IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-09-14

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Patrick to be featured on HBO's "Real Sports" 2. Mile High Motorsports joins Indy Pro Series: 3. Banquet concludes second season for fan club 1. Patrick to be featured on HBO's Real...

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Patrick to be featured on HBO's "Real Sports"
2. Mile High Motorsports joins Indy Pro Series:
3. Banquet concludes second season for fan club

1. Patrick to be featured on HBO's Real Sports: After watching Danica Patrick compete in the last two IndyCar® Series races, celebrated author and broadcaster Frank Deford said the dynamic of woman and machine is only part of the compelling story of the recently-introduced Andretti Green Racing driver.

In "Driving Alone" -- a segment in the season opener of the HBO series "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" -- Deford explores the dynamo that has transcended motorsports in the past two years much like Chris Evert in the 1970s in tennis. Real Sports premieres at 10 p.m. (ET) Sept. 19 on HBO. Other air dates are 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sept. 21, 10 a.m. Sept. 23, 5 and 11:45 p.m. Sept. 28 and 1 p.m. Sept. 29.

"Beyond the fact that she's a woman in a male-dominated sport, she is a true personality," Deford said. "I've come to understand that she helps (other drivers) in the long run with the attention she receives. Yeah, they're envious of her, but hopefully savvy enough to realize what she does for everyone. She is a very interesting person.

"The thing that impresses me about Danica is not that she's a woman, but how small she is. How she controls that car, the strength that is required is impressive. I always knew about the need to be agile and quick, but the strength I don't think I was aware of. So I come away with even greater appreciation for what these guys do."

Patrick drove a Honda Accord Hybrid safety vehicle with Deford in the front passenger seat on the 12-turn circuit at Infineon Raceway as part of the interview. It was a ride he will remember.

"It was a different experience for me," he said. "There are some people in my profession who say, 'Well, these guys really aren't athletes,' the perception being you have to rebound or something to be an athlete. I have never thought that for a moment; there are different kinds of athleticism. I stand absolutely in awe of her and the other drivers.

"She couldn't have been more gracious and forth-coming and agreeable. It's been a very fun story to do."

"Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" has won the Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Journalism nine of the past 11 years, in addition to being the first sports program honored with the duPont Award for excellence in broadcast journalism. Tim Walker is the producer of "Driving Alone."

2. Mile High Motorsports joins Indy Pro Series: Mile High Motorsports is the latest team to announce its intentions to compete in the Indy Pro Series for the first time in 2007. Team principals Micky Gilbert and Grant Bentrud made the announcement from the team's Denver headquarters on Sept. 13.

The team participated in its first two Indy Pro Series events in conjunction with Guthrie Racing at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. on Aug. 26-27 with Gilbert driving to two top-10 finishes.

"The cars were even better than I expected," said Gilbert, who has won several championships in his 16-year driving career, including the 2005 Star Mazda Championship Expert Series. "They're very fast, strong and easy to set up. They're a blast to drive. The series' $3 million dollar purse is also very attractive."

Gilbert plans to drive one of the team's cars in 2007. They are also seeking additional drivers.

"I've been mainly a road racer, but I'm looking forward to driving in the Indy Pro Series next year because I can develop my oval skills as well as race in support of the Formula 1 series at the United States Grand Prix," Gilbert said.

Added Bentrud: "The cars are very well developed and enjoy a great engine/chassis marriage. With rules stability, excellent driving talent and large purses, it's the perfect series for us."

The Indy Pro Series is the premier ladder series for drivers, teams and sponsors striving to compete in the IndyCar® Series and the Indianapolis 500. In 2006, the 12-race schedule featured six races on ovals and six races on road courses, including competing on both circuits at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Teams compete for $3 million in prize money in cars that generate 420 horsepower and speeds in excess of 190 mph. The races are telecast to more than 88 million homes in the United States on ESPN2.

"We're delighted to welcome Mile High Motorsports to the Indy Pro Series," Executive Director Roger Bailey said. "Grant and Micky bring a wealth of experience in motorsports. They're already our fourth new team for 2007, so they can expect some spirited competition on the racetrack."

Earlier this month, Team KMA and Andersen Racing announced they would join the Indy Pro Series in 2007. In July, Panther Racing, the 2003 Indy Pro Series championship team and a full-time competitor in the IndyCar Series, announced it would return to the Indy Pro Series as well.

3. Banquet concludes second season for fan club: INDY DownForce celebrated a successful second season by honoring its Crew Level members at its annual banquet on Sept. 12 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Danica Patrick was named IndyCar Series Most Popular Driver for the second consecutive season, while Arie Luyendyk Jr. claimed the Indy Pro Series Most Popular Driver Award for the fourth-straight time.

Member Steve Brown of Bloomington, Ind. was named Volunteer of the Year for his detailed and effective coordination of INDY DownForce bus trips.

IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series drivers Luyendyk, Ed Carpenter and Nick Bussell were joined by Simmons Abramson Marketing principals Gene Simmons and Rich Abramson, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp. Vice President for Communications Fred Nation and Indy Racing League Vice President of Marketing Mike Ringham for the banquet, which was hosted by ESPN pit reporter Jack Arute.

In addition, more than $1,800 was raised through a silent auction benefiting the Paul Dana Memorial Fund for Renewable Energy. Throughout the 2006 season, INDY DownForce has raised more than $6,000 through raffles/silent auctions for the Paul Dana Memorial Fund for Renewable Energy at events.

INDY DownForce is a fan community and rewards program. For more information on INDY DownForce go to indycar.com and click on Fan Club.

-credit: irl

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Series INDYCAR , INDYLIGHTS