IRL: Indy Racing weekly notebook 2002-12-19

Cheever hires Jones as team general manager; Fisher receives Italian award. INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2002 -- Max Jones, who has won numerous races and championships as a team manager for Roush Racing, has joined Red Bull Cheever Racing...

Cheever hires Jones as team general manager; Fisher receives Italian award.

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2002 -- Max Jones, who has won numerous races and championships as a team manager for Roush Racing, has joined Red Bull Cheever Racing as general manager, owner and driver Eddie Cheever Jr. announced Dec. 16.

As general manager, Jones will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of Red Bull Cheever Racing. He replaces Richard Caron, who served as general manager since the formation of the Indy Racing League team in 1997. Caron has been promoted within Cheever Group, the parent company of Red Bull Cheever Racing.

"Richard has been instrumental in the success of this race team, including our 1998 Indianapolis 500 victory," Cheever said. "It's time for him to take on new challenges in our growing organization.

"When Richard and I set out to hire a new general manager, we wanted someone dedicated to winning, and Max fits that mold to a tee. He is a proven winner, guiding a number of young drivers and mechanics to the winner's circle at Roush Racing. He will bring some new blood to this race team."

Jones has worked for Roush Racing since 1990. As general manager for Roush's IMSA, SCCA Trans Am and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' efforts, Jones is credited with 52 victories and five championships.

"Indy cars, especially the Indianapolis 500, is something I have always wanted to do, but only if I could be with a successful team," said Jones, a native of Long Beach, Calif. "I have followed Red Bull Cheever Racing for some time now, and the team has all the right pieces to win races and championships. I am very excited to get started."

Jones began his career in motorsports as a driver. His road-racing career included a victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1991, and victories at Topeka (1989) and Portland (1988) with the factory Chevrolet team. He also won the 1987 SCCA Sport Truck Championship and the 1986 IMSA Firestone Firehawk Championship.

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Fisher receives award in Italy: Indy Racing League standout Sarah Fisher recently received the prestigious Caschi D'Oro trophy by Italian magazine Autosprint, presented to the fastest female driver in the world.

2000 Indianapolis 500 winner and current Formula One star Juan Pablo Montoya received the award as the fastest male driver in the world, and former F1 and CART star Alex Zanardi received a special prize.

"It was a great honor for me to be invited to attend the award ceremony in Italy for Autosprint," Fisher said. "Caschi D'Oro means helmet of gold, and this is one of the most beautiful trophies I've ever seen."

Fisher traveled to Italy on behalf of her personal sponsor, TAG Heuer watches.

"It was also the first time I'd ever been to Italy, and the TAG Heuer staff gave me an insider's look at Milan and Bologna and all the history of the country," Fisher said. "I can't wait to go back."

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Seat fitting: Track testing is a vital part of an Indy Racing driver's offseason, but drivers can't start testing a new chassis until they've had a seat fitting.

There's more to a seat fitting than meets the eye. Take Marlboro Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran, for example.

Both drivers had to travel to Penske Racing headquarters in Reading, Pa., to get fitted for their 2003 seats. The fitting process for Indy Racing car seats stems from technology borrowed from the NASA space program.

The seat is constructed by having the driver sit in a bag of soft plastic beads, which are mixed with a resin. The air is withdrawn from the bag and the beads weld together in the form of the driver in the seated position. The driver's comfort in the car is paramount, so it may take several sittings before the right design/mold is constructed into the actual seat.

The entire process takes about a day and a half. Once completed, Marlboro Team Penske will prepare three seats for each driver.

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McGehee to tie knot: Indy Racing League veteran Robby McGehee became engaged last weekend.

McGehee, a private pilot, flew to Bloomington, Ind., where his girlfriend, Norma Oteham, lives. He took Oteham for a secret flight that ended up in Chicago.

Once on the ground, 1998 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year McGehee popped the question during dinner at the Everest restaurant on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange.

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Sharp on parade: 1996 Indy Racing League co-champion Scott Sharp will serve as the grand marshal of the daily parade through the Magic Kingdom on Dec. 20 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

Sharp also will sign autographs that day at Tomorrowland Indy Speedway at the Magic Kingdom.

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