IRL: notes from February 8

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2001 - Didier Andre, teammate of Al Unser Jr. and Casey Mears on the Galles Racing team, passed his Indy Racing rookie test Feb. 7 at Phoenix International Raceway. Andre, a native of Lyon, France,...

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2001 - Didier Andre, teammate of Al Unser Jr. and Casey Mears on the Galles Racing team, passed his Indy Racing rookie test Feb. 7 at Phoenix International Raceway. Andre, a native of Lyon, France, completed his test in 180 laps during windy conditions. "Today was a big learning day, especially since I haven't been in a car and on an oval since October of 1999," said Andre, a former Indy Lights driver. "Everyone was very helpful, and we really didn't do much with the car. "Practicing pit stops in this series is different from what I'm used to at places like Le Mans when you're in the pits for 45 seconds. I feel very confident after today and am looking forward to our next test at Homestead." Said Johnny Rutherford, who handles special projects for the Indy Racing League: "These weren't the most ideal conditions with the wind gusting. He was consistent. He still has a learning curve, but Phoenix hasn't been an easy place to run and negotiate. He's demonstrated that he's ready to take advantage of the opportunity and get some seat time."

Jason Priestley Priestley takes Kelley car for a drive: Actor Jason Priestley drove an Indy Racing car Feb. 5 at Homestead-Miami Speedway as part of a Sponsor Ride & Drive program provided by Kelley Racing. "This is great," Priestley said. "I'm starting to feel it now. I like these cars." Priestley, an auto racing fan, is best known for his role as Brandon Walsh on the hit television series "Beverly Hills 90210." Participants in the program first listened to instructions from Kelley Racing drivers Scott Sharp and Mark Dismore before donning a racing suit, helmet and other safety equipment. Then each participant climbed into an Indy Racing car and followed Sharp or Dismore, in another Indy Racing car, one-by-one around the track. Sharp and Dismore kept in constant radio contact with the program participants as they drove around the 1.5-mile oval. More than 800 miles were logged on four Kelley Racing cars during the Ride & Drive. Other participants in the program included team owners 82-year-old Jim Kelley and his son, Tom Kelley; team engineers Jeff Britton and Eric Bretzman; and Priestley's guest, Naomi Lowde, an artist from London who is drawing illustrations for a children's book written by actress Teri Hatcher.

Scott Goodyear Goodyear takes stock in Daytona: Indy Racing Northern Light Series standout Scott Goodyear returned to Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 6 for more testing in a True Value IROC stock car as he prepares for the opening round of the all-star series Feb. 16 at Daytona. Goodyear tested with former Indy Racing champion Kenny Brack, who also is competing in IROC this season. "Just paint three big yellow stripes on me, I am the student here," Goodyear said. "But this is the most fun you could possibly have in a race car." Other Indy Racing Northern Light Series participants in the four-race series are Buddy Lazier, Eddie Cheever Jr. and Mark Dismore. Cody Unser honored Eighth-grader Cody Unser, daughter of Indy Racing Northern Light Series star Al Unser Jr., has been selected as New Mexico's top middle school volunteer in the 2001 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

The national recognition program is cosponsored by Prudential and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and honors outstanding community service by young Americans. The Prudential state award includes a silver medallion, $1,000 prize and trip May 5-8 to Washington, D.C., where 104 state honorees will gather. Ten state honorees then will receive national awards for $5,000 each. Since becoming paralyzed from the chest down in February 1999 due to a rare spinal cord inflammation known as Transverse Myelitis (TM), Cody Unser has helped mobilize a national battle against TM and helped generate support for spinal-cord injury research with her Cody Unser First Step Foundation. Hot Laps Indy Racing Northern Light Series rookie Casey Mears is writing a biweekly diary for CBS SportsLine. 1999 Indy Racing champion Greg Ray will sign autographs from 1-3 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Menards store in West Bend, Wis. Ray also will appear at the Menards store in Carpentersville, Ill., from 1-3 p.m. Feb. 18 to meet fans and sign autographs. Ray's Johns Manville Indy Racing car also will be on display at both stores during his appearances.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Casey Mears , Buddy Lazier , Didier André , Scott Sharp , Mark Dismore , Scott Goodyear , Kenny Brack , Jason Priestley , Johnny Rutherford , Al Unser