IRL: IRL Notebook 2000-03-02

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, March 2, 2000 - Northern Light Indy Racing Series standout Al Unser Jr. will appear with his daughter Cody during a segment of the news-magazine show "48 Hours" on March 2 on CBS. Al and Cody Unser will...

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, March 2, 2000 - Northern Light Indy Racing Series standout Al Unser Jr. will appear with his daughter Cody during a segment of the news-magazine show "48 Hours" on March 2 on CBS. Al and Cody Unser will talk about transverse myelitis, the rare virus that struck 13-year-old Cody last year and created paralysis. The show starts at 10 p.m. (EST/PST). CBS followed Cody literally coast to coast from mid-January through mid-February. The production crew first met Cody Jan. 18 in Baltimore for her visit and medical evaluation at the Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center, where Dr. Doug Kerr directs the country's only center dedicated to TM research. Two weeks later, CBS News correspondent Troy Roberts and producer Chuck Stevenson met Cody and her family at home in Albuquerque, N.M. That trip included a visit Feb. 4 to the New Mexico State Legislature in Santa Fe where Cody received a proclamation from the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Raymond Sanchez, honoring her courage and creation of the Cody Unser First Step Foundation. Cody received that honor almost a year to the day after TM struck her during sixth-grade basketball practice on the evening of Feb. 5, 1999. CBS next caught up with Cody's father, Al Unser Jr., Feb. 10 at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., where Cody was cheering on her 17-year-old brother Al's competition at the renowned Jim Russell Racing School. The next day, Cody was fit for a new wheelchair at Quickie, a custom wheelchair manufacturer in Fresno, Calif.

TM is a rare but crippling condition created when, it is believed, viruses attack the spinal cord and shut down neural impulses. The resulting paralysis and physical dysfunction is typically located below the site of the viral attack, which in Cody's case occurred near the base of her shoulder blades.

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USAC stars get another shot: The Pennzoil Panther Racing Team will offer Indy Racing League rookie tests to USAC short-track standouts Dave Darland, Russ Gamester and Jerry Coons, Jr. on March 22-24 at Texas Motor Speedway. Bad weather forced a postponement of the tests, originally scheduled late last year. The three drivers are expected to have an opportunity to take to the 1.5-mile Texas oval March 22-23 during pauses in the Firestone testing sessions, then have the entire day March 24 as part of a scheduled Pennzoil Panther test. All three drivers will test in the 1999 G Force/Aurora car that Panther driver Scott Goodyear drove to victory last June at Texas. Another new job for Hamilton: Northern Light Indy Racing Series standout Davey Hamilton found a new job this week when he was signed as a driver for TeamXtreme. Hamilton also will moonlight March 3 at a slightly less conventional job: He will drive the Zamboni ice-cleaning machine during the Phoenix Coyotes-Dallas Stars NHL game at America West Arena in Phoenix. The interesting side gig for Hamilton is part of the promotional activity leading up to the MCI WorldCom Indy 200 on March 19 at Phoenix International Raceway.

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Ganassi test schedule: The Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Team plans three test sessions of its Indy Racing League equipment before team drivers Jimmy Vasser and Juan Montoya begin practice for the Indianapolis 500 on May 13, team manager Andy Graves said. The team plans to test its G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone cars March 29-30 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, at the Indianapolis 500 Open Test April 10-11 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and again May 2-3 at Indianapolis, Graves said. It will be a tight schedule for the team, due to its CART commitments at races March 26 at Homestead, Fla., April 9 at Nazareth, Pa., and April 30 at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

*** Hot laps: Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. will be featured in radio and television commercials this summer to promote The Belterra Resort Indy 300 on Aug. 27, the inaugural Indy Racing event at Kentucky Speedway ... Tommy Constantine, one of the partners in Galles ECR Racing, has signed with Primus Racing to compete this season in the U.S. F2000 National Championship presented by Speedvision. Constantine competed last year as a U.S. F2000 rookie with Transatlantic Racing and Key Motorsports. Galles ECR Racing fields the car driven in the Northern Light Indy Racing Series by two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. kk

-IRL/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Davey Hamilton , Scott Goodyear , Jimmy Vasser , Chip Ganassi , Russ Gamester , Jerry Coons , Tommy Constantine
Teams Panther Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing