IRL: February 22 notebook

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2001 -Legendary Formula One team owner Sir Frank Williams recently praised Sam Schmidt for starting a new Indy Racing Northern Light Series team. Schmidt announced the formation of Sam Schmidt Motorsports...

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2001 -Legendary Formula One team owner Sir Frank Williams recently praised Sam Schmidt for starting a new Indy Racing Northern Light Series team. Schmidt announced the formation of Sam Schmidt Motorsports on Feb. 9 at Phoenix. The team plans to field a car at all 13 Indy Racing Northern Light Series events this season. A driver and sponsors will be announced soon. "I am delighted that Sam Schmidt has decided to return to motor racing," Williams said. "In these new circumstances, Sam will be able to channel his love for motor racing in a new direction which, most importantly, will consume and tax his mind and at all times give him a great deal to think about. "Given his obvious determination, I am sure that success will come his way and provide him with an appropriate reward for his efforts. I surely wish him all the luck. I will personally be following him. His career was great, and what he's doing is of great interest." Schmidt remains paralyzed from the shoulders down after an Indy Racing testing accident in January 2000. Williams remains paralyzed after a passenger-car accident in the 1980s. The pair met for the first time during the SAP United States Grand Prix last September at Indianapolis. Williams' Formula One team has won the World Constructors Championship nine times since its debut in 1973. Only Ferrari, which debuted in 1950, has more titles, with 10.

*** Testing time: Twelve drivers are scheduled to participate in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series Open Test Feb. 23-24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and the pace of private testing will pick up thereafter. Kelley Racing drivers Scott Sharp and Mark Dismore will test Feb. 24-26 at Phoenix International Raceway, site of the season-opening Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 on March 18. Shigeaki Hattori and Cunningham Racing will join Sharp and Dismore Feb. 25-26 at Phoenix. Phoenix will stay busy all next week. Team Menard driver Greg Ray will test on the 1-mile desert oval Feb. 27-March 2, while Team Penske is scheduled to prepare for its Northern Light Series debut with testing March 1-2 at Phoenix. The Galles Racing trio of Al Unser Jr. and rookies Didier Andre and Casey Mears will test Feb. 25-26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

*** On the road: Upcoming appearances by Indy Racing cars:
*Feb. 23-24: An Excite@Home Indy Racing car will be on display at the Media Center during the Indy Racing Northern Light Series Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The car also will be on display at Gate 3 during the Open House on Feb. 24 at the track.
*Feb. 23-25: A Coors Light Indy Racing car will be on display at the Virginia International Auto Show in Richmond, Va.
*Feb. 23-25: A Pennzoil Indy Racing car will be on display at the Apache Junction Lost Days Rodeo in Phoenix.
*Feb. 24: A Delta Faucet/Coors Light/Tae-Bo Indy Racing car will be on display at the SFX Motorsports Supercross event in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
*Feb. 24: A Team Menard Indy Racing car will be on a float in the Soulard Mardi Gras Parade in St. Louis.
*Feb. 28-March 1: An Excite@Home Indy Racing car will be on display at the AAAA Media Conference and Trade Show in New Orleans.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Al Unser Jr. , Shigeaki Hattori , Didier André , Scott Sharp , Mark Dismore , Sam Schmidt , Frank Williams
Teams Williams , Team Penske