Autonomous Cars at IMS: Some F1 Thoughts

Photo: The winning car in the Indy Autonomous Challenge from the Technical University of Munich. IMS photo.

Saturday’s Indy Autonomous Challenge provided an interesting look at the future of cars-driverless, computer controlled machines, best suited for regular driving, but not for racing. I found it unnerving to see a car controlled by a team of people sitting around a computer instead of being driven by someone in the cockpit. I hope racing never comes to this.

For the record, European teams dominated the day, making the final three in a shootout looking for the best two lap average. The fastest lap was by the Europe team at just over 139 mph, but a programming error caused the car to slow to about 90 mph on its second lap. The team programmed one lap too few into the car.

The winning speed achieved by the TUM team, from Munich, Germany was 135.9 mph. Some cars hit 155 mph down the front straight.

I would not be concerned about these cars running in the 500 in our lifetime. They did have engines, and it was nice to hear the sound on the track, but I don’t see the same rooting interest for a machine as there is for a driver.

Andretti and F1-Deal or No Deal?

First reports said the sale was complete. Then another report said that Michael Andretti needed another 250 million Euros to complete the purchase of the Alfa Romeo team.

The anticipated announcement of an American F1 team did not happen in Austin over the weekend. Having a team from the USA announced at the US Grand Prix would have been most appropriate.

We might know something by the time of Grand Prix of Mexico in two weeks, but I’m thinking the deal is off the table. Colton Herta fans can relax for now.

The Crowd

Attendance at the USGP in Austin was mind boggling- 140,000 yesterday for the race and 400,000 for the weekend. The race day crowd exceeds the 135,00 who were allowed to attend the Indianapolis 500 in May. Can the USGP repeat this number next year?I think that is what we need to keep it in perspective.

I’m seeing a lot of hand wringing by some outlets and on social media about how F1 is now more popular in the US than Indycar is. Let’s consider some things, though.

I’m not dismissing the great job the organizers did in getting a crowd of that size, but here are some circumstances that may have led to the huge attendance. First, this was the first US Grand prix since 2019. Many fans are thrilled at the return of racing and don’t want to defer going to a track they have always wanted to visit.

Second, COTA has always had huge draw from Mexico, which also lost its Grand Prix in 2020. There may have been an even larger contingent from south of the border. The crowd in two weeks in Mexico City may be even bigger.

Third, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have brought legions of fans to every grand prix this season, and those fans at the last five races will continue to grow.

Some people credit the Netflix series “Drive to Survive” with an increase in F1’s popularity here. It may have something to do with it, but to swell the Austin crowd that much? I’m not sure.

My question is, how many fans were from the United States?

The Race

As far as the race goes, it was one of the better USGPs. It was a strategy race, which I enjoy. Max Verstappen’s tire strategy of pitting early gave him an edge over Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen increased his lead in the standings to 12 points over Hamilton with five races left.

Barber Test

Indycar etsting continues at barber today. The weather should be decent- temperatures in the mid 70s with only a 15%chance of rain.

Andretti will eb testing with Devlin DeFrancesco and Kyle Kirkwood. DeFrancesco is rumored to be set in the 29 while Kirkwood’s status for next year is still uncertain.

AMSP will test former F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg as the team considers a third car for 2022, perhaps part time before a full time run in 2023.

The A J Foyt Racing test with Logan Sargeant has been cancelled as Sargeant signed late last week with the Williams Driving Academy.

Andersen Promotions Announces USAC Sanctioning

PALMETTO, Fla. – Andersen Promotions today announced a new agreement with the United States Auto Club (USAC Racing) to become the sanctioning body for the three racing series owned and operated by the organization – the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires as well as the new USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires.

Both USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 are key steps on the highly visible Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, a scholarship-supported driver development platform to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indianapolis 500. The recently announced USF Juniors is a pre-step to the ladder system offering its champion a scholarship package to enter USF2000.

USAC Racing has enjoyed a storied history since being formed in 1956 as a sanctioning body for the United States National Championship and the Indianapolis 500. While its portfolio is best known in the circle track arena with Silver Crown, Sprint, Midget and .25 Midget sanctioning, it now governs a diverse motorsports platform which also includes the SRO World Challenge, Porsche Sprint Challenge and the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks.

