IRL: Indy Racing News and Notes 2004-12-08

Indy Racing News and Notes -- Dec. 8, 2004 Today's IRL headlines 1. Rice, Meira Sign Extensions With Rahal Letterman Racing 2. Rutherford auction to benefit Camp Fire USA 3. Kanaan Nominated For Economaki Award 1. Rice, Meira Sign Extensions...

Indy Racing News and Notes -- Dec. 8, 2004

Today's IRL headlines
1. Rice, Meira Sign Extensions With Rahal Letterman Racing
2. Rutherford auction to benefit Camp Fire USA
3. Kanaan Nominated For Economaki Award

1. Rice, Meira Sign Extensions With Rahal Letterman Racing: Buddy Rice and Vitor Meira will remain with Rahal Letterman Racing after the team announced on Dec. 8 multi-year contract extensions with both drivers.

Rice will continue to drive the No. 15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone, while Meira remains driver of the No. 17 Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone. They will be joined by newcomer Danica Patrick, who will drive the No. 16 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone in Rahal Letterman Racing's three-car IRL IndyCar® Series effort.

"This is a very exciting occasion for me," said Rice, who won three races in 2004, including the Indianapolis 500. "Last year, I came to Rahal Letterman Racing as a substitute driver and I had to work on a race-to-race basis. Now, I'm fired up for the future with Rahal Letterman Racing. We enjoyed a tremendous 2004 season. The team has a solid partnership with Argent, Pioneer and Honda, and that gives us a foundation to contend for the IRL IndyCar Series championship for years to come."

Meira finished eighth in the IndyCar Series in 2004, despite running two fewer events than the rest of the top-10 drivers. Sponsorship of the Meira's effort will be announced at a later date.

"I am thrilled to continue with Rahal Letterman Racing and to team with Buddy Rice and Danica Patrick," Meira said. "I am looking forward to having a full off-season to test the Honda/G-Force and prepare to run a full season effort. Last year was tough as I was adjusting to a new team and situation while focusing on a race weekend. Even with that extra burden we were still able to enjoy some success. As a team we have high expectations for this season, and I have some high expectations for myself."

2. Rutherford auction to benefit Camp Fire USA: Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford has donated the last of his collectible racing memorabilia for auction to support Camp Fire USA, one of the nation's leading not-for-profit youth development organizations.

One hundred percent of the final auction value will go to Camp Fire USA. Proceeds from the auction will help Camp Fire USA fulfill its mission to build caring, confident youth and future leaders, teaching America's youth to be considerate, productive members of their families, communities and country.

"My family and I have been involved with Camp Fire USA in Dallas/Fort Worth and nationally for many years," said Rutherford, who serves as pace car driver for IndyCar Series events. "I've seen firsthand the positive impact Camp Fire has on kids, their families and their communities, and I'm happy to be able to give racing fans and humanitarians the opportunity to own a piece of history while giving back to a great cause."

Among the Auction items are:

* Autographed Simpson driving gloves and driving shoes, worn by Rutherford in May 1994 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice laps;

* An autographed Pennzoil racing jacket and hat, worn by Rutherford immediately following his 1994 retirement from racing as he served as the auto racing consultant to Pennzoil Products;

* Autographed copy of "Lone Star J.R.: The Autobiography of Racing Legend Johnny Rutherford."

* A ride with Rutherford in the Indy Racing League pace car at winner's choice of seven tracks and two tickets, pit passes and garage passes to chosen the race during the 2005 season (tracks available include Phoenix International Raceway, Texas Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Nashville Superspeedway, Michigan International Speedway, Kentucky Speedway and Pikes Peak International Raceway).

The auction will be held on eBay beginning at 10 a.m. (EST) on Dec. 10, and runs through 1 a.m. (EST) Dec. 17. Auction items and bids can be made at www.ebay.com/campfireusa.

3. Kanaan Nominated For Economaki Award: 2004 IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan is a nominee for the Economaki Champion of Champions Award presented by Rockett Brand Racing Fuel, which recognizes the "best of the best" of the season's series champions.

The Economaki Champion of Champions Award is named in honor of Chris Economaki, who served as publisher of National Speed Sport News for more than 50 years. In addition to a 23-year run broadcasting races for ABC Sports, followed by 10 years with CBS. He now does occasional hosting for ESPN, SPEED Channel and other TV networks.

Other nominees include: Sebastien Bourdais, Champ Car; Kurt Busch, NASCAR Nextel Cup; Bobby East, USAC midgets; Greg Anderson, NHRA Pro Stock; Steve Kinser, World of Outlaws; Scott Bloomquist, World of Outlaws Late Models; Fred Rahmer, open wheel; Tony Schumacher, NHRA Top Fuel; and Martin Truex, Jr., NASCAR Busch Series.

The finalists are featured in the Dec. 8 issue of National Speed Sport News. The award presentation will take place on Dec. 9 during the 17th annual Performance Racing Industry trade show in Indianapolis.

***

The IRL IndyCar Series opens its 10th season of competition with the Toyota Indy 300 at 2 p.m. (EST) on March 6, 2005 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The 2005 Menards Infiniti Pro Series season also opens on March 6 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast by ESPN2 at 4 p.m. (EST) on March 17.

-irl-

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