INDIANAPOLIS 500 NOTEBOOK
Wheldon nominated for three awards; Rice to race in Baja 1000 off-road classic

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2005 -- 2005 Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon recently was nominated for three awards on two continents.

Wheldon, who also won the IRL IndyCar® Series championship this season, was one of eight drivers nominated for Speed Channel's Driver of the Year award presented by Gillette M3 Power Nitro for the fourth quarter. English native Wheldon also received nominations for International Racing Driver of the Year and British Competition Driver of the Year by Autosport, a leading British motorsports publication.

A panel of 18 leading journalists from across the U.S. and a fan vote on speedtv.com will decide the Driver of the Year for the fourth quarter. Wheldon won the award in the second quarter, making him eligible for overall Driver of the Year honors.

Other drivers nominated for fourth-quarter honors were Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner Tony Stewart and fellow NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Mark Martin, Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais, World of Outlaws star Steve Kinser and NHRA Top Fuel standout Tony Schumacher.

The winners of the annual Autosport Awards will be announced Sunday, Dec. 4 in London.

Other nominees in the International Racing Driver of the Year category include 2005 Formula One champion Fernando Alonso, 2005 Formula One runner-up Kimi Raikkonen and 2005 Le Mans 24 Hours champion Tom Kristensen. British Competition Driver of the Year nominees include Formula One star Jenson Button, DTM driver Gary Paffett and World Touring Car Championship driver Andy Priaulx.

Wheldon won the 89th Indianapolis 500 after a thrilling late-race duel with Danica Patrick. It was one of his season-record six victories for Andretti-Green Racing in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

***

Rice eager for desert classic: 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice is heading to the Mexican desert this week to compete in the 38th annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 off-road race.

Rice, from Phoenix, will team up with Cameron Steele in an 800-horsepower Trophy Truck against 31 other trucks in the division. Steele has served as a pit reporter on ESPN2 telecasts of Menards Infiniti Pro Series^Ù races the last two seasons.

The Baja 1000, one of the world's most prestigious off-road races, starts Thursday, Nov. 17 in Ensenada, Mexico, and ends Sunday, Nov. 20 in Ensenada. The course through the Baja California section of Mexico encompasses approximately 709 miles of rough desert terrain.

Rice, Steele and the rest of the Trophy Truck competitors start Friday, Nov. 18.

"I have been looking forward to racing in the Baja 1000 for many years," Rice said. "We almost had it put together last year, but there were many things that came up after winning Indy. This year, Cameron asked me again if I would be interested in racing with him. And I was able to jump at the opportunity.

"I am anxious to get the chance to race in one of the greatest races in the world. It should be an excellent experience, very similar to racing in the Indianapolis 500."

This will be the third type of vehicle that the versatile Rice has driven in the last month. He finished the IRL IndyCar Series season Oct. 16 at California Speedway in his No. 15 Rahal Letterman Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone and drove a stock car in the Crown Royal IROC finale Oct. 29 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

"I had to learn a lot of things on drive a truck as opposed to an Indy car or the IROC stock car that I just drove in Atlanta," Rice said. "But Cameron's truck is a great piece of machinery, and it is amazing how the truck handles. It will be a different experience for me."

Steele won the Class 1-2 1600cc in the 2003 Baja 1000 before moving to the elite Trophy Truck division in 2004.

***

Indy 500 veterans 1-2 in Masters: Indianapolis 500 veterans Nigel Mansell and Emerson Fittipaldi finished first and second, respectively, in the inaugural Grand Prix Masters race Nov. 13 at the Kyalami circuit in South Africa.

1993 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Mansell edged 1989 and 1993 Indy winner Fittipaldi by .408 of a second. The two drivers battled for the lead in the late stages of the 1993 Indianapolis 500, with Fittipaldi prevailing after passing Mansell on a restart with 15 laps remaining.

1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. finished eighth at Kyalami, prevailing by just one-half second over Jan Lammers in a race for position. Indy 500 veterans Eliseo Salazar and Stefan Johansson finished 10th and 14th, respectively.

Grand Prix Masters drivers compete in single-seat cars designed and built by Delta Motorsport. The cars are powered by a 3.5-liter V8 Nicholson McLaren Cosworth engine generating more than 600 horsepower.

***

Indy 500 tickets on sale Nov. 18: Tickets will go on sale to the general public Friday, Nov. 18 for the 2006 Indianapolis 500, the historic 90th running of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

All fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.

Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday, while online orders can be made at any time. Ticket prices start at just $20.

-ims