IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League notebook 2003-03-19

Indy Racing League Notebook Raybestos to sponsor Fisher at Phoenix; 'Road to Indy' program continues. INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, March 19, 2003 -- Raybestos® Brand Brakes will sponsor the car driven by popular IRL IndyCarTM Series standout ...

Indy Racing League Notebook
Raybestos to sponsor Fisher at Phoenix; 'Road to Indy' program continues.

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, March 19, 2003 -- Raybestos® Brand Brakes will sponsor the car driven by popular IRL IndyCarTM Series standout Sarah Fisher in the Purex Dial Indy 200 on March 23 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Fisher will drive the No. 23 Team GM Upromise/Raybestos Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone fielded by Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in a one-race sponsorship.

Brake Parts, Inc, manufacturer of Raybestos brakes, became involved in Fisher's racing efforts last season. She has represented the company through television ads and promotional materials focusing on Raybestos' safety campaign, touting the importance of annual brake inspections and quality brake products.

"We welcome the support that Raybestos brings to the No. 23 car to help us to support Sarah's efforts on the track," said team co-owner Dennis Reinbold. "Raybestos has a solid reputation in the racing arena, and their personal support of Sarah's racing career has ensured her continued pursuit of the IRL championship this season."

Said Tom O'Brien, vice president of marketing for Raybestos: "We are thrilled to be able to help Sarah out for this one race. Sarah is an important member of the Raybestos family, and we are happy that we could provide her some assistance."

Fisher, 22, finished 15th in the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 on March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"Raybestos and I have had a great relationship beyond the racetrack, and I am privileged and excited that they have furthered this relationship to support my upcoming race at Phoenix," Fisher said. "Together, we have had an awesome experience so far and will continue to have one of the best sponsor/driver relationships out there. Raybestos has given me yet one more on-track opportunity."

WeGotGear, an Atlanta-based business which supplies promotional products for major corporations, will remain as a sponsor for the Phoenix event after sponsoring Fisher at the season opener.

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'Road to Indy' program continues: The Indy Racing League's "Road to Indy" program returns for USAC participants in 2003, but the format from previous years has been restructured.

The IRL "Road to Indy" will sponsor the entire fast qualifier program for USAC's Silver Crown, National and Western Sprint Car and National and Western Midget Car Series. The program also will offer a year-end bonus for championship car entrants for each of these series.

"The Indy Racing League has long been a supporter of professional short-track racing, and we appreciate that they recognize its importance," said USAC President/CEO Rollie Helmling. "Many of the stars of USAC today have the potential to be the stars of the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series in the future, and we are glad that they encourage this by the 'Road to Indy' program. The 'Road to Indy' program this year recognizes the accomplishments of our top-performing drivers and encourages them to really showcase their talents."

Said Bill Long, IRL vice president of marketing: "The 'Road to Indy' program is further recognition that USAC and its stars continue to be a natural fit toward growing the sport of Indy Racing. We will use this platform to expose more and more fans to the brand of the Indy Racing League and USAC racing excitement during 2003."

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Chassis change: Shigeaki Hattori will drive a Dallara chassis in the Purex Dial Indy 200 on March 23 at Phoenix International Raceway after starting the season in a Panoz G Force chassis.

"This EPSON Dallara/Toyota will be a totally new car for me -- I was just in Houston last Friday getting the seat fitted," Hattori said. "We didn't have time to test it, but I am looking forward to driving it at Phoenix. It looks very different from the EPSON/G Force/Toyota car I drove in Miami, so I'll be interested to see how different it is to drive.

"One thing I do know is that it will have good power."

A.J. Foyt IV, Hattori's teammate with A.J. Foyt Racing, will remain in a Conseco-sponsored Dallara chassis. Foyt made the switch a few days before the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 on March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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Double duty: Infiniti Pro Series standout Ed Carpenter will pull double duty this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, driving in the Phoenix 100 Infiniti Pro Series race March 22 and the USAC Silver Crown Series race March 23.

Carpenter will drive the No. 14 Futaba/Delphi/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone car in the Infiniti Pro Series and a Silver Crown car owned by Hoffman Racing.

"It should be a lot of fun," Carpenter said. "It's harder time-wise because the practice sessions are one after the other, so I have to rush from one car to the other. After that, I think it's an advantage for me. I'm on the track more than the guys I'm going to be racing with, so I'm always ready to go, and I think I stay more focused.

"It's not too hard to jump back and forth between the two types of cars because they are so different."

