Daly Stays with ECR in Same Role as 2020

Photo courtesy Indycar, Joe Skibinski

Conor Daly will again pilot the number20 car on the road and street courses for Ed Carpenter Racing. He will also enter a third car for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500. Last year Daly drove for Carpenter on the road and street courses and for Carlin Racing on the ovals. There is no word yet if he will continue his oval only drive for Carlin. Daly won the pole at Iowa for Race 1 in 2020.

The official release from Ed Carpenter Racing:

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
U.S. AIR FORCE, CONOR DALY RETURN TO ED CARPENTER RACING FOR 2021 SEASON
Daly Continues as Road and Street Course Driver of the No. 20 and the U.S. Air Force Indianapolis 500 Entry
(INDIANAPOLIS) December 18, 2020 – Ed Carpenter Racing announced today that the U.S. Air Force and Conor Daly will remain with the team for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.    Daly will continue to drive ECR’s No. 20 Chevrolet for the road and street course events, 10 of which will carry the colors of the U.S. Air Force. Additionally, Daly will again race a U.S. Air Force Chevrolet for ECR in the Indianapolis 500. Daly and ECR continue to work alongside the U.S. Air Force to use the NTT INDYCAR SERIES to inspire young adults, communicate the service’s mission and build awareness about career opportunities.   The 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule consists of 13 road and street course events, all of which will feature Daly in ECR’s No. 20. The 10 races where the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet will be on track are set to be announced at a later date, as will the primary partner for Daly’s three other races. For the four oval events, Daly will hand the No. 20 back over to team owner Ed Carpenter. Daly will also drive a U.S. Air Force Chevrolet in the Indianapolis 500, once again rounding out ECR’s three-car lineup.   “It feels incredible to have another year together with the U.S. Air Force and Ed Carpenter Racing,” stated Daly. “Continuity has always been helpful for me in my career; the fact that we are able to hit the ground running in 2021 already having experience together gives me a lot of confidence. Every day we learn more and develop a stronger relationship.”   Daly continued, “This would not be possible without the support of the U.S. Air Force, who have been an incredibly supportive and loyal partner. I want nothing more than to win races and compete for the entrant championship for the Airmen, the guys at ECR and my boss Ed, who has become a true friend of mine. I can’t wait to get back to work!”   The success of U.S. Air Force recruiting relies on a multi-layered marketing campaign at the local, regional and national level. Involvement in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES reflects the U.S. Air Force’s core values and has a positive impact on generating public awareness about the organization, its people and mission. The strategic partnership enables the U.S. Air Force to leverage and establish STEM correlations with Indy car racing, including teamwork, speed, technology, engineering, math and excellence in competition. Daly and ECR support the U.S. Air Force in its mission to inspire the nation’s brightest, most competitive young men and women for service.   “This partnership draws a parallel with how we fly, fight and win,” said Maj. Jason Wyche, Chief, Air Force National Events Branch at Air Force Recruiting Service. “Both organizations rely on the principles of science, technology, engineering and math to accomplish the mission. The technology that goes into these cars is similar to what we rely on when flying our fighter jets. Also, teamwork is especially important with the Air Force just like at the Indy 500. Everything just ties in perfectly with how we accomplish our respective missions. That’s what makes this a great partnership!”    Daly, who turned 29 on Tuesday, is continuing a partnership with the U.S. Air Force that originated four years ago. Beginning as a one-off 2018 Indianapolis 500 entry, Daly and the U.S. Air Force have grown to be synonymous in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Daly competed in the full 2020 schedule, splitting his talent between two teams. While Carpenter raced the No. 20 on ovals, Daly stepped into Carlin’s No. 59. In addition to four Top 10 finishes, Daly earned his first career pole position at Iowa Speedway. Over the past seven years, the Noblesville, Ind., native has competed in over 60 Indy car races. Known for a desire to sharpen his skills by racing in different disciplines, Daly made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut earlier this year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.   