IRL: Notebook 2002-03-07

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, March 7, 2002 - The live ABC broadcast of the first Indy Racing League event of the 2002 season, the 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami on March 2, delivered a 1.5 national rating, nearly double that of the .8 rating the...

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, March 7, 2002 - The live ABC broadcast of the first Indy Racing League event of the 2002 season, the 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami on March 2, delivered a 1.5 national rating, nearly double that of the .8 rating the same event earned in 2001.

The share of households tuning in the race doubled from a 2 to a 4 share.

"This rating shows important growth for the Indy Racing League," said Buddy McAtee, Indy Racing League assistant vice president of broadcasting. "Also very important were a doubling of men 18-49 and an 83 percent increase in men 25-54 watching the broadcast."

McAtee also noted the strong performance of the 2002 ABC broadcasting team of Bob Jenkins, Paul Page, Scott Goodyear, Gary Gerould and Jack Arute.

"We have received a lot of positive fan feedback about everybody on the broadcast, and we are especially pleased with Scott Goodyear's ability after having moved from the race car to the race broadcast," McAtee said.

Also noted was how the final 1.5 national rating matched the overnight rating from 49 metered markets.

"The usual pattern for overnight ratings as it pertains to Indy-style racing is for the final rating to drop off as the smaller markets come in," McAtee said. "The ability to hold the overnight shows our growing strength in grassroots America."

Ten of the 15 Indy Racing League events this year will be televised on ABC, with five on the ESPN networks. Every race broadcast is live.

The next Indy Racing League event, the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200, will be televised live at 4 p.m. (EST) Sunday, March 17 on ABC.

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Cheever takes Scheckter to school: Class was in session this week for Indy Racing League rookie Tomas Scheckter after he collided with his boss and Red Bull Cheever Racing teammate, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr., on Lap 3 of the 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami on March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The wreck ended Cheever's day against the wall while Scheckter went on to finish sixth.

The teacher for Scheckter's special lessons? Cheever.

"My first reaction as a race car driver was to jump out of the car and use the Foyt technique of driver development - grab him and pound some sense into him," Cheever said of Scheckter. "But that approach never had a long-lasting effect on me.

"Instead, we spent two days after the race, some of which were awkward, going through the differences between road racing and oval racing with Tomas. Tomas is very talented, and we expect nothing less than flawless execution from him every weekend. He needs to understand that the races are won in the last 20 laps, not the first three. I hope that we have successfully drilled this into his head."

Scheckter, 21-year-old son of 1979 Formula One World Champion Jody Scheckter, made his first oval-racing start at Homestead-Miami after competing successfully in European road racing.

"Eddie and I discussed the accident I started on the third lap of the Homestead race at length and reviewed the ABC race footage, as well," Scheckter said. "I realized that the road-racing techniques I was using definitely do not apply to oval racing. I learned a valuable lesson in Miami that will help me to become a stronger oval racing driver.

"I will go to Phoenix with a different approach altogether."

Cheever hopes the lesson is learned by Scheckter entering the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 on March 17 at Phoenix International Raceway. Scheckter was among the fastest drivers during the Indy Racing League Open Test on Feb. 8-9 at PIR.

"If we execute better than we did last weekend, I see both of our cars being a threat for a podium finish," Cheever said.

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IRL drivers participating in charity auction: A Pennzoil Panther racing helmet autographed by 2001 Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr., and other autographed memorabilia from many IRL drivers will be among the items up for auction during the Phoenix International Raceway Speedfest For Friendship Silent Auction for Charity at 7 p.m. (MST) March 14 at Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix.

Proceeds will benefit Best Buddies Arizona, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of children with developmental disabilities by matching them into friendships with student volunteers.

Other items available during the silent auction include a Muhammad Ali boxing glove and a book signed by television personality Maria Shriver.

Panther Racing also will play host to a VIP Party with Hornish at 11 a.m. (MST) March 17 during the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.

Guests who make a $600, tax-deductible contribution to Best Buddies Arizona will receive two pit passes, a pit tour, lunch for two with Hornish at the Panther hospitality area, two race tickets, Panther Racing memorabilia signed by Hornish and two Best Buddies gift bags.

For information on both events, call Best Buddies at (602) 954-3877.

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Unser award to benefit March of Dimes: Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. will receive a Dodge National Athletic Award to benefit the March of Dimes during a ceremony March 12 at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.

The ceremony raises money in support of March of Dimes efforts to save babies through research, community service, advocacy and education. Dodge has been the title sponsor of the National Athletic Awards for 14 years.

Fox Sports broadcaster James Brown will play host to the ceremony.

Other honorees include Detroit Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman, former NBA all-star Sean Elliott, college football star Andre Davis, Pro Bowl running back Marshall Faulk, former Olympic skating champion Scott Hamilton and Jim Shea, who won the gold medal for the United States in the skeleton competition at the Winter Olympics last month in Salt Lake City.

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Hot laps: Indy Racing League standout Robbie Buhl will visit patients at Phoenix Children's Hospital at 10 a.m. (MST) March 14 as part of his work as national spokesperson for Racing For Kids. Buhl will race in the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 on March 17 at Phoenix International Raceway ... Blair Racing has an Arizona connection heading into the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 on March 17 at Phoenix International Raceway. Team engineer John Dick is a Phoenix native and watched many open-wheel races at PIR while growing up in the "Valley of the Sun."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Scott Goodyear , Sam Hornis
Teams Panther Racing