IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-02-02

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Feb. 2, 2006 Today's IRL headlines 1. Meijer, Coca-Cola join Rahal Letterman Racing 2. Dixon's wreath hung at Seneca Lodge 3. Indy Pro Series drivers test at Texas 4. CARA Charities celebrates silver ...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Feb. 2, 2006

Today's IRL headlines
1. Meijer, Coca-Cola join Rahal Letterman Racing
2. Dixon's wreath hung at Seneca Lodge
3. Indy Pro Series drivers test at Texas
4. CARA Charities celebrates silver anniversary

1. Meijer, Coca-Cola join Rahal Letterman Racing: Rahal Letterman Racing announced a season long partnership with Meijer and Coca-Cola Enterprises as associate sponsors of 2005 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick for the 2006 Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series.

Meijer and Coca-Cola have teamed together over the last few years to sponsor an entry in the Indianapolis 500. This season, the companies have expanded their efforts to a full-season program with Rahal Letterman Racing.

"We are pleased to begin this partnership with Meijer and Coca-Cola," said Bobby Rahal," co-owner and founder of Rahal Letterman Racing. "Meijer and Coca-Cola have a longstanding motorsports tradition with historically a strong involvement in IndyCar racing and the Indianapolis 500. They both witnessed the excitement surrounding Rahal Letterman Racing at Indianapolis last May, and they wanted to capture that spirit in their motorsport program throughout the entire season."

Meijer and Coca-Cola logos will appear on the car of Patrick, while the Meijer logo also will be displayed on 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice's car. As part of the program, fans will get a chance to meet Patrick during autograph sessions at select Meijer stores around IRL events in each Meijer market.

Meijer, is a family owned-and-operated grocery and general merchandise retailer, operates 171 stores in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky.

2. Dixon's wreath hung at Seneca Lodge: The laurel wreath Scott Dixon received after winning the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix last September is now hanging behind the bar at the Seneca Lodge, a hotel near the historic race course.

Dixon and Target Chip Ganassi Racing donated the wreath to the Seneca Lodge and it was hung behind the bar by Cameron R. Argetsinger, the auto racing enthusiast who brought the sport to Watkins Glen, N.Y.

"It's an honor to get to be part of history and join all the big names that have been there before," Dixon said. "To be able to carry on the tradition and be the first from the series is very special. I don't know when the last time someone had a wreath hung there, so to be the first IRL driver to do is pretty cool."

The tradition of hanging the wreath given to Watkins Glen race winners dates to the United States Grand Prix Formula One event at Watkins Glen International. Race winners would visit the Tavern Room at the lodge and hang their wreaths on arrows behind the bar. Because wreaths are not given to NASCAR race winners, several tires hang from the ceiling of the lodge.

The other prize Dixon received for winning the first IndyCar Series event at Watkins Glen, the Cameron R. Argetsinger Trophy, is on display at the International Motor Racing Research Center until June 1.

The Argetsinger trophy, a sterling silver cup, is on display with The Seneca Trophy, which is presented to the winner of the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen, Both the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix and Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen will take place in June at Watkins Glen International.

3. Indy Pro Series drivers test at Texas: Ten Indy Pro Series drivers participated in a private test Jan. 30 at Texas Motor Speedway, including five rookies who earned their licenses to compete.

Drivers who passed the rookie test were Steven Ablondi, Michael Crawford, Jay Howard, Jonathan Klein and Brett Van Blankers. P.J. Abbott, Jaime Camara, Wade Cunningham, Rocco DeSimone and Geoff Dodge also participated in the test held by Andretti Green Racing, Brian Stewart Racing, Michael Crawford Motorsports and Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

"Everything went very well," said Butch Meyer, technical director for the Indy Pro Series, who supervised the test. "We have an excellent crop of young rookies heading into the Indy Pro Series in 2006. They were very impressive."

Unofficial times had the entire field of drivers separated by less than five-tenths of a second, running at speeds in excess of 187 mph on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval.

4. CARA Charities celebrates silver anniversary: In 2006, one of motorsports' top charity organizations turns 25.

CARA Charities, started by Betty Rutherford and a group of racing drivers' wives in 1981, has developed into a driving force in the racing community with more than 500 members and more than $4 million donated to needy causes.

Children's health and safety issues have been a primary focus for CARA Charities, and a variety of causes have benefited from the group's charitable work. The mission of CARA Charities is to serve the auto racing community and promote friendship throughout the motorsports family.

CARA, with its special projects and fundraising activities, has raised and donated funds to many organizations including children's hospitals, scholarship funds, ministries and research groups.

Popular projects such as "Bridgestone/Firestone Buckle Up Baby," "Soap Is Hope," CARA/Shirley Bettenhausen Children's Fund, Open Wheel Ministries and special "Drivers" Christmas Ornament have helped produce millions of dollars for charity. The Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund was a big CARA project in 2005.

"It is hard to believe that CARA Charities is 25 years old," said Rutherford, wife of three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Johnny Rutherford. "CARA has expanded tremendously from those first meetings in 1981 to the great fundraising events and activities we experience now. CARA continues to further the mission of improving the lives of children as well as those members of the racing community. It has been fun to see the growth of CARA Charities and relationships that have been established. I'm proud to have been a part of it since the inception. "

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The IRL IndyCar Series opens the 2006 season with the Toyota Indy 300 on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The IMS Radio Network broadcast is also carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 152, "XM Extreme" and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition also opens on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Scott Dixon , Sam Schmidt , Buddy Rice , Chip Ganassi , Steven Ablondi , Wade Cunningham , Jaime Camara , P.J. Abbott , Jay Howard , Jonathan Klein , Geoff Dodge , Danica Patrick , Johnny Rutherford
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing