IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-09-24

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Castroneves ready to put on dancing shoes 2. Ethanol takes checkered for successful 2007 IndyCar Series season 3. Godnai joins Indy Racing League 4. SWE tests Indiana karting standout 1.

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Castroneves ready to put on dancing shoes
2. Ethanol takes checkered for successful 2007 IndyCar Series season
3. Godnai joins Indy Racing League
4. SWE tests Indiana karting standout

1. Castroneves ready to put on dancing shoes: Helio Castroneves and dance partner Julianne Hough are a hot property even before their initial performance, a Foxtrot, on the Season 5 opening week of "Dancing with the Stars."

The buzz generated by the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and his dance partner has lit up Internet forums and Castroneves is considered the favorite among the male competitors of ABC's hit series.

"Dancing with the Stars" kicks off with a 90-minute performance episode at 8 p.m. (ET) Sept. 24 featuring the female celebrities. Castroneves and the other male stars will showcase their moves Sept. 25 (8-9:30 p.m. ET). One couple's fate will be determined Sept. 26.

Castroneves and Hough, who won last year's contest with Apolo Anton Ohno, have been rehearsing for a month for the start of the campaign of athleticism and dancing ability.

"Just being an athlete in itself is awesome because he has the work ethic and the discipline to want to do something," Hough said of Castroneves. "It's a lot harder to teach that than to teach performance and technique. Being a perfectionist, which is part of racing, he'll want to do the best he can do.

"He definitely has what it takes. He has the personality, he's got the Latin blood. He's the bomb."

Castroneves and Hough turned heads during the IndyCar Series season-finale weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. Hough was introduced (complete with Indy Racing Experience two-seater ride at 175 mph) to Castroneves' high-speed world with Team Penske.

The professional ballroom dancer and country singer captured all the sights and sounds of race day and was on pit lane to congratulate her dance partner on a fourth-place finish.

"It was incredible," Hough said. "It's been really cool to watch him race."

Of course Castroneves and Hough expect to finish better in "Dancing with the Stars."

"She'll say, 'Listen, imagine you're a car, going smooth, up and down,' " Castroneves said. "I can relate to that. But it's been hard. Driving a race car, you use your arms, neck but not so much your legs. I'm regretting (not including squats and other leg exercises in training) it now."

Competing in the IndyCar Series will serve him well, according to Hough.

"I think everybody (in the IndyCar Series) is competitive, and I think that will translate really well onto the floor," Hough said. "He'll bring that energy over to the dance floor."

Note for those who wish to vote for Helio Castroneves: Vote by phone at 1-800-868-3409 or text message at 3409 (AT&T customers only) from 8 p.m. (ET) Sept. 25 to 30 minutes after the show. Vote online at www.abc.com until noon (ET) Sept. 26.

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2. Ethanol takes checkered for successful 2007 IndyCar Series season: The IndyCar Series' first season using 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol proved to be a success on and off the track as the series became the standard bearer for the "Greening of Racing."

While the series attracted media attention for being the first in motorsports to embrace a renewable fuel source, it's 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol performed flawlessly in one of the most demanding environments in racing.

"Our partnership with the ethanol industry has been a tremendous success both on and off the track," said Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division of the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series. "We have been proud to share the track with a home-grown renewable fuel source that has such broad implications beyond racing. We will continue to be relevant and we will embrace the opportunity to lead the industry in our approach to balancing business with social responsibility."

The fuel efficiency was impressive; the IndyCar Series consumed more than 20,000 gallons (30 percent) less fuel than last season.

"This is far from marketing hype. This is true performance at the highest levels of competition," said Tom Slunecka, the executive director of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC). "This has been a critical testing ground for a renewable fuel source, and ethanol has passed the test with flying colors."

EPIC has been the driving force behind the switch to a cleaner, greener renewable fuel in the IndyCar Series. The partnership has paid tremendous dividends in consumer awareness of ethanol.

"The message to consumers is a powerful one," Slunecka said. "Performance and environment can co-exist."

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3. Godnai joins Indy Racing League: The Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body for the IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series, announced that Aaron Godnai has been named Director of Sales.

Godnai will report to Greg Gruning, Indy Racing League Vice President of Sales and will be responsible for securing sponsorships for the Indy Racing League, IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series.

"We're excited to add Aaron to our team," Gruning said. "While Aaron's primary focus will be on securing and maintaining partners for the League, he'll also be an asset to the department as we help find partners for our drivers, teams and tracks."

Godnai, a 1995 graduate of The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn., joins the Indy Racing League from NewPage Corp. where he served as group sales director for the South Central Region and was responsible for managing a 12-state, 8-sales representative region with more than $300 million in sales forecast.

He also served as NewPage's commercial printing marketing manager, and worked closely with the company's NASCAR sponsorship and helped develop its business-to-business council, which allowed companies within the sport to identify reciprocal relationships and learn best practices on how other partners leverage their sponsorship. The council is recognized within sports properties as an industry leader

From 1996-2003, Godnai worked at Mead where he advanced from being a marketing generalist to marketing manager.

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4. SWE tests Indiana karting standout: Indy Pro Series team owner Steve Eppard has had his eye on karting standout Kyle Wiegand for more than a year.

Eppard first spotted the 21-year-old Greenwood, Ind. native at the New Castle, Ind., go-kart facility owned by former IndyCar Series competitor Mark Dismore last August. Their paths crossed again in early September at the Rock Island Grand Prix in Quad Cities, Iowa.

"The Rock Island Grand Prix has been around for 14 years and is one of the top karting events in the country," said Eppard, who grew up in the area. "Not only do a lot of superstars of karting compete in the event, but so do a lot of guys who are now racing cars."

Eppard offered up a test in his Indy Pro Series car to the overall winner of the event. Wiegand, a competitor in the Stars of Karting presented by the IndyCar Series, earned the honor with a second-place finish in one event and a drive from last to first in the other.

On Sept. 24, Eppard finally got to put Wiegand behind the wheel of a 420-horsepower Indy Pro Series car during a private test.

"Kyle has been very impressive," Eppard said. "It started at the shop last week. After we finished the seat fitting, I left for a while to take care of some business. I came back and Kyle was still sitting there in the car. He told me was getting comfortable with it, visualizing driving it. He's a very focused and determined individual."

Wiegand's test was a success. In just his second stint, he shaved more than 3 seconds off his lap time and was running as quick as more experienced drivers.

"This car is real smooth, a lot more power," said Wiegand, whose only experience racing cars came in a handful of Skip Barber races and some tests in a Renault Formula 2000 car. "It's got more downforce. I'm just trying to get used to it. It's a lot to take in at once.

"This is my favorite form of sports. I love racing open-wheel stuff, but I've just never really had the chance, so it's really cool to be able to get to do this."

Both Eppard and Wiegand hope the successful test at the beginning of the offseason are a precursor to a successful relationship, culminating in victories in the Indy Pro Series.

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The 2008 IndyCar Series season begins under the lights on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 16-race schedule, one of the most diverse in all of motorsports, features races on 11 ovals, three permanent road courses and two temporary street circuits, all broadcast worldwide through a comprehensive, long-term agreement with ABC Sports/ ESPN.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Mark Dismore , Helio Castroneves , Skip Barber , Kyle Wiegand
Teams Team Penske