IRL: League Notebook 2000-01-21

Boat to drive for Team Pelfrey in Orlando; Hamilton to keep streak alive INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Jan. 21, 2000 - Indy Racing League veteran Billy Boat will drive for Team Pelfrey at the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway on Jan.

Boat to drive for Team Pelfrey in Orlando; Hamilton to keep streak alive

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Jan. 21, 2000 - Indy Racing League veteran Billy Boat will drive for Team Pelfrey at the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway on Jan. 29, team officials announced. Boat will drive the #81 Team Pelfrey Dallara/Aurora/Firestone in a one-race deal. Boat parted company during the offseason with team owner A.J. Foyt, for whom he drove full time in the Indy Racing League in 1998-99. "I think Billy's aspirations are to have his own team, but right now he wants to stay at the forefront of the series," said Team Pelfrey representative Ron Pelfrey. "Team Pelfrey could not be happier to have Billy 's knowledge and winning experience on our side. We look forward to a very successful race in Orlando." 1998 Indianapolis 500 pole winner Boat has also agreed to be a driver consultant for aspiring Pelfrey driver Sarah McCune, who may make her Indy Racing debut March 19 at Phoenix. If additional sponsorship contacts materialize, Pelfrey will run a second car at Phoenix for Boat, Pelfrey said.

