Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Dallara begins input process for IndyCar Safety Cell
2. Kimball earns PNC Community Leader Award
3. Castroneves returns to Dancing With The Stars
4. Of note
1. Dallara begins input process for IndyCar Safety Cell: IZOD IndyCar Series veteran E.J. Viso, who competed last season for KV Racing Technology, recently was the first driver to be fitted in a mockup monocoque of the 2012 IndyCar Safety Cell at Dallara Automobili in Italy.
Drivers of different heights will provide feedback regarding comfort, pedal positions, sightlines, headrests, steering wheel positions and leg room as part of the development process. Graham Rahal, among the taller IZOD IndyCar Series drivers, is scheduled to visit the facility in mid-November. Additionally, Dallara personnel will measure their upright position relative to each other.
"I spent some time sitting in the cockpit of a mockup made out of a material at the moment that can be changed quickly, and we definitely found some points that need to be addressed," Viso said. "They're all simple ones, but details will make the car even better."
Project manager Tony Cotman said driver input is invaluable in the process of designing the chassis that will roll onto the racetrack for the start of the 2012 season.
"Most of their comments are about how they fit in the current car, what they'd like to see different in the new car and what they'd like to see different in terms of technology," he said. "Drivers want all the gadgets but obviously safety is the No. 1 priority, and if we're going to aim for slightly higher average lap speeds, safety will inevitably come up all the time. To be honest, they've had some of the best ideas."
2. Kimball earns PNC Community Leader Award: When Charlie Kimball was first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2007, he received an overwhelming amount of support from the diabetes community that encouraged him to continue his dreams of becoming a top-level racing driver.
Because of that support, Kimball became an active member of the diabetes community and now uses his racing celebrity as a platform to promote awareness of the disease and show "that diabetes doesn't have to slow you down."
For his efforts, Kimball was selected as the winner of the 2010 PNC Community Leader Award as the Firestone Indy Lights participant who best displays community service or community outreach.
"I'm thrilled to be selected as this year's winner," said Kimball, the driver of No. 26 Levemir FlexPen car for AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport who finished fourth in Firestone Indy Lights in 2010. "As a professional racing driver, the opportunity to reach out to the community and try to make a difference is something I feel strongly about embracing. I'd really like to thank PNC for sponsoring an award that recognizes what we do outside of the race car."
Over the course of the 2010 season, Kimball reached more than 20,000 people through appearances at diabetes expos, visits to hospitals and personal meetings with boys and girls and men and women who have diabetes.
At each appearance, Kimball talks to audiences about his own diabetes diagnosis and how important it is for these people and their families to not only understand more about diabetes, but also how they can continue to lead normal, productive lives.
"Knowing that there were other people out there that believed in me really gave me some encouragement to pursue my dream and continue my career," Kimball said. "As a result now, I feel very strongly in returning that favor. It reminds me that this is bigger than me. When I talk to the parent of a child who has just been diagnosed, I can look them in the eye and say 'It gets better. It gets easier. Look what I can do. There isn't anything your child can't do because of diabetes.'
"Hopefully in the future, I'll be able to continue to reach out make a difference either through my own story of racing with diabetes or as a professional athlete and being able to go out and brighten people's lives so people who can't go out an experience racing can go out and do so."
3. Castroneves returns to Dancing With The Stars: He won't be wearing the yellow zoot suit that captivated a worldwide audience, but Helio Castroneves will return to "Dancing with the Stars" on Nov. 1 as a celebrity judge for 200th episode of the highly-rated ABC series.
Three years ago, Castroneves and professional dance partner Julianne Hough wowed viewers and three opinionated judges with intricate footwork and high-energy personalities to win the Season 5 competition.
For the Quickstep (one of the required dances), Castroneves wore a yellow suit with matching hat that was an immediate hit. The dance performance received a perfect score of 30 from the three judges. The routine has been voted by fans as one of the top 10 of the show, and a photo of Castroneves in the suit even appeared on the cover of ESPN The Magazine.
Celebrity contestants still in the running for the mirror ball trophy are Jennifer Grey, Kurt Warner, Brandy, Bristol Palin, Rick Fox and Kyle Massey.
4. Of note: A.J. Foyt Racing team director Larry Foyt returns will drive the No. 01 DougHanson.com Chevy truck in the Oct. 30 Mountain Dew 250 at Talladega Superspeedway. "Now that our IndyCar season is over, this opportunity presented itself and I thought there's no better way for me to have a fun weekend than to race a truck at Talladega," Foyt said. ...The No. 23 Ipiranga/Monange/STI car that Ana Beatriz drove in the 2010 season opener is featured at the Honda display at the Sao Paulo (Brazil) Auto Show. ... Danica Patrick will be in the audience at the Key for the Cure charity event at Saks Fifth Ave. in Indianapolis on Oct. 29. ... More than $12,000 was raised for the Women In the Winner's Circle Foundation through a karting event in Indianapolis. The foundation, founded by Lyn St. James in 1994, assists young female racers in their progression through the motorsports industry from karting to the highest levels of racing. The training helps prepare women racers for success in the sport, both on and off the track. ... IZOD IndyCar Series race winner Adrian Fernandez recently was inducted into the Mexican Auto Racing Federation Hall of Fame.