New HSR Partnership Helps Dogs and Veterans

Sunday at Mid Ohio Harding Steinbrenner Racing and Dogs2DogTags announced a new partnership.

The partnership started with a  chance meeting at Road America. Torre Willadsen, the founder, decided to pick Mid Ohio because Morty, the German shepherd who was there with veteran Chris Van Etten, came from Ohio.

“Every dog deserves to be saved and every veteran deserves to have a dog,” Willadsen explained.  “We’re focusing on two lives and trying to make a match.”

Any breed of dog will be considered for the program.

On the Dogs2DogTags website the group explains their purpose:

“We create an opportunity to save shelter dogs, train them, and place them with deserving service members who have been diagnosed with post-combat stress and anxiety. There is no out of pocket cost for the veteran to receive a trained dog, and they gain a constant companion to help them cope with the unique challenges of their everyday life.”

 “We are a group of men and women who have either served in or worked closely with our military. We’ve seen the difficulties that our men and women face when returning to civilian life, and we’ve known men and women who have tragically contributed to the unprecedented rate of veteran suicides. We are committed to standing by our veterans, and keeping them aware that we care.”

  “Starting with being an American team with an American driver. It’s about helping spread awareness for an organization that helps the men and women and others that help serve this country during and after combat,” HSR Team owner George Steinbrenner IV said.

Chris Van Etten (second from left, above), a veteran who lost part of both legs in 2012 while serving in Afghanistan,  has a support dog and also serves as a spokesman for Dogs2DogTags. He said the dogs really help the veterans “on the not so great days, when it can be tough. And those are the days when it can all come flooding back. Having that companion… just laying in the bed who licks your face and just wants to be there with you is enough to kind of shake you from whatever is holding on to you that day.”

Willadsen said the organization is looking to buy land in Wisconsin to build a facility for the dogs and veterans to meet and match up. He said the cost right now to go through the evaluation process is between$24,000-$40,000.

For more information, go to the Dogs2DogTags website,

https://www.dogs2dogtags.org/

To text a donation, text D2DTHSR to 44321. Donations as small as $1 are accepted.

 

McLaren Reveals Car for 500; Some News; Barber Photos

McLaren revealed the car Fernando Alonso will drive in the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 next month.  The mainly  papaya orange machine, the traditional McLaren color, has blue accents. While similar to Scott Dixon’s car, I think they are different enough to tell apart. The McLaren has less blue in the middle and is a different shade of orange from the Ganassi PNC Bank entry.

The sidepod sponsor is an e-cigarette company and includes a health warning. Don’t look for tobacco companies to come rushing back to motorsports just because they can add a health warning.  This si the second e cigarette company to be on a car. Blu sponsored Sebastien Bourdais a few years ago.

It’s a great looking car and it always adds to the race to have a former F1 champion in the field.

HSR Adds King Taco for Long Beach

Harding Steinbrenner Racing will carry King Taco sponsorship on Colton Herta’s car at Long Beach this weekend.  King Taco usually sponsors a car in their local race.  GESS, the primary sponsor of the 88 at Barber, is an associate sponsor this coming weekend.

It will be interesting to see if GESS commits further with the program in May.

Rich Energy Sponsors Jordan King

Jordan King, who will drive in the Indianapolis 500 as a third entry for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, yesterday announced Rich Energy is now a personal sponsor. This might help King, who drove the Ed Carpenter Racing number 20 on the road/street courses last year, get more races. Not sure if Rahal wants to do a third car for more than Indianapolis with the momentum the team has built the last two races.

Frye- Third OEM May Become Necessity

In a media availability at Barber Motorsports Park this past weekend, Indycar President Jay Frye said as more teams enter the field, a third engine manufacturer may “become a necessity rather than a luxury.”

It sounds as if he expects some more teams may be planning to enter the series. I agree. Honda and Chevy are getting stretched a bit already, especially in May.

Frye did not give any hints that a third OEM is imminent though rumors persist that a certain German company may have its name mentioned next month.

Last Look at Barber in Photos

Here are some final photos from Barber. The first two are from my friend Kyle McInnes, a photographer aspiring to become an Indycar photographer. Check out his work at kylemcinnesphoto.com.

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Top: Matheus Leist after spinning in practice.

Bottom: Spencer Pigot brings out another red flag Friday’

Photos by Kyle McInnes

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Scott Dixon makes his final pit stop.

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Sato’s crew celebrates after the checkered flag.

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Takuma Sato addresses the media after his convincing victory.

The last three photos are mine.

Back Thursday with a Long Beach preview.

Some Notes and a Drive for Dyslexia

I found out late last week about Driving for Dyslexia, a fund raising event for the Dyslexia Institute of Indiana. The late Justin Wilson worked with the students who received services, once hosting a group for a tour of his transporter at the speedway before practice. I don’t know if the kids or the parents were more impressed. As always, Justin was generous with his time helping kids who had the same issue he did.

The event is April 26 from 6 pm to 9pm at Speedway Indoor Karting. Tickets are $100 to drive and $20 just to watch. Kids 8 and under are free. More information is at this link

https://donate.diin.org/event/2019-driving-for-dyslexia/e224062

I have signed up to drive, so for just $20 you can watch me look foolish. Or you can just read my blog and watch me look foolish for free.

More 500 Entries?

Oriol Servia has said he is close to finalizing a deal to enter the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500.  My guess is this will be the third car at Arrow Schmidt Peterson.

Harding Steinbrenner Racing has begun calling drivers for their second 500 entry.

If these two cars become a reality, I have thirty five entries. A. J. Foyt Racing may have a third, which would be 36. I think that will be the final number of entries.

J. R. and Salesforce?- J. R . Hildebrand and Salesforce sent out a cryptic tweet last week about their exciting plans for May. No car was mentioned, but a photo of the car Hildebrand drove in 2018 was in the photo. I’m not counting this as an entry yet.

 Winning Is Good for Business

Following Colton Herta’s win at the Indycar Classic in Austin last week, Team owners Mike Harding and George Michael Steinbrenner IV told Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star, that there is interest from possible sponsors. Harding sounded optimistic that they may have an announcement soon.

In 2010 Ryan Hunter-Reay was driving for Michael Andretti on a part time arrangement. After Hunter-Reay won at Long Beach, DHL began a sponsor relationship that kept Hunter-Reay on track the rest of the year and continues to this day. I hope HSR and Herta have the same good fortune.

Game Changers?

Jay Frye mentioned a while ago about two game changing announcements coming in May. Everyone assumes one is the elusive third engine manufacturer. The assumption has led to wild speculation. Cosworth has stated they are not involved.  The favorite seems to be a German manufacturer, Which one?

As for the second announcement, I have no idea.

Pruett- Indycar May Return to Watkins Glen

The most exciting news item last week came from Marshall Pruett who said there is a rumor that Indycar may be racing at Watkins Glen again, sooner rather than later. The Glen is a track Indycar needs to run. It is classic and fast. Going to Watkins Glen was one of my favorite race trips.

2020 Schedule

I look for some significant changes in the schedule for 2020. I’m basing this partly on Nascar’s schedule reshuffling and wondering how NBC had a hand in it. I have no knowledge of anything imminent.

This is why a return to Watkins Glen would make sense next season.  I’m not sure how long Iowa can remain without a title sponsor, but that is one race I hope never leaves the schedule.

Some COTA Leftovers

Some things from last weekend I didn’t get to:

I understand why the checkered flag has a Speedway logo on it. I am not opposed to having a sponsor logo on the flag, but this one seems larger than most. I found it a bit invasive on the purpose of the flag. Can we make it just a bit smaller?

NBC ran what I suppose was a promo for the Indianapolis 500, but it looked like it was more a promo for the fact Danica Patrick was going to be part of the broadcast.  I get that NBC thinks she will help ratings (maybe), but to make her out to be bigger than the race I found distasteful.

I have nothing against her being on the broadcast. I’m neutral on Danica. I just thought that promo could have been done better with more focus on the race and event itself.

Back Thursday with a Barber preview. I will be reporting for Wildfire Sports on site next weekend, but will still have my notes and quick thoughts here.

 

 

 

 

 

Indycar Classic at COTA- Quick Thoughts

That was an entertaining and dramatic race. Good battles throughout and quite a twist of fate at the end for Will Power.

Congratulations to Colton Herta and the Harding Steinbrenner team. They have had this track figured out since the February test.  The win was a great team rebound from a rough Friday.

George Michael Steinbrenner IV looked stunned in the post race interview.

The rookies at fun to watch. What a great move O’Ward put on Rahal.

Great job for Jack Harvey with a second straight top 10. Meyer Shank Racing is doing a steady solid job this year.

Having the blend line right at the entrance to turn 1 made for some interesting moments.

Weird to see Ganassi struggle as a team like they did today. Yet somehow Dixon is third in points. He will be a factor by the halfway mark of the season.

Rahal had his best race in quite a while. This is the most comfortable I’ve seen him in the car since the UAK was introduced last year.

The no track limits call helped the racing and made for some great action. This rule can be COTA’s unique feature.

The caution period seemed to last longer than necessary.

O’Ward and Carlin need to practice pit stops. He lost at least two spots with his slow releases.

Power and Rossi got burned sticking to their strategy. This is not the first time Team Penske has been burned by a caution by not pitting early.  Rossi got caught out by this situation at Portland last year as well.

NBC Coverage

Great camera work on a very photogenic facility.

Does every pit stop by every driver need to be shown? A great pass was missed because NBC was showing a backmarker’s stop.

There were too many and too long replays of the start of the race and too many in race recaps. This isn’t F1 where there is nothing happening on track.

I like the side pylon where the whole field is shown at once. I like that the board shows the tire choices and the push to pass time remaining.  It’s way better than nothing than the intervals  all the time.

 

Look for my full race report tomorrow on Wildfire Sports. Back here next week with some Indycar news and another  Indianapolis 500 program feature.

 

 

 

O’Ward, Harding Steinbrenner Split; Pato has Limited Options for 2019

Above:  Pato O’Ward speaks to the media at Sonoma last September

In a statement released this morning Harding Steinbrenner Racing announced that the team and driver Pato O’Ward have agreed to part company. O’Ward’s statement:

“The Harding Steinbrenner Racing team supported my decision to seek a new opportunity by releasing me from my contract and allowing me the opportunity to find a new team before the start of the 2019 season,” said O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champion who strongly impressed in his IndyCar debut with HSR late last season. “Now, I am fully focused on finding the right opportunity and how I will use my scholarship from Indy Lights for 2019.”

O’ Ward raced for then Harding Racing in the 2018 Indycar finale at Sonoma. He qualified fifth and finished  ninth in a spectacular debut.  O’Ward was projected to team with Colton Herta in a two car effort for the merged Harding Steinbrenner Racing this upcoming season. Herta will be the sole full time entry for the team, which switched to Honda power in December.

The 2018 Indy lights champion has $1 million in scholarship money to put toward a ride. Rumors about financial woes at Harding Steinbrenner have been circulating for a while. This close to the beginning of the season it may be difficult to find a ride. There are some part time possibilities, however. I’m pretty confident a seat for the Indianapolis 500 will be available to him. O’Ward was projected as one of the top candidates for Rookie of the Year this season.

Possible landing spots-  This is strictly conjecture on my part. I have no idea what talks are going on, but I am looking at what little is available right now.

Juncos?- As of now, Kyle Kaiser will drive in the 500, but nothing else is confirmed. The team is looking for a driver with funding.

Carlin 2nd car?- Charlie Kimball has just 5 races set and R. C. Enerson has been testing with the team. There is speculation that he will fill in when Kimball isn’t driving, but I’m not sure he can run all 12 of the other races.

Coyne 3rd car?- Dale Coyne has brought out a third car from time to time. This may not be the best option for O’Ward to showcase his talent.

6th Andretti car for Indy?- O’Ward won the Indy Lights title in 2018 driving for Andretti and Andretti was giving some assistance to Harding Steinbrenner. Michael said at the Conor Daly announcement that a 6th car didn’t look good, but the cash infusion might change things.

Additional track time for Dragonspeed- Ben Hanley has a 5 race schedule planned as the team dips its toe in the Indycar pool this year. O’Ward could allow them more time to develop.

Meyer Shank more races? Jack Harvey will be in 10 races as the team expands a bit from last year. Could O’ Ward get them closer to a full time schedule?

It would be a pity if O’Ward doesn’t race this season. He is a great talent whom I was looking to seeing on track.

 

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.

 

Some Off Season Thoughts

The first week of the off season brought the exciting news that Harding racing will partner with Steinbrenner Racing in 2019. The new Harding Steinbrenner Racing team has signed rookies Pato O’Ward, 2018 Indy Lights champion, and Indy lights runner-up Colton Herta. Very few details other than the driver announcements are known at this time. There is a technical partnership with Andretti Autosport which will provide shocks, dampers, and engineering help.

The big question is which engine will Harding Steinbrenner use? Harding had Chevrolet power in 2018, and Andretti is a Honda team. For these teams to work together, the engine needs to be the same. If HSR goes with Honda, would that rule out a possible third car at Rahal letterman Lanigan Racing?

One of the greatest things about this new team is that the two team owners come from outside of racing. My friend Steve Wittich wrote an excellent article for Trackside Online about how Indycar needs diversity in its ownership. I hope we see more owners from outside racing. they should provide a fresh perspective on the business of racing.  You can find his article on Trackside Online.com. It is a site worth subscribing to.

New Title Sponsor?

There has been no word on a new series title sponsor. Things have gone rather quiet about who it will be. That could mean it’s wrapped up ready to be announced, or Indycar is still searching. It would have been good to have an announcement at Sonoma, and have some sort of handing over ceremony to thank Verizon for their sponsorship.

The Mysterious Third OEM

Is there someone ready to jump in for 2021? There has been some talk of one or two manufacturers, with one name mentioned more than others, but again, things seem very quiet on the new engine front right now.

McLaren News in November?

We may not know Mclaren’s plans until November. It would be great to have McLaren in Indycar, but this is turning into racing’s version of General Hospital. First Honda says they will not help Mclaren, then reports have come out saying yes they still might. Alonso has not made a decision. My guess he is in for the 500 only. Stoffel Vandoorne, considered a candidate for the seat when Alonso doesn’t drive, is rumored to be close to having a contract in Formula E. That could mean McLaren will be here for the 500 only as well.   Stay tuned.

Coyne’s Car 19

Dale Coyne has talked to some former Formula 1 drivers about driving the 19 car next year. he continues his quest to have one driver for the entire season in that ride. Apparently neither Zachary Claman De Melo or Pietro Fittipaldi will return. Too bad. They both have some potential to be decent drivers.

October Coming Attractions

Next month I have several columns planned for here and on Wildfire Sports.

A review of Born Racer.

A book review of Gentleman, Start Your Engines.

Look for  another month of May review via the official program for that year.

Commentary on off season news and the big announcements that could be coming will be posted as needed. In addition to a title sponsor, I am most interested to see which races will be on NBC network. I’m guessing there will be a lot in May and very early June. They didn’t ask me (again) but I think one Detroit race would be enough.

Look for a column on things Indycar might want to change for 2019.