Panther Family Ties: Team Drivers Prepare for IndyCar Season Open
Meira Gets Married, Battistini Joins Team and Brent Sherman Welcomes Daughter
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Panther Racing drivers Vitor Meira, Brent Sherman and Dillon Battistini prepare for the Indy Racing League season opener this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and each one has a different family tie.
Vitor Meira: Married at "Little White Wedding Chapel"
Vitor Meira -- who is celebrating his 31st birthday today - and fiance Adriana Schettini became husband and wife Saturday at a small ceremony in Las Vegas. The couple was married at the "Little White Wedding Chapel" a popular spot for Vegas weddings. John Barnes eldest daughter, Samantha, was married at the spot in 2001, and celebrities such as Michael Jordan, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore and Brittany Spears have been married at the popular Vegas location.
"This is a special time; so special I don't even know where to start. There has been open-wheel unification, Adriana and I have been unified in marriage and our team sponsors, Delphi and the National Guard, have made this a perfect start to the 2008 season. I just can't explain as a race fan how excited I am for this year. Even if I wasn't running this weekend I'd be pumped to watch this race. We've been working hard to make this season one of our best and I'm honored to be associated with these team and such great partners."
Brent Sherman: Family Expansion
Brent Sherman and wife Kathleen welcomed their second child, Madison Paige Sherman, into the world on Monday. The seven pound, six ounce baby girl is healthy and remains at home with Kathleen at the Sherman's home outside of Chicago. Sherman is preparing for his first race in Firestone Indy Lights after a career in NASCAR.
"Madison is doing well and now I'm excited to get back to my day job. I'm an old pro at the fatherhood thing, this being my second child. The biggest thing for me is being used to putting on massive sized diapers and going to the ones on Madison that look absolutely tiny. (On the race) I really don't know what to expect, it's easy to run out there by yourself and work on setup, but it will be interesting to find out what it's like running three-wide and learning who you can race with and who you need to look out for. It'll be fun, it's strange for me not having pit stops and participating in a sprint race, but I'm excited for my first run in a Panther car."
Dillon Battistini: Joining the Team
While Meira and Sherman are starting and expanding their families, Panther newcomer Dillon Battistini is joining the Panther family after winning the Asian Formula 3 championship last season. The British driver will pilot the team's No. 15 Indy Lights car and recently completed a successful test with the team earlier this season.
"I'm just excited to race on an oval for the first time, this is going to be a entirely new challenge for me here in America. I felt very comfortable during the test we had here last Friday and I was able to get up to speed very quickly. The car felt really good right out of the box and I'm looking forward to being at the front this weekend."