Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Meira brightens holiday of INDYDownForce members
2. Kanaan team takes first, second in Granja Viana kart race
3. Franchitti honored at Autosport Awards
4. Williams earns honor in New Zealand
1. Meira brightens holiday of INDY DownForce members: A missed appearance at Chicagoland Speedway has led to a holiday gift from IndyCar Series driver Vitor Meira to members of the IndyCar Series' official fan club INDY DownForce.
Meira was scheduled to attend a pre-race meet and greet in September when he was called back for a team meeting. He and shop manager Jamie Nanny created a special keepsake -- a keychain made from carbon-fiber parts from his damaged Chicagoland race car.
Once the pieces were finished, Meira autographed the back of each one and a Panther head was painted on the front. Meira wrote each fan a short letter to include with the mailings, which were delivered to the post office today.
"I can't go back and make the appearance," Meira admitted. "But this is the best we could do."
2. Kanaan team take first, second in Granja Viana kart race: 2004 IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan teamed with longtime friend Rubens Barrichello to win the 11th Granja Viana 500 on Dec. 2.
Kanaan and Barrichello teamed with Felipe Giaffone, Lucas di Grassi and Renato Russo to claim their seventh victory, just ahead of their second kart, shared with Di Grassi, Antonio Pizzonia and Thiago Camilo. The team of Luciano Burti, Dennis Dirani, Gabriel Dias and Felipe Guimarães completed the podium.
IndyCar Series driver Vitor Meira also competed in the event.
Following the event, Kanaan was among the winners at the 11th Capacete de Ouro Awards in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Kanaan edged two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the voting in the TOP category, which honors the top Brazilian racing in the United States. A panel of Brazilian journalists vote for Capacete de Ouro awards in 13 categories. They are considered the "Academy Awards" of Brazilian auto racing.
3. Franchitti honored at Autosport Awards: 2007 IndyCar Series champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti was honored with a Gregor Grant award during the annual Autosport Awards in London on Dec. 2.
The Gregor Grant Trophy - named after Autosport's founding editor - is given in recognition of outstanding achievement in motor sport. Previous recipients include rally world champion Carlos Sainz, Bernie Ecclestone and Jack Brabham.
Franchitti's award was presented by Jackie Stewart, who helped Franchitti during the early years of his career.
Franchitti is also one of 12 finalists for the Speed Performer of the Year, which will be awarded during the Speed Performance Awards in February.
The second annual SPEED Performer of the Year will be selected by a panel including "Wind Tunnel" host Dave Despain, veteran broadcasters Bob Varsha and Ralph Sheheen, SPEEDtv.com writers Robin Miller and Tom Jensen and racers Tommy Kendall and Dorsey Schroeder.
The winner will receive the Mario Andretti Trophy, created by bronze artist Elie Hazak.
4. Williams earns honor in New Zealand: Indy Pro Series driver Marc Williams was named Junior Sportsman of the Year in the Taranaki region of New Zealand. The 18-year-old competed in six Indy Pro Series races in 2007 with Michael Crawford Motorsports, recording a best finish of eighth at Iowa despite missing the practice sessions.
Williams' Indy Pro Series debut came in the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he finished 17th. He then went on to a ninth-place finish at Milwaukee.
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.