Museum Underground

Photo from IMS Museum website

As the elevator reached the bottom floor, I felt I was entering hallowed ground. My Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Basement tour was just moments away. The museum recently began offering tours of what had until now been a very exclusive area of the building. It was like the Speedway’s Forbidden City. People I know who had the fortune to see it seemed sworn to secrecy about its contents. Some of its treasures have been revealed in the From the Vault collection exhibit running currently on the main floor. The exhibit rotates items. there were a few new vehicles upstairs this trip.

My knowledgeable guide, Dennis, and I walked down a quiet hallway past large solid doors with big security combination locks on them. It lent an air of mystery and somberness to the area. We stopped in front of a set of double doors. Dennis opened them. It was pitch black. When the lights finally came on, the hair on my arms stood up and I felt a chill. For someone like me who loves classic cars, I thought I had gone to heaven.

My excitement was tempered a bit when Dennis said I could not take pictures. Since I was already there, I decided to proceed with the tour anyway. Just to the right of the door as we entered were three Formula 1 cars. The first one was Michael Schumacher’s rookie car. next to it sat one of Mario Andretti’s F1 machines, the Parnelli Jones owned car. Dennis took a picture of me standing next to the Schumacher car.

I’m not sure how many cars reside in the basement, but there were double rows of automobiles, race cars and passenger cars, all around the perimeter walls. Dennis told me some car will be sold because the museum’s future focus will be cars that have some relationship to the Speedway. others belong to the Hulman-George family and will be returned to them.

One of the race cars that caught my eye was a dirt/speedway car from the early 1950’s. Jimmy Bryan drove it to second place in the 1954 Indianapolis 500. Jim Rathmann, Bob Sweikert, and A. J. Foyt also drove the car. it wears the livery of Dean Van Lines. This car compares to the Boyle Maserati in having a string of outstanding drivers in the pilot’s seat. The Maserati was driven by Wilbur Shaw, Ted Horn, and Bill Vukovich.

Some other vehicles of note are Mary Hulman’s Rolls-Royce, which she drove just one time to the grocery store. The car attracted so much attention that she hired a chauffeur to drive it after that. I liked the early 1900s Apperson and the Duesenbergs that reside in the depths of the museum. There are also several of the actual pace cars. Of note is the original 1996 Dodge Viper that was scheduled to pace the field, but was pulled at the last minute because it contained Japanese parts. Another version of the Viper, which also sits in the vault, led the field to the green that year.

A single row of vintage cars along the wall to the right includes an 1886 Daimler and a Benz of the same year. these were basically carts with bench seats and a rudder for steering with a tiny motor in the back. Some other cars along that wall, from 1916, have roots in the Hulman-George family. Tony George was driven to school in one of them.

The 30 minute tour costs $100 and online reservations are recommended at indyracingmuseum.org. I had planned to just visit the museum and make a reservation for the tour another day. Since it was early and they had no tours scheduled, I got to take the tour immediately. .

Rosenqvist to AMSP is Official; Dragonspeed Closes Indycar Program

Arrow McLaren SP officially confirmed felix rosenqvist as driver the number 7 car for 2021. The Swedish driver completed his second year in the Indycar series with Chip ganhassi racing. Rosenqvist finished 11th in the season standings and got his first Indycar win at Road America in race 2.

The announcement from the team:

Felix Rosenqvist joins Arrow McLaren SP for 2021

Felix Rosenqvist will join Arrow McLaren SP for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, the team confirmed today, piloting the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. Rosenqvist will get his first run in the car and begin duties with the team during an upcoming test at Barber Motorsports Park on November 2nd.

“I can’t wait to take the next step in my career and join Arrow McLaren SP. The team has shown itself to be a consistent challenger this year and I’m looking forward to working with Pato to help take it forward,” said Rosenqvist. “I want to thank Sam, Ric, Zak, and the entire team for giving me this opportunity and I’m already working to be as prepared as possible for next season. It’s going to be fun.”

Rosenqvist, a 28-year-old from Sweden with a diverse motorsport background, will start his third season in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES, with his career accomplishments already including eight top five finishes and a win at Road America this year.

“We’ve been watching Felix since he came over to Indy Lights in 2016 and have been constantly impressed by his performance over the past two years,” said Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt. “We think that he and Pato complement each other well and together we believe they will help us on our journey forward as a team.”