Carpenter is thrilled with continuation of this year’s program. “It is a very exciting day to be able to announce the return of both the U.S. Air Force and Conor to Ed Carpenter Racing! We are looking forward to the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES, having the same driver lineup to continue our progression back to a race-winning and championship-contending organization.” He continued, “We are very grateful for the support of U.S. Air Force and honored to represent everything that they stand for. We’re thankful for the opportunity to inspire and engage the next generation of men and women who join the U.S. Air Force!”   The 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season will be Ed Carpenter Racing’s 10th season of competition. ECR began as a single-car organization in 2012, expanding to two full-time entries in 2015. For the first time since having multiple entries, the team will enjoy the continuity of having the same driver lineup from the previous season. The No. 20 maintains its all-Hoosier lineup as both Carpenter and Daly are from Indiana. Carpenter, a three-time Indianapolis 500 pole winner, will be driving in his 19th season of Indy car competition. Rinus VeeKay, 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year, remains the team’s full-time driver of the No. 21. The Dutchman’s debut season featured the best qualifying result by a teenager in Indianapolis 500 history, his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole position and three Top 5 finishes. Carpenter, Daly and VeeKay make up the team’s three-car effort in the 2021 Indianapolis 500. The 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season will open in the streets of St. Petersburg on March 7, 2021.
Conor Daly will continue to drive Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Chevrolet for the road and street course events for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, 10 of which will carry the colors of the U.S. Air Force. Additionally, Daly will again race a U.S. Air Force Chevrolet for ECR in the Indianapolis 500, rounding out the team’s three-car lineup. (DREAM Digital/Alex Wong)
Conor Daly and the U.S. Air Force are continuing a partnership that originated four years ago. Beginning as a one-off 2018 Indianapolis 500 entry, Daly and the U.S. Air Force have grown to be synonymous in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Daly and Ed Carpenter Racing continue to work alongside the U.S. Air Force to inspire young adults, communicate the service’s mission and build awareness about career opportunities. (IMS Photo/Chris Owens)
About Ed Carpenter Racing Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) first entered the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2012. The Indianapolis-based race team has proven its versatility by collecting seven wins across each type of track the series competes on – street and road courses, short ovals and speedways. ECR is led by IndyCar’s only team owner/driver, Ed Carpenter, three-time pole winner for the Indianapolis 500 (2013, 2014 and 2018). In 2021, Indiana natives Carpenter and Conor Daly will share the No. 20 Chevrolet as Carpenter drives the oval races and Daly takes over for the road and street course events. Both will be entered in the Indianapolis 500 alongside 2020 Rookie of the Year Rinus VeeKay, full-time driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet. ECR made its eSports debut in the iRX World Championship with Jim Beaver eSports. More information on Ed Carpenter Racing may be found at http://www.edcarpenterracing.com/.
About the U.S. Air Force The mission of Air Force Recruiting Service is to inspire, engage and recruit the next generation of Airmen and Space professionals. We are looking for America’s best and brightest to fill nearly 30,000 opportunities in more than 200 Air Force specialties, as well as more than 300 space professionals in space-specific career fields in fiscal 2021. Additionally, our total force partners, the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard are collectively hiring more than 19,000 part-time Airmen. Our military recruits to retain, providing tough, highly technical training that gives our future servicemembers the right skills to sustain the combat capability of America’s Air Force and protect our nation’s interests in space. For more information about Air Force and U.S. Space Force benefits and opportunities, go to www.airforce.com.

Some Christmas Book Recommendations

If you’re still searching for a gift idea for the racing fan in your household, here a couple of book suggestions.

Pictured above, Indy 500 Memories, by Art Garner and Marc B. Spiegel, is a compilation of memories from fans, drivers, owners, race officials, and media members. I have just begun reading it. So far, the most common themes are how huge the Speedway is and the size of the race day crowd. Whether the speaker is a former winner or a fan, the first impression is the same.

