. 

Source: Chip Ganassi Racing

Andretti Signs Jamie Chadwick for Indy NXT Series

Andretti Autosport has signed three-time W Series champion Jamie Chadwick to drive in the Indy NXT Series for 2023. My take- it’s about time she got the recognition for her ability. I hope this leads to her getting a full time Indycar ride in the future.

The Andretti announcement follows:

INDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 1, 2022) – Andretti Autosport has signed three-time W Series Champion, Jamie Chadwick, to join Andretti Autosport for the 2023 INDY NXT by Firestone season. Chadwick will make her American racing series debut in the No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport Dallara and become the first female in 13 years to compete full-time in the INDY NXT championship. 

DHL, the world’s leading express and logistics company, will serve as primary sponsor of Chadwick’s entry, partnering with Andretti Autosport and Jamie to grow the company’s long-standing partnership with the team, dating from 2010. Supporting Jamie Chadwick is a natural progression that aligns with DHL’s global values in creating inclusion for all, including the development of women around the world through its global partnerships and within its business. 

The British racing driver joined the female free-to-enter Championship, W Series in its inaugural season in 2019 and achieved two race victories and three podium finishes which saw Chadwick win the 2019 W Series Championship. Chadwick continued her positive trajectory claiming the 2021 and 2022 W Series Championships while continuing as a member of the Williams Racing Driver Academy.

DHL and Andretti Autosport, a pioneer in driver development, see this new signing of the first confirmed female in the 2023 INDY NXT championship as an important part of continuing to support the development of young talent particularly in the male-dominated environment of racing.

Michael Andretti, CEO & Chairman, Andretti Autosport, said:

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside DHL for the 2023 INDY NXT season. Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but the INDY NXT series gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing. DHL is a long-standing team partner; we are happy to welcome them to the INDY NXT series and excited to welcome Jamie to the team. We’ve turned out five INDY NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Mike Parra, CEO, DHL Express, Americas, said: 

“DHL are proud to partner with Jamie as she takes the next progressive step in her motorsports career. As the most international company in the world, DHL has a strong focus on Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging. Jamie is a fantastic example of inclusion & women empowerment within motorsports. As the Number 1 Great Place to Work for a second year, we want to further reinforce our position with regards to diversity & inclusion and feel that the partnership with Jamie is great platform do this through the values we both share.”

Jamie Chadwick, Driver, No. 28 DHL Dallara, said:

“I’m hugely excited to be joining Andretti Autosport for the 2023 INDY NXT season with DHL. My aim is always to challenge myself and continue my progression as a driver and this represents not only a big step up but also a big step towards my goal of competing in the highest categories of single seater racing. Andretti Autosport’s standing in the sport is second to none and I hope to bring more success to such a prestigious team. I can’t wait to get started.”

Chadwick’s first race with Andretti Autosport will be on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, for the 2023 INDY NXT season opener March 3-5, 2023. She joins Andretti Autosport INDY NXT teammates Hunter McElrea (No. 27 Dallara) and Louis Foster (No. 26 Dallara), and becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings who competes for Andretti United Extreme E.

The Price of Success

Has Iowa and Indycar gone too far? The Hy-Vee Indycar Weekend in 2022 at Iowa Speedway was a smashing success. There were big crowds, two Indycar races, and four concerts with popular acts. For 2023, the series and sponsor looked to improve the show, but has the average fan been priced out?

I was one of many fans who gasped at the renewal prices. In my case, my single ticket, upper grandstand, went from a weekend price of $156 to $348. I felt last year’s price was reasonable. Each day’s ticket was actually less than my seat for the Indianapolis 500.

Price jumps I have heard from other fans:

2022-$200 2023-$700

2022-$335 2023-$796

2022-$250 2023- $800

Last year’s $50 flex ticket is now $100 and kids under 15 years old must have a ticket. Last year kids were free with an adult ticket purchase.

The renewal prices. Prices listed are single day tickets.

While these prices are nowhere close to what a ticket to an F1 race cost, I find a jump of more than 200% unconscionable.

My understanding is the fees the 2023 performers charge are the reason. The promoters should have taken that into consideration before booking these acts. I don’t go for the concerts; none of them interested me last year, nor do they interest me this coming season.

Indycar and Hy-Vee need to make a decision- are they putting on a race with concerts or are they putting on a music festival with races as intermission? If it’s the latter, I’m not interested. Indycar is straying from its mission to provide racing entertainment.

Bud Denker of Penske Corporation talks about what a great value the event is. I guess it depends on what you value. I love Iowa Speedway and the racing there, but I don’t think it is worth $174 a day.

When he 20 event was announced, I thought that this package would be the future for ovals. The model may be, but if the series is going to price out the average fun, will it matter?

Seconds from SECOND

A few moe photos from the IMS Museum’s new exhibit, SECOND

Bill Vukovich II was chasing Gordon Johncock in 1973 when rain halted the race. Could he have caught Johncock?
Dan Gurney finished second in 1968 and 1969. His Eagle chassis would win the 500.
Jimmy Jackson drove to second place in 1946. Had he won, Jackson would have been the last Indian born driver to win the 500. Wilbur Shaw still holds that honor.
Ted Horn ran second in 1936, starting a string of nine straight top 4 finishes. It was his only second place finish.
The story about second place finishers is complete without Harry Hartz. Hartz has the most second place finishes without ever winning the 500. He did get to Victory lane as a car owner.

SECOND- Drivers Who Almost Drank the Milk

Photo-Sam Hornish edges Marco Andretti for the win in 2006

“No one remembers who finished second except the guy who finished second.” Bobby Unser

Twists of fate kept several drivers from winning the Indianapolis 500. Some went on to win later on, but for many, second place was their best finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Some had many more chances, while some never returned to the race.

Second place at Indianapolis mostly goes unnoticed Unlike other races on the schedule, there is no podium; only the winner receives recognition.

The IMS Museum gives the spotlight to these drivers, many of whom I believe are remembered for finishing second. While the display focuses on runners-up who never won, tribute is paid to those who eventually drank the milk or owned the winning car.

Here are some of the stories on display.

Whether due to controversial scoring, rain, car damage, or a late yellow, fans and drivers have to wonder what might have been. Controversy reigned in the first 500 in 1911. Ray Harroun was awarded the victory, and Ralph Mulford finished second. Or is that really how the race ended. Mulford maintained for a long time that he won he first 500.

Is this the actual winner of the first 500? Car on display is a replica

Perhaps the most controversial finish since 1911 occurred in 2002. Paul Tracy pulled ahead of leader Helio Castroneves on lap 198 just as the yellow flag came out. Did Tracy pass Castroneves before or after the flag was thrown? Officials ruled that the yellow was out when the pass was made. Castroneves got first place back and won his second straight 500,

Oh, So Close!

While most races ended with the winner easily ahead, there have been some very close finishes since 1982. When Gordon Johncock beat Ric Mears to the line that year, the two drivers broke a record that had stood since 1937. Wilbur Shaw beat Ralph Hepburn by 2.16 seconds in winning his first of three 500s.

Scott Goodyear nearly went from last to first in1 992

Al Unser, Jr. nipped Scott Goodyear in 1992 by 0.43 seconds. Sam Hornish edged Marco Andretti in 2006 by 0.635 seconds.

Late Trouble

Roberto Guerrero looked to have the 1987 race in habd when he tangled with tony bettenhausen between turns 3 and 4. A tire from bettenhausen’s car flew into the stands, fatally injuring a spectator. Guerrero continued, but there was internal damage. On his last pit stop, the car stalled with a clutch problem, and Al Unser, Sr. took the lead and held on for his fourth win.

Eddies Sachs had the 1961 race in his grasp.

In 1961 Eddie Sachs appeared to have the upper after a spirited duel with A. J. Foyt, who had to make an extra stop for fuel. But with just three laps left, Sachs suddenly pulled into the pits, concerned that his right front tire wouldn’t last. Foyt took the lead and his first of four checkered flags at the speedway.

J. R. Hildebrand couldn’t complete the 800th turn in 2011

In 2011 J. R. Hildebrand ended up leading after a furious flurry of late fuel stops. He went wide to avoid a lapped car at the exit to turn 4 on the final lap and hit the wall. Dan Wheldon went past for his second Indianapolis 500.

Andretti Heartbreak

Rick Mears passed Michael Andretti on a late restart in 1991 to join the four-time winners club. Andretti had dominated the race, but once Mears took the lead, Andretti could not catch him. It was Andretti’s only second place finish among his five top five finishes.

Winners as Owners

Harry Hartz finished second three times, in 1922, 1923, and 1926, but won twice as a car owner in 1930 and 1932. Hartz holds the dubious honor of having the most second place finishes without winning the race.

The 1941 winning car owned by Lou Moore

Lou Moore, second place finisher in 1928, owned five winning cars- 1938, 1941, and 1947-49. His five wins as a car owner stood as the record until Roger Penske began fielding winning cars in 1972.

Michael Andretti’s team has also had success, with 500 wins in 2005,2007, 2016, and 2017.

There are fascinating stories in this display- heartbreaking, poignant tales of lost opportunities, sometimes with no second chances. I hope you can get out to see this exhibit. It is one of the best the IMS Musuem has offered.

I will have some more photos up tomorrow.