There's also another connection between an active Indy Racing League driver and the USAC Silver Crown race this weekend at Phoenix. Dave Fisher, the father of IndyCar Series star Sarah Fisher, will serve as the crew chief of the Silver Crown car driven by Aaron Pierce of Muncie, Ind.

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Unser drives for charity: Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. will try his hand at driving of another kind -- on the golf course -- on March 20 in an event to raise funds for the Al Unser Jr.'s Children's Charitable Foundation.

Fellow IRL IndyCar Series drivers, sponsors and fans will join Unser in the Copper World Charity Classic Golf Tournament at the Estrella Mountain Ranch Golf Course near Phoenix International Raceway.

The golf tourney, sponsored by Corteco and hosted by Unser, is now in its third year. Proceeds from the event will go to the charitable foundation Unser established in 1994, which assists several children's charities. Much of the foundation's funding goes to organizations seeking a cure for transverse myelitis, a viral disease that affects the spinal cord. Unser's oldest daughter, Cody, was paralyzed by this disease.

"This tournament has proven to be a great way to raise money for the foundation, have fun and create some friendly off-track competition among the IRL drivers, owners and sponsors," Unser said. "We're glad that our sponsor, Corteco, and many of our IRL friends and colleagues have stepped up to support this year's event. It promises to be our best ever."

A second charity golf tournament benefiting the Al Unser Jr.'s Children's Charities Foundation will take place May 19 in Indianapolis in conjunction with the Indianapolis 500.

Unser will drive the No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone in the Purex Dial Indy 200 on March 23 at Phoenix International Raceway.

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Schmidt Foundation busy at Phoenix: The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation (SSPF) will entertain approximately 20 people associated with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Good Samaritan Rehab Institute on March 22 at Phoenix International Raceway as part of its "Disability Day" program in conjunction with the Purex Dial Indy 200 event weekend.

The effort is part of the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation's program to provide a behind-the-scenes look at IndyCar Series racing for patients suffering from a disabling injury and their families. The SSPF's guests will enjoy lunch in the infield and one-on-one conversations with Infiniti Pro Series team owner Sam Schmidt and IndyCar Series and Infiniti Pro Series drivers.

Phoenix International Raceway and the SSPF sponsor the event. The goal of the event is to provide a day at the races for individuals who have suffered from a disabling injury and to show people the drive and determination of Schmidt after he became a quadriplegic in an IndyCar Series testing accident in January 2000.

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Mighty mini-biker: IndyCar Series rising star Buddy Rice enjoys racing on two wheels off road, but he limits the power of his machinery to just 50 cc.

Rice races a modified 50cc mini bike (a child-size motorcycle) on a dirt track built in the backyard of one of his friends in the Phoenix area.

"I don't do things lightly, so this is the biggest motorcycle I get on these days," Rice said. "In '98, I broke my collarbone racing dirt bikes right before the start of the season. I don't want to do that again."

Rice will drive the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone in the Purex Dial Indy 200 on March 23 at his home track, Phoenix International Raceway.

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Hot laps: Arizona Cardinals linebacker LeVar Woods and wide receiver Kevin Kasper are scheduled to take a high-speed ride in the IndyCar Series two-seat race car March 20 at Phoenix International Raceway as part of the promotion of the Purex Dial Indy 200 -- Marlboro Team Penske owner Roger Penske was honored March 11 at the Dodge National Athletic Awards in Detroit. Other honorees included NASCAR Winston Cup driver Ryan Newman, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel and Olympic gold medallist Vonetta Flowers -- IndyCar Series standout Robbie Buhl will visit patients at 10 a.m. (MST) March 20 at the Phoenix Children's Hospital as part of his work as national spokesperson for Racing For Kids -- The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will play host to "IMS Night with the Pacers" on March 28 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis as the Indiana Pacers play the Chicago Bulls in an NBA game. The first 12,500 fans will receive an Indianapolis 500 schedule magnet. Eddie Cheever Jr. and Sarah Fisher will sign autographs at the IMS Pavilion at the arena from 6-6:45 p.m., and an IndyCar Series car will be on display at the entry pavilion -- Veteran motorsports journalist Norm Froscher will be honored by the Driver of the Year Award panel with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Froscher, 72, has covered racing for publications in Florida and nationally for 50 years.

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Ryan Newman , Sarah Fisher , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Shigeaki Hattori , A.J. Foyt IV , Sam Schmidt , Buddy Rice , Aaron Pierce , Roger Penske , A.J. Foyt , Ed Carpenter
Teams Dreyer & Reinbold Racing