Garner is also the author of Black Noon, one of the best books i have read on the history of the race. Memories is available at the IMS Gift Shop, and it can be ordered online for $19.95.

John Andretti’s fascinating autobiography, Racer, published earlier this year. It is Andretti’s own words as told to Jade Gurss, author of Beast. I reviewed the book in September:

https://thepitwindow.blog/2020/09/24/book-review-racer/

Racer is available through Octane Press for $ 35.

I also recommend the following:

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines: The Rest of the Story… by Wilbur Shaw with Al Bloemker; new edition with added chapters by Bill Shaw with Bob Gates, $40. Contact: donate@boyleracingteam.org.

Vukovich by Bob Gates, Witness Productions, $40.

I’ll be back tomorrow with an update on the Indycar grid for 2021.

The Keeper of the Facts

Photo: Donald Davidson sitting in the Belond Exhaust Special. Photo by Greg Griiffo, Indy Star

If each fact about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 in Donald Davidson’s head were a physical object, the building needed to store them all would dwarf the track a hundredfold.

Davidson announced his retirement from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday, effective December 31, ending a 65 year career as statistician, historian, media commentator, and author. His popular May show, Talk of Gasoline Alley, was a staple of May evenings for nearly 50 years. Fans tuned in to glean nuggets of history about the 500, the Speedway, and the people involved. I hope this show finds a way to continue. It has sadly been reduced to just one week from its former month long run, making each night that more special.

Some personal remembrances:

I was at the track the first day that Davidson arrived. It was Bump Day, 1964. During the usual lull in the middle of the afternoon, one of the track announcers, I believe it was Jim Phillipei, announced a special guest, “a young man from England with some knowledge about the speedway,” I believe he said. He asked Donald some questions which he handled easily. Henry Banks joined the pair, and Donald proceeded to run through Banks’s career in the Indianapolis 500. Davidson didn’t pause as he ran through each year- car, starting position, finishing position, laps completed. Banks accepted the information as correct, saying he couldn’t remember every race.

In the fall of 2012 I had the opportunity to take Davidson’s class on the history of the Indianapolis 500. Four weekly 3 hour sessions, beginning with Carl Fisher through the present day. The sessions ran long, but I didn’t mind. Several people in the class had attended it previously. It was one of the last of these classes he taught. He had some fascinating film of the early days of the track, as well as many incredible stories.

I always enjoyed seeing him on one of my trips to the Speedway Museum, even if it was just to say hello. Davidson and I have been at the track for nearly the same number of years.

Davidson’s retirement did not come on suddenly. This has been planned for awhile. There is someone who will take his position as historian. This person is not replacing Donald as much as carrying on his work. May evenings won’t be the same without Donald adding to my learning about the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Thank you, Donald, for everything .

Donald Davidson Retiring December 31

I don’t normally bombard you with back to back stories, but this broke as I was writing the earlier piece. This is the official story from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I will post my own thoughts tomorrow. All I will say for now is that i was at the track 56 years ago this past May when he first appeared at the Speedway. More on that tomorrow. Thank you, Donald.

From Indianapolis Motor Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Dec. 7, 2020 – Donald Davidson, beloved by race fans worldwide for nearly six decades for his encyclopedic knowledge of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500, is retiring Dec. 31 as IMS historian.

Davidson has amazed, entertained and delighted millions since he first crossed the Atlantic to visit IMS in May 1964, fulfilling a dream and his fascination with “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” since his teenage years growing up in Salisbury, England.

Since then, Davidson has become known and respected around the globe for his preservation and promotion of the history of IMS and the Indianapolis 500. His unique blend of passion, knowledge and a genial personality is immediately apparent to all, whether through interaction with fans at the IMS Museum or the track, answering historical queries from fans and car collectors, countless public speaking engagements and his popular television and radio appearances.

