IRL: Indy Racing Northern Light Series notebook 2001-03-08

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, March 8, 2001 - Steve Dunlap has been named chief mechanic and crew chief for Sam Schmidt Motorsports during the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series season. Veteran Davey Hamilton will drive for the team, which was ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, March 8, 2001 - Steve Dunlap has been named chief mechanic and crew chief for Sam Schmidt Motorsports during the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series season.

Veteran Davey Hamilton will drive for the team, which was formed last month by former Indy Racing standout Sam Schmidt. Dunlap spent more than 30 years as an engineer and supervisor with Ford Motor Company before beginning his Indy Racing career in 1996 with Pagan Racing. Dunlap joined LP Racing in 1998, working with Schmidt. LP Racing is handling technical aspects of Schmidt's team from its Lebanon, Ind., headquarters.

"I am a lifelong Hoosier, born and raised here in Indianapolis," Dunlap said. "My first (Indianapolis) 500 was in 1949. My relatives use to come up from Georgia with the big tower on the back of the pickup truck for the infield, and we would have the traditional family cabbage rolls while watching the race.

"So for me, I am grateful for the opportunity that (team manager) Larry Nash and Sam have given me to be on the front line of the sport ... to learn more and to be able to use some of my ideas."

Joining Nash and Dunlap are veteran tire man John Ehrie; mechanics Dan Rushing, Brian Barker, Mark Cepaitis, Ed Grace and Clint Cary; data engineer Marshall Pruett; transportation director Paul Lybrook; composite specialist Darrell Meador; and ace pit boss and fueler Bob Myer.

"This is a great opportunity for all of us," Nash said. "We all have something to prove, but I believe we also have the talent and with Sam, the resources to get the job done. All of us here at LP Racing are looking forward to working with Sam again and getting to know Davey and respect the talent he brings to the table. For us, it's all about performance."

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Guerrero entered at Phoenix: Zali Racing has fielded an entry for Indy Racing veteran Roberto Guerrero for the season-opening Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 on March 18 at Phoenix.

Guerrero will drive the #22 Zali Clothes/Zali Racing/Net Source Technology G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone, with Richard Moyer as chief mechanic. Guerrero has made 25 Indy Racing League starts. His last start came in The Belterra Resort Indy 300 last August at Kentucky Speedway.

In other Phoenix entry updates, Tri Star Motorsports has named Jon Herb as the driver of its Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone entry. Herb made one Indy Racing start last season.

Galles Racing rookie Didier Andre has been assigned car number 32.

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Tae-Bo steps up: Tae-Bo has expanded its involvement with Hemelgarn Racing to become the primary sponsor of the #91 Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone car driven this season by 2000 Northern Light Cup champion Buddy Lazier. Tae-Bo has been an associate sponsor for the past two seasons and has enjoyed successes alongside Lazier and the Hemelgarn team. "We are thrilled that Tae-Bo will remain part of the Hemelgarn team, not only as a sponsor but also through providing fitness training for our pit crew and drivers," team owner Ron Hemelgarn said. "Today, races are won in the pits. It is essential that our crew have strength, flexibility and endurance to deliver split-second pit stops to win races. Tae-Bo fitness training delivers the total package." Tae-Bo creator and martial arts master Billy Blanks revolutionized the fitness industry with his combination of Tae Kwon Do, boxing and high-energy dance music. In August 1998, the world was introduced to the Tae-Bo Infomercial and Tae-Bo Video Library. Ascending rapidly to the top of the charts, Tae-Bo became one of the best-selling workout videos of the last century. An international phenomenon, Tae-Bo is now available in 33 countries and 11 languages. "Tae-Bo is about overcoming obstacles and reaching your goals through mental strength, force of will and a winning spirit," said Tae-Bo's Paul A. Monea. "We believe that Hemelgarn Racing and Buddy Lazier demonstrate these same ideals in their pursuit of victory on the race track." Coors Light, Delta Faucet and Life Fitness remain as associate sponsors with the Tae-Bo/Hemelgarn team.

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Internet service becomes presenting sponsor in Miami: 123.com Americatel, an Internet service and portal designed especially for the U.S. Hispanic market, has been named presenting sponsor of the Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami on April 6-8 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the debut of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series in South Florida.

"This sponsor is another great addition for our event, which will be called the Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami presented by 123.com Americatel," said Curtis Gray, president of Homestead-Miami Speedway. "When you take America's top open-wheel teams and drivers in one of their final races before the Indianapolis 500, sponsored by two premier companies and combined with family-friendly pricing at our beautiful Speedway, it assures us that Homestead-Miami Speedway is the place to be on April 6-8."

As part of its commitment to creating ties with the Hispanic community, 123.com Americatel is promoting the participation of Hispanic drivers in this race and encouraging Hispanics to attend the race and its related activities. Northern Light Series standout Eliseo Salazar, a native of Chile, is working with 123.com Americatel in its efforts to build excitement for the race within the Hispanic community. "Indy racing is a thrilling sport that appeals to all cultures," Salazar said. "What we are trying to do is let Hispanics living in South Florida know that one of the most important races in the world takes place in our own backyard."

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Penske Auto Center to sponsor duo at Phoenix: Penske Auto Center will be the primary sponsor of the Penske Racing cars driven by Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves in the 2001 Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 on March 18 at Phoenix International Raceway. De Ferran and Castroneves will drive Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone cars fielded by Team Penske, owned by 10-time Indianapolis 500 winner Roger Penske.

"On behalf of our 4,000 associates at 650 Penske Auto Centers across the United States, we are thrilled to support Penske Racing," said Jim Wheat, president and CEO of Penske Auto Centers. "Gil and Helio are two of the top open-wheel racers in the world and key representatives of all Penske associates worldwide. We are proud to partner with the team and their reputation for quality, efficiency, performance and success.

"We look forward to a competitive run with Roger, Gil and Helio in Phoenix, which will position the team well for its return to the Indianapolis 500."

Penske Auto Centers operates more than 650 retail automotive service centers at Kmart locations throughout the U.S. and provides the highest quality auto preventative service for its customers.

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Dismore, Sharp join R.O.A.D team: Kelley Racing teammates Mark Dismore and Scott Sharp will be featured with representatives of seven Indianapolis-area police agencies on billboards and television and radio commercials to show their support of the new police initiative to Rub Out Aggressive Driving (R.O.A.D.).

The "R.O.A.D." Team was created by the Marion (Ind.) County Traffic Safety Partnership.

"We're all guilty of trying to squeeze too much into our days, rushing from one thing to the next and trying to make up the difference on the road," Sharp said. "But when you understand the dangers that can occur, you realize that how fast you get there really doesn't matter. I'm proud to be part of a campaign that reminds everyone of that." Said Dismore: "It's an honor to be a part of such an initiative that brings public attention to aggressive driving. I hope this campaign makes people think before something happens that can't be reversed."

The campaign is a six-month effort to reduce aggressive driving in Marion County and is funded by a $200,000 federal grant.

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Thunder in the Dome: Top USAC open-wheel drivers will compete in the Indy Racing and Indianapolis Motor Speedway present Thunder in the Dome XVII midget race March 10 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.

A driver autograph session, including Indy Racing standout Sarah Fisher, starts at 4 p.m., followed by live music.

Racing starts at 6:20 p.m. inside the RCA Dome.

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Cody's fight gains momentum: The home state of Cody Unser, daughter of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., recently joined a new national fight against transverse myelitis (TM).

The University of New Mexico became the first research hospital to join a national TM consortium organized by Dr. Doug Kerr, director of the Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center in Baltimore. Cody Unser, who suffers from TM, presented a check to Kerr for $20,000 from the Cody Unser First Step Foundation toward the 2001 International TM Symposium on July 12-15 in Baltimore. The national consortium will establish TM Centers of Excellence throughout the country and possibly internationally. Each center will collect clinical, serologic (fluids and tissue) and epidemiological data, which will be added to the consortium database. That information would then be available to all researchers in the consortium.

