Merry Christmas, Happy belated Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa- whichever you celebrate, I hope you enjoy your holiday. I want to thank all of you for reading and for helping The Pit Window smash all records this year. In keeping with tradition, I have some gifts for the racing community.
For Roger Penske, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Doug Boles-
An Indianapolis 500 run on the scheduled date with fans.
For the NTT Indycar Series-
A full 17 race schedule.
For Indy Lights-
A 15 car field at every race.
For Scott Mclaughlin and Jimmie Johnson–
A successful first year in the Indycar Series.
For Jack Harveyand Pato O’Ward–
Your first Indycar wins.
For A. J. Foyt Racing and Sebastien Bourdais–
A consistent season with better qualifying and stronger race results.
For the Music City Grand Prix-
A successful debut event.
For Scott Dixon-
A seventh championship.
For Josef Newgarden-
An Indianapolis 500 victory.
For Graham Rahal-
A return to the winner’s circle.
For the fans-
Going to the races you want to as conditions approve.
And for all the readers of this humble column-
A safe holiday and a happy new year.
I will be back next with two columns as i end this year.
Carlin Racing will field two cars on the Indy Lights grid in 2021, marking a return to the series in which the team began its journey into Indycar. Carlin first entered Indy Lights with drivers Max Chilton and Ed Jones. The goal was to move into Indycar while maintaining an Indy Lights program for driver development. Carlin’s return gives a little more prestige to the series and insures that the the 2021 field will have more than 10 cars. The official release:
Carlin return to Indy Lights with Peroni
2016 Indy Lights Champions Carlin will re-join the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Series for the 2021 season with former FIA F3 driver Alex Peroni. The Anglo-American team are joining forces with the Australian born racer as he makes his debut in US racing.
21-year-old Peroni comes to the US having raced in the FIA Formula 3 Championship in the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Peroni missed the final round of the 2019 season following a horrific crash at Monza but came back strong in 2020 to claim three podium finishes and two fastest laps to take 10th in the standings in the 30-car field.
Carlin return to Indy Lights with a two car team following two years out of the series as the team became established in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Working in conjunction with former Indy car driver and Indy Lights champion Jay Howard, the Carlin team will also serve as the top rung of Jay Howard’s Driver Development (JHDD) and will be based out of Carlin’s US base in Delray Beach, Florida and run alongside the team’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES operation.
“I’m seriously pumped to be joining the 2021 Indy Lights field and to be doing it with a team such as Carlin who I know have been successful in the series before and of course I know well from Europe,” said Peroni. “I’m so thankful to Blundstone and the state of Tasmania for their continued support and for allowing me to follow my dream.
“No doubt there will be a lot to learn in terms of both the car and the different circuits, but I am absolutely ready for the challenge and know I will have a great team behind me to bring me up to speed.”
Speaking about the team’s newest signing, Trevor Carlin said, “We’re really excited to be back in Indy Lights having been so successful in the series in the past. It’s a fantastic series to prepare drivers for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and it was always our aim to return to the junior formula once we had become more settled in INDYCAR.
“We’re very proud that Alex and his sponsors have chosen Carlin as the team to take his first steps into US racing. We know having raced against him in the immensely competitive FIA Formula 3 Championship what he is capable of and I can’t wait to see his potential evolve in the Indy Lights field.”
Bill Marvel, longtime IMS public relations, died last night at the age of 90. I have never known the Speedway without Bill Marvel being a part of it. USAC, where Bill had several positions and was one of the founding members, released his obituary Sunday evening:
BILL MARVEL PASSES AWAY AT 90
BILL MARVEL PASSES AWAY AT 90
By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Speedway, Indiana (December 20, 2020)………They broke the mold when they made Bill Marvel.
There have been few individuals who achieved as much in as many different realms in their lives and did so with as much passion and dedication from start to finish than did Bill Marvel, who passed away Sunday evening, December 20, 2020, at the age of 90 years old.
From the day of his birth to his last breath, Marvel was one a of a kind. With an abundance of energy and enthusiasm, his contributions to the sports world and the subsequent impact he’s made on others, are the kind of which that will be forever admired.
Marvel, a charter member of the United States Auto Club, was there on the scene of the very first USAC event ever held, a National Midget race on January 8, 1956 at the Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind. Marvel was on hand to greet feature winner Gene Hartley in victory lane with a Hoosier Auto Racing Fans jacket, an organization of which he was the president of at the time.
With USAC, he has served in the official capacities as a Corporate Advisor from 1978-1982 as well as a Vice President/Corporate Affairs from 1983-1997. Marvel dedicated much of his life to assisting injured drivers in need of financial aid through the USAC Benevolent Foundation as the Executive Director.
In 1997, Marvel was presented the Ross Hadley Achievement Award for his dedication to the United States Auto Club and the sport of auto racing. In 2014, Marvel was the recipient of the Roger McCluskey Award of Excellence, presented annually by the President of USAC in memory of USAC Executive Vice President and former champion driver Roger McCluskey, recognizing the standards of excellence he set in the sport of auto racing.
Born on June 21, 1930, Marvel graduated from Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, Ind., class of 1948, then set forth on serving his country as a United States Marine between 1948-1955 with active duty for three years between 1950-1952 in the Korean War.
Following his honorable discharge from the military, Marvel set forth on a 60-plus year journey in management, public relations, editing, publishing (magazine and newspaper), radio, public address, television announcing, retail sales, marketing and sales.
Marvel was the News Media Liaison Officer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway between 1953 and 1967 and was an Off-Track Coordinator for major accessory companies.
Marvel was there at the introduction of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Raceway in 1969 in the role of General Manager & Director of Public Relations, as well as the General Manager for Texas World Speedway, New Jersey’s Trenton Speedway, the World Series of Auto Racing, plus the Indiana State Fairgrounds and Indiana’s Winchester Speedway, where he was also on the track’s Public Address system as an announcer.
His media prowess expanded to all aspects as he was the Editor & Publisher of Charger Auto Racing News, the National Racing Editor of U.S. Auto Sports Magazine and the Midwest Racing Editor for National Speed Sport News. On the radio, he was an auto racing reporter for WIBC in Indianapolis as well as the Color Commentator & Coordinator for Indianapolis 500 activities on WISH-TV in Indianapolis.
Marvel also had his hand in the movie business as a consultant with two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rodger Ward for the 1969 racing movie, “Winning,” starring Hollywood heavyweights Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Robert Wagner.
In addition to his racing duties, Marvel was the Sports Information Director for Butler University and served as the Director of Public Relations for the Indiana Pacers during their ABA and NBA days during the decades of the 1960s and 1970s. He served in the same role for the World Hockey Association’s Indianapolis Racers during the 1970s, the team best known as the first professional stop for future NHL greats and Hockey Hall of Fame players Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier.
Marvel was also in charge of Marketing & Sales for the Indiana Loves, a charter franchise in World Team Tennis.
He was Director of Public Relations for the sports management and public relations firm, Sports Headliners, where he represented such racing figures as Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Jackie Stewart, Rodger Ward, Billy Vukovich, Roger McCluskey, Graham Hill, Al Unser, Bobby Unser and Jim Clark, as well as NFL Hall of Famers Johnny Unitas and O.J. Simpson.
In addition, he also was the Director of Special Events for the Houston Astrodome where, among his duties, he organized the driver lineup and the marketing of the mega USAC Midget events inside the building known as “The Eighth Wonder of the World,” beginning in 1969.
He was the President of Marvel-ous Racing Promotions and had a tenure as the President of the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame, and also coordinated public relations and publicity for three-time Indianapolis 500 winning driver Johnny Rutherford during his successful relationship with the Gatorade/McLaren Racing Team in the 1970s.
A man of many talents, and boundless motivation to succeed, Marvel also found time to own and operate his own personal business, Bill’s Unclaimed Freight, in which he too served as President.
While Bill had a brief race driving career in his younger days, his sons Brad and Billy Marvel Jr. were talented wheelmen in their own right. Brad Marvel won a USAC National Sprint Car feature event at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway in 1996 during Indiana Sprint Week while Billy Jr. was just beginning his sprint car career when he tragically lost his life in an accident at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Ind. in 1983. An award in Billy Jr.’s memory is still presented to this day by HARF to the top “first year driver” in the state of Indiana each season. Bill’s grandson, and Brad’s son, Justin Marvel, was the victor of a USAC National Sprint Car feature at New York’s Canandaigua Speedway in 2006.
An inductee of both the Hoosier Auto Racing Fans Hall of Fame and the National Association of Auto Racing Fans, Bill has been honored with the Tom Carnegie Legacy Award from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway/Indianapolis 500 Old Timers Club; the Angelo Angelopoulos Memorial Award by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association; the Unsung Hero Award presented by Andy Granatelli at the Indy 500; the Indy 500 Old Timers Club Officials Award; the Bob Russo Founders Award from AARWBA; and the Louis Meyer Award for individuals who have contributed significantly to the success of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Alex Zanardi, two time Indycar champion and paralympic gold medalist, continues to recover from his hand cycling accident last June. Zanardi suffered neurological and facial damage when his cycle hit a truck during a race in Tuscany. He had been in a facility in San Rafaella, but is moving to a rehabilitation center in Padua, which is closer to his home.
“The patient has reached a generally stable physical and neurological condition that permitted his transfer to another hospital equipped with all the necessary clinical specialties and closer to the family home,” said a spokesman for the San Rafaella hospital.
Kirkwood Returns to Andretti for Indy Lights
For 2021 Kyle Kirkwood will be where he was supposed to be in 2020. The 2018 USF200 champion and 2019 Indy Pro 200 champion will finally get to drive in Indy Lights for Andretti Autosport, where his 2020 season was going to take place.
Kirkwood spent the past season in IMSA, which is not a bad alternative. For one thing, he received some experience doing pit stops, which drivers don’t get in Indy Lights. I look for Kirkwood, who will be in car 28 for Andretti, to be a strong contender for the title.
Some good news for Indy Lights. HMD is teaming with Global Racing Group to field a total of four cars in the Indy Lights field in 2021. Global Racing won the 2020 Formula Regional Americas title with Linus Lundqvist driving. HMD, owned by Henry Malukas ran David Malukas and Toby Sowery in 2019 Indy Lights. Sowery won a race in 2019.
The four car effort will double the current size of the field with the four cars from Andretti Autosport. Dan Andersen, owner of the Road to Indy, expects 11-13 cars on the grid in 2021.
Ganassi to Run DPi Cadillac in IMSA
Chip Ganassi Racing reenters IMSA with a DPi Cadillac entry next year. Ganassi ran the top class of prototypes in the Grand Am series and also entered Fords in the GTLM class through 2019. He takes over the Cadillac entry from Wayne Taylor, who is switching to Acura. Drivers have not been named, but I expect Scott Dixon to be the extra driver for the endurance races.
Montoya Signs with Dragonspeed
Juan Pablo Montoya will drive for Dragonspeed int he World Endurance Championship in 2021. The two time Indianapolis 500 winner drove for Team Penske Acura in IMSA the last three years, winning the championship in 2019. he finished the season with a second place overall at the Sebring 12 Hour race last Saturday.
Montoya will team with Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley. Hanley drove Dragonspeed’s entry in the last two Indianapolis 500s. The team will not compete in any Indycar races in 2021.
Quiet at Coyne
We may have gotten spoiled the last couple of years as Dale Coyne Racing had their driver lineups set by Christmas. The quiet from the Coyne shop seems strange, but this is the way it used to be with the team.
I think some news may be coming soon, and it involves a possible new owner in Indycar. Stay tuned.
What stories would you like to see for the final six weeks of 2020? History? Reprints of previous articles? Let me know. I’m thinking of publishing some my non-racing creative writing, but I like you guys too much to bore you with that.
I will have at least one more column before Thanksgiving. Stay safe, mask up, and wash your hands.
Indy lights releaed their 2021 schedule as the top rung of the Road to Indy returns next season after a one year absence. The grid should have between 12-15 cars, with a strong field of drivers including IndyPro 2000 champion Sting Ray Robb. I am excited to see Indy lights return.
Missing from the schedule is the Freedom 100, a Carb Day staple since 2001. My understanding is that this was an Indycar decision. It takes away some of the entertainment value of Carb Day. Indy lights has had some great races at IMS. I assume Indycar might get a 2 hour practice that day to make up for it. I would rather watch an Indy Lights race than watch the Pit Stop Competition.
The two oval races will be at World Wide Technology Raceway August 20 and 21. The schedule also has Indy lights returning to the Detroit GP for the first time in a few years.
Update: Indycar has issued a statement regarding no Freedom 100 in May:
Championship Incentives include Larger Scholarship, INDYCAR Test
PALMETTO, Fla. – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires has served as a crucial step for many drivers in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES including young stars Oliver Askew, Colton Herta, Patricio O’Ward and Rinus VeeKay amongst many others. Following a year’s hiatus due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the series is set to re-emerge in 2021 in its rightful place as the stepping-stone to the pinnacle of American open-wheel racing. The rejuvenated Indy Lights series will benefit from additional initiatives being formulated in conjunction with INDYCAR, its sanctioning body, to ensure continued growth as the top level of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires driver development system.
