INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- July 8, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Carpentier impresses Olympic speed skaters 2. Jerry Coons Jr. to compete for Hemelgarn 91 Johnson Motorsports 3. Michael Andretti Foundation holding fundraiser at The ...
INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- July 8, 2005
Today's IRL headlines
1. Carpentier impresses Olympic speed skaters
2. Jerry Coons Jr. to compete for Hemelgarn 91 Johnson Motorsports
3. Michael Andretti Foundation holding fundraiser at The Andretti Winery
4. Show car displayed at Kentucky Speedway
1. Carpentier impresses Olympic speed skaters: Patrick Carpentier may be the track record holder on the 1-mile oval at the Milwaukee Mile, but on July 7 Carpentier took his talents to another oval in the city.
Carpentier laced up his skates at the Pettit National Ice Center, a training center for the U.S. Olympic team that is just a stone's throw away from the racetrack. The 24-year-old, who drives the No. 83 Red Bull Cheever Racing entry in the IndyCar Series, took to the 400-meter oval with five-time gold medal-winning speed skater Bonnie Blair, four-time Olympian Dave Cruikshank and two-time Olympian Dave Tamburrino to promote the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 on July 24.
Carpentier, a native of Quebec, was a competitive speed skater as a youth. Coincidentally, Carpentier and Tamburrino skated against each other in international competitions several times as youths.
"Patrick was so dominant in speed skating when we were kids growing up," said Tamburrino, who competed in the 1994 and 1998 Olympics and now coaches young speed skaters. "In fact, had he kept speed skating, there's no doubt he would have been one of the best short track speed skaters in the world. We had a very, very competitive age group, and there are a fair amount of skaters who went on to not only compete in the Olympics, but win Olympic medals, and Patrick was dominant.
"Growing up, every year I would say, 'This is going to be my year to beat Patrick.' And he still would always come out on top."
Ironically, Carpentier stopped speed skating and started racing due to his success on the ice. As a reward for a successful event, Carpentier's father took him go-karting. He's been racing cars ever since.
Carpentier's love for speed skating remains evident. He recently purchased a pair of short track speed skates that he keeps at his home in Las Vegas.
"He was phenomenal. You can even see it now," Tamburrino said. "The way someone controls their blade, the way they time their pushes -- he's still got all that."
2. Jerry Coons Jr. to compete for Hemelgarn 91 Johnson Motorsports: Ron Hemelgarn and Roger Johnson, co-owners of the Hemelgarn 91 Johnson Motorsports team in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series^Ù, announced that USAC standout Jerry Coons Jr. will drive the No. 91 Hemelgarn 91 Johnson Motorsports entry in the Cleanevent 100 at Nashville Superspeedway on July 16.
"I am looking forward this opportunity to drive for Ron Hemelgarn and Roger Johnson," said Coons. "Both Ron and Roger have always put first-class race cars on the race track. To be in that kind of equipment, it is just an honor to drive for owners like that."
"I'm excited to have Jerry drive the No. 91 Hemelgarn 91 Johnson Motorsports car at Nashville," Hemelgarn said. "Jerry knows how to run up front and win. Having another USAC driver to join Jay Drake in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series is fantastic."
"Jerry Coons Jr. has been working very hard this season preparing for any opportunity that might come along," Johnson said. "He has studied and attended racing schools. He has raced SCCA road racing events and honed his skills reviewing data acquisition information. He has spent many weeks in both Charlotte and Indianapolis looking for a ride. Jerry is a very smooth driver who will stand on the gas and knows when to back off. The Menards Infiniti Pro Series is a great place for Jerry to showcase his USAC background, and I expect he will perform well."
The race will be Coons' first start in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series. While Coons is new to the series, he is not new to the IRL or Nashville Superspeedway. The Arizona native participated in an IRL rookie test for Panther Racing in 2000 at Texas Motor Speedway.
At Nashville Superspeedway, Coons established a one-lap track record in 2001 in a USAC Silver Crown car. Coons says he likes the 1.33-mile oval.
"Nashville is unique track with its concrete surface," he said. "The track seems racy, and we should be able to do some passing there."
The opportunity to race at Nashville Superspeedway is one that Coons hopes will give him exposure to show his talent.
"I think any time you can gain that type of experience, any time you are racing in front of people in conjunction with the IRL, that is a great opportunity," Coons said. "This race will mean more experience and more exposure for me so I can move on and do some bigger things in the future."
The Hemelgarn 91 Johnson Motorsports team has had success at Nashville before, grabbing the Gibson Guitar and winning the inaugural event in 2002 with Cory Witherill behind the wheel. The team also holds the fastest-race record and the fastest race lap at the facility. The Hemelgarn 91 Johnson Motorsports is one of the more successful teams in the history of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, recording four wins in the last three years. Last season, the team finished second in the points with Paul Dana behind the wheel.
3. Michael Andretti Foundation holding fundraiser at The Andretti Winery: The Andretti Winery will host a special fundraising event for the Michael Andretti Foundation. The evening will feature special guests, including owner Michael Andretti and his IndyCar Series drivers. The VIP event will also include an informal wine tasting and wine presentation by The Andretti Winery.
The event is scheduled for Aug. 25 and will be held in conjunction with the Indy Racing League's inaugural visit to Infineon Raceway and the Napa Valley region. The evening's activities will take place at 6 p.m. with wine tasting on the back courtyard overlooking the Andretti vineyards.
Participants will have the opportunity to mingle on the winery grounds while enjoying a special question and answer session with the Andretti Green Racing drivers. Michael Andretti also will speak to guests in a fun and informative environment.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will be donated to Meals On Wheels of Napa Valley. Guests can secure a spot at the event by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Specific schedules and information pertaining to the event is available at www.andretti.com. The event schedule and the guests scheduled to appear are subject to change depending on alterations in scheduling or driver availability.
The Michael Andretti Foundation is a 501(c)(3) foundation that was established to help people who have shown need and to help promote programs for better health, education and welfare of America's children and citizens.
4. Show car displayed at Kentucky Speedway: A Meijer IndyCar Series show car will be on display this weekend at Kentucky Speedway when the facility hosts a NASCAR Craftsman Truck series event. The IndyCar Series and Menards Infiniti Pro Series visit Kentucky Speedway Aug. 13-14.
The 10th season of IRL IndyCar competition continues with the Firestone Indy 200 at 7 p.m. (EDT) July 16 at Nashville Superspeedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Cleanevent 100 on July 16 at Nashville Superspeedway. It will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) July 21 by ESPN2. The next episode of "The Fast Life," ESPN2's behind-the-scenes series about the IndyCar Series, airs at noon (EDT) on July 10.