"When I got TM, I went to doctors, hospitals and physical therapists in different parts of the country," Cody Unser said. "Everyone had good ideas, but you could tell they were not talking to each other. Everyone had a piece of the puzzle, but nobody seemed to know what the puzzle was supposed to look like. Now everyone will have access to all the pieces. I hope the puzzle comes together. "If the last two years have been a nightmare, today is the day my dream begins."

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Hot laps: Defending Northern Light Cup champion Hemelgarn Racing will sponsor the USAC Sprint Car race July 13 at Toledo Speedway for the second consecutive year, with the winning driver earning an Indy Racing test session with the team ... Indy Racing rookie Casey Mears will extend his family's ties to team owner Rick Galles at the season-opening Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 on March 18. Casey will make his Northern Light Series debut in a car fielded by Galles, who also sponsored the Indy Racing debut of Mears' father, Roger, in 1978 at Ontario, Calif.

... Tickets.com outlets in the Cincinnati area recently began selling tickets for events at Kentucky Speedway, including The Belterra Resort Indy 300 on Aug. 12. Tickets.com outlets in the Cincinnati area include Meijer, Hader Hardware and Play It Again Sports stores. Tickets.com also sells Kentucky Speedway tickets at www.tickets.com ... Indy Racing standout Robbie Buhl will visit young patients at Phoenix Children's Hospital at 10 a.m. (MST) March 15 as part of his work as national spokesperson for Racing For Kids, a national charity that uses motorsports to bring attention and funding to the health-care needs of children.

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On the road: Upcoming appearances by Indy Racing drivers and cars:

*March 8-11: An Excite@Home Indy Racing car will be on display at the Fort Lauderdale Auto Show in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

*March 9: A Pennzoil Indy Racing car will be on display at the exhibition baseball game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies at Electric Park in Tucson, Ariz. Davey Hamilton will sign autographs from 6-7 p.m. The game starts at 7:05 p.m.

*March 9: Indy Racing driver Jimmy Kite will sign autographs with NASCAR Winston Cup driver Jerry Nadeau at 6:45 p.m. at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in Macon, Ga.

*March 9-11: A Johns Manville Indy Racing car will be on display in the Midway at Atlanta Motor Speedway during the NASCAR Winston Cup Series event at the track.

*March 10: A Delphi Indy Racing car and a Tae Bo/Hemelgarn Racing Indy Racing car will be on during USAC's "Thunder In The Dome" at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.

*March 10: A Pennzoil Indy Racing car will be on display at Tucson Raceway Park in Tucson, Ariz., during the NASCAR Winston West Series race. Davey Hamilton will sign autographs from 11 a.m.-noon. The car will then be on display from 6-8 p.m. at Hooters restaurant in Marana, Ariz., as part of "Hooters/KHIT-FM Night." Hamilton will sign autographs from 6-8 p.m.

*March 11: A Pennzoil Indy Racing car will be on display at America West Arena in Phoenix during the NBA game between the Phoenix Suns and the Houston Rockets.

*March 12: A Pennzoil Indy Racing car will be on display at the exhibition baseball game between the Milwaukee Brewers and California Angels at Maryvale Baseball Park in Maryvale, Ariz., as part of "Indy Racing Day." 1999 Indy Racing champion Greg Ray will throw out the first pitch.

-IRL

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jerry Nadeau , Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Al Unser Jr. , Jon Herb , Casey Mears , Robbie Buhl , Eliseo Salazar , Buddy Lazier , Davey Hamilton , Didier André , Scott Sharp , Mark Dismore , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Roberto Guerrero , Jimmy Kite , Sam Schmidt , Roger Penske
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske