Lundgaard Paces Music City Practice 1

Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

Rookie Christian Lundgaard led today’s opening practrice for the Big Machine MGrand Prix this afternoon with a lap of 1:15.5659. Felix Rosenqvist anbd David Malukas, another rookie were second and third.

There were several stoppages. Dalton Kellett caused the first red flag when he went into the turn 1 runoff area and stalled. Rinus VeeKay brought out the red for a similar issue a few minutes later. Colton Herta caused the final red flag with about 25 minutes left in the session as he also stalled in the turn 1 run off.

Hwlio Castroneves, who installed a fifth engine and will lose six grid places after qualifyiung, had contact with the wall after locking his brakes in turn 1. He broke the toe link but was able to drive the car back to the pits.

Points leader Will Power had the seventh quickest lap. Defending race champion Marcus ericsson was 11th.

Lundgaard’s fast lap is another positive step for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team. Last weekend Lundgaard finished second in the Gallagher Grand Prix and Graham Rahal finished seventh. We will see if the team’s new found momentumwill continue through the weekend.

Green Tires Debut

Firestone’s new sustainably made tires with a green band made their official raceweekend session debut. Jimmie Johnson was the first dri er to try them out. It was a bit of a shock to see the green banded tire=s the first time by. It was more of a shock to to open the Indycar app and see the trademark F surrounded by green.

Results- Top 12

In the morning I will talk about what has improved since last year and preview qualifying.

Music City Grand Prix Preview- Altered Track, New Tires- Better Race?

Today’s Schedule: All Times Central

9:30 AM GATES OPEN

9:30 AM-5:00 PM PRO WATERCROSS ON THE CUMBERLAND

10:15 ATRANS AM SERIES PRACTICE 1

11:55 AM GT AMERICA TEST SESSION

12:30 PM GT AMERICA PRACTICE 1

1:15 PM TRANS AM SERIES PRACTICE 2

2:00 PM INDY LIGHTS SERIES PRACTICE 1

3:15 PM INDYCAR PRACTICE 1 Peacock

4:45 PM STADIUM SUPER TRUCKS QUALIFYING

5:20 PM FREEDOM FRIDAY MILITARY DEMONSTRATION

6:15 PM GT AMERICA PRACTICE 2

7:00 PM

FREEDOM FRIDAY TRIBUTE CONCERT FEATURING AARON LEWIS

The second year of a race, especially a street race, usually sets the tone for the event’s future. I tend to gave new races a pass the first year. The Music City Grand Prix had some issues in 2021, from customer service- grandstands weren’t complete until Sunday, some security and other staff were a bit, shall we say, overzealous- and the race itself was perhaps the worst one of last season.

Things look much better for 2022. It appears all infrastructure is set to go this morning. The track has been tweaked a bit to improve the racing, and fans are returning. I checked the ticket availability Wednesday. I saw fewer than 500 grandstand tickets available. I expect a much improved event.

Track Changes

Two turns have been modified, the start and all restarts will take place on the bridge, and some areas have been repaved.

Turn 9 has narrowed to 60 feet from 85 feet. This will slow the cars down and should create another passing area as the cars need to slow after exiting the bridge. Turn 11 has been widened by six feet in hopes of eliminating the bottleneck which was created last year by cars getting sideways and causing one the red flags in 2021.

Bridge entrances and exits have been repapved and the big bump in turn 5 has been reduced.

Today’s first practice at 3:15 Central time will tell us a lot about the effectiveness of the changes.

New Alternate Tires Debut

Nashville is the first race test for Firestone’s new alternate tire, produce fro the guayule plant, a more sustainable, more quickly replaced rubber substance. The tires have a green band in place of the traditional red on the alternate tire. In May Cara Krstolic told me Firestone chose Nashville for the tire’s race debut because they wanted to start with a low load track. The tire is scheduled to be the alternate for the full 2023 season.

Drivers expressed concerns about the consistency of the red alternate tires last weekend. I am interested in hearing their comments this weekend.

Paretta, Simona Return

Nashvile is the third and final race of the year for Paretta Autosport with driver Simona DeSilvestro, unless funding can be found for one of the west coast races. The team partners with Ed Carpenter Racing. I hope they can expand their program next year.

The Championship

With just four races to go, only 46 points separate the top five drivers in the standings. Will Power leads Marcus Ericsson by just nine points. Ericsson won this race in 2021 whoile Power did not finish well afetr a couple of spins in turn 11.

I think Power slightly increases his lead over Ericsson, but a couple of other contenders will gain ground. Josef Newgarden was disappointed in his showing in his hometown race in 2021, and carries aq lot of motivation into the weekend. Colton Herta dominated Nashville last year until he crashed late in the race.

A Honda Track?

Honda cars were quickest in 2021 in Nashville, and they showed well in Toronto this year. This track has many of the same elements as Toronto, and I look for the Ganassi team to be the class of the field. Like last week at IMS, a driver leaving his team at the end of the year will come away with a win. Defending champion Alex Palou will keep the Music City GP trophy in the Ganassi camp.

Look for a wrapup later this evening. I will report what I can from the track.

Indy Lights Switches to Firestone

This is big. Firestone Tires will be the new tire supplier for Indy Lights beginning in 2023. Cooper Tires had been the official tire of the Road to Indy for many years. Last year Indycar purchased the Indy Lights Series. From that perspective, the move makes sense. Running on the same tire as Indycar should also help drivers when they move to Indycar.

The official release from Indycar:

Firestone Announces Plan to Return
as Exclusive Tire Supplier for Indy Lights
 
 INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, June 22, 2022) – As part of the grand opening of Firestone’s Advanced Tire Production Center (ATPC) in Akron, Ohio, INDYCAR and Firestone officials announced plans for Firestone to become the sole tire supplier for Indy Lights beginning in 2023.The announcement highlights Firestone’s plans to expand its partnership with INDYCAR as the company is also the exclusive tire supplier for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, North America’s premier open-wheel series.
“Firestone continues to be a phenomenal partner,” said INDYCAR President Jay Frye. “We are proud to see that our relationship is expanding into supplying tires for both of our series. Their attention to detail, safety and performance is unmatched. Supplying their world-class product to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indy Lights reflects Firestone’s commitment to INDYCAR’s present and future.”
The move will mark a return for Firestone to INDYCAR’s developmental series as the Bridgestone brands Firestone and Dayton supplied tires for Indy Lights from 1991 to 2013.
“We look forward to expanding our partnership with INDYCAR to supply tires for Indy Lights starting in 2023,” said Lisa Boggs, director of motorsports, Bridgestone Americas. “We know the importance this series has for technology advancement and driver development and are proud to be a part of the journey.”
In the fall of 2021, INDYCAR assumed total control of Indy Lights operations. The 2022 season began a more inclusive atmosphere with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, with integration in marketing, digital assets and race officiating.“
We want to thank Cooper Tires, who has been a partner with Indy Lights since 2014,” said Indy Lights Director Levi Jones. “Their assistance while INDYCAR assumed operational control was crucial to our success. With Firestone, we cannot wait to begin this new era, which will align the entire INDYCAR paddock and help our rising stars reach their goal of competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.”
The 2022 Indy Lights championship continues Sunday, July 3 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Coverage begins at 10:35 a.m. (ET) on Peacock Premium. Coverage is also available from the INDYCAR Radio Network with audio available via the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Indycar and IMS set forth an environmental initiative last weekend. The plan is bold and there area lot of admirable things in it. many oft he initiatives involve behind the scenes steps the series and tracks are taking. Firestone tires will arrive at venues in electric vehicles. Team transporters will will renewable diesel. A new tire which will eventually replace the current alternate tire, made from a more renewable plant than rubber, will debut at the Indianapolis 500 pit stop competition and have its race debut at Nashville, the home of Bridgestone.

IMS has already switched to LED lighting and has taken steps to reduce water usage. Food concessions will donate extra food to Gleaners’ Food Bank and serve food in recyclable containers.

The speedway will also offer fans to buy carbon offsets and will also buy offsets to reduce its carbon footprint.