“It’s not very often that you get the opportunity to combine two young, established talents like Pato and Felix,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. “I think this pairing gives us a strong driver lineup and I’m excited to see what they can do together on and off the track.”

Rosenqvist will team up with Arrow McLaren SP driver Pato O’Ward, who finished his first full season in fourth place and looks forward to combining efforts with his former on-track rival.

“I am looking forward to working alongside Felix. He is a driver I truly respect, in and out of the car, and I’m sure we will work well together,” said O’Ward. “I think we can learn a lot from each other to develop the strongest package possible at every race weekend together with the team.”

Follow along with the team on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube at @ArrowMcLarenSP.

Dragonspeed Closure Benefits Meyer Shank Racing

Dragonspeed has closed the doors on its Indycar program. The team debuted at St. Petersburg in 2019 with Ben Hanley. Dragonspeed appeared in the Indianapolis 500 the last two years, finishing 23rd in August.

Team owner Elton Julian cited COVID as a factor in the decision to focus on their sports car program. Julian said the pandemic set his team back two years.

Dragonspeed sold its Dallara chassis to Meyer Shank Racing. The move accelerates MSR’s plan to field a second car in the Indycar series. The plan is to build the schedule gradually as they ddi with Jack Harvey’s now full time entry.

It’s sad to see a team leave the series, but the silver lining could be Meyer Shank adding another entry to the grid.

IMS Test Postponed to Friday

The scheduled Thursday Indycar test has been postponed to tomorrow, Friday, October 3,0 due to inclement weather. Trust me, it’s not clement. Fans are welcome to watch from the turn 2 mounds.

Enter at gate 2, where you will indergo a temperature screening. Facial coverings are required at all times and no food or drink is allowed on the mounds.

Scheduled to participate in the test are Scott Dixon, Takuma Sato, Josef Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ed Carpenter, and Pato O’Ward.

Newgarden and Sato tested Wednesday as the series experimented with some nose pieces.to create more front downforce and improve passing ability.

Yesterday Scott McLaughlin completed his Speedway Rookie Orientation Program.

Season Review: What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

Photo: Joe Skibinski, Indycar

It feels good to say that it’s time to review the 2020 Indycar season. It’s great that there was a season. All was in doubt for Roger Penske’s first year as owner of the NTT Indycar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the opening race at St. Pete was cancelled in March. After six schedule revisions, renegotiated deals, and guidance from state and local health officials, the season took place. Three race had no fans in attendance, and the other races had a limited number of fans allowed. Fans owe a huge amount of thanks to Penske, Indycar, and IMS for getting a credible schedule together for this year. Also a thank you to NBC Sports for working out broadcast windows for all the races

It was not too bad a season. There could have been more passing on the ovals, but the racing on the road and street courses was really good. Here are the things that stood out to me in 2020. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about individual teams and drivers.

Dixon, Power Move Closer to Career Leaders

Scott Dixon won his 50th career race at World Wide technology Raceway in August. He began the season winning the first three races. After a driver has won three in a season, the odds of winning a fourth go down dramatically. I expected we would have to wait until 2021 to see Dixon win number 50. He accomplished the feat the week after the Indianapolis 500, where he was the favorite and finished second. The nice thing is he won his 50th with fans present. Dixon is just two wins behind Mario Andretti in total victories. He should at least tie Andretti next season.

Will Power last year thought that reaching Andretti’s mark of 67 poles would be a difficult task. Power didn’t think it possible to win more than three poles a year with the competition as close as it is. He took five poles this season to end up within five of the career record. I can’t see A.J. Foyt’s mark of 67 wins ever being topped, but I can see Power going past Andretti for career poles.

Indycar’s Youth Movement Shows Talent

Drivers with less than two years of experience coming into the season had some brilliant moments. Pato O’Ward and Rinus VeeKay each won a pole, Felix Rosenqvist and Colton Herta each won a race , and six podiums shared by eight of the youngest drivers in the series means Indycar has some talent waiting to get their due. This season belonged mainly to the veterans, but this talented group will be near the front consistently soon.

Dixon vs. Newgarden

Is this the new Foyt vs. Andretti rivalry? Six time champion Dixon and two time champion Newgarden have split the last four titles. It’s nice that they have alternated years. Until Dixon chooses to retire, this will be the matchup to watch. Most people, including me, thought the rivalry of the future would be Newgarden and Alexander Rossi. Rossi may enter the picture again, but he will need to come back strong next season if he wants to join this battle.