“Thirty years ago when I first announced the USF2000 series launch in 1991, USAC stepped up and was my first sanctioning body,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “We’ve come full circle and I am very pleased to be back with them and look forward to a long-term relationship. USAC Racing is widely recognized for its operation of Midgets, Sprint cars and Silver Crown cars but they are also becoming increasingly prominent in road racing with Porsche and SRO. This is a great sanctioning body and we are proud to be with them.

“I would also like to thank INDYCAR, which has sanctioned the Road to Indy since its inception in 2010. INDYCAR’s focus is, understandably, on series it owns and operates. We’ll continue to use their services on race weekends and look forward to our ongoing relationship as a support series where our drivers continue along their path toward the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.”

USAC Racing sanctioning services will include licensing and membership management, which will result in cost savings for teams and drivers. Andersen Promotions will continue to contract the services of INDYCAR for Race Control, Timing & Scoring and the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team with all events on its 2022 calendar for USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 in support of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

The Road to Indy will be back in action later this month with its traditional Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on October 30/31. The outing will feature all three levels of the ladder including Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, which is owned by INDYCAR and will continue to operate under its sanction.

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Autonomous Challenge- The Future of Racing?

This Saturday Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts the Indy Autonomous Challenge, a competition for autonomous cars. The cars are the products of engineering teams from 21 universities from nine countries. $1 million in prize money is at stake. My understanding is that this is not a race. The event hopes to encourage high school STEM programs as well as develop the driverless car concept.

While autonomous cars seem to be making some inroads on the streets and highways, are there implications for racing? For now, no one thinks so, but perhaps someday in the very distant future? I hope it happens after I am gone. I don’t think there will ever be an Indianapolis Autonomous 500.

I assume the track is open for viewing, but the IMS website doesn’t sya anything about spectators.

Notes

Sebastien Bourdais has signed with Chip Ganassi Racing to drive one of his Cadillac DP1 cars in IMSA fulltime in 2022. He hopes to still race for A J Foyt Racing when his schedule allows. The IMSA schedule has five conflicts with Indycar. Both series share weekends at Detroit and Long Beach.

Bourdais plans to continue helping develop the 14 car. Foyt is still putting together sponsorship for next season and will take a look at other drivers as well.

Monday’s test at Barber may provide more focus for the 2022 grid. Seats are getting filled, and some of the drivers testing may end up on the grid at St. Pete.

Foyt will be testing Logan Sargent, who has been on the F1 ladder the last two years.

David Malukas, 2021 Indy Lights runner-up, will test for dale Coyne Racing.

Ryan Hunter Reay is scheduled to be in the 20 for Ed Carpenter Racing. Hunter-Reay may run the road and street courses for ECR if Conor Daly doesn’t return.

Former F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg will have a test for Arrow McLaren SP. This is an exploratory test. Hulkenberg may run a few road races for AMSP in 2022 in a third car. He may be more interested in a full time ride in 2023.

Indy lights champion Kyle Kirkwood and Devlin DeFrancesco will be in Andretti Autosport cars. DeFrancesco is thought to be locked into the 29, while Kirkwood is still looking for a full time spot. Nothing against DeFrancesco, but this seems backwards.

Lundgaard Embraces Indycar’s ‘Pure Racing”

Photo of Christian Lundgaard by James Black, Indycar

Christian Lundgaard had just a few hours to get a taste of Indycar last August, but it was enough to set him on a path for a full time ride in the series. Luindgaard and team owner Bobby Rahal talked about the differences between Indycar and Formula 1, and why they think Indycar presents greater opportunities for younger drivers.

He told the media this morning after Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced Lundgaard as the 2022 driver of car 30,

“In the end it actually came down to what do I personally
want and what will I enjoy, and for me when I did the race
over here, that’s what I enjoyed the most. I haven’t
enjoyed a race weekend as much as that one for years,
except obviously when you have a very good weekend in
whatever you’re doing and you are winning and
dominating. . .
Over here it’s pure racing. I like the racing over here.
Yeah, that’s what attracts me and the racing itself, so I’m
definitely positive for next year.”

