GMR Sponsors IMS Road Race

GMR, the parent company of AMR, sponsor of the NTT Indycar Series Safety Team, hjas entered a multi year agreement with Indianapolis Motor Speedway to sponsor the May Indycar road race at IMS. The race is the opening event at the track leading up to the Indianapolis 500. This great for several reasons.

It adds another sponsored race to the schedule. They will use the race to honor first responders. It helps identify the race better.

The race has been without a sponsor for the last couple years after the Angie’s List sponsorship ended. Calling it the Indycar Grand Prix was vague and it seemed the track had to work to make fans aware this race was at IMS. This gives the event a more solid standing, and it will be easier for the sponsor to connect fans to its location.

The  full story from IMS can be found at this link:

https://www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/news-multimedia/news/2019/12/10/medical-services-leader-gmr-to-sponsor-annual-ntt-indycar-series-road-race-at-ims-2019

The GMR Grand Prix will run May 9, 2020.

Has Daly Found a Home?

Today’s announcement of Conor Daly getting the road/street course seat in the number 20 car was the most positive driver news of the past seven weeks. It has been an off season of seismic changes in the NTT Indycar Series paddock. What a great feeling to see the news and smile instead of thinking “What?” Here are some of my thoughts about what this could mean for Daly and the series.

I can’t think of a better fit at ECR than Conor Daly. Both he and Ed have very strong ties to IMS and the series. The move strengthens ECR as Indycar’s ambassador team.

2020 will be the first year since 2017 that Daly will drive for just one team. He drove for multiple teams in 2015, 2018, and 2019.

I’m very happy the Air Force continues with Daly. They could not have picked a better representative.

We can call car 20 the Indiana car.

I hope Ed Carpenter will allow Daly to drive in other series as his schedule allows.  He had success in the Super Trofeo Series last year. Daly is willing to drive anything; I hope gets the opportunity.

I could see Daly at ECR for a few years. Next season may be a getting acquainted period, but it will be interesting to track Daly’s performance compared to Ed Jones’s and Jordan King’s in comparable events.

Daly should be a huge help to Rinus VeeKay in his rookie year in Indycar.

I have seen Daly drive in several series. It seems as the car he is in always improves when he drives it. The road/street course help he can give this team will be invaluable.

Daly may have an even better chance at the 500 in 2020 than he had last season at Andretti. He will get more attention at ECR since it’s a smaller team. Also, the team is really good at IMS.

Wild conjecture on my part: Is this hire a part of Carpenter’s succession plan? Is Ed contemplating giving up the ovals other than Indy in a year or two and letting Conor drive full time?

 

If nothing else breaks, I will be back Thursday with annual (okay first annual) podcast edition.

 

 

Aeroscreen Update

Photos: Mike Hull, Chip Ganassi Racing

New photos out today show the aeroscreen on Scott Dixon’s car in what I presume is its final form. The NTT Indycar Series spent the last few months testing and refining the screen, which they revealed on Carb Day in May.  The PNC Bank car will be on display at the Performance Racing Industry Show in Indianapolis December 14-15.

I think integrating the livery into the frame of the aeroscren helps a lot with the aesthetics of the car. The overall look is still a bit too close to closed cockpit for my taste, but if it offers improved driver protection, I’m okay with it.

One change is the vent in front of the aeroscreen on the damper cover. The final issue that needed to be resolved was cockpit cooling. I hope this solves that problem. I think the vent helps with the look of the car.

img_20191209_0807024596595843474652414.jpg

My hope is that we can still see the drivers working the steering wheel through the turns. I hope to get to a test at Sebring next month to check on that. I’m not sure we’ll still be able to identify drivers by their helmets because of the height of the screen frame.

I applaud the series for their hard work in bringing another element of safety to the sport. I know we all get used to the aesthetics of it. Remembering that this is a retrofit and not an established part as it will be on the next chassis helps. The true test of performance and looks will be at St. Pete in March. I do think from the first time I saw the screen on the car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in September to now there has already been quite an improvement.

 

Long Beach is Safe and Other Tidbits

Photo: © 2007 Kayte Deioma, courtesy of www.KayteDeioma.com

 

 

Good news this week about the Long Beach Grand Prix. The  Los Angeles Angels baseball team announced an agreement to remain in Anaheim  through 2050. A major portion of the track was considered for a new stadium for the Angels after their current stadium  contract with Anaheim expires at the end of 2020. A baseball stadium would significantly impact the Grand Prix.  The Acura Grand Prix is the second longest running event on the NTT Indycar Series calendar. 2020 will be the 45th running of a race on the streets of Long Beach.

The Indycar race has fought off other attacks in the past few years. The city council considered proposals to return the event to an F1 race. That idea was voted down. The race is safe for the next thirty years.  I wonder if the Angels were simply using the exploration of Long Beach as leverage to get a better deal from Anaheim.

F5000 Revival

The Formula 5000 Drivers Association will have three Revival Races in 2020, at Road America, Watkins Glen, and Circuit of the Americas. This sounds like something worth an extra trip to Road America for me. Full information is in the link below:

F5000 Drivers Association Unveils 2020 Revival Race Series

Formula 5000 ran from 1967-1976 with 5 liter V-8 engines. Originally under SCCA sanction, USAC joined the Sports Car group in sanctioning the series. The sound of these cars was amazing. If one of these events is near you, I encourage you to attend.

Fred Watch, Part III?

Fernando Alonso has confirmed he will enter the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500. He is still uncertain which team he will drive for.  The decision will be between Andretti and Arrow McLaren SP. I see a possible issue with each team. Will Honda allow Alonso to drive for Andretti?  In 2019 Alonso failed to qualify for the race with McLaren. While the team appears to be in better shape than last year.  However, James Hinchcliffe barely made the race last year after missing the 2019 500.

Alonso will not announce which team he will be with until after the Dakar Rally in January.

Back next week with more observations and a special post recognizing some podcasts.

Coyne’s Short List

Three drivers appear to be in the running for the number 18 car in 2020. James Hinchcliffe, who lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP last month; Sergio Sette Camara, who drove in F2 in 2019 and had two wins and eight podiums; and Alex Palou, who scored one win and finished third in the season standings in Super Formula.

While Hinchcliffe would be the most popular choice with the fans, I think the ride will go to one of the other drivers. Palou is likely the front runner. He was impressive at a Coyne test at Mid Ohio. He is also a Honda driver. Sette Camara has done three seasons in Formula 2, and needs to move up. He is also talking with Carlin Racing.

Coyne has not set a deadline for a decision. There may also be a fourth driver in the mix.

Still Quiet at Foyt and Carlin

I’m not confident about hearing any news from Carlin or A. J. Foyt Racing before Christmas. There is simply no news from either camp. We could be in for some surprises from both teams.

Ganassi Out of IMSA for Now

Chip Ganassi Racing will not participate in the IMSA Weather tech Championship for the first time in 16 years. Their GTLM Ford program has ended. Ganassi cars have three overall wins and two class wins at the Rolex 24. The team has not ruled out returning to the series, possibly in the new prototype cars.  More on this story in my Wildfire Sports column tomorrow.