Aeroscreen Proves Its Need

A frightening crash in race 1 at Iowa proved that Indycar made the right call going with the aeroscreen instead of a halo. As the field was set to go green. Colton Herta’s car hit the car in front of him and became airborne. He landed nearly on top of Rinus VeeKay. The nose of Herta’s car hit the op of th aeroscreen. The screen also prevented a piece of debris from entering the cockpit of Marcus Ericsson’s car.

While the aeroscreen is not aesthetically pleasing, it is a great advance in safety. I think it will have a better appearance on the new chassis in 2023, wher it will be built into the design.

Best Races

Strictly my opinion, but the best races of the year were The Harvest Grand Prix Race 1, Iowa race 1, both races at Road America, and The finale Sunday at St. Pete.

The Indianapolis 500 was better than I expected, but it was not as good as it has been the last few years. Not having fans in attendance detracted from the event.

. The weather forecast looks dicey for running.

Fans Allowed at IMS Test Sessions This Week

Wednesday and Thusday test sessions at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will involve six drivers, including six time series champion Scott Dixon and reigning Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner Takuma Sato. other drivers testing are Josef Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ed Carpenter.

Newgarden and Sato will test Wednesday. Scott McLaughlin is expected to get time on Wednesday to complete his Rookie Orientation Program. All six drivers will test Thursday.

Wednesday’s test times are 11-6 and Thursday the test runs from 10-6.

Fans will be allowed to view the action from the turn 2 viewing mounds. Facial coverings must be worn at all times and social distancing must be maintained. No food or drink is allowed on the mounds.

Fans must enter the speedway at Gate 2 and undergo a temperature screening.

Penske Entertainment Corp. Provides Race for Equality & Change Update

From Indycar and Penske Entertainment Corp.:
INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020 – Penske Entertainment Corp. announced several significant steps this morning related to its ongoing Race for Equality & Change initiative. This includes a major expansion of its relationship with NXG Youth Motorsports Inc. (NXG), a 501c3 that introduces minority students to motorsports. NXG uses the world of motorsports to provide students access to STEM curriculum, career pathways and valuable life lessons,” said Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles. “We’re thrilled to partner with Coach Rod Reid to support his tremendous work and the expansion of his program.” In addition, Jimmie McMillian was named Chief Diversity Officer for Penske Entertainment Corp. McMillian has been Senior Corporate Counsel for IMS and INDYCAR since 2016 and is nationally recognized as a strong and consistent voice for diversity in the legal profession. He is charged with leading the ongoing implementation of vital Race for Equality & Change pillars. “Jimmie is an impactful leader and a strong voice for inclusivity and diversity,” Miles said. “His experience, perspectives and community relationships will be a tremendous asset in this role. We’re grateful to have him guiding this significant and important effort for us.” NXG Expansion Penske Entertainment Corp., owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and INDYCAR, has teamed up with several corporate partners to provide increased funding and resources to NXG. More than half a million dollars in funds and in-kind contributions have been raised, with key donations coming from program title sponsor Lucas Oil, Penske Entertainment Corp., LifeSecure Insurance Company and Snap-on Incorporated. NXG will also be provided a permanent garage at IMS with brand-new tools from Snap-on. The increased funding and infrastructure further the program in several important ways, including allowing for a yearlong curriculum, increasing the number of students participating and enhancing the depth and quality of student experience. “The support from partners new and long-term, including LifeSecure Insurance, Snap-on, Penske Entertainment Corp. and Lucas Oil, will help us build upon the strong foundation we’ve established,” said Coach Reid. “Ultimately, we’ll be able to ensure more students have access to opportunities that teach vital life and career skills on a year-long basis.” Since its inception in 2006, NXG has introduced more than 1,000 boys and girls ages 11 to 16 to the educational benefits that can be derived from performance driving. It utilizes racing as a training tool for life-skill development, engaging participants in classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction. Participants are introduced to motorsports career opportunities such as engineering, marketing, management, food service, and health and fitness while being inspired to become safe, responsible future drivers. The announcement coincides with NXG’s season finale taking place this week at IMS as part of the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR. Race for Equality & Change Race for Equality & Change was unveiled during this year’s Brickyard 400 weekend and represents a major effort to support diversity and inclusivity across the INDYCAR industry. Key goals include: Recruiting and developing a diverse workforce throughout all levels of INDYCAR and IMS Diversifying the competitive driver field at the grassroots, Road to Indy and NTT INDYCAR SERIES levels Supporting impactful grassroots youth motorsports programs, like NXG Diversifying employment, leadership and ownership within the SERIES and with INDYCAR promoters Investment in minority communities to encourage greater engagement with INDYCAR and IMS Establishing a procurement program to meaningfully increase the number of minority-owned businesses that contract with INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway each year “I’m honored to take on this role and ready to help fuel change and inclusivity in our sport,” McMillian said. “Penske Entertainment Corp. is committed to making a difference, and today’s announcements are just the beginning of the important work and progress to come.” For more information, please visit IMS.com and INDYCAR.com.

Race 2 Quick Thoughts-A Sense of Normalcy

Photo of Will Power by Chris Jones, Indycar

Will Power takes the pole and dominates the race. Team Penske sweeps the weekend. with two wins and two front row starts. Power and Josef Newgarden combined to lead 109 of the 160 laps. This weekend brought a sense of normalcy back. This how the IMS road course works.

A victory at St. Pete would make Power a 40 race winner. It has been more than 20 years since two 40 race winners were active in the series.

Not every race can be as great as Friday’s, and I wasn’t expecting today’s race to be that good. It is quite a feat to lead every lap in a race, especially one with such a long pit stop delta.

It was nice to see Simon Pagenaud move up to the top 10 after an awful friday. He still hasn’t figured out qualifying. Pagenaud’s struggles in qualifying have been one of the most puzzling things about this season.

Colton Herta made an impressive late charge to close in on Power. It made the last few laps interesting.

Alexander Rossi had his best weekend of the year with two podium finishes.

Jack Harvey has three top 10s and one podium in four races on the IMS road course.

Scott Dixon’s struggles continue. His lead over Newgarden is just 32 points heading to St. Pete. The Florida street course is not one of Dixon’s better tracks. He just needs to keep Newgarden in sight during the race.

I don’t know how Indycar determines race distances, but I think 5 more laps might have made the race more intriguing.

If the fans had a vote, the Harvest Grand Prix would be an annual event.

Finally, huge thanks to Roger Penske, Doug Boles, and the entire staff at IMS for their efforts to create a safe environment for fans to be to attend the races this weekend. The fans who live in Indianapolis needed this, and they will remember and appreciate this weekend for a long time.

Power on Pole for Race 2

Will Power is back home again in Indiana. He took the pole position for this afternoon’s Race 2 of the Harvest Grand Prix. Power has won on this track three times in the May edition of the IMS road course race.

Colton Herta starts second. Yesterday’s winner, Josef Newgarden, starts 9th and points leader Scott Dixon starts 15th. Rinus VeeKay, yesterday’s pole winner, starts 14th.

Power’s pole is his 4th of the year and 61st of his career. He could tie or pass Mario Andretti’ s career mark of 67 poles sometime next season.

Harvest Grand Prix Race 1- Quick Thoughts

Photo- Dana Garrett, Indycar

Wow! What a good race. This was arguably the best Indycar race I have seen on the IMS road course. There were battles for the lead, fights for position throughout the field, and the drama of the points leader losing ground. The winning pass also came on track. Race 2 has a tough act to follow.

The early battle for the lead between Colton Herta and Rinus VeeKay was a glimpse into Indycar’s future. The two drivers have an average of less than two years’ experience combined. Herta’s move to grab the lead at the start was topped by VeeKay’s move to regain the top spot the next lap.

Rinus VeeKay leads Colton Herta early in the harvest Grand Prix

I feel for Marco Andretti. He qualified well and was having a great race until the lap 79 fire which ended his day. He was in contention for a top 10.

Josef Newgarden is now within 40 points of Scott Dixon for the series championship. Dixon, who said his car struggled on black tires, needs to finish ahead of Newgarden tomorrow. he still could clinch the title after Race 2, but it looks more likely the title will be decided in St.Pete. All other drivers are eliminated from title contention.

Newgarden has 3 wins for the year, and Dixon has four. Dixon hasn’t won since Road America Race 1 on July 11.

Will Power had another issue in the pits but he recovered to finish sixth.

It was unusual to see Simon Pagenaud struggle and pick up only six spots from his 22nd starting position.

Will Power would do well on a dirt track. His slide and save coming off the last turn was exciting and showed great car control.

I’m not sure how close to the 10,00 fan limit the Speedway was today, but it appeared to be near the limit. Tomorrow might be the biggest crowd of the weekend and should reach the allowed capacity.