IRL: weekly notebook 2000-10-31

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2000 - Tracy Hines, Derek Davidson and Kasey Kahne each earned upcoming Indy Racing League rookie tests with Panther Racing due to their success in United States Auto Club open-wheel competition this...

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2000 - Tracy Hines, Derek Davidson and Kasey Kahne each earned upcoming Indy Racing League rookie tests with Panther Racing due to their success in United States Auto Club open-wheel competition this season.

Hines, Davidson and Kahne will attempt to pass the rookie test Nov. 8-9 at Kentucky Speedway in the Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. The tests are part of a driver development program sponsored by Pennzoil and Panther Racing in which top USAC drivers are rewarded with Indy Racing rookie tests.

Hines, 28, from New Castle, Ind., clinched the USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series title by finishing second to Brian Tyler in the season-ending race Oct. 29 at Memphis, Tenn. Hines finished the season with 603 points while Dave Darland was second with 574.

Davidson, 28, from Lafayette, Ind., finished fifth in the final USAC Stoops Freightliner Sprint Car Series point standings this season. But three of the four drivers who finished ahead of him - Tony Elliott, Jay Drake, J.J. Yeley - already have passed their Indy Racing rookie test. The fourth driver, Hines, will join Davidson at the Kentucky test. Kahne, 20, from Enumclaw, Wash., leads the USAC MCI WorldCom Midget Car Series standings with 1,117 points with just two races remaining.

***

Ouch: No, this isn't a Halloween tale: New Pennzoil Panther Racing driver Sam Hornish Jr. is on the mend after spending time in an Ohio hospital last week due to a spider bite. A spider bit Hornish on his thigh Oct. 24. Shortly thereafter, Hornish started to feel severe pain in his leg that made walking a struggle. So the next day Hornish visited the emergency room at the hospital near his home in Defiance, Ohio. Hornish, 21, was admitted to the hospital and stayed there for four days, through Oct. 28. Hornish then participated in a Pennzoil golf outing and flew to Las Vegas to tour the SEMA Show, a huge automotive and racing trade show. Hornish remains on antibiotics to combat the effects of the bite. *** Galles to unveil 2001 package: Galles Racing will reveal its sponsor package for the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series season on Nov. 10 in Indianapolis. Galles owner Rick Galles, driver Al Unser Jr. and sponsor representatives will participate in a press conference at 2:30 p.m. (EST) at IMS Productions, across 16th Street from the main gate of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Galles will announce the primary and major associate sponsor for the team. Both are high-profile companies, according to a team release. The team's 2001 car also will be unveiled at the press conference.

*** Fisher to be featured on ABC special: Indy Racing Northern Light Series rookie standout Sarah Fisher will be among the featured athletes on the ABC special "Game for Anything" at 4 p.m. (EST) Dec. 9. "Game for Anything" is an hour-long show that introduces viewers to a cross-section of female athletes. From young aspirants to late bloomers, from elite levels as well as recreational athletes, this special captures women as they engage in sports as diverse as the athletes themselves. Among the women featured are Fisher, members of the U.S. soccer team, world-class rock climber Lynn Hill and WBNA star Lisa Leslie. Fisher finished third in the RaceSearch.com Rookie of the Year point standings in 2000 while driving the Walker Racing Cummins Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. *** 'HallowEve' bash raises funds for Schmidt Foundation: Many Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and personalities attended the inaugural "HallowEve" bash and fundraiser for the Sam Schmidt Foundation on Oct. 30 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

The event raised money and awareness for the non-profit foundation formed by former Indy Racing driver Schmidt after he was paralyzed from the shoulders down in a testing accident in January 2000. The foundation is dedicated to raising money to help people with spinal injuries live a better life through scientific research, medical treatment, rehabilitation and the most advanced technology.

Schmidt lives in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, Nev. Drivers who attended the event included two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, Indy Racing Northern Light Series standouts Robbie Buhl, Eddie Cheever Jr., Mark Dismore, Davey Hamilton, Shigeaki Hattori, Robby McGehee, Scott Sharp, World of Outlaws driver Danny Lasoski and 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup rookie of the year Tony Stewart.

*** New ride for Gregoire: Indy Racing veteran Stephan Gregoire got behind the wheel of a monster truck Oct. 27 at Texas Motor Speedway as part of a festival to honor the track's season-ticket holders. Gregoire signed autographs for the attendees. Then he strapped into a 10,000-pound monster truck and drove it to the start-finish line of the track for an interview with Terry Dickerson, the promoter of the Extreme Monster Truck Nationals that took place at TMS' Dirt Track on Oct. 28-29. In the Northern Light Series, Gregoire drives the 1,550-pound Team Mexmil/Tokheim/Viking Air Tools/Cigarette G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone.

*** Calkins finishes strong in Chicago: Indy Racing Northern Light Series veteran Buzz Calkins finished the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon in 3 hours, 41 minutes and 1 second on Oct. 22. Calkins was quicker during the second half of the 26.2-mile footrace, as he completed the first half in 1:52:48 and the second half in 1:50:13. There were 29,074 starters in the annual race contested in Chicago. *** Kite unveils hidden talent: Northern Light Series veteran Jimmy Kite surprised many of his friends and Blueprint Racing team members by unveiling a unique talent he had kept hidden until the weekend of the season-ending Excite 500 earlier this month.

Beyond his ability in controlling sprint cars from behind the wheel, Kite also builds 1:24 scale replicas of the open-wheel dirt cars. Not content to build the plastic kits that are offered in hobby stores, Kite builds the frames, bodywork and wings from scratch. Using cardboard, toothpicks and hand painting, Kite is able to replicate, to the exacting detail, some of his favorite winged sprint cars. He has built scale replicas of many of the cars he has raced. Kite's mother, Donna, has most of the one-of-a-kind collectibles. She has lost count of the dozens of cars Jimmy has built for more than 10 years. Jimmy Kite's hidden talent came to light when he was eager to build a replica of the sprinter he drove in 1999 at Farmington, Mo., to give as a gift to friend Chris Biby of Motorsports Management International.

*** Hot laps: Highlights from the Indy Racing Northern Light Series Awards Ceremony, Nov. 11 in Indianapolis, will be televised from 5-6 p.m. (EST) Nov. 14 on ESPN2 ... IRL Ministry Chaplain Mark Wingler and his wife welcomed the birth of their daughter, Madison Michelle, on Oct. 27. Madison weighed 7 pounds ... 1999 Indy Racing Northern Light Series champion Greg Ray is staying busy during the offseason with testing and appearances on behalf of Team Menard's primary sponsor, Menards. Ray will join Team Menard NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Bryan Reffner to sign autographs for the grand openings of a Menards' store on Nov. 5 in Marshfield, Wis., Nov. 12 in Sycamore, Ill., and Nov. 18 in Kokomo, Ind. Both Ray's Indy Racing car and Reffner's truck will be on display for photographs.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Buzz Calkins , Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Shigeaki Hattori , Stephan Gregoire , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Mark Dismore , Jimmy Kite , Sam Schmidt , Bryan Reffner , Danny Lasoski , Dave Darland , Tracy Hines , Brian Tyler , Tony Elliott , Jay Drake , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing