William Rast On Board as Saavedra Prepares for Rare Double Duty at Indianapolis Viva International Group's William Rast Eyewear Collection Joins Effort INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 10, 2010) -- Rising Colombian star Sebastian Saavedra will be...
William Rast On Board as Saavedra Prepares for Rare Double Duty at Indianapolis
Viva International Group's William Rast Eyewear Collection Joins Effort
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 10, 2010) -- Rising Colombian star Sebastian Saavedra will be a busy young man during the month of May. In addition to contesting the next round of the Firestone Indy Lights Championship -- the series' blue ribbon event, the Firestone Freedom 100, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, May 28 -- the 19-year-old from Bogota and his Bryan Herta Autosport team are seeking to make their IZOD IndyCar Series debut two days later in the iconic Indianapolis 500.
William Rast will be the primary sponsor of the #29 Dallara/Honda/Firestone Indianapolis 500 entry as Saavedra prepares to be only the third driver -- and by far the youngest -- to attempt the "Indy two-step" since the Firestone Freedom 100 was added to the schedule in 2003. William Rast, the 'New America' denim culture brand founded by Trace Ayala and Justin Timberlake, will also showcase its newly-launched William Rast Racing Eyewear collection from a multi-year licensing agreement with Viva International Group at the 94th running of 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.' In addition to its Indianapolis 500 platform, William Rast is the primary sponsor of the #29 Indy Lights car piloted by Saavedra.
Of the two other "double-dippers," American Jeff Simmons was aged 27 and Canadian Marty Roth was 45 when they became the first to enter both events in 2004. Roth also ran both the Freedom 100 and the Indy 500 in 2005, and Simmons completed his second double in 2008.
"To be able to do both of the races, I have been working very hard on my physical fitness and making sure that I am mentally prepared as well," said Saavedra. "Luckily, I will have some great tutors around me to keep me focused on what I have to do. This is a tremendous opportunity and I have to thank both William Rast and Bryan Herta Autosport."
Two of his tutors will be team owners Bryan Herta and Steve Newey. Herta won the Firestone Indy Lights Championship in 1993 and went on to make five Indianapolis 500 starts with a best finish of third in 2005. Newey, who brings 20+ years of experience to the table, engineered Michael Andretti to a third-place finish in the 2001 Indianapolis 500.
"It does add some interesting challenges, but Sebastian has demonstrated great confidence and more importantly calmness in the cockpit, and those qualities will serve him very well in tackling this challenge," said Herta. "I don't have big concerns about Sebastian doing his job. Our focus will be on trying to do all the basics really well to give him a car that can comfortably qualify for the race and then be very comfortable for 500 miles."
Saavedra, who placed third in last year's Firestone Indy Lights title chase and currently lies fifth in the point standings with a pair of top-five finishes, will turn his first laps in the #29 William Rast Dallara-Honda Indy Car when the track opens for the traditional Rookie Orientation practice on Saturday, May 15.
Only two other Colombian drivers have raced in the Indianapolis 500 since it was first held in 1911, and both have achieved success. Roberto Guerrero finished a fighting second, claiming Co-Rookie of the Year honors (with Michael Andretti) in 1984, and went on to finish third, fourth and second in the three succeeding years. Juan Pablo Montoya made a storybook debut in 2000, leading 167 of the race's 200 laps and becoming the first rookie to win the "500" since Formula One World Champion Graham Hill in 1966.
"It's an honor being the third ever Colombian to race this event," said Saavedra, "and being my IndyCar debut means a lot more. I see it as a great opportunity for me as I'll have a lot more time to get prepared and learn than if I do my debut in any other race. It's something very big for my country as we have a very positive history around this great event. There is going to be a lot of Colombians at the race which makes me very excited."
Colin Dyne, Chief Executive Officer William Rast: "Sebastian is a perfect fit for the William Rast brand, and is an ideal ambassador for the William Rast Racing Eyewear collection, launching spring 2011. We are excited to be partnering with the Bryan Herta Autosport team and be part of this great American tradition, adding our modern attitude to this classic event."
Saavedra will be one of six rookie drivers at present vying for a spot on the starting grid and rookie honors at Indianapolis. This list includes Jay Howard, Mario Romancini, Takuma Sato, Bertrand Baguette and Simona De Silvestro.
The 2010 Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to start at 1:00 pm ET on Sunday, May 30, and will be broadcast live by ABC, the IMS Radio Network and XM 145/Sirius 211.