IRL: Indy Racing League notebook 2004-06-21

Indy Racing League News and Notes -- June 21, 2004 Today's IRL headlines 1. Wheldon To Race Fighter Jet 2. IRL drivers, owners visit F1 paddock 3. Taylor enjoys experience at USGP 4. New Start Time For SunTrust Indy Challenge 1. Wheldon To...

Indy Racing League News and Notes -- June 21, 2004

Today's IRL headlines
1. Wheldon To Race Fighter Jet
2. IRL drivers, owners visit F1 paddock
3. Taylor enjoys experience at USGP
4. New Start Time For SunTrust Indy Challenge

1. Wheldon To Race Fighter Jet: IRL IndyCar® Series star Dan Wheldon has faced some tough competition in his career as a racecar driver.

But he has never met the competition he'll face on June 22.

Wheldon, who is second in the IndyCar Series points standings, will race veteran fighter pilot Maj. Bret "Slam"Anderson's F-15 Eagle at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

"Both are state-of-the-art machines," Wheldon said. "It is going to be very interesting to see who wins the race."

Anderson, who has more than 1,900 hours in the F-15 and flew 65 combat missions over Iraq, will race his jet from a runway 750 feet from Wheldon's car. An F-15 car can reach speeds up to 205 mph before taking off. Wheldon will drive a two-seat IndyCar Series car, which is capable of reaching 100 mph in less than three seconds.

"We're giving them a little advantage," Wheldon said. "We are going to race the two-seat version of the car which Jim Beam uses to promote its Drink Smart campaign. We're saving our Klein Tools/Jim Beam race car for the SunTrust Indy Challenge on Saturday night."

The event is part of the Englishman's visit to Langley Air Force Base. In addition to the race, Wheldon's car will be on display at the base commissary prior to the race.

***

2. IRL Drivers, Owners Visit F1 Paddock: Several IndyCar Series and Menards Infiniti Pro Series drivers took advantage of the off-weekend and visited the United States Grand Prix.

Among the IRL personalities visiting the F1 paddock were IndyCar Series drivers Felipe Giaffone, Dan Wheldon, Kosuke Matsuura and Menards Infiniti Pro Series drivers Thiago Medeiros and Phil Giebler.

"This is a great race to be at," Wheldon said. "I think any race at the (Indianapolis Motor) Speedway is good. The whole organization can put on an event. You look at the Indianapolis 500, the F1 race (United States Grand Prix) and the Brickyard (400). There all very enjoyable to be at, so I like it."

Giaffone played host to Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello at his Indianapolis home during the Grand Prix weekend. Giaffone and Barrichello are friends from their youth in their native Brazil. Giaffone, the 2001 IRL Rookie of the Year, visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with four childhood friends from Brazil.

"It's great for us to all get together," Giaffone said. "We've been friends since we were kids, and this is what it's all about. We all wanted to drive in F1 when we were younger, and in some ways, it's hard to be here as a spectator. But Rubens is, as usual, putting on a good show and carrying the flag for my fellow Brazilians. He had a good run so we're all pleased for him."

IRL IndyCar Series championship-winning team owner Chip Ganassi and Menards Infiniti Pro Series team owner Sam Schmidt also visited the paddock.

"It's totally weird for me, first of all, to be here and not be at a race and not own a car and be participating," Schmidt said. "This is just phenomenal. To see the technology, rpms and just the sheer stopping power. All the elements of Formula One are just unbelievable. It's just a great thing to see."

***

3. Taylor Enjoys Experience At USGP: IndyCar Series rookie Mark Taylor also took advantage of the off-weekend to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Taylor, driver of the No. 2 Menards Johns Manville Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone, was a guest competitor in the two Porsche Supercup races held in support of the United States Grand Prix.

"It's been good fun," said Taylor, the 2003 Menards Infiniti Pro Series champion. "That's the main thing. It's a completely new car to me. It's always good to experience something different. It will make me glad to get back into the IndyCar Series again. The extra downforce makes it a lot nicer."

***

4. New Start Time for SunTrust Indy Challenge: Officials with Richmond International Raceway announced June 19 that the SunTrust Indy Challenge will begin at 7:55 p.m. (EDT) on June 26. Fans attending the race are encouraged to arrive early.

"We want our fans to enjoy every minute of the SunTrust Indy Challenge," Richmond International Raceway President Doug Fritz said. "Five minutes may not sound like a lot, but IndyCar Series machines can top 170 mph at Richmond, which is about a 15-second lap. The green flag will fly at 7:55 p.m., so we are encouraging our fans to be in their seats early so they won't miss any of the action."

Coverage of the SunTrust Indy Challenge begins at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN2 and the IMS Radio Network.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Rubens Barrichello , Mark Taylor , Felipe Giaffone , Dan Wheldon , Sam Schmidt , Kosuke Matsuura , Chip Ganassi , Phil Giebler , Jim Beam , Thiago Medeiros