IRL: Weekly Notebook 98-02-23

PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE WEEKLY NOTEBOOK INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 23, 1998 - Notes and quotes from the Pep Boys Indy Racing League: Flying high: VisionAire Corp., an aircraft manufacturing company based in St. Louis, has...

PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE WEEKLY NOTEBOOK

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 23, 1998 - Notes and quotes from the Pep Boys Indy Racing League:

Flying high: VisionAire Corp., an aircraft manufacturing company based in St. Louis, has increased its funding of Jonathan Byrd-Cunningham Racing and has become the primary sponsor of the team's G Force/Aurora, driven by Mike Groff.

VisionAire is in the second year of sponsorship of the team. The company builds the Vantage, the world's first all-composite business jet aircraft.

"The racing team is doing on the ground what we are doing in the air," said Jim Rice, chairman and chief executive officer of VisionAire. "It makes sense that we continue our close relationship. Being involved with the IRL and Jonathan Byrd has been very rewarding for us. We have sold several jets directly related to our involvement with the team."

Groff finished seventh in the season-opening Indy 200 in January near Orlando, Fla.

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Flying high, part II: Indianapolis 500 veteran Lyn St. James experienced a new dimension of speed Feb. 23 when she flew with the U.S. Navy's precision flight team, the Blue Angels, at El Centro, Calif.

St. James, 1992 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, flew with Lt. Scott Ind in an FA-18 fighter jet.

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Free shades: IRL driver Sam Schmidt may be selling sunglasses to help raise funds so he can race, but he and the rest of the LP Racing team are willing to spare some potential profit to provide a bonus for fans.

Schmidt has provided several pairs of Arnette sunglasses for a fan raffle Feb. 26 during the "Test in the West" at Phoenix International Raceway. Schmidt also has donated shades to be awarded as prizes for a golf tournament in the Phoenix area.

Earlier this year, Schmidt arranged a deal with Arnette, a division of Bausch and Lomb, to purchase at cost 350,000 pairs of the popular sunglasses. He is trying to find sales outlets and distributors for the sunglasses and will use his profits to fund his racing effort.

Many other teams have donated racing souvenirs for the raffle at Phoenix, including A.J. Foyt Enterprises (driver Billy Boat), Bradley Motorsports (Buzz Calkins) and R&S Cars/Reebok (Eliseo Salazar). Rides around the 1-mile oval in the track pace car also will be awarded to fans in the raffle.

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A.J. honored by NASCAR: A.J. Foyt, IRL team owner and four-time Indianapolis 500 winner, recently was named as one of the 50 greatest drivers in NASCAR history as part of the stock car sanctioning body's 50th anniversary this year.

Foyt won four NASCAR Winston Cup races, including the 1972 Daytona 500.

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Next event: Phoenix 200, March 22, Phoenix International Raceway. Tickets are available at (602) 252-2227.

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World Wide Web: http://www.indyracingleague.com

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Buzz Calkins , Eliseo Salazar , Billy Boat , Sam Schmidt , Lyn St. James , A.J. Foyt
Teams A.J. Foyt Enterprises