Lundgaard understands the challenges he faces on ovals, but is eager to run on them. He counts on his experienced teammates, graham Rahal and Jack Harvey, to help him. LKundgaard appreciates Indycar’s oval history.

“…when I think about INDYCAR, I think about the Indy 500. When you’re
sitting at home and someone mentions INDYCAR, you
think of the oval tracks, so you know what comes with it.
I think the road courses I know. I know how to drive
around a road course, but the ovals will definitely be a
challenge.
I think it’s something that I will have to prepare as much as
I can on. I think it’s great to have Graham and Jack with
me. They’ve got the experience. The team has got the
experience on the oval tracks, so I think for me, it’s about
taking it step by step, but at the same time trying to see
how much I can learn before getting on to the track.
And I’m sure the team has got everything ready for me.”

Lundgaard explained the difference between Formula 1 and Indycar and why he is taking thuis direction.

“INDYCAR is a series where they do this Indy 500, they do
ovals. It’s very mixed. It’s a mix of street circuits, road
courses, ovals. It’s such a big mix, where you have
European tracks, they’re nice and smooth, big runoffs.
Specifically in F1 you’ve got some are faster than others
and you’ve got to be in the right car to be able to win.
Looking at Romain, he came over here and he started
winning and performing. I never doubted that he was a
good driver even in F1 because I know Kevin as well and
he was his teammate and they were fighting each other
because that’s the only thing I could do. Over here
everyone fights everyone. Everyone has an opportunity to
win. That’s what racing stands for.
So for me to come over here, I know once I jump in the car
I’ve got an opportunity to win no matter which track I’m at,
and that’s what racing is, and that’s why I’m here.”

Rahal was asked why he thinks young European drivers ould be attracted to Indycar.

” Well, first off, I think INDYCAR is what
Formula 1 used to be, to a large degree. Clearly we don’t
have the politics. Clearly we don’t — there’s a lot of things
that don’t exist in the INDYCAR paddock that exist in the
Formula 1 paddock.
You look at how many really good guys are in F2 who
maybe are frustrated now because they can’t make that
next step, and yet they’ve kind of proven their abilities.
As Christian mentioned, I think that — if I’m a young guy in
Europe and I look at the potentials, I think the potential for
my career is much greater here in INDYCAR than it is
there.”

Lundgaard joins Callum Ilott of Juncos-Hollinger Racing as the first two confirmed rookies for 2022. Young drivers in Europe will watch their progress closely next season. Indycar may be on the verge of another European wave.


Lundgaard Completes RLL’s 2022 Lineup

Another grid spot for the 2022 NTT Indycar season is now filled as Rahal letterman Lanigan racing announced Christian Lundgaard as driver of car 30. Lundgaard drove in one race for RLL in 2021,starting fourth and finishing 12th at the second road course race at IMS in August. The news release from R:LL this morning:

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BROWNSBURG, Ind. (October 20, 2021) – After an impressive debut in the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) in August, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced today that FIA Formula 2 Championship driver Christian Lundgaard, 20, will join the team as the driver of the No. 30 Honda-powered entry beginning in 2022 in a multi-year agreement. Further details for the racing program will be announced at a later date.

Lundgaard, who is a member of the Alpine Academy, a program originally created by Renault F1 in 2002 to support young racing drivers through their careers, had limited preparation before his Indy car debut at IMS but turned heads when he qualified on the second row in fourth place and went on to finish 12th despite a condensed event schedule.

His ability to adapt quickly will be an asset as he learns the nuances of oval racing and also competes in the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29, 2022.

The 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season begins with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on February 25-27. The 17-race schedule includes the Hy-VeeDeals.com 250 on Saturday, July 23, and the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 on Sunday, July 24 – both at Iowa Speedway. Team partner Hy-Vee will provide broad support for the doubleheader event through a wide-ranging partnership that will bring INDYCAR racing back to the 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway, located near their headquarters in Des Moines, after a one-year hiatus. For more information about the series or team, visit http://www.indycar.com and http://www.rahal.com.

