Indy Racing Notebook
Youth movement for Ganassi in 2003; Mack helps brother's driving career
INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2002 -- Chip Ganassi has assembled a two-driver team for the 2003 Indy Racing League season that is rare in major auto racing because of the youth of the two drivers.
Both Tomas Scheckter and Scott Dixon will be 22 when the season starts March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Dixon was born July 22, 1980, in Auckland, New Zealand, and Scheckter was born 58 days later on Sept. 18, 1980, in Cape Town, South Africa.
Normally with a two-driver team, one driver is more of a veteran and older than the other. Scheckter has a single season and Dixon two seasons of major North American open-wheel competition. Dixon won a CART race in 2000 at Nazareth, Pa., and Scheckter won the IRL's Michigan Indy 400 last season.
Scheckter was paired with 44-year-old Eddie Cheever in 2002. Cheever also was his car owner. Scheckter left the team in late August.
A look at other 2002 IRL multi-driver teams shows a varied age difference between drivers: A.J. Foyt Racing, Eliseo Salazar, 46, Airton Dare, 24; Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Robbie Buhl, 38, Sarah Fisher, 21; Kelley Racing, Al Unser Jr., 40, Scott Sharp, 34; and Marlboro Team Penske, Gil de Ferran, 34, Helio Castroneves, 27.
Also entering the IRL in the 2003 season will be the new Andretti-Green team. Co-owner Michael Andretti, who also will drive, is 40. The other drivers will be Dario Franchitti, 30, and Tony Kanaan, 28.
Mike Hull, the veteran team manager for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, admitted the Scheckter-Dixon tandem is an unusual pairing but said the entire team considers itself young despite its various ages.
"Juan (Montoya, 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner) came to us as a young guy (25), a young guy in spirit," Hull said.
"I think to answer your question, the enthusiasm that they bring, combined with the talent that they have, is a fantastic combination.
"I think Chip said it best when he said the other day, 'It's a lot easier to slow a guy down than it is to speed him up,' and we've got two guys that don't have trouble with speed on the racetrack. So I think that the abilities that our engineering and management group have, in combination with the abilities that the race drivers have, we'll be able to do a good job with their age and enthusiasm."
Keeping busy: Indy Racing League driver George Mack has kept busy during the offseason by helping his younger brother Lloyd, 21, with his racing career.
Lloyd Mack, named after the brothers' father, is competing in the Grand American Modified series, and George has provided some sponsorship and pit-side assistance.
As George Mack makes his IRL plans for 2003, he also is exploring the possibility of helping his brother land a ride in the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series next season.
New shop: Bradley Motorsports may move out of its "temporary" shop of two years in Indianapolis for a new location in the area.
Owner Buzz Calkins has made an offer on a facility on the far north side of Indy, and if accepted, the team expects to move in mid-December. Team members are busily packing boxes in the old shop anticipating the move.
Buhl saluted in Cleveland: Robbie Buhl, co-owner/driver of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, attended a banquet Oct. 29 where he was one those saluted as "Cleveland's Most Interesting People." Editors of Cleveland magazine selected the honorees.
Buhl's teammate, Sarah Fisher, has a hectic week coming up. She will appear at the annual SEMA trade show in Las Vegas and then on the night of Nov. 5 fly to Japan to drive the two-seat Indy Racing Experience car during the Indy Racing League's first visit to the Twin Ring Motegi track. IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr. will test there in his Pennzoil Panther Racing car as a forerunner to the league's inaugural race at the track next April.
Hot laps: Infiniti Pro Series driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. will sign autographs and participate in a question and answer session with fans Nov. 2-3 at "PowerPlay - Tuscon's Ultimate Sportsfest" in Tucson, Ariz. Luyendyk, who finished second in the inaugural Infiniti Pro Series standings, will join other sports stars and musical artists at the event, which takes place at Tucson Electric Park. An Indy Racing League car also will be on display during the event. Children 12 and under are admitted free. For more information, visit www.kmsb.com/powerplay -- Roquin Motorsports driver Jeffrey Jones clinched the Formula Ford 2000 Rookie of the Year title and finished second overall during the Oct. 27 season finale at Virginia International Raceway. Roquin Motorsports also fields owner-driver Rolando Quintanilla in the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series -- Usona Purcell, the owner of Dennis Firestone's 1984 Indianapolis 500 entry and co-owner of Andy Hillenburg's 2001 Indianapolis 500 entry, died Oct. 25 at age 72 in Vincennes, Ind. He is survived by his wife, Hilda -- Kelley Racing is featuring a different member of its crew in a feature every Thursday on its Web site, www.kelleyracing.com -- Kelley Racing also played host this week to four members and an advisor from the Future Farmers of America chapter from Caribou, Maine. The chapter was the state winner of the FFA Agricultural Mechanics competition and stopped to tour Kelley's shop, other Indy Racing shops in the Indianapolis area and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway en route to the national competition in Louisville, Ky.