Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Challenge of Ironman World Championship 70.3 up next for Meira
2. Saavedra to join Guerrero for Baja 1000
3. Baguette selected for Race of Champions
4. Power lends support to Walker Racing Open House
5. Diverse lineup highlights Honda Indy Toronto
1. Challenge of Ironman World Championship 70.3 up next for Meira: Vitor Meira will plunge into the 64-degree Gulf of Mexico about 6:50 a.m. Nov. 13 for a 1.2-mile swim. He'll then efficiently transition to his bike for a 56-mile ride in and around Clearwater, Fla., and return to Pier 60 to shed his helmet and set off on a 13.1-mile run on a course that includes a 12 percent grade. All of his own accord.
The IZOD IndyCar Series driver is looking forward to the Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3 adventure alongside more than 1,800 professionals and fellow amateurs.
"This was actually on my bucket list," said Meira, who was invited to participate in May. "I'm really honored to accept this invitation to participate in the World Championship 70.3. Not only is the training part of what I do for racing, the running, biking and all the preparation, but I also always like it. It's going to be a cool experience."
Two weeks ago, Meira prepped for the event by participating in the inaugural Rohto Ironman Miami 70.3 along with Tony Kanaan (who also will compete in Clearwater) and Bruno Junqueira. In early May -- a dozen hours after finishing 10th in a grueling race in the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. car for A.J. Foyt Racing -- at Kansas Speedway he joined the crowd for the start of another triathlon near his Miami home. Meira also participated in a triathlon in Chile earlier this year and completed a mini-marathon in May.
"At first I thought, 'What did I just agree to?' because there are a bunch of people who are going to be watching," he says. "Most of the competitors are professionals and there are a lot of people who qualified that are very fast. There also are a lot of people who won a lottery to get in. But that passed and I can't wait to get there."
Meira "got the triathlon buzz" by watching on TV and following the exploits of fellow Brazilians Leandro Macedo and Alexander Manzan, who competed around the globe. Meira hooked into his first triathlon in 2001, and will be in the age 30-34 division in the upcoming endurance race.
"For me, you are there for yourself and not because you're going to beat one, two, or three other guys," Meira says. "You want to prove what you are capable of to yourself; like how far you can push yourself."
He's pushed hard in training in all three disciplines since before the completion of the IZOD IndyCar Series season Oct. 2, concentrating on cardio development and endurance. Meira was in the gym more during the physically demanding road/street course segments of the racing schedule.
"I've been training intervals a lot -- 20 days of intervals and then put in a lot of volume afterward," Meira says. "With intervals, you build speed and then you concentrate on endurance. Swimming is where I lose percentage-wise more time than the others. Bike is what I'm the best at and running I'm OK, and I want to change that.
"I've been running a lot more and running is where you make or lose the time. But running does wear you out. If you go for a 90k bike ride you get tired, but if you go for a 13k run you really get tired. I try to put in about 10,000 meters a week."
A return to high-energy training and triathlon competition - in addition to the 17-race IZOD IndyCar Series season -- was an outgrowth of Meira's rehabilitation from fractured vertebrae suffered in a May 2009 crash during the Indianapolis 500.
"I had a lot of time at home training and trying to get healthy the right way," says Meira, who finished 12th in the series championship this year. "A lot of times you don't have the time to do it right, and I was able to take it step by step. When you get hurt, you want to come back even harder, and that's what I was trying to do.
"After a month (in June 2009), I had to walk for an hour. Just walk. That's all. I could go to the gym, but I couldn't put any weight on my spine, so things that I was doing were pulling instead of pushing. The second part of it was swimming."
Swimming might not be Meira's strong suit ("Not only the waves but the water is much heavier. You go slow and get tired faster and the salt bothers you.") but it's another challenge to meet head on.
"It's a great hobby, and it's something that while I'm doing it I can learn about myself and I can use that in the race," he says.
2. Saavedra to join Guerrero for Baja 1000: Roberto Guerrero will celebrate his 52nd birthday Nov. 16 with a close circle of friends - all of whom will begin competition two days later in the 43rd Baja 1000.
The 15-time Indianapolis 500 starter (runner-up in 1987) will mark his sixth time participating in the race along the rugged long-distance desert course that begins in Ensenada (south of Tijuana) and finishes in La Paz, Mexico. IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights competitor Sebastian Saavedra, five-time Indy 500 starter Davy Jones, Marco Guerrero and Mike Cassling will form the team in the Baja Challenge class.
"I was invited to do it in 2000, which was the Baja 2000 (2,000 miles)," Guerrero said. "It was a great challenge and a lot of fun and I have done it most years ever since. We'll be racing with Wide Open Baja and they do a great job with the whole logistics, preparation of the cars and chase crews."
Baja Challenge entrants use Subaru-powered and identically-equipped Baja touring cars.
"It will be the first time for Saavedra racing on any sort of dirt," Guerrero added about his 20-year-old Colombia countryman who competed in a charity karting race over the weekend in Colombia. "Unfortunately, we're not going to be able to 'pre-run,' which will make it a bit more of a challenge."
Among Indy car drivers who have tested the Baja have been Rick and Roger Mears, Parnelli Jones, Danny Ongais, Danny Sullivan, Jimmy Vasser, Buddy Rice, Sebastien Bourdais, Oriol Servia, Michel Jourdain Jr., Robby Gordon, Johnny Unser and Mike and Robbie Groff.
3. Baguette selected for Race of Champions: Bertrand Baguette, who competed in 15 IZOD IndyCar Series races this season for Conquest Racing, will participate in the Race of Champions on Nov. 27-28 in Germany.
Baguette and Jeroen Bleekemolen, who were selected via an online fan poll, will represent Belgium and The Netherlands, respectively, as Team Benelux. Baguette topped fellow Belgian drivers Francois Duval and Eric van de Poele in voting for the spot. Bleekemolen is a two-time Porsche Supercup champion.
The ROC lineup includes Formula One champions Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost, rally champion Sebastien Loeb, world 500cc motorcycle champion Mick Doohan, and X-Games champion Travis Pastrana among others.
"This is great news and I'm delighted that so many people voted for me to appear at ROC 2010," said Baguette, who joined Conquest Racing for the third round of the season at Barber Motorsports Park and posted one top-10 start and finish (Kentucky Speedway). "It will be a real buzz to line up against these legends of motorsport, and Jeroen and I will push like crazy to bring home a result for Team Benelux."
The Race of Champions is a knockout tournament in which drivers compete in identical cars on a parallel track to eventually determine the "Champion of Champions." DTM star Mattias Ekstrom was the 2009 winner.
In a second category -- the Nations Cup -- nations represented race against every other nation in their group, with the winners advancing to the next round.
4. Power lends support to Walker Racing Open House: IZOD IndyCar Series championship runner-up Will Power will join Dan Clarke and Derrick Walker's Nov. 11 effort to raise money for The Spinal Cord Injury Hope Fund.
Power, who drove for Walker Racing before joining the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2008, will sign autographs along with Clarke and team owner Walker from 4- 6 p.m. during a tour of Walker Racing's Indianapolis facilities at 4035 Championship Dr. The tour is free to the public and the team will be accepting donations to the SCI Hope Fund, whose mission is to provide independence and quality of life through financial grant to individuals with spinal cord injuries.
Visitors will also be able to test their racing skills by lapping Indianapolis Motor Speedway in an iRacing simulator. The fastest speeds will win prizes donated by iRacing. Walker and Clarke will be available for meet-and-greet and photo opportunities throughout the event. The team's race engineer and crew will also be on hand throughout the day to answer any questions that guests may have.
Fans can also enter a raffle, during the event, with the chance to win signed race-worn items and gifts from Dan Clarke, Walker Racing and INDYCAR.
5. Diverse lineup highlights Honda Indy Toronto: The 2011 Honda Indy Toronto will celebrate the 25th anniversary of racing on the streets of Toronto with a diverse slate of racing. Ontario's largest annual sporting event will feature the highest levels of IndyCar, stock car, touring car and, for the first time, exotic car racing from July 8-10.
"Fans appreciate diversity, accessibility and quality in our weekend schedule," said Charlie Johnstone, vice president and general manager for Honda Indy Toronto. "We could not hope for a better lineup to celebrate 25 years of racing on the streets of Toronto."
The marquee attraction will be the IZOD IndyCar Series, which will race for the third time on the streets of Exhibition Place. The 2011 race will feature Dario Franchitti, series champion and winner of the 2010 Indianapolis 500; Will Power, winner of the 2010 Honda Indy Toronto; Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon, past winners of the Indy 500; Marco Andretti, son of Toronto's winningest driver Michael Andretti ; Danica Patrick and Graham Rahal, son of Bobby Rahal, who won the inaugural Indy car race in Toronto in 1986.
Returning races include the Firestone Indy Lights, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, and the Acura Sports Car Challenge that will feature the Canadian Touring Car Championship. An addition will be the Ferrari Challenge, a unique racing series that allows Ferrari owners and enthusiasts to see the legendary cars in their natural environment - the racetrack.