QUOTEBOARD:

CHRISTIAN LUNDGAARD, Driver of the No. 30 Honda: “I’m very excited to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in INDYCAR. They are a fantastic team who made me feel very welcome earlier this year when I made my debut in the series. They are the perfect choice and I’m happy to join them on this next chapter in my career. I was very much open minded when I raced at Indianapolis in August and the experience then only grew my hunger to give it another go, so to have the opportunity as a full-time professional racing driver is a privilege. I can only thank Bobby, Piers and the team, as well as my investors and Alpine for putting it all together. I’m determined to repay that faith with on-track performances beginning when the season starts in February. Of course, this will be a completely new challenge for me, especially with oval racing, which I’ve never done before. I’d like to think I’m a fast learner, so taking this on is going to be an awesome experience. For now, I’m not setting too many expectations other than working hard and enjoying the racing and hopefully the results will follow. For now, though, my focus is on finishing the Formula 2 Championship before fully committing to taking on INDYCAR. I can’t wait for the experience to begin.”

BOBBY RAHAL, Co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: “I’m very pleased that Christian will be joining us for the next several years. His performance on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway certainly surprised everybody. For him to do the job he did was tremendous and certainly beyond our expectations. With a little more time under his belt, I think the performance would have been even stronger. Everyone within the team was very pleased and it created a lot of excitement and positive reactions from the fans on social media and online as well as a positive buzz in the paddock. Some may not know, but he had food poisoning so he wasn’t feeling 100 percent that day and yet to have the kind of weekend we had was great. I look forward to a long relationship with Christian. He’s a great young man who fit well with the team immediately and we are all excited about what we can do together.”

MIKE LANIGAN, Co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: “The team is very excited to have Christian on board beginning with the 2022 season. With our current line up with Graham and Jack, I believe the addition of Christian will take our team to the next level in competing for a championship.”

DAVID SALTERS, President and Technical Director, Honda Performance Development: “Christian impressed us all in his INDYCAR debut earlier this year, on the IMS road course with Rahal Letterman Lanigan. Great to see a ‘youth movement’ in INDYCAR and high quality talent transfer from F2 and F1 programs. From Honda’s perspective, it’s delightful to see the upward trajectory of INDYCAR with a super competitive field, we relish this as we race to challenge ourselves through competition. We look forward to watching Christian continue to develop and perform in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2022.”

About Christian Lundgaard
Twenty-year-old Christian, from Hedensted, Denmark, races in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, the primary Formula 1 support series. He is also a member of the Alpine Academy, having joined the program in 2017 following an impressive career in European and World Karting Championships. Christian’s first year in single-seaters led to two Formula 4 titles – NEZ and Spanish – before he finished runner-up in the 2018 Formula Renault Eurocup as a rookie. In 2019, Christian stepped up to Formula 3, finishing sixth, before progressing to Formula 2 last year.

In 2020 he stepped up to Formula 2, securing two wins. So far in 2021, Christian has three Formula 2 podiums to his name. He finished second in Race 2 at the season opener in Bahrain before claiming third place in Race 1 in Great Britain in July. After his debut in INDYCAR, he made a sensational charge from 19th on the grid to finish third in Monza in Race 1. He has tested the R.S.18 on one occasion this year at Silverstone. The final two races of the championship will take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on December 2-4 and Yas Marina, United Arab Emirates, December 9-11.

About Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and Brownsburg, Ind., is co-owned by three-time
IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, former CBS Late Show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan. In 2021, the team begins its 30th year of competition and will attempt to add to its 29 Indy car wins – including the 2004 Indy 500 from pole with Buddy Rice and the 2020 Indy 500 with Takuma Sato — their 33 poles, 107 podium finishes and 1992 series championship. The team also competed in the American Le Mans Series from 2009-2013 as BMW Team RLL where they won both the Manufacturer and Team Championships in the GT category in 2010 and swept all three GT titles in 2011 – Manufacturer, Team and Driver. In 2012, the team finished second in the Team Championship and third in the Manufacturer Championship and in 2013, the team finished second in the Driver, Team and Manufacturer Championship. Since 2014, BMW Team RLL has competed in the GTLM class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a two-car program and has brought their total to 22 wins – including the 2019 and 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance races, 28 poles and 91 podium finishes as well as a second-place finish in the Manufacturer, Team and Driver championships in 2015 and 2017. The team was also the 2020 Michelin Endurance Champions. For 2021, the team will compete for back-to-back Michelin Endurance Championships.