During his long association with IMS and auto racing, Davidson has become one of the most well-liked and respected figures in Speedway history.

“I have been blessed with a truly amazing career which has been jam-packed with hundreds upon hundreds of personally rewarding experiences, but the years have flown by at an alarming rate and never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that this magical ride would last as long as it has,” Davidson said. “Over the last three or four years, I have begun contemplating other areas of my life for which I wish I had been able to spend more time, and this has only been further underscored with daily reminders during the challenging last few months of having to work from home.

“I have enjoyed an unbelievable rapport over the decades with the participants and their families, the media, my colleagues and superiors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the United States Auto Club, the Speedway’s magnificent Museum and the Radio Network, and, especially, that incredibly devoted legion of the most passionate fans in the world.

“I hope that everyone will understand and respect that this basically private individual, who would really prefer to quietly take a little step back into the shadows without fanfare, has decided the time has come to retire from the official day-to-day duties.

“This was not an overnight decision, and we would like to sincerely thank the close-knit dedicated team that has been discretely working for several weeks on its implementation.”

Davidson has served as IMS historian since January 1998 and is believed to be the only person in the world to hold that role full time for a motorsports racetrack. But his involvement with the Speedway started much earlier.

He developed a passionate interest in auto racing as a teenager in England and saved enough money to come to America and make his first appearance at IMS in 1964. During that visit, Davidson dazzled members of the racing community and IMS officials, including track owner Tony Hulman, with his ability to recite year-by-year accounts of participants’ careers. Davidson also was first introduced to international audiences with a brief appearance that year on the IMS Radio Network.

Befriended by legendary IMS Radio Network anchor Sid Collins, Davidson returned to the United States permanently in 1965. He joined the Radio Network and was hired by the United States Auto Club (USAC) as a statistician, a job he fulfilled with great pride and detail for nearly 32 years.

Davidson then briefly joined TelX (now IMS Productions) as a historical archivist in 1997 before moving to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation as historian in January 1998.

“No one has more knowledge or more appreciation of the heritage of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway than Donald Davidson,” said Roger Penske. “I have always admired Donald’s passion and dedication to the Speedway and ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.’ His ability to seemingly recall every detail of IMS history is remarkable, and he is one of the greatest storytellers racing has ever seen. I want to thank Donald for all he has done for our sport and for helping to bring the personalities and the legends of IMS to life for more than 50 years. Donald will always have a place at the Speedway, and we wish him all the best in this next chapter of his life.”

Davidson’s vast knowledge, painstaking attention to detail and friendly, polished manner led him into numerous media roles across many platforms.

He has served in many on- and off-air roles for the IMS Radio Network broadcast of the Indianapolis 500 since 1965, and he also was part of the broadcast team for selected Brickyard 400 races and other open-wheel events. From 1971-2020, Davidson was the host of the popular call-in radio show “The Talk of Gasoline Alley” on Indianapolis radio station 1070 AM.

Davidson also is a prodigious and skilled writer, with many lyrical turns of phrase and colorful anecdotes bringing IMS and racing history to life. His writing credits include scores of historical articles and columns for various print and digital outlets, Indianapolis 500 Yearbooks in 1974 and 1975, and he co-wrote with Rick Shaffer the acclaimed “Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500,” published in 2006 and updated in 2013.

He also has made countless appearances on Indianapolis-area TV broadcasts and has been featured on national and international TV segments.

Over the years, Davidson also has cherished participating in speaking tours throughout the Midwest during the late winter and early spring to promote the Indianapolis 500 and share its rich history. He has spoken at venues ranging from large auditoriums to small-town public libraries, just as enthusiastic about presentations to a crowd of 12 as he was to a throng of 1,200.

But Davidson most treasures his relationships with fans, drivers, media members and officials. He has built lasting friendships with legends of the sport, such as A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti, and its lesser lights, giving equal time and his warm personal touch to all. He patiently and humbly answers questions from legions of fans, often posing for a picture or signing an autograph if the request is in person.

