Introducing Indy Pro 2000

The middle step on the Road to Indy has a new name. The former Pro Mazda Series is Indy Pro 2000. I like the name for a couple reasons. It retains part of the old name, and it includes the word Indy, which helps more closely identify the series to the goal of many of its drivers.  The official press release:

PALMETTO, Fla. – The middle step on the world-renowned Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel driver development ladder is being rebranded as the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires in time for the 2019 season.

Fitting in between the entry-level Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires – which provides the final stepping stone to the IndyCar Series – Indy Pro 2000 will continue to build on a strong foundation which was further strengthened this year following the introduction of the state-of-the-art Tatuus PM-18.

Originally debuting as Star Mazda in 1991, then reformed as Pro Mazda in 2013 when Andersen Promotions took over the helm after the previous administration ceased operations, the series has served as a vital training ground for many of today’s open-wheel stars during its 28-year history.

Current IndyCar drivers Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Spencer Pigot and Graham Rahal all established their credentials in either Star Mazda or Pro Mazda, while recently crowned champion Rinus VeeKay is poised to move up one more step on the ladder when he enters the Indy Lights fray for 2019.

Indy Pro 2000 competitors next season will vie for a champion’s purse valued at $596,700 to progress to Indy Lights and follow in their footsteps, with the aim of graduating to the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.

“We are indebted to the tremendous support of Mazda over the past nine years, but now, as the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires legacy continues to grow, we feel the time is right to introduce a new look as we head into a new season,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions.

“The Tatuus USF-17 has been hugely successful from the time it was introduced in USF2000 two years ago, and since the same chassis – along with some considerable enhancements – forms the basis for the PM-18, it makes sense to incorporate this into the name evolution while also strengthening our ties to INDYCAR. We are excited to roll-out the new Indy Pro 2000 branding over the course of the next few months.”

The rebranding will go into effect immediately on the Indy Pro 2000 website (indypro2000.com) and social media platforms with the new handle of @IndyPro2000 on both Twitter and Facebook. Instagram will feature all three series under Road To Indy Official.

The Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires slate of 16 races at nine venues will kick off March 9/10 on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., where all three levels of the Road to Indy will be in action. The Road to Indy annual Spring Training will take place one week prior on March 2/3 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Coverage of Indy Pro 2000 will continue to include global live streaming of all practice, qualifying and race events on indypro2000.com, indycar.com, RoadToIndy.TV and the Road to Indy TV App. In 2016, Road to Indy became the first American racing series with a dedicated broadcast channel on demand. The channel is available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku in addition to an official App on Xbox One.

Claman De Melo Returns to Indy Lights with Belardi

Above: Zachary Claman De Melo practicing for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500

Zachary Claman De Melo has signe3d with Belardi Racing for the 2019 Indy lights season. DeMelo drove in Indy Lights in 2017 and also had one Indycar race that year at Sonoma. In 2018 he drove nine Indycar races for Dale Coyne. He had several more races than anticipated as he substituted for the injured Pietro Fittipaldi. De Melo’s best finish was 12th at the Indycar Grand Prix on the IMS road course.

Zach Veach returned to Indy Lights in 2017 in hopes of garnering enough attention to land a full time Indycar ride. His efforts paid off with a three year deal with Andretti Autosport.  De Melo has potential. For the Indianapolis 500 he qualified 13th and finished 19th.

More Lights drivers need to consider a return to the series to at least gain some more open wheel experience to prepare for Indycar.

Catching Up with Indycar

Seems as if a lot has happened in Indycar since last Wednesday. I had a great time at the PRI Show. If you ever get a chance to attend, please do so. It is an amazing display of all things racing. Having the show in December helps the off-season blues.  Anyway, here are some news tidbits and some thoughts on each one.

Harding Steinbrenner Racing to Use Honda Engines

The hissing sound you heard was the sigh of relief from the Indycar paddock, who had grave concerns about Andretti Autosport giving technical aid to a potential Chevy team. I have voiced concerns about this since the possibility first arose.  Honda now has 14 full time entries for 2019.

