The Next Step in Diversity: Recognizing the CSA

Photo: Charlie Wiggins, star of the Colored Speedway Association

Indycar took a significant step forward last month with the announcement of the Race for Equality and change initiative, a program to bring more minority drivers into auto racing. This is a good step in the right direction. I also think Indycar should follow Major league Baseball’s lead and recognize the drivers of the Colored Speedway Association. Major League Baseball has awarded the Negro Leagues major league status. I think the CSA drivers deserve the same recognition.

The American Automobile Association ruled open wheel racing in the United States with an iron hand. Drivers who participated in non AAA sanctioned races were banned from racing for a time. The association made it clear from the beginning that blacks were not allowed to race in AA sanctioned events.

In 1910 Barney Oldfield arranged a match race against world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson. He wanted to stage it at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but Carl Fisher would not allow a black man to drive at his track. The race took place at Sheepshead Bay, New York, with Oldfield winning easily. Oldfield was immediately suspended by the AAA. Fan pressure forced the association to lift the ban by the start of the next season.

Led by Charlie Wiggins, the CSA ran cars that had run in the Indianapolis 500. Mike Boyle, most well known as the owner of Wilbur Shaw’s winning Maserati in 1939-1940, supplied cars and financial support to the league. Their race were on several of the tracks on which the Indianapolis car championship also ran.

William Rucker, joined by Alvin Smith, Robert Brokenburr, and Harry Donnington, formed the Colored Racing Association in 1924 as way to help the Black community enter the mainstream of American society. In Indianapolis, racing was the way to achieve that goal. The biggest event on the calendar would be a 100 mile race at the Indiana State Fairgrounds which came to be known as the Gold and Glory sweepstakes.

The First Gold and Glory race ran on August 2, 1924, as part of Emancipation Day festivities. The race drew a about 12,000 fans. Malcolm Hannon won the race driving a Barber-Warnock Ford Special. Wiggins was not allowed to participate because Rucker thought he was too small. Wiggins entered the following year and went on to win the race four times- 1926, 1931, 1932,and 1933.

Wiggins won seven of the nine CSA races in 1926. The schedule included races in Dayton, Detroit, Chicago, South Bend, Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and Keokuk , Iowa.

The 1936 Gold and Glory Sweepstakes was the beginning of the end for the CSA. The race started late and track conditions had deteriorated. A 13 car crash on the second lap resulted in near fatal injuries to Wiggins. He survived but lost his right leg. With Wiggins’ career over, attendance dwindled the rest of the season and the league folded before the 1937 season began.

Joie Ray, Jr. in 1946 became the first black driver to hold a AAA license. It would be another 39 years before Willy T. Ribbs would enter the Indianapolis 500, and another 45 years until Ribbs qualified for the race as the first African American driver in the 500. Ray thought he had backing from Eddi “Rochester” Anderson for an entry in 1952, but Anderson had to shift his prioritites and Ray never got a chance to drive at IMS.

Recognizing the drivers of the Colored Racing Association will not be as easy as transferring records. Statistics seem sketchy and difficult to verify, even for the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes contestants. I have spent several hours online researching the CSA with little success. I do believe these drivers deserve recognition from Indycar and whatever records are available should be included with the other Indycar stats.

Most of my source material came from two books, Brick by Brick, by Patrick Sullivan, the biography of Joie Ray; and For Gold and Glory, by Todd Gould. I recommend watch the PBS documentary, For Gold and Glory as well. It has some great footage of the races at the fairgrounds.

Happy Holidays From The Pit Window

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 Harvey and 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.

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.

Long Beach Moves to September Finale

The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, originally scheduled for April 18, has moved to September 26 and will be Indycar’s season finale. The move is to ensure the race, which was cancelled in 2020, does run in 2021. I expect more changes to the early part of the schedule. Promoters likely have put a backup plans in place after the many cancellations and postponements of this past season. Three straight weekends of West Coast racing sounds heavenly. The official announcement from the NTT Indycar Series is below>
Series to return to the legendary Streets of Long Beach in September INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020) – The 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach has been rescheduled for Sunday, Sept. 26 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials from INDYCAR announced today. Long Beach is one of the foundational events on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule and one of the longest running. Additionally, the move creates a thrilling three-race, three-weekend west coast swing to complete the championship. Beginning at Portland International Raceway on Sunday, Sept. 12, the homestretch continues at, what would be the finale under normal conditions, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, Sept. 19, before finishing on the historic streets of Long Beach. “It is important to have Long Beach rescheduled to continue the history and tradition for one of the series’ hallmark events in one of the nation’s premier media markets,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said. “Further, it’s a tremendous opportunity to wrap up the season with three-straight iconic venues for what we believe will be our most exciting season yet. As we did during the 2020 season, we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and maintain flexibility across our schedule. We are committed to an action-packed and exhilarating 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES.”  The September race weekend at Long Beach becomes the first since the event’s inception in 1975. It will mark the 37th time the NTT INDYCAR SERIES has raced on Southern California’s legendary street circuit. The familiar sights and sounds make for the longest running event on the schedule outside of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. “I want to thank all of the officials at INDYCAR for their assistance in rescheduling the 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach to September,” Grand Prix Association of Long Beach President and CEO Jim Michaelian said. “We believe that this move will afford us the best opportunity to provide our guests with a fun and exciting experience in a safe and unrestricted environment. It will be a welcome sight to see the NTT INDYCAR SERIES cars and stars back on the downtown streets of Long Beach in the fall.” An updated listing of green flag times for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule will be announced at a later date.

Kellett Stays at Foyt; Grid Update

Dalton Kellett moves from part to full time at A. J. Foyt Racing for 2021. He will drive the number 4 car alongside teammate Sebastien Bourdais in the 14. K-Line continues as his sponsor. The release from A. J. Foyt Racing:

WALLER, Texas (Dec. 15, 2020)—Canadian Dalton Kellett will drive A.J. Foyt’s No. 4 Chevrolet full-time in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series. K-Line Insulators USA returns as the primary sponsor, moving from the No. 14 to the No. 4 for the upcoming season.

The 27-year-old rookie drove for Foyt in eight races this year as driving duties behind the wheel of the No. 14 Chevrolet were shared throughout the 14-race season by three drivers: Kellett, Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais. Bourdais returns to drive the No. 14 Chevrolet full-time as announced earlier this year. 

“I couldn’t be more excited to be back with AJ Foyt Racing for the 2021 season,” said Kellett, who lives in Indianapolis. “Securing a full-time ride is a big boost heading into my sophomore year in INDYCAR. Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19 in 2020, A.J., Larry, and the Foyt team continued to develop their car and elevate the program, while standing by their employees and partners. That’s the kind of team I’m proud to both race for and be a part of. Being paired with Sebastian will be a great opportunity to continue to learn from one of the most experienced veterans in the field. I can’t wait to get back on the track for off-season testing and back behind the wheel in 2021.”

Next year the NTT INDYCAR Series schedule features 17 races, including a doubleheader at Texas Motor Speedway in early May and a new street course in Nashville, Tenn. in August.

Despite the challenges of Kellett’s rookie season taking place during a pandemic which sharply curtailed the normal track activity, he displayed a keen ability to stay focused and adapt, which factored into Foyt’s decision to retain Kellett for 2021.

“We are very happy to have Dalton back with the team and more importantly that he will be driving full-time,” said Team President Larry Foyt. “With the limited track time in 2020, it was a tough year to be a rookie, but he jumped in with a great attitude and adjusted to the Indy car quite well. He was getting quicker with each event and had a great test at Barber [Motorsports Park] recently. I think Dalton will truly benefit from having four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais there full-time.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how our team progresses in 2021.” 

The first scheduled team test will be in January at Sebring International Raceway in central Florida. The 2021 INDYCAR season gets underway on Sunday, March 7th in St. Petersburg, Fla.

(Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

This story will be updated with comments later this afternoon.

The 2021 Grid- Confirmed Teams

This list includes only full time car/driver combinations that have been confirmed.

Team Penske (4)

Josef Newgarden

Will Power

Simon Pagenaud

Scott McLaughlin (R)

Chip Ganassi Racing (4)

Scott Dixon

Marcus Ericsson

Alex Palou

Jimmie Johnson (R) road/street only/ Tony Kanaan ovals

Andretti Autosport (2)

Alexander Rossi

Colton Herta

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (2)

Takuma Sato

Graham Rahal

A. J. Foyt Racing (2)

Sebastien Bourdais

Dalton Kellett

Ed Carpenter Racing (2)

Rinus VeeKay

Ed Carpenter- ovals only

Arrow McLaren SP (2)

Pato O’Ward

Felix Rosenqvist

Meyer Shank Racing (1)

Jack Harvey

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.

Herta Moves to the 26 and Other Notes

Image from Andretti Autosport Twitter

Colton Herta is moving his office down the hall at Andretti Autosport, moving from the Hardin Steinbrenner Andretti number 88 to the Gainbridge number 26 of Andretti Autosport. Herta essentially replaces Zach Veach, who brought Gainbridge sponsorship to Andretti in 2017. Gainbridge also is the presenting sponsor of the Indianapolis 500.

The multi year deal gives the three time winner beginning his third Indycar season the sponsor stability he has lacked his first two seasons. The number 26 was Herta’s number in his karting days, and it was also his father Bryan’s number when he drove the Andretti Green Acura LMP2.

The number 88’s driver will be named at a later date. Mike Harding and George Steinbrenner continue their association with that car. I’m expecting James Hinchcliffe to get that ride, and it is possible the car may carry a different number.

Ferrari-In or Out?

Conflicting stories abound about whether ferrari is still in talks with Indycar regarding their involvement as a third OEM. Saturday a published report said they were no longer involved. Penske immediately responded with a statement saying Indycar was still in discussion with the italian manufacturer. A report today seems to indicate that conversations are still ongoing.

No matter the status of the talks, I don’t ever expect to see a Ferrari in any form running in an Indycar race. Ferrari is known to tease companies an organizations to use as leverage for something more.

Ferrucci to XFinity?

Santino Ferrucci reportedly has signed a deal to run 20 races in the NASCAR XFinity Series in 2021. Ferrucci, who drove for Dale Coyne racing with Vasser Sullivan the last two years, has not resigned with the team. This deal might make a full Indycar season difficult.

Ferrucci was Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 2018. He finished 13th in the standings in 2020.

Grosjean, Perez Looking for Work; Indycar Has Openings

Sergio Perez jubilant after winning the Sakhir Grand Prix

Yesterday was just one week after Romain Grosjean’s fiery crash at Bahrain. With all that happened in Formula 1 since then, it seems as if more time than that has passed. After last week’s race, winner Lewis Hamilton tested positive for COVID-19 and missed yesterday’s race. George Russell, who drives for Williams, replaced Hamilton and did a superb job, only to be thwarted by a tire mix up. Sergio Perez led Racing Point to the team’s first double podium and his first win in Formula 1 in one of the most exciting Grand Prix in a long time. The race resembled an Indycar race at times.

In a Twitter video early Sunday, Grosjean told fans that he would not be in shape to drive in the season’s final race at Abu Dabi next weekend. Grosjean is not returning to Haas F1 and has no prospects in the series. Perez will not return to Racing Point and is out of a job after the Abu Dabi race. Where might the two end up? Indycar?

There has been speculation that Grosjean is in talks with A. J. Foyt and possibly another team about driving next year. Foyt is still seeking to fill the seat in the 4 car. I have not heard Perez mentioned in conjunction with an Indycar ride, but he would be a great addition to the series.

With Perez and Pato O’Ward both in Indycar, the case for the series to hold a race in Mexico in 2022 is much stronger. I think a Mexican race would be a strong draw. But who will Perez drive for?

As far as I know the following Indycar seats are open:

Coyne-2

Foyt-1, possibly 2, but one of those will go to Dalton Kellett if he can fully fund it.

Carlin- possibly 1 and the oval portion of the 59

Carpenter- 1 road/street ride in the 20. Conor Daly might fill that role again unless he can find funding for a third Carpenter full time car.

My guesses right now? Grosjean to Foyt and Perez to Coyne. Pairing Sebastien Bourdais with another French driver who could learn from him just sounds like a good move.

Perez seems like the type of driver that is attractive to Coyne. Coyne tends to find drivers with little to no Indycar experience, and somehow manages to wring some success out of them. The key is funding, as it would be with Coyne’s second car.

Bottom Line: Two Formula 1 drivers need rides for 2021; Indycar has spots. Let’s see what happens.