“There will never be another Donald Davidson – he is like an encyclopedia on racing,” Foyt said. “I bet he knows more about my career than I do. And I don’t think he should be allowed to retire before me. All joking aside, I wish him the best.”

Said Andretti: “There is something very special about Donald Davidson, and I noticed it from almost the minute I met him. When we first met, we gravitated to each other immediately. I think that was because we were both relatively fresh immigrants from Europe, so we had something in common. But very quickly I realized how remarkable this man was – a walking encyclopedia of everything Indianapolis. He immediately started educating me about the ‘500.’ I was so impressed; the furthest thing I expected from a Brit.

“He and I personally engaged and remained connected over the years. I could ask him where I was on Lap 32 in 1971 or what the track temperature was on Race Day 1984, and he would answer me without the blink of an eye. I thought it was almost miraculous.

“He’s everyone’s go-to guy for information on anything of historical significance, and he can talk about it in the most compelling way, which has earned him tremendous respect.

“And aside from his job at the Museum, he’s a well-liked gentleman who is genuinely kind and so enjoyable to be around. I can honestly say that I looked forward to seeing him every time I returned to Indy. I have so much respect for Donald. I’m very happy that I was able to enjoy and learn from his wisdom. And what I cherish most is that we became friends. I look forward to our paths crossing again.”

In honor of his accomplishments and significant contributions to Indiana culture, Davidson was presented with the state’s highest civilian honor, the Sagamore of the Wabash, in 2016.

Davidson’s remarkable career and personality also have been recognized with induction into the IMS Hall of Fame in 2010, the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame in 2013 and the USAC Hall of Fame in 2017.

“Donald always has been one of a kind – a true gem,” said Tony George, board chair, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum board of directors. “He has parlayed his love and knowledge of the Indianapolis 500 into a unique style of storytelling, one that captivates audiences and deepens their experience of the sport they love.

“He was invaluable in creating the architecture that became the Indy Racing League and was deeply involved in plans leading up to the inaugural event at Walt Disney World Speedway. We thank him for his many contributions throughout his entire career and wish him well as he spends more time pursuing his passions, including racing and its rich history!”

Fans are encouraged to share their tributes to Davidson on social media with the hashtag #DonaldDavidson.

Force Indy, Penske Drive for Diversity

In the 1930’s African American driver Charlie Wiggins submitted an entry for the Indianapolis 500. It was rejected, not because of his ability. Wiggins was a multiple winner of the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The 500 would not have a driver of color until 1991.

Today, a new era of diversity begins at IMS, thanks to efforts from Roger Penske and Rod Reid, who introduced Force Indy to the media today.

Reid laid out his mission early in today’s press conference.

“I kind of see this two ways. One is that we are inviting the black community to come into motorsports through our effort as Force Indy. We are also inviting the motorsports industry to embrace seeing and having the presence of African Americans and people of color in the pits, in the paddock, in other places in motorsports.

I want to be very, very clear that we are about diversity. We are about more than just me as a principal and the drivers. As a matter of fact, one of our core projects that we’ve engaged in in terms of putting this team together is to make sure that we have those positions like mechanics and engineers and others in the mix.”

With the support of Team Penske, Reid, the CEO of NXG Motorsports, will field a car in the 2021 USF2000 series, the first step on the Road to Indy. Reid has spent 40 years in motorsport helping people of color succeed in the sport. Reid believes the mentoring of Team Penske will be a significant boost to the team in its first year.

Jimmie McMillan, Penske Entertainment Chief Diversity Officer, said, “This is very pivotal for the Race for Equality and Change that we are undergoing right now. I could tell you under our leadership, certainly under Roger Penske, but also under Mark Miles, Bud Denker, Doug Boles, Allison Melangton, Jay Frye, we are all committed to changing this sport. It is an everyday laser focus on what we can do to move the needle.”