In a related announcement, McLaren announced they will have Chevy power at the Indianapolis 500. Any technical partnership will be with a Chevy team. McLaren partnered with Andretti in 2017.

E85 fuel to Power Indycars Through 2020

Although Indycar will have Speedway as the official fuel supplier for 2019, E85 will remain the fuel for the next two years. There had been some talk of returning to methanol whent he new car came on in 2021 to add more horsepower. That is still possible, but keeping the same fuel formula makes sense since the engines are essentially the same.

It appears that this will be a seamless transition from Sunoco to Speedway.

BC39 Returns to IMS

The BC39 midget event will be back at IMS September 4-5 as a prelude to the Brickyard 400 weekend. this year’s event was a rousing success with great racing and sellout crowds. The race is the perfect opportunity for people like me who keep saying, “I should go to a dirt track this weekend” and never get around to it.

It was one the best events I attended in 2018.  MY review of it can be read here:

https://wordpress.com/post/thepitwindow.blog/8551

Foyt to be Inducted into Houston Sports Hall of Fame

A. J. Foyt will be inducted into Houston’s Sports Hall of Fame 2019 class. Foyt is a Houston native who operates part of his racing team in Houston. This is a great honor for him. My question- What took so long? The induction comes on the 60th anniversary of Foyt’s first Indianapolis 500. While he didn’t finish that race, he did pretty well in subsequent races.

Reader Billy the Skink added an explanation about the Houston Sports Hall of Fame:

To be fair to the Houston Sports Hall of Fame, they didn’t take all that long to induct Foyt. This is only the hall’s second year of existence (the project was proposed many years ago and languished in development hell for a lonnnnnnnnnnng time). They rightly recognized that Foyt was one of the first nationally prominent sports figures to hail from or be associated with Houston. The only reason he was not an inaugural class member is likely because the hall’s organizers liked the synergy and splash made with a 3-person class of Hakeem Olajuwon, Nolan Ryan, and Earl Campbell, all patron saints of sorts of Houston’s 3 major pro team sports and all wearers of the number 34.
Foyt has long been a member of the more established Texas Sports Hall of Fame, along with other racing Texans Johnny Rutherford, Carroll Shelby, Jim Hall, and the Labonte Brothers. Still need to get Lloyd Ruby, Jim McElreath, Kenny Bernstein, Eddie Hill, and Ted Johnson in there.
So it didn’t really take that long for A. J. to get in the hall. I apologize tio the Houston Sports Hall of Fame.

Indycar’s IMSA Invasion Continues

The Weather Tech Sportscar Series is quickly becoming Indycar’s second home. Roger Penske debuted an Acura DPi team last year. Chip Ganassi has been in the series for a long time. Bobby Rahal also has a two car team. Michael Shank was in IMSA before he entered Indycar. For 2019 Ricardo Juncos will have a DPi team as well.  Many drivers participate in the Rolex 24 and Sebring 12 hour events.

Graham Rahal drove for Penske last year. In 2019 Alexander Rossi will join Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor in one of the Penske entries. Simon Pagenaud will co drive the other car with regulars Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron.

Rahal said the reason for the switch is that he cannot fit comfortably in the car. Ryan Hunter-Reay backed him up on that point. Hunter-Reay has driven the Wayne Taylor Racing prototype.  Rossi is one of the taller drivers in the series as well. I’m not sure that this move changes much. Rossi is a bit slimmer than Rahal, but I think the height is the issue.

In related news, Alex Zanardi was confirmed for the Rolex 24 as a co driver of one of Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s cars. The car will have special hand controls to accommodate Zanardi. It will be gbreta to see him in major racing again.

TV Summit

This weekend NBC met with nine racing series that are on their networks to work out plans to better coordinate schedules. Some things discussed were joiny events and a Racing Week in America, seven nights of racing on television. Yes, please! I will have more about the summit later this month.

Coming Attractions

After my move this week to The Pit Window’s move to winter headquarters, look for a post on another 500 mile race program and another in which  I play Santa for the Indycar community.  My last 2018 post will be around the 28th.

 

New Wickens Video- The Fight Continues

In a new video released yesterday Robert Wickens stands with assistance. The exercise is dedidesi to stretch muscles that have been idle from his sitting most of the time.

Borg Warner Trophy Adds Power’s Likeness

Wednesday evening at the IMS Museum 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner Will Power got the first look at his face on the Borg Warner Trophy.  Power’s image is the 105th likeness on the trophy.

Sculptor Will Behrends created the image, his 15th face for the trophy that was first awarded in 1936. He works from photos to to create a largeclay sculpture then reduces it to the image cast in silver.

Power said he was relieved to finally win the 500. “As you get closer to retirement yourchances of winning are just overwhelming.”

Power said the emotion he showed in Victory Lane was “…built up on n me slowly over 11 years.”

Doug Boles IMS president, said Will was upset that the speedway put the penetrant sealer on the surface. He wanted the track exactly the way it was last May. After the test this fall, Power said the track was fine.

 

 

The Racing Fan’s Holiday Gift Guide

Time for the annual dilemma- what to get the race fan on your shopping list. Just in the St. Nick of time, The Pit Window’s annual  gift guide is here. There are some old favorites and new suggestions.  I can tell you from personal experience, however much racing related stuff a fan has, it probably isn’t enough.  Self storage was probably created by a race fan to store all his stuff. Enjoy. I hope this helps some of you find that perfect gift.

On Track

A 2-seater ride at IMS or another track is gift that requires no space in the home. Indy Racing Experience has provided rides for many years.  This group is very organized and professional.  A 2- seater ride costs $499. There are also single seat cars you can drive yourself at IMS for $1,000.  IRE also offer a combination package with a 2-seater and a self drive for $1,200.

If you want Mario AndrettiAdam’s Wooden Creations to drive you around, a mere $3,299 will get you there.

A gift membership to Indycar Nation makes rides available at races to members. I have been fortunate enough to get a couple of rides through my membership. Memberships can be purchased through the Indycar site.

A Unique Keepsake

I discovered an unusual gift last year thanks to my friend and fellow blogger Patti Nolen, author of the I Kissed the Bricks site.

Adam’s Wooden Creations makes wooden coasters and other items. He creates coasters with tracks and driver names and numbers. In addition to Indycar tracks, Adam also will do a NASCAR or Formula 1 circuit.

You can order from Adam’s Etsy shop, Adam’s Wooden Creations. Here is the link:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/AdamsWoodenCreations?ref=search_shop_redirect

If you have something special in mind, leave Adam a note and he will be happy to discuss it with you.

Books and DVDs

Some of my favorite books are shown above. I also highly recommend the updated Gentleman, Start Your Engines, Wilbur Shaw’s autobiography. The updated section continues the story from 1952, where the original stopped. I reviewed the book earlier this year. You can find the two part review here:

https://wordpress.com/post/thepitwindow.blog/8646  and Part II-

https://wordpress.com/post/thepitwindow.blog/8663

Of the books pictured, Black Noon is my favorite. Tammy Kaehler’s Kiss the Bricks is an entertaining mystery centered around the 500. Her hero, Kate Reilly, has other adventures in sportscar series, chronicled in other books by Kaehler, such as Dead Man’s Switch.

Books I hope to get to next year include Chasing Checkers by C M Hinchcliffe.

Some new DVDs have come out this year, including Born Racer, the story of Scott Dixon’s 2017 Indycar season.

Will T. Ribbs has a biography documentary, Uppity,  soon to be released and available for pre-order at Amazon. It is produced by Adam Corolla, who also produced the Paul Newman documentary.

Other documentaries on  dvd I recommend are Winning: the Racing Life of Paul Newman, Mclaren, and Senna. The theatrical movie Rush is a great depiction of the 1975 Formula 1  championship battle between Niki Lauda and James Hunt.

I hope this helps with your race fan shopping. If any of you have other recommendations, please let me know and I will post them here. Happy Shopping.