Audi Comes Back for Dramatic 8 Hour Win

www.IMS.com           Indianapolis Motor Speedway Press Release Audi Team Rallies to Dramatic Victory in Indianapolis 8 Hour Sports Car
Race
Race Results

INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021) – Christopher Haase and Markus Winkelhock of Germany and Patric Niederhauser of Switzerland teamed to drive the No. 25 Audi Sport Team Sainteloc Audi R8 LMS GT3 to a dramatic victory Sunday in an unpredictable, chaotic Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS.
The French-based No. 25 Sainteloc team beat the No. 89 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Raffaele Marciello of Italy, Daniel Juncadella of Spain and Timur Boguslavskiy of Russia by 11.958 seconds after eight hours of competition on the 2.589-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course layout.
The No. 3 KPAX Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo shared by Jordan Pepper of South Africa and Andrea Caldarelli and Mirko Bortolotti of Italy finished third, 22.853 seconds behind the winners.
Team Sainteloc’s victory came after an improbable rally from a one-lap deficit with less than an hour to go. The Sainteloc team also overcame a large gap three hours into the race after the team was assessed a drive-through penalty for undercutting its minimum pit stop time
.Only Haase and Niederhauser were able to celebrate at the famous IMS Yard of Bricks and Victory Podium after the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli endurance sports car race, as teammate Winkelhock left the track before the end of the race to fly home to Germany because his partner was due to give birth. Haase and Niederhauser talked with their absent teammate on the phone from pit lane.
“I don’t really have words,” Niederhauser said. “In the end, we simply never gave up after the Safety Car came right out after the pit stop. I thought it was game over, everything is done. We just kept fighting and finally, finally got that win.”
Said Haase: “The difference was to stay as low as possible on mistakes, and I think that’s what we did. Thanks to the Audi Sport Team and Sainteloc Racing. They did a fantastic job. This is a dream come true, 8 Hours of Indy. I was dreaming of that.
”NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie Callum Ilott of Great Britain, one of the brightest stars of the day, drove the No. 71 AF Corse-Francorchamps Motors Ferrari 488 GT3 to the lead with one hour, 33 minutes remaining by passing the leading Marciello in the No. 89 Mercedes and the second-place No. 25 Audi of Niederhauser with a dive under both cars at the end of the back straightaway.
Ilott and Niederhauser then engaged in a spirited battle for the lead as they wove through lapped GT3 traffic and the slower GT4 class cars, with Ilott’s lead only three-tenths of a second with about an hour to go.
The eight-hour race turned on its head with 52 minutes to go. Team Sainteloc decided to pit Niederhauser for the final stop for its No. 25 Audi. It was expected the AF Corse team would do the same on the next lap for Ilott so the Audi wouldn’t gain time on fresh tires and undercut the pitting Ferrari for the lead.
But Ilott never made it to the pits. His dreams of Indy victory ended in Turn 1 on that lap when his leading No. 71 Ferrari and a slower Aston Martin GT4 car made contact while Ilott tried to pass on the outside entering the corner, inflicting damage to the right front of Ilott’s car.
The No. 32 Audi Sport Team WRT car driven by Dries Vanthoor of Belgium made a stop for fuel only during the Safety Car period triggered by Ilott’s crash and ended up in the lead, followed by the No. 99 Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 driven by Jules Gounon of France. Niederhauser was third but a lap down.
With 36 seconds left, the No. 99 Mercedes driven by Gounon was eliminated from victory and podium contention after colliding with the No. 59 Crucial Motorsports McLaren 720 S GT3 driven by Ben Barnicoat of Great Britain. Vanthoor was on the lead lap alone, with fellow Audi driver Niederhauser elevated to second.
But there was even bigger drama to come. Vanthoor was assessed a drive-through penalty with 26 minutes remaining for failure to follow instructions from Race Control. That pushed Niederhauser to the lead, which he kept to the checkered flag.
“Right now, to be fully honest with you, I have never been so unhappy for a second position because I felt like that was not racing out there,” a bitterly disappointed Juncadella said.
“I couldn’t understand how many Safety Cars were out there. So many reasons, but it played not in our favor. I love this place, so much history, but this kind of racing is not what I signed up for.”A total of 41 laps were run behind the Safety Car, totaling two hours, one minute of the race’s eight-hour time.
The pole-winning No. 51 AF Corse-Francorchamps Motors Ferrari 488 GT3 shared by Alessandro Pierguidi of Italy, Nicklas Nielsen of Denmark and Come Ledogar of France finished fifth.
Class winners included the No. 26 Sainteloc Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 in Silver Cup (fourth overall), the No. 75 SunEnergy 1 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in Pro-Am (10th overall), the No. 61 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 in Am (16th overall) and the No. 36 Bimmerworld Racing BMW M4 GT4 in GT4.

