IRL: Notebook 2002-11-21

Indy Racing notebook Red Bull Cheever thrills extreme athletes; Penske crew to battle in 'Junkyard' INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2002 -- It takes a lot to provide a thrill to extreme-sports athletes, but 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie ...

Indy Racing notebook
Red Bull Cheever thrills extreme athletes; Penske crew to battle in 'Junkyard'

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2002 -- It takes a lot to provide a thrill to extreme-sports athletes, but 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever and Red Bull Cheever Racing had just the right equipment for the job: a 650-horsepower Indy Racing League car.

Red Bull Cheever Racing played host to 65 Red Bull-sponsored extreme athletes for two days earlier this month at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, putting them behind the wheel of the team's IRL car.

"Driving the Indy car was probably the best thing and biggest rush I've ever had," bullfighter Don "Hollywood" Yates said. "I thought skydiving was cool, but this was just incredible. I want to give up fighting bulls now and become a racer.

"For Eddie and the whole gang to do this is great. I will live it for the rest of my life."

Athletes including two-time Ironman world champion Tim Deboom, X Games FMX step-up gold medalist Tommy Clowers and hang-gliding world champion Kari Kastle were invited to a total motorsports driving experience. In addition to driving the Red Bull Cheever Racing IRL car on a half-mile simulated oval, the athletes honed their driving skills on autocross, skid pad and rally courses organized by the Derek Daly Performance Driving Academy. They also drove smaller open-wheel formula cars on an oval and road-course setup.

"It was one of the most unique experiences in my life to have so many athletes, all the best in their categories, all in one place," Cheever said. "Our relationship with Red Bull began just a year ago, and we are pleased to be able to introduce our program to the family of Red Bull athletes."

Cheever driver Buddy Rice has been a Red Bull athlete since 1998, four years before he made his debut with Red Bull Cheever Racing last July. He was thrilled to show off his sport to his Red Bull pals.

"Every year Red Bull gets all the athletes together," Rice said. "This year was neat because my sport was in the spotlight. Not too many people get to drive an Indy car, so this was a rare opportunity for them. Everyone had a great time."

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Penske to battle in 'Junkyard:' Penske Racing will represent the Indy Racing League in a special pit crew challenge Nov. 19-22 at Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale, Calif., that will be taped for an upcoming episode of the program "Junkyard Wars" on The Learning Channel (TLC).

Crew members will build race cars from old car parts and junkyard scraps and will contest their creations on a drag strip, road course and half-mile oval to determine which team can conquer three different forms of motorsports.

TLC will tape a two-hour special for their weekly Emmy-nominated series, "Junkyard Wars," to air in spring 2003. "Junkyard Wars" gives fabrication teams 10 hours to create the most successful contraption to complete specified tasks with parts they locate and recover out of a junkyard.

The first three days of the competition will take place at the "Junkyard Wars" set in Sun Valley, Calif. Starting Nov. 19, teams will scavenge for parts and collect them to build and test their creations Nov. 20. The final safety check occurs on Nov. 21.

Teams will compete against each other in two different one-eighth-mile drag races and a one-third mile road course for points to be applied to determine the team's starting position during the race on the Irwindale Speedway half-mile oval. All four team members will serve as drivers in the four different races.

The team winning the oval race will be declared the overall competition winner. Penske's team will be called "The Indy Idols." Representing NHRA drag racing is a crew from Don Prudhomme Racing, called "The Hot Rod Heroes." Rounding out the teams is a crew from Penske Racing South's NASCAR Winston Cup team, called "The Stock Car Stars."

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CARA, Autoweek team up for auction: As the holiday gift-giving season approaches, many unique motorsports items will be available in the annual CARA Charities/Autoweek auction.

A variety of auto racing memorabilia, including driver uniforms, special paintings and specially autographed, one-of-a-kind souvenirs, will be up for auction. All proceeds from the items will go to charity.

Two Indy Racing League-related collectibles are among the 13 auction items: A die-cast roadster signed by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt and a framed picture with a ticket from each 2001 Indy Racing League event, signed by the winner of that race.

These special auction items will be featured on page 64 (inside back page) of the Nov. 25 edition of Autoweek magazine.

The auction opens this week, and racing fans will have until noon (EST) Friday, Dec. 6, to send in their bids for the racing items. Participants may e-mail their bids to Autoweek at mbharris@crain.com or fax them to (313) 446-1027. Autoweek will contact the winning bidders, and a certified check (made to CARA) must be sent by Dec. 11. If the money is not received by the deadline, the next-highest bid will win.

Autoweek and CARA Charities will pay for postage and handling of the gifts.

For further information, contact the CARA Charities office at (317) 299-2277.

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Hornish eager for rest: Two-time Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr. is ready for a break after the first six weeks of his "offseason" have been nearly as busy as his racing schedule during the season.

Hornish has stayed hopping with promotional and sponsor appearances and testing, including the Indy Racing League's first test at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan earlier this month.

"I'm ready for some time off," Hornish said. "The offseason is the busiest part of the year. You make the most appearances, you do the testing, and you don't get to do the fun part, that's race.

"I'm pretty anxious for early March to come around and get back out there racing."

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Hornish tops ESPN 'Who's Hot' rankings: Defending IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr. ended the racing season atop the RPM.ESPN.com "Who's Hot" rankings, which uses a formula to attempt to rank the hottest current performers in all forms of racing.

Hornish ended the season with 52.25 points, largely based on his victories in the final two races of the IRL season, in September at Chicagoland and Texas. Ferrari teammates Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello finished tied for second at 51.25, with NASCAR Winston Cup star Kurt Busch fourth at 46.

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Hot laps: Walt Michner, owner or co-owner of Indianapolis 500 entries from 1965-72, died this week. Johnny Rutherford qualified for the front row of the 1970 Indianapolis 500 in a car fielded by Michner and his son Joe. Walt Michner's grandson, Andy Michner, is an IRL veteran -- Two-time IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr. is one of five nominees for the Al Holbert Memorial Driver of the Year Award, presented annually by the Eastern Motorsport Press Association. The other nominees are NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Angelle Savoie, World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser and ARCA RE/MAX series champion Frank Kimmel. The award will be presented at the annual EMPA convention Jan. 17-19 in Trevose, Pa. -- Season tickets for the 2003 Nashville Superspeedway schedule went on sale Nov. 20. The third annual Firestone Indy 225, scheduled for July 19, is part of the package -- IRL drivers Robbie Buhl and Sarah Fisher will help raise money for the Racing For Kids charity and a Detroit-area children's center Nov. 21 during "Robbie Buhl's Go-Kart Challenge" at KART 2 KART in Sterling Heights, Mich. There will be a silent auction featuring 2003 IRL race packages and racing memorabilia. Buhl, a native of the Detroit area, is in his 13th year as national spokesperson for Racing For Kids.

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