Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Hornish cheers for Helio in person
2. New website for Panther Racing
3. Andersen Racing relocating to Florida
4. Gilbert completes first triathlon
5. Stewart tests Canadian champions
6. Of note
1. Hornish cheers for Helio in person: Helio Castroneves didn't have to look far for familiar faces when he performed on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" on Nov. 5.
Amongst the audience for the show were Brian Barnhart, president of competition and operations for the Indy Racing League, Al Speyer, executive director of Firestone Racing and three-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr., who has been Castroneves' teammate at Team Penske since 2004.
"When I heard that he was going to do the show, I said, 'That's totally Helio,' " Hornish said. "Everyone who knows him would expect him to be able to come out here and do great. He's one of the most charismatic people I know. He's an entertainer. He's always dancing around."
Hornish said the show has given Castroneves something that should help him with his racing.
"A good release," he said. "I knew he would be dedicated. The guys on the team tell me that they have a hard time figuring out what he wants to do more -- drive a race car or practice his dancing. But it's been fun to turn on the TV on Monday nights and see him do so well."
2. New website for Panther Racing: Panther Racing recently launched a redesigned version of its website, www.pantherracing.com. The team, which partnered with RACERSITES.com on the project, has committed to improving its online product.
"I told the guys at RACERSITES.com, 'If we're going to pay you to do this thing, I want the best motorsports website on the planet,' and those guys took the challenge with open arms," said Panther CEO and Managing Partner John Barnes. "Looking through this new site now that it's finished, I seriously cannot find a better motorsports website on the internet right now. They delivered for us big time."
RACERSITES.COM is a leading provider of web design, development and management services for companies within motorsports or those targeting the industry. The current client roster also includes Graham Rahal, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, the Ferrari Challenge series and Sam Hornish Jr.
"We were extremely excited to work with Panther Racing on their new web site for the 2008 racing season," said Chuck Tate, President of RACERSITES.COM. "Naturally, we are big believers in the growing importance of the web as an integrated component of every race team's marketing activities and were thrilled to work with a client that shared that view."
3. Andersen Racing relocating to Florida: Andersen Racing, which campaigns drivers in three levels of open-wheel racing including the Indy Pro Series, is relocating from New Jersey to Florida.
The team purchased Group Four Test Track in Palmetto, Fla., and will rename the facility Andersen Race Park.
The 18-acre facility is 15 minutes from St. Petersburg and includes an 8,000-square-foot shop that will be the new home of the team's Indy Pro Series, Star Mazda and F2000 cars. Two dozen additional garages are also located adjacent to pit lane. The facility also features a 1-mile road course.
The track is already a favorite of kart racers, other teams in various series that wish to conduct private test sessions and amateurs participating in formula car "arrive-and-drive" programs.
Team co-owner Dan Andersen said that the purchase makes sense on many levels for the team, which has been fielding multiple entries in the Indy Pro Series, the Star Mazda series and the F2000 Championship from its headquarters in Fairfield, N.J.
"We can now consolidate our three teams in one building," Andersen said. "The shop space is perfect for our needs, and I can see our efficiency as a team increasing greatly. The Indy Pro Series team is already operating out of the facility. Our F2000 team will relocate there next, probably in late November, followed by the Star Mazda team in early January."
Andersen is most excited, however, about the synergies that may develop from the karters who already test there, since Andersen Racing's mission is to provide one solid home and the best training available for future open-wheel stars.
"We're excited about this acquisition, as it fits our team's vision perfectly," he said. "Young karters at our facility will be exposed to our three race teams, which will give them access to our personnel in an almost campus atmosphere. On the other side of the coin, our people will be able to observe first-hand karting talent at Andersen Race Park for possible future driver openings. We feel Andersen Race Park will benefit everyone."
4. Gilbert completes first triathlon: Earlier this year, Indy Pro Series driver Micky Gilbert competed in the Boston Marathon. Now he's added another athletic accomplishment.
The 36-year-old from Golden, Colo., traveled to Panama City, Fla., on Nov. 3 to compete in his first triathlon. From the sandy beach of the Boardwalk Beach Resort, Gilbert embarked on a 2.4-mile swim in the Gulf of Mexico followed by a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.
Gilbert, who also competed in the Pikes Peak Marathon earlier this year, completed the rugged test of endurance in 10 hours, 57 minutes, 44 seconds to finish 106th out of 404 in his division (Men 35-39).
"What an intense day," Gilbert said of the Ironman Florida competition. "It was my first ever triathlon, and it was tough. I really struggled in the swim, but I passed more than 1,200 people on the bike and in the run, so overall I think I did pretty well."
Gilbert, who spent 1:21 in the water, 5:30 on his bike and 3:57 on the run, plans to return to the Indy Pro Series in 2008.
"We're very excited about the 2008 season," said Gilbert, who started eight races in 2007 driving for the Mile High Motorsports team that he co-owns. "We have a new sponsor on board in FARO Technologies, so we're hoping to run the entire schedule and maybe even add a second driver. We are looking forward to a much better year in 2008."
5. Stewart tests Canadian champions: Indy Pro Series team owner Brian Stewart, a former Canadian Formula Ford champion, continues to offer opportunities to his countrymen.
Two Canadian champions passed their Indy Pro Series rookie tests in a Brian Stewart Racing machine at Nashville Superspeedway on Nov. 1.
Matt White, the Ontario Formula Ford champion, and Michael Mora, who won a shootout of top drivers in the Brian Stewart Racing Karting Championship, earned their licenses on the 1.33-mile concrete oval.
"Matt and Michael both did a great job," said Indy Pro Series technical director Butch Meyer, who supervised the test and approved their licenses. "They got up to speed quickly, ran competitive speeds and were very smooth."
6. Of note: Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman declared the week of Oct. 29-Nov. 2 as Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week as a tribute to the spirit of Indy Pro Series team owner Sam Schmidt. "Having a Spinal Cord Injury Week in Nevada is very special, and I applaud Mayor Goodman for making it happen," said Schmidt, whose team has fielded three championship-winning drivers in the last four years. "Due to Nevada's climate and active residents, we have a larger than normal section of the population living with spinal cord injuries, and they will be honored by this recognition. Every day, we are battling to cure neurological disorders as well as provide proper insurance coverage and employment opportunities for those who are disabled. This week will bring a local and national awareness to our cause, which is greatly needed."-- Buddy Rice will return to defend his Master's Division title in the Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by the IndyCar Series All-Stars Karting Classic on Dec. 6 in Orlando, Fla. Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 champion who competed for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in the IndyCar Series this season, will join a driver lineup also featuring Marco Andretti and Bryan Herta. Admission to the event adjacent to the Orange County Convention Center is free....A.J. Foyt Racing driver Darren Manning will co-drive the No. 45 Embassy Racing LMP2 car with Warren Hughes and Mario Haberfeld in the Le Mans Series finale at Interlagos in Brazil this weekend.
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. The 2008 Indy Pro Series season also begins on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 16-race schedule, which features eight ovals and four road/street course doubleheader weekends, will be televised by ESPN2.