The plan is bold, but what will the fans see? How effective will these steps be? What wasn’t mentioned and should have been? I think there should be more tangible environmental effort

I am not sure how carbon offsets work, but from what I read, the money mainly goes to long term projects like reforestation. A person uses carbon for an activity, and buys into a project to replace trees. This is a very long term replenishment. I would rather see something with a more immediate effect. I have nothing against offsets, but they really don’t immediately replace the current consumprion.

Mark Miles said that recycling containers would be more visible at the speedway. It’s about time. The past few years they have been hard to find. I mostly saw the blue receptacles near the F1 garages on the south end. When I attended the Toronto race, the organizers had sets of three waste containers as unit generously scattered throughout the track area. One was for trash, one for recyclables, and a third for compost material. Food was served in mostly biodegradable containers.

Miles also mentioned the Bike to the 500 program. It is a nice idea for those ho are able to do this. Nothing was said about reestablishing the buses from the airport or downtown. Mass transportation in alternative fueled vehicles might be the most effective step the track could take. Reducing the number of cars at the speedway and surrounding area. would help a lot.

IMS is putting in an electric charging station for the tire delivery trucks. Why not put in a few for people who have electric vehicles and drive them to the track? There are speedway-owned lots outside the track which would be a good spot for these units.

Hosting an event with close to a half million people and vehicles in a concentrated area makes a large carbon footprint no matter what steps are taken. Indycar and IMS have taken a few steps to reduce the environmental impact. I hope they are planning to add more measures over time.

Penske Entertainment Announces Next Phase of Transformational Sustainability Initiatives 

From Penske Entertainment. Follow up commentary tomorrow:

 Indy 500 Continues To Set Industry-Leading Pace on Environmental Impact Firestone To Introduce New Race Tire with Sustainable Natural Rubber at Indy 500 Carb Day

INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, April 22, 2022) – Penske Entertainment announced a robust and innovative lineup of environmental impact initiatives this afternoon, aiming to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint for this year’s Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge and significantly boost sustainability efforts within the sport of INDYCAR. These steps are the latest and most comprehensive elements of a long-term strategy for the organization that has been developed over the last two years.
The announcements made today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway DEX Imaging Media Center coincided with wider efforts across the nation and globe to celebrate Earth Day on Friday, April 22. They were unveiled in partnership with Firestone, Shell and additional corporate partners, which have worked with IMS and INDYCAR on a comprehensive sustainability strategy for the venue and sport.
“This will be the most sustainable Indy 500 in our 100-plus year history,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles said. “Moreover, through excellent coordination and teamwork with partners who are true innovators in this field, we’re moving INDYCAR toward industry leadership when it comes to environmental awareness and impact.”
Month of May – Fueling Progress & Building Toward a Greener Future
Longtime series partner and tire supplier Firestone will play a key role in efforts surrounding the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and throughout the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Firestone is a trailblazer in the charge for alternative and renewable sources of natural rubber and will debut a new and eco-friendly tire this May.
The Firestone Firehawk guayule race tire will be used for the first-time during Miller Lite Carb Day’s INDYCAR Pit Stop Challenge and will make its competition debut as the alternate race tire in August at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. It is partially composed of a new sustainable natural rubber derived from the guayule shrub, which requires less reharvesting than traditional sources of rubber
.“It will take partnership and collaboration to combat the impacts of global climate change, and we are proud to partner with Penske, INDYCAR and IMS to advance the future of sustainable mobility,” said Nizar Trigui, chief technology officer and group president, Solutions Businesses, Bridgestone Americas, Inc.
“The introduction of guayule natural rubber to America’s preeminent open-wheel racing series speaks to the confidence we have in the technology and its promise as a scalable, sustainable and domestic raw material.”
Firestone, IMS, the state of Indiana and veteran motorsports partner Shell also announced today that all race tires being supplied for Indy 500 practice, qualifications and Race Day will be delivered to the “Racing Capital of the World” from their Central Indiana warehouse using the Freightliner eCascadia from Penske Truck Leasing’s fleet of electric vehicles. To assist with the effort, a 150kW, high-power electric charger is being installed on the IMS grounds, in coordination with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and Shell Recharge Solutions. The EV charging station is manufactured by BTC Power (Broadband TelCom Power, Inc.).“We’re working every day to make sure Indiana is a leader when it comes to renewable energy solutions,” Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb said. “I can’t think of a better way to show our commitment to cleaner energy than by putting it on display during the largest sporting event in the world.”
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway also will take significant steps toward cleaner energy consumption and a lowered carbon footprint across the Month of May. Like in 2021, all electricity consumed throughout the facility in May will continue being purchased via 100 percent renewable energy credits. In addition, IMS has teamed up with Shell and climate technology company CHOOOSE on the implementation of a new customer program that allows fans to offset their travel footprint through a nominal contribution to the GreenTrees reforestation project. IMS also will offset its entire operational carbon footprint during the Month of May through its contributions to GreenTrees, a vital effort that restores natural habitats in more than 1 million acres across seven states in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.
“At Shell, we aim to provide more and cleaner energy solutions in a responsible manner – in a way that balances short- and long-term interests,” explained Dani Silva, Shell vice president of Enterprise Accounts. “We are very pleased to be a part of Penske Entertainment Corp.’s efforts in increasing the sustainability of motorsports and the off-track potential it also enables.”
Other initiatives of note during the Month of May include:Increased waste diversion efforts throughout the facility with expanded recycling and food recovery programs.
Legends, the official IMS retail partner, will open a fully sustainable store inside an electric truck. All items sold in the truck will be reusable or designed from recycled plastic bottles.
Last year, the Indy 500 was certified at the Silver level by the Council for Responsible Sport after achieving 37 social and environmental standards of good practice. The venue implemented facility upgrades to increase both energy and water-use efficiency, calculated a robust greenhouse gas emissions inventory and enhanced its “Bike to the 500” program. IMS is working toward becoming the first sports facility in the world to become a Responsible Sport Certified venue.
INDYCAR’s Sustainable Path ForwardAlongside work with Firestone on expanded use of the guayule natural rubber, INDYCAR also announced today that starting with the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear in June, all 26 NTT INDYCAR SERIES cars will be transported by trucks that are fueled by renewable diesel, which significantly reduces travel-related emissions.
“The NTT INDYCAR SERIES and its partners are continually evaluating ways to lower our footprint and create a more sustainable future,” said INDYCAR President Jay Frye. “We’re looking forward to using renewable diesel in our transporters beginning in June and expect to have several more important initiatives to unveil in the near future.”
This year’s Indianapolis 500 at the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway takes place on Sunday, May 29 on NBC, Telemundo Deportes on Universo and the INDYCAR Radio Network. The schedule for the 17-race NTT INDYCAR SERIES season can be found here and is available to fans to watch across NBC Sports platforms. 

IMS Tire Test – Looking Two Seasons Ahead

Photo: Pato O’Ward will represent Chevy in today’s test.

Today’s schedule:

Tire testing 9-12

Break 12-1

Tire testing 1-5

Today’s tire test won’t have the drama or excitement of Wednesday’s Rookie Orientation, but it has importance for the next two seasons of the NTT Indycar Series. In addition to testing next year’s tire compound for the Indianapolis 500, Indycar will add weight to the cars, simulating the added weight in 2023 of the larger 2.4 liter engine and the hybrid energy recovery system. The new components should about 125 pounds to the cars. The extra weight will give the series an idea of how the balance of the cars will change under more weight.

I am very interested to hear what Jay Frye and the technical crew says about today’s results. We are a long way from the final configuration for 2023.

Helio Castroneves after winning his fourth Indianapolis 500 in May

Meyer Shank Racing with Helio Castroneves will represent Honda and Arrow McLaren SP with Pato O’Ward will test for Chevy. are the test cars. The oldest driver in the series and one of the youngest drivers providing input reflects the 2021 season and the generational transition Indycar is going through.

As far as I know the turn 2 mounds are open. There is no streaming for today’s activity.

Fast Facts-Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

From Indycar. Look for my preview tomorrow.

Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey Fast Facts

Race weekend: Friday, Sept. 17 – Sunday, Sept. 19

Track: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, a 2.258-mile permanent road course in Monterey, California

Race distance: 95 laps / 214.51 miles

Media Links: Entry List (PDF) | Driver Video Quotes 

Push-to-pass parameters: 150 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 15 seconds per activation.

Firestone tire allotment: Six sets primary, four sets alternate. Teams must use one set of primary and one new set of alternate tires in the race. (Note: A seventh set of primary tires is available to any car fielding a rookie driver.)

Twitter: @WeatherTechRcwy@IndyCar, #IndyCar #FirestoneGP

Event website: www.WeatherTechRaceway.com

INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com

2019 race winner (most recent): Colton Herta (No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda)

2019 pole winner (most recent): Colton Herta (No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda), 1 minute, 10.1405 seconds, 114.867 mph

Qualifying record: Helio Castroneves, 1:07.722, 118.969 mph, Sept. 8, 2000

NBC television broadcast: Race, 3 p.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 19, NBC (live). Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.

Peacock Premium Live Streaming: This weekend’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on Peacock Premium, NBC’s direct-to-consumer live streaming product.

INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes will be the lead announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Jake Query, Nick Yeoman and Michael Young are the turn announcers. Dan Rusanowsky and Alex Wolff will report from the pits. The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will air live on network affiliates, SiriusXM 205 and 211, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practices and qualifying are available on SiriusXM 205, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.

At-track schedule (all times local):

Friday, Sept. 17

2:30–3:15 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice 1, Peacock Premium (live)

Saturday, Sept. 18

10:45–11:30 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice 2, Peacock Premium (live)

2:05 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (three rounds of knockout qualifying), Peacock Premium (live)

Sunday, Sept. 19

9-9:30 a.m.– NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup, Peacock Premium (live)

11:50 a.m. – Driver introductions

Noon – NBC on air

12:23 p.m. – Start engines command

12:30 p.m. – Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey (95 laps/214.51 miles), NBC (live)

Championship Facts:

  • Alex Palou leads the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship with two races to go for the first time in his career. Palou has led the point standings after nine of the 14 races this season.
  • Palou leads Pato O’Ward by 25 points with Josef Newgarden (-34), Scott Dixon (-49) and Marcus Ericsson (-75) behind. Palou assumed the point lead following his win at Portland. The lead has changed hands six times between Palou, O’Ward and Dixon.
  • There are five drivers still mathematically eligible for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship: Alex Palou, Pato O’Ward, Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson. Any driver who trails the points leader by 54 points or more following the race will be eliminated from contention.
  • Since the first INDYCAR SERIES race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, the winning driver has won the INDYCAR SERIES championship six times: Bobby Rahal (1986 and 1987), Danny Sullivan (1988), Michael Andretti (1991), Alex Zanardi (1998) and Cristiano da Matta (2002).

Key championship point statistic: Since 2008, the driver who has led the championship with two races to go has failed to win the championship five times. Scott Dixon in 2008, 2018 and 2020, Dario Franchitti in 2011, Will Power in 2014, Simon Pagenaud in 2016 and Josef Newgarden in 2017 and 2019 are the exceptions who have won the title after leading with two races remaining.

Don’t call it a comeback: No point lead is ever safe in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Five times since 2008, a driver has made up a deficit with two races to go to win the championship – Dario Franchitti, who trailed Ryan Briscoe by four points in 2009 and Will Power by 23 points in 2010; Ryan Hunter-Reay, who trailed Will Power by five points with two races remaining in 2012, Scott Dixon, who was in third place, 48 points behind Juan Pablo Montoya in 2015 and Power who overcame a four-point deficit to Helio Castroneves in 2014.

CHAMPIONSHIP WITH TWO TO GO (2008-2021)

YEARLEADERSECOND LEADCHAMPION
2008Scott DixonHelio Castroneves78Scott Dixon
2009Ryan BriscoeDario Franchitti4Dario Franchitti
2010Will PowerDario Franchitti23Dario Franchitti
2011Dario FranchittiWill Power26Dario Franchitti
2012Will PowerRyan Hunter-Reay5Ryan Hunter-Reay
2013Helio CastronevesScott Dixon49Scott Dixon
2014Will PowerHelio Castroneves4Will Power
2015Juan Pablo MontoyaGraham Rahal42Scott Dixon (-48)
2016Simon PagenaudWill Power27Simon Pagenaud
2017Josef NewgardenScott Dixon18Josef Newgarden
2018Scott DixonAlexander Rossi29Scott Dixon
2019Josef NewgardenAlexander Rossi35Josef Newgarden
2020Scott DixonJosef Newgarden72Scott Dixon
2021Alex PalouPato O’Ward25?

RACE NOTES:

  • There have been nine different winners in 14 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races this season. Alex Palou (Barber Motorsports Park, Road America, Portland International Raceway), Colton Herta (Streets of St. Petersburg), Scott Dixon (Texas Motor Speedway-1), Pato O’Ward (Texas Motor Speedway-2, Raceway at Belle Isle Park-2), Rinus VeeKay (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course-1), Helio Castroneves (Indianapolis 500), Marcus Ericsson (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-1, Streets of Nashville), Josef Newgarden (Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, World Wide Technology Raceway) and Will Power (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course-2) have all won in 2021. The modern record (1946-present) for most different winners in a season is 11 in 2000, 2001 and 2014.
  • There have been seven different winners in the last 10 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races (Rinus VeeKay, Helio Castroneves, Alex PalouMarcus Ericsson, Pato O’WardJosef Newgarden and Will Power) The only repeat winners in that stretch are, Ericsson (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-1 and Streets of Nashville), Newgarden (Mid-Ohio and WWT Raceway) and Palou (Road America and Portland).
  • The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will be the 24th INDYCAR SERIES race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, but just the second since 2004. Teo Fabi won the first INDYCAR SERIES race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in 1983. Colton Herta – who won the most recent race at the track in 2019 – and Helio Castroneves -who won at the track in 2000 – are the only former winners entered in this year’s race.
  • Thirteen drivers have won at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca from the pole – Teo Fabi (1983), Bobby Rahal (1985), Danny Sullivan (1988), Rick Mears (1989), Danny Sullivan (1990), Michael Andretti (1991 and 1992), Paul Tracy (1994), Alex Zanardi (1996), Bryan Herta (1998 and 1999), Helio Castroneves (2000), Cristiano da Matta (2002), Patrick Carpentier (2003) and Colton Herta (2019).
  • Team Penske has won six times at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Penske’s winning drivers are Danny Sullivan (1988 and 1990), Rick Mears (1989), Paul Tracy (1993 and 1994) and Helio Castroneves (2000). Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has three wins with Bryan Herta (1998-99) and Max Papis (2001). Chip Ganassi Racing has two wins with Alex Zanardi in 1996 and Jimmy Vasser in 1997.
  • Eighteen drivers entered in the event have competed in past INDYCAR SERIES races at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Helio Castroneves has four starts, most among the entered drivers, but hasn’t raced at the track since 2001. Five entered drivers have led laps at the track (Colton Herta 83, Will Power 6, Scott Dixon 2, Sebastien Bourdais 1 and Simon Pagenaud 1).
  • Four rookies – Romain GrosjeanCallum IlottJimmie Johnson and Scott McLaughlin – are expected to compete. The four rookies, along with veteran drivers Oliver AskewDalton KellettPato O’WardAlex Palou and Rinus VeeKay, will all be making their first INDYCAR SERIES at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Eraced: Charlie Wiggins’ Story on Film

Charlie Wiggins, the Indianapolis mechanic and race driver who starred in the Colored Speedway Association in the late 20s and early 30s, is the subject of a new film biography which begins production next spring. The film will be produced by Welburn Media Group, headed by Ed Welburn and Madisun Leigh.

Welburn, the former Vice President of Global design at General Motors, said he was inspired by For Gold and Glory, the documentary and subsequent book about Wiggins and the Colored Speedway Association.

“Watching the documentary about Charlie, I was excited and at the same time deeply saddened that such an amazing piece of African American history, of American history, of car history, could be completely unknown to me, my enthusiast friends, and most auto racing experts,” said Welburn. “I decided that I had to bring Charlie’s story to life.”

Leigh is helping to adapt the screenplay from the documentary.

“It’s yet another missing piece of the puzzle that is the contribution of African American ingenuity and genius to our country’s rich history,” said Leigh. “Charlie was a humble yet daring man who, despite the stifling impediment of Jim Crow laws and unimaginable personal tragedy, rose again and again to meet those challenges and obstacles.”

The project has received production support from the NTT Indycar Series and from Firestone.

Wiggins won the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes at the Indiana State Fairgrounds four times, and also worked on William Cummings’ car in 1934, when Cummings won the Indianapolis 500. The crew explained to the speedway guards that Wiggins was their janitor. After the track closed for the day, Wiggins and the rest of the crew worked on the car. On Race Day Wiggins had to watch from the “Coloreds Only” section of the track.

In december, i wrote about including CSA records in the all time Indycar records as baseball did with the Negro leagues:

thepitwindow.blog/2020/12/28/the-next-step-in-diversity-recognizing-thecsa/

Wiggins won several other races during the Colored Speedway association’s brief time as a racing series. Following Wiggins’ career ending injury in the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes, the association’s attendance dwindled and the league folded in 1936 at the end of the season.

Indycar Grid Update and Other News

This is the post I was going to write earlier this week before something happened. I think this should be safe until next week or longer, I hope. The good news is the NTT Indycar Series grid for 2020 is nearly full. The bad news for drivers on the outside is the grid is nearly full. Here is a team by team look  at where things stand.

Chevrolet Teams

Penske– All set with the same lineup as last year- 2019 champion Josef Newgarden, 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud, and Will Power.

Carpenter- Nothing confirmed for either car except for Ed Carpenter running the ovals. I expect Spencer Pigot to return to the 21. The road course races for the 20 could go to Rinus Veekay, although he is seeking a full time seat. Would Carpenter consider a full time car for VeeKay and run the 20 just on ovals?

Carlin- Nothing solid at Carlin yet. Will Max Chilton be back for just the road/street courses?  Can Charlie Kimball get a full time budget? Who else might be in the mix? Ed Jones, Matheus Leist, and Conor Daly are some of the available talent.

Foyt- Tony Kanaan will be in the 14 for his final full time ride in Indycar. The seat in the 4 car is still open. It likely won’t be Leist again. Right now this ride is wide open.

AMSP- Plenty has been written about this team this week. Their lineup is set with Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew, the last two Indy Lights champions.  I expect expansion team type results from them next year.

Dragonspeed- The team is hoping to run 10 races next season, which may be optimistic. Ben Hanley is their main driver, although someone with money could drive in some races for them. The team is expanding their sports car program in both WEC and IMSA.

Honda Teams

Andretti Autosport- The armada returns with an expanded lineup. Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, and Zach Veach all return. They are joined by Colton Herta as Harding- Steinbrenner has been absorbed by Andretti.

Meyer-Shank – Jack Harvey hopes to run a full season in 2020. the team will have a technical alliance with Andretti.

Ganassi- The team has expanded to three full time entries. Scott Dixon and 2019 Rookie of the Year Felix Rosenqvist return. Marcus Ericsson will drive the third entry. Don’t look for a fourth car except maybe for the 500.

Coyne- Sebastien Bourdais stays in the 18. It appears the team is close to completing a deal with Santino Ferrucci to return to the 19. I don’t think the Hinchcliffe situation changes anything here.

Rahal- Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato are set. Everyone’s attention is focused on the third car which doesn’t yet exist. Will it come into being for James Hinchcliffe? I’m not sure enough money can be put together by the parties concerned.

As of today there are 20 solid full time cars. The question marks are Carlin and Meyer-Shank. I’m not counting the 4 car at Foyt, either.

Cara Adams Promoted at Bridgestone/Firestone

Congratulations to Cara Adams. In a press release from Bridgestone, Adams is now  “…director, race tire engineering & production, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO) and Firestone Racing. In this expanded leadership role, Adams will oversee the entire race tire production process – from product design and development through manufacturing and management – in support of the Firestone brand’s role as sole tire supplier of the NTT IndyCar® Series.”

Cara is one of the hardest working people in the paddock, but she always has time to answer a quick question.