Track activity resumed today with Indy Lights practice and qualifying. While the IndyCar teams were idle as they prepare for tomorrow's final practice, it as an off track day commonly known as media day and there were a number of significant ...
Track activity resumed today with Indy Lights practice and qualifying. While the IndyCar teams were idle as they prepare for tomorrow's final practice, it as an off track day commonly known as media day and there were a number of significant announcements.
Sporting a new sponsorship for this race is Oriol Servia at KV Racing Technologies. Angie's List, an Indianapolis-based company specializing in local service company ratings, will be on board as a primary sponsor for this event and as an associate for the rest of the season.
Servia's blue, orange and silver car was striking enough to begin with but it doesn't hurt at all to have a name on the side pod as opposed to the generic KV logo.
Team co-owner Jimmy Vasser was upbeat about the addition, having just returned to the track from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Vasser co-drove in the Rolex Series event with fellow former CART champion Cristiano da Matta, making a competitive return to driving for the first time since his savage 2006 accident at Road America.
"It's a local company going national, and wanted to get on the car," Vasser quipped. "What's going to make or break this series now are sponsors like these coming aboard. I'm looking forward to traditional racing sponsorships, the Valvolines, STPs of the world returning. When they come back, you'll know things are getting good."
The straight-shooter and one of the best personalities in the paddock, Vasser had plans of racing with da Matta even before the blending of the two divisive open-wheel series. "I had committed before the merger, because Cristiano is such a great friend," Vasser said. "I only stayed because it was him."
Sadly, one car that still features a blank side pod is that of former Indy 500 champion Buddy Rice, the Phoenix native who won in 2004. An American and very marketable driver, Rice has flown under the radar for the most part this month.
"With unification happening so late, it came at a time when our budgets were already set for the year," Rice said. "We were close repeatedly on a lot of deals, and it would be nice for Dennis (Reinbold) to not have to fund it out of his pocket."
"But everything's been great here. Dennis is a real stand-up guy, he's great and has a lot of experience. Townsend (Bell) and I have known each other for many years, and have had a relationship outside of racing. And to be a part of (the first unified '500 since 1995), I never figured it would happen. There's still a lot of excitement here."
Rice, like the other 32 drivers in this year's field, participated in media day today where any and all questions were posed; the motorsports equivalent to the Super Bowl circus if you will. As could be expected the majority of the working press was concentrated around Danica Patrick's table.
Some of the highlights included Marco Andretti admitting he had not yet seen the new Indiana Jones movie premiering today, Tony Kanaan sighing at yet another question about his veteran experience at AGR, Townsend Bell making his own pitch for what a future IndyCar should include, and John Andretti delivering, still, the significance of this race.
Bell noted a future car should eliminate a clutch pedal and create a hand clutch, and should also feature a canopy to better protect the driver's heads. The elder Andretti put into perspective race morning for those race-day first-timers.
"Race morning anywhere else in the world is nothing like Indy, period," Andretti declared. "I've said I won't be here for the race unless I'm frozen. Even that race is still on one generation of drivers. But here, these guys have really built motorsports up to now."
As a month-long barrage of media attention comes to a close, for the drivers of this year's Indianapolis 500, the start dawns closer with each passing day. Temperatures about ten degrees warmer than usual are expected, as summer in Indianapolis seemingly arrives on race morning.