Just a Few Indycar Related Notes

Seems I have been away for a bit. It has been a hectic week with Marti coming home after 118 days, three hospitals, and two rehab centers. Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers the last four months. We are readjusting to a more normal life. This week is also Heartland Film G=Festival week, so I’ve been spending much of my free time in a movie theater. Okay, Back to work.

Dan Wheldon

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of Dan Wheldon’s fatal accident in Las Vegas. I am not going to rehash that horrible day. It was a tragedy compounded 10 days later by a much deeper, personal loss.

I was a big fan of Wheldon’s, and his death was a huge loss to Indycar. However, the good that came out of it was the new safer chassis that he helped develop. I think he would have continued to be a great ambassador for the sport after his retirement fro racing.

Tony Stewart Buys into NHRA

The news should not be a surprise. Tony Stewart likes to own racing related things. He owns a NASCAR team, a race track, and now he owns an NHRA team. Leah Pritchett, his fiancee, will be the driver.

I wish Stewart well in this venture. I hope his next acquisition is an Indycar team.

Weight and Heat-An Issue for 2023?

At a Firestone tire test at Mid Ohio last week, Josef Newgarden had a chance to drive with added weight simulating the 2023 car with the larger engine (2.4 liters) and the hybrid KERS system.Overall, Newgarden was pleased with the test, but, according to an article on Motorsport.com, Newgarden voiced concerns about the physicality of the car, especially during races in the heat of summer.

From the Motorsport article:

“I think we’re starting to push over the edge of what some of the drivers can do physically, in some conditions, and we need to be cognizant of that. It’s something I’ve spoken to IndyCar about.”

Newegarden believes the added weight- 120 pounds or so of the new power package in addition to approximately 60 pounds of the aeroscreen is “excessive.” Indycar will have added 180 pounds to the car over a span of four years.

A new chassis with an integrated aeroscreen would help reduce weight. I hope Indycar looks at other areas where some poundage can be removed from the racecar.

Kirkwood Tests for Andretti

Indy Lights champion Kyle Kirkwood tested a car for Andretti Autosport at Sebring. Kirkwood felt right at home in the Indycar, and he set the day’s fastest lap. He will test again at Barber on October 25th.

There is still no word on Kirkwood’s plans for next season, but I think Andretti may be looking for a way to get him a full time ride. There may be an announcement by the end of the month.

Ferrari Prances to Pole for Indianapolis 8 Hour Sports Car Race

www.IMS.com           Indianapolis Motor Speedway Press Release Pole Shootout Results

INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021) – The Prancing Horse strutted with authority Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as Alessandro Pierguidi drove the No. 51 AF Corse-Francorchamps Motors Ferrari 488 GT3 to the pole for the Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS.Italian driver Pierguidi climbed to pole on his first flying lap in the 15-minute pole shootout for the top 15 cars in earlier rounds of qualifying, stopping the clocks at 1 minute, 33.456 seconds to topple the No. 32 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT from the top spot. No other driver could go quicker in the final six minutes of the session. The No. 25 Audi Sport Team Sainteloc will join the No. 51 Ferrari on the front row after Patric Niederhouser of Switzerland turned a top lap of 1:33.514 in qualifying. The No. 99 Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Mercedes-AMG GT3 just missed a front-row start by one-thousandth of a second after a best lap of 1:33.515 by Jules Gounon of France.Joining the No. 99 Mercedes in the second row will be the teammates of the pole-sitting No. 51, as Antonio Fuoco of Italy qualified fourth at 1:33.556 in the No. 71 AF Corse-Francorchamps Motors Ferrari 488 GT3. NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie Callum Ilott is a member of the three-driver team for that car.
Just one-tenth of a second separated the top four cars in the taut, 15-minute session under sunny skies and moderate breezes at the Racing Capital of the World.The Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli endurance sports car race starts at 10 a.m. (ET) Sunday on the 2.589-mile IMS road course layout, with the 41-car field taking the checkered flag at 6 p.m. It’s the largest-ever field at a North American event for the global series.
Tickets are available at IMS.com.Marvin Dienst of Belgium drove the No. 33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 to the Silver Cup class pole with a top lap of 1:34.013, good for seventh overall. Mikael Grenier of Canada won the Pro-Am class pole at 1:34.232 in the No. 75 SunEnergy 1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, good for 10th overall.

Jones Brings Experience to New Role as Director of Indy Lights

Veteran racer and USAC executive director Levi Jones is the ew director of Indy Lights. The program, the top step on the Road to Indy ladder series is now part of Indycar and Penske Entertainment. Jones is an excellent choice for this position. The new release from indycar:

Veteran Motorsports Executive Jones
Named as Director of Indy Lights
INDIANAPOLIS (Monday, Oct. 11, 2021) – Veteran United States Auto Club (USAC) executive and champion driver Levi Jones was named as director of the Indy Lights series, INDYCAR officials announced today.Jones will oversee all operations and competition of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the final step for drivers in the Road to Indy ladder that prepares drivers for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. INDYCAR adds the role of promoter to its duties as the sanctioning body of Indy Lights on Nov. 1.
“My entire career has been in racing and moving to INDYCAR and Indy Lights is the perfect next step,” Jones said. “I look forward to the opportunity to continue to grow Indy Lights and expand its legacy and position as the ideal final step before the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
It’s hard to put into words what joining an organization like INDYCAR really means. When you’re in racing, you always want to be a part of the biggest and the best. This is a dream come true.”
Illinois native Jones, 39, comes to his new role after working in competition and executive positions with the United States Auto Club since 2015.Jones started his USAC administration career in 2015 as the national series competition director, leading the planning and operation of more than 75 USAC events around the United States in the Silver Crown, Sprint and Midget National Championship series.
In 2019, Jones was promoted to USAC executive vice president, helping to diversify the sanctioning body’s activity beyond open-wheel racing to youth racing, off-road competition, rally and sports car racing. During his tenure, Jones was responsible for a wide array of tasks, including maintaining and executing annual rule books, managing sponsorship for each series, negotiating sanctioning agreements, personnel management and working as race director for the Camping World SRX Series in its inaugural season in 2021.
“Because of his broad experience in and out of the cockpit, Levi is the perfect choice to become the director of Indy Lights,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “Levi is well respected in the racing industry and knows every angle of the sport as a driver, team owner, racetrack operator and sanctioning body. We are excited to have Levi on board and look forward to the new era of INDYCAR operating Indy Lights.”
Jones began racing 410 Sprint cars at age 16 and built one of the most decorated driving careers in USAC history. He won seven USAC national championships, including a record five Sprint Car titles (2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011). He also won consecutive Silver Crown titles (2010-11).All but the 2005 Sprint title came when Jones drove for Tony Stewart Racing, owned by the legendary NASCAR Cup Series and INDYCAR SERIES champion and two-time Brickyard 400 winner. During his USAC career, Jones won 35 feature races between the Sprint Car (28 wins), Midget (four wins) and Silver Crown (three wins) series.