The streak is alive: It appears that Indy Racing veteran Davey Hamilton will keep his streak intact as the only driver to start every race in the league's history, thanks to a recent deal struck with Sinden Racing Service. Hamilton will drive Spinal Conquest Dallara/Aurora/Firestone fielded by SRS in the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway on Jan. 29. If he qualifies, it will be his record 35th consecutive Indy Racing start. Galles ECR Racing owner Rick Galles helped Hamilton forge the deal with Sinden. Hamilton drove for Galles last season, but two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. returned to Galles for the 2000 season. "Basically, Rick and Sinden Racing funded this one race together," Hamilton said. "We have been looking for sponsorship for quite a few months now, and Rick really felt it was important to run at Orlando. He got together with (SRS co-owners) Jeff Sinden and Joe Kennedy and funded the thing. "Last year we came here at the last minute, and Sinden helped us with equipment and some manpower. Rick thought they did a great job and felt he could entrust our effort in them." Hamilton, from Las Vegas, finished fourth in the Indy Racing League point standings in 1999. He was league runner-up in the 1996-97 and 1998 seasons for two different teams. "Davey is a great driver, and I absolutely believe in his talent so I felt it was important to show my commitment to him," Galles said. "If we were able to help find money for Davey to run for the year under the Sinden team, I would be comfortable with that. Davey has been a key part of our racing program, and I just could not let that fall by the wayside." Galles' son, Jamie Galles, will serve as Hamilton's engineer during the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway. Spinal Conquest, a spinal-cord injury research foundation that was Galles' primary sponsor last season, will continue to provide primary support for Hamilton at Orlando. "I believe in Spinal Conquest, and I want to continue to support their efforts," Hamilton said. "If racing with a toll-free number on the side of my car will help get people like Sam Schmidt walking again, then I will do whatever I can to promote the cause." Scorecard: The Dallara and G Force chassis along with the Oldsmobile Aurora and Nissan Infiniti engines made their Indy Racing League debuts at Walt Disney World Speedway on Jan. 25, 1997. The year 2000 is upon us, and so is the Indy Racing League's annual season opener - the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway - on Jan. 29 at the 1-mile tri-oval situated just inside the entrance to the Magic Kingdom. Teams competing in the race will use newly designed chassis from Dallara, G Force and Riley & Scott as well as new 3.5-liter engines from Aurora and Infiniti. It's time to take a quick look back at how these racing machines and their powerplants fared over the initial three-year period of participation. Both the chassis and engines were developed for introduction at the 1997 Orlando race after turbo-charged Indy cars were used for the first five races of the new league. Engine-wise, the Aurora pushed the winning car throughout the 29 races the 4.0-liter, normally aspirated motor was used. But in the first Orlando race under the new regulations, Eddie Cheever Jr. won the rain-shortened event with an Aurora, while Mike Groff placed second with an Infiniti. Cheever also used a G Force chassis that day, as did the next two finishers. Scott Sharp brought the first Dallara home in fourth. Then in the next race in the desert at Phoenix, Jim Guthrie was a stunning winner driving a Dallara. That season G Force won five races, Dallara three. It switched to 8-3 favoring Dallara in 1998, and it was Dallara by a 7-3 count in 1999. The overall total goes to Dallara, 18-11. Arie Luyendyk won the 1997 Indy 500 with a G Force, but Cheever and Kenny Brack have taken the last two with Dallara chassis. Both Italian company Dallara and English firm G Force now consider building Indy Racing cars the primary part of their business. Dallara has built 73 chassis over the past three seasons. At the Delphi Indy 200, there will be 12 G Force chassis, 12 Dallaras and two Riley & Scotts. Riley & Scott is based in Indianapolis, but the chassis are being constructed at the Reynard shop in England. Sharp on Newman: Indy Racing League driver Scott Sharp was surprised to read that Academy Award-winning actor Paul Newman is going to drive in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in early February at age 74. Sharp, one of the top contenders for victory in the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway on Jan. 29, has known Newman for many years and been a racing teammate in the past. They both are from Connecticut, and Sharp's father, Bob, also raced with and against Newman. "Paul's really an excellent driver," said Scott Sharp, driver of the Delphi Automotive Systems-MCI WorldCom Dallara/Aurora/Firestone for Kelley Racing. "When we ran with each other, he was still in his mid-60s and he ran really competitively. I think if Paul had gotten into the sport at an earlier age there would have been no bounds where he could have gone. "He's really talented, very sensitive to changes in the car. He's not out there stomping on the gas, stomping on the brakes. He's very attuned to how the car goes through the corner and how he's driving the car." Newman had some bad luck in testing earlier this month, spinning his car into a tire barrier and suffering bruised ribs. He still intends to share the driving duties of a Porsche 996 GT3R with Gunner Jeannette, Michael Lauer and Michael Brockman. "I'm angry at myself," Newman said. "It was a stupid thing to do." The Rolex 24 at Daytona is scheduled at Daytona International Speedway the week after the Delphi Indy 200. McGehee pulling for Rams: Robby McGehee, 1999 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year, will carry a St. Louis Rams decal on his Energizer Advanced Formula-Energizer Motorsports G Force/Aurora/Firestone car next week at the Indy Racing League Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. It's McGehee's way of paying tribute to his hometown's NFL team that has reached the NFC Championship game Jan. 23 against Tampa Bay. McGehee, a big football fan, departed the Pennzoil Motorsports Show early last Sunday so he could watch the Rams play - and beat - the Minnesota Vikings. He affixed a Rams sticker on his car at Texas Motor Speedway last fall. Forberg dies: Carl Forberg, who drove in the 1951 Indy 500 and was father-in-law of long-time Indy car participant Pancho Carter, died Jan. 17 in Indianapolis. He was 88. Forberg drove midgets during the 1930s and 1940s and finished seventh in his only appearance at Indy. He later owned midget and sprint cars driven by such competitors as Johnny Parsons, Lee Kunzman, Billy Puterbaugh and Carter, among others. He and his wife, Emily, moved from their Michigan home to Indianapolis in 1992 so they could watch Dane and Cole Carter, sons of daughter Carla and Pancho, begin their racing careers. Donations may be made to the 500 Oldtimers Club. Also, Lorraine Swaim, who was one of the friendly greeters at the entrance to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum for many years, passed away Dec. 23. A native of Chicago, she was the trophy girl at the first USAC race ever held, an indoor midget race in 1955 at Fort Wayne, Ind. New arrival: Indy Racing League veteran Andy Michner and his wife, Lisa, welcomed their first child, Sarah McKenzie Michner, into the world Dec. 23. Sarah weighed 9 pounds, 11 ounces and was 22½ inches long. "I don't know where that came from," Michner said of Sarah's size. "I just keep saying it must be the water. Vitamins or something." Happy anniversary: Firestone is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year by sponsoring the Firestone "First at 100" Award at every Indy Racing League event. The highest-running driver in the field at the start of Lap 100 will receive a $10,000 bonus from Firestone at each race. Every Indy Racing League driver is racing on Firestone tires this season, as Goodyear withdrew from Indy Racing League and CART competition at the end of 1999. Promoted: Dick Jordan, hard-working public relations director for the United States Auto Club since 1968, has been promoted to vice president of news and communications for the organization. Jordan will be busy at Walt Disney World Speedway Jan. 29 handling publicity duties for the USAC Coors Silver Bullet race, companion race to the Indy Racing League Delphi Indy 200 feature event.

-IRL/IMS-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Billy Boat , Jim Guthrie , Kenny Brack , Sam Schmidt , Paul Newman , Michael Brockman , Johnny Parsons , Pancho Carter , Cole Carter , Sarah McCune , Jordan Dick , A.J. Foyt