CASTRONEVES TYING THE KNOT

While things on the track may have slowed down a bit for Helio Castroneves during the off-season; his life off of it has been just the opposite. This past weekend, the 31 year-old Brazilian was in his native country to announce some very important news about his personal life.

The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner traveled to Brazil to tell his family and friends that he is engaged to Aliette Vazquez, his girlfriend of five and a half years. A November 2007 wedding in Miami is planned.

Castroneves proposed over the Thanksgiving holiday and played it by the book the entire way. Before he popped the question to Aliette, a Miami resident, he did the right thing by making sure he had her father's blessing. Castroneves took the time to check with dad and make sure he supported the couple before proposing to the bride-to-be.

Castroneves also selected the perfect engagement ring to blend the Brazilian and American cultures. It's a tradition in Brazil to propose with a simple wedding band rather than one with diamonds as is customary in the United States. In order to create a compromise, Castroneves selected a band of diamonds and meshed the two cultures together.

"I'm so happy, I just can't put it into words," said Castroneves. "Ali has been a special part of my life for so long and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with her. She's been so supportive of me on the track and I am just so excited to start our new life together."

TOM GERMAN NAMED TECHNICAL DIRECTOR OF PENSKE RACING, INC.

Long-time Penske Racing engineer Tom German has been named Technical Director of Penske Racing, Inc. German, who joined Penske Racing in 1997, has been race engineer for the #6 team since 2000 when he worked with two-time CART Champion and 2003 Indianapolis 500-mile race winner Gil de Ferran. He will continue as race engineer for three-time IndyCar Series Champion and 2006 Indianapolis 500-mile race winner Sam Hornish, Jr.

As race engineer, German guided the #6 team to 16 wins, including two Indianapolis 500-mile race victories, 22 pole positions and three championships.

"I'm looking forward to continually improving our competitive position in the IndyCar Series as Technical Director of Penske Racing, Inc." said German. "I think that the 2007 season will be a challenge, but we certainly have the right people in place to meet our goals next year."

CASTRONEVES JUST MISSES CHAMPIONSHIP

Helio Castroneves' final chance at a 2006 Championship fell short this past weekend when his Brazilian Stock Car Team encountered difficulties in the final race of the season in Sao Paulo, Brazil. NasrCastroneves Racing driver Hoover Orsi entered the race in second place in the point standings, but was involved in an early race incident that left him unable to finish. As a result, Orsi placed third in the final season standings, a position familiar to Castroneves, who also finished third in the IndyCar Series Championship battle.

"Obviously, we hoped that we could come away with the Title, but it just wasn't meant to be. Sometimes you get caught up in situations you can't avoid, and that's just racing. I've had my fair share of them during my racing career," Castroneves said. "Overall, we had a great season, and just like the IndyCar Team, we'll be back next year and I hope to come away with both Championships."

Castroneves wasn't limited to Team duties during his trip to Brazil for the race. He also provided commentary for the TV network O Globo for the third time this season. In addition, Castroneves and his Team were featured in a show for TV Record (Brazilian TV network), which documented his day at the race and his involvement with the Team.

HORNISH JR. TO SPEAK AT FUNDRAISER

On December 22nd, the Eagles of Defiance will be hosting a fundraising event for the Defiance Senior Center building fund (an estimated $3.5 million project).

The evening will honor local racers and feature Sam Hornish Jr., who has given his time and money to the Defiance Senior Center building fund, as a guest speaker.

The event will also have 50/50 drawings, as well as live and silent auctions in hopes of raising $25,000 for the Defiance Senior Center building fund.

-credit: mtp