Enhancements in 2021 include an increased value of the champion’s scholarship award to $1,250,000. A guaranteed entry for the champion into at least three 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES events, including the Indianapolis 500, will remain. Also new in 2021, the top-three finishers in the Indy Lights championship will each receive a NTT INDYCAR SERIES test at the conclusion of the season.
The driver assist program remains an important part of the entire Road to Indy program. Since the formation of the ladder system in 2010, 37 Indy Lights drivers have made starts in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Twenty-three of the 33 starters in this year’s Indianapolis 500 were Indy Lights graduates including eight Indy Lights champions.
“After careful planning with the INDYCAR team, we are pleased to confirm the exciting addition of a season-ending INDYCAR test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway soon after the 2021 season,” said Dan Andersen, owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “We continue to explore additional ways to strengthen the Indy Lights championship. In the interim, we want to spread the word that Indy Lights will be back and it will be stronger than ever.”
“From top to bottom, the entire team recognizes the role and commitment Indy Lights has played in bringing new talent to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES,” said Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment. “We are firmly committed to ensuring its continued success.”
The 2021 Indy Lights grid will see three scholarship cars in what is expected to be a solid field. Reigning Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires champion Kyle Kirkwood will return in his quest to be the first driver to win successive championships in all three levels of the Road to Indy. The still-to-be-named 2020 Indy Pro 2000 champion will advance to the next level. That field is headed by Juncos Racing’s Sting Ray Robb, who holds a 49-point lead with five races remaining in a battle for a guaranteed Indy Lights program with the team of a driver’s choice. In addition, the FR Americas champion will also earn an Indy Lights scholarship for next season. That championship has been dominated by Swedish driver Linus Lundqvist, who has won 12 of the 14 races held to date.
The Cooper tire-shod Dallara IL-15 with a 450-horsepower AER powerplant will see the addition of a Dallara-designed and installed Titanium Halo in 2021 for increased safety. The package has produced incredible competition with a strong parity across the board showcasing racecraft. With similarities to an Indy car, the equipment package provides the appropriate training for drivers to take the next step including a six-speed, paddle-shift transmission, a 50-horsepower “push-to-pass” feature, “drive-by-wire” throttle control and advanced engine management electronics.
The 2021 Indy Lights calendar will be unveiled prior to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES finale, October 25, on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. The schedule will see some change, but will remain a 10-event, 18-race schedule featuring all three circuit types – oval, road course and street circuit.
Jarrett Andretti will become the latest member of one of racing’s most famous families to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The son of John Andretti will drive an Andretti Autosport Indy Lights car in the Freedom 100 on Carb Day, May 24.
Andretti, 26, has won championships in karts, USAC midgets. an Indiana Sprint Car series. He joins Andretti Indy Lights drivers Oliver Askew, Robert Megnnis, and Ryan Norman in the Andretti Indy Lights Field. Jarrett currently competes for Andretti Autosport in the Pirelli GT4 America program. He has also competed in the Pirelli World Challenge TCR class.
It is always great to have another Indy Lights car in the field, and adding another Andretti is big for the series. No plans for additional Indy Lights races were mentioned at this time, but Michael mentioned this could be first step to more participation in the series. It seems like a logical presumption for someone with his last name.
Hunter-Reay leads Practice 1 Honda Parade
Hondas had the top seven times in this morning’s first practice, led by Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Above: Zachary Claman De Melo practicing for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500
Zachary Claman De Melo has signe3d with Belardi Racing for the 2019 Indy lights season. DeMelo drove in Indy Lights in 2017 and also had one Indycar race that year at Sonoma. In 2018 he drove nine Indycar races for Dale Coyne. He had several more races than anticipated as he substituted for the injured Pietro Fittipaldi. De Melo’s best finish was 12th at the Indycar Grand Prix on the IMS road course.
Zach Veach returned to Indy Lights in 2017 in hopes of garnering enough attention to land a full time Indycar ride. His efforts paid off with a three year deal with Andretti Autosport. De Melo has potential. For the Indianapolis 500 he qualified 13th and finished 19th.
More Lights drivers need to consider a return to the series to at least gain some more open wheel experience to prepare for Indycar.