McMillan added,”As an African American male, I cannot understate the importance of today. Someone who did not grow up with the sport, but grew to fall in love with the sport over time and over being introduced to it by others. I have strived to spread that love to other African Americans, people of color. This is a pivotal morning.”

The car will carry number 99. Reid explained the significance of that number.

“It’s so important for us to know where we’ve come from. There’s a lot of history. African Americans have been in motorsports ever since the beginning of the car, the sport itself.

A gentleman in the 1920s by the name of Dewey Gaston, he went by the nickname Rajo Jack. He actually ran No. 33 for a lot of years, was very, very successful with that number.

He was staging a comeback in the early ’50s, late ’40s. He brought a car that he thought would be extremely successful. That car was a big block engine, thought he was going to put it up front. It was No. 99. He was never able to win in that car. I think he finished the best with like a fourth in one of his races. Then he stopped.

I thought it would be fitting for us to take on that heritage and use the No. 99 to move forward. With the help of the Penske organization, ourself, we wanted to put No. 99 in the winner’s circle.”

Reid expects members of his team to eventually find jobs with other teams in the Indycar paddock. He never speaks just of drivers, but always talks of mechanics, engineers, and people on the business side of the sport. Reid indicated that the team plans to move up the Road to Indy ladder to land in Indycar in the future.

A driver has not been selected as yet. Reid said they are looking for someone who fits their criteria.

“I can tell you there’s a lot of talent out there. There are a lot of deserving drivers. Our goal is to sit down and make a decision and choose one of them that we think fit our criteria.

Very quickly, that criteria includes being an American, it includes being someone that has been given an opportunity to go from karts to cars as part of that transition. We’re also looking for someone that is youthful and can grow with us as we start to develop our team.

Probably the most important thing is they’ve got to fit what our mission is. We’re really all about the full team. This is not just about the driver, as you’ve heard from everyone here.”

There is a lot of speculation that Myles Rowe, who tested with a USF 2000 team last month is the prime candidate, but Reid was noncommittal. Neither would he rule out a female driver.

Unlike the Indianapolis 500 drives of Will T. Ribbs and George Mack, which were essentially one off ventures, Reid is looking at a long term sustainable model to infuse diversity throughout Indycar.

The support from the top should give Force Indy the foundation to succeed. I’m sure Charlie Wiggins is smiling today.

African American-Led Ownership Group To Compete in Road To Indy

From the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. Follow up story later.
Team Penske to mentor new team as it launches competition in 2021 USF2000 Series INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020) – African American business leader and former team manager Rod Reid has announced the formation of Force Indy, a race team set to compete in the 2021 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship. For 30 years, USF2000 has been the formative step of the popular Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder system, which culminates in scholarship opportunities in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. This program has grown into a proven pipeline for open-wheel racing’s future stars. Force Indy Team Principal Reid brings years of karting and auto racing experience and a recently expanded relationship with NXG Youth Motorsports Inc., which has introduced more than 2,300 students from under-represented communities, ages 11 to 15, to the educational benefits of the sport. Force Indy’s race team will focus on hiring and developing Black American men and women mechanics, engineers, staffers and drivers.  “I started a race team in 1984, and I have always had a desire to have a team of talented individuals who look like me in the professional ranks of the sport,” Reid said. “I have been in and around the sport for 40 years, and this is just the culmination of years of hard work. I simply cannot wait to see this race team on the track this spring.” The Force Indy announcement includes a mentorship from the legendary Team Penske, winners of a record 18 Indianapolis 500’s and 16 NTT INDYCAR SERIES championships. During its first season, Force Indy will be based in Concord, North Carolina, as it receives guidance from Team Penske’s key personnel. “When the IMS and INDYCAR acquisition happened a year ago, I was pleased to learn of the work Rod Reid was doing,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chairman Roger Penske said. “To lend our support to an effort like this is a natural. Together, we’ll work to not only get this new team off the ground but continue to support it and its mission as it continues down a path to compete at the top level.” Force Indy will make its debut at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, March 5-7, 2021. The team will use No. 99 on the car in honor of the late Dewey “Rajo Jack” Gatson, who drove a roadster with that number toward the end of his career in 1951. Gatson, one of the winningest African American drivers and mechanics in racing history, never received an opportunity to race in the Indianapolis 500.  Overall, the initiative is part of a broader picture in the INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway “Race for Equality & Change,” announced in July. The goals include recruiting and developing a diverse workforce throughout all levels of INDYCAR and IMS, ultimately creating a community that fundamentally transforms the sport. “Rod is a passionate leader and talented team builder who has demonstrated a fundamental commitment to equality and opportunity in our sport,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “IMS has been privileged to be a partner with Rod and NXG for more than a decade, and we know he’ll bring the same commitment and drive for excellence to Force Indy.” Sponsorship and driver for Force Indy’s inaugural season will be announced at a later date. “We are fortunate to have Team Penske offer guidance and race-winning experience,” Reid said. “Roger’s experience will be an invaluable resource in creating a successful organization. There’s no better time than now to start a team.” For additional information, please visit the team’s website: www.ForceIndy.com

Tracks Already Planning for Limited Fans in 2021

One of the lessons tracks learned in 2020 was to plan ahead for fan safety. With a COVID-19 vaccine soon to be available, some may have thought that tracks could operate as they used to. If tracks can return to their normal operations, it may not be until late in the season. The French Grand Prix, a June race yesterday announced that only 15,000 fans would be allowed to attend.

Daytona International Speedway yesterday announced that attendace at the Daytona 500 will be limited to those who have already bought tickets. Those fans’ seats will be reassigned to create social distance. Fans may turn in their tickets, I assume for credit, and those tickets will be sold to the general public until an unspecified attendance limit is reached. This is a procedure that many more venues may follow.

I received this somewhat cryptic message yesterday about the Rolex 24:

Rolex 24 logo Dear Mike,   Thank you for your continued support of Daytona International Speedway. As we look forward to the start of a new IMSA season and continue preparations for the Roar Before The Rolex 24 and Rolex 24 At DAYTONA Weekend, we are more grateful than ever to have the best fans in sports!

We continue to work with our local, state, and health officials regarding fan attendance during both IMSA event weekends. More specific information, such as event details, available fan experiences, and health and safety measures will shared in the upcoming weeks.   With the announcement that NASCAR’s reigning Cup Series champion Chase Elliott and 7-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson are joining us for this event, we look forward to carrying on the storied tradition of hosting the world’s best drivers for this grueling showcase of man and machine. The Rolex 24 At DAYTONA is sure to once again deliver the pageantry, thrills, and drama for all fans, especially those able to attend in person.   We hope each and every one of you is staying safe, and we look forward to seeing all of you back at the track, hopefully very soon.   Warm Regards, Alternate text

My attendance at the 2021 Rolex is doubtful. I did buy a ticket in order to retain my camping spot. Endurance races in general have many fans spread over a large area. What I saw on television from Sebring and Road Atlanta was a larger than safe number of fans at the track.

At the five tracks I went to this season, I felt safe for the most part. Each track seemed to be better prepared than the one before as far as fan safety and enforcement of protocols.

I think we will see fewer outright race cancellations this coming season, although races may still be postponed until later. Even as many people receive the vaccine, masks will likely still be required for another year. I don’t think pit or paddock access for fans will return in 2021.

The early events on the Indycar schedule may give us a clue to the state of fan limits. I know the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has several contingency plans for May in the works. I think the 500 will run as scheduled with a limited number of fans.

The main thing to keep in mind is that things should improve as 2021 goes on, but that 2022 may be the first completely normal racing season.

I will be back later this afternoon following a press conference at IMS regarding the Race for Equality and Change Program.

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.