Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Servia, Hinchcliffe warm up track at chilly Sebring
2. Tickets for Baltimore Grand Prix go on sale
3. Sarah Fisher Racing hosts food drive
1. Servia, Hinchcliffe warm up track at chilly Sebring: Cold temperatures couldn't prevent Oriol Servia and James Hinchcliffe from staring their case for full-time IZOD IndyCar Series ride with Newman/Haas Racing during two days of testing at Sebring International Raceway.
"A contract would keep me warm," Servia laughed over the phone a few minutes after the issue-free session Dec. 14 on the 1.65-mile circuit.
Servia, returning to the cockpit of an IndyCar for the first time since he finished fourth at Twin Ring Motegi for Newman/Haas Racing in 2009, worked through the team's extensive list of setup items to prepare for the 2011 season. But he and Hinchcliffe, the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights championship runner-up, have their sights on driving full time in the IZOD IndyCar Series starting in March at St. Petersburg, Fla. -- in a car prepared by the historic Indy car team or another.
"Everybody's desire is to put a deal in place as soon as possible," said Hinchcliffe, who totaled 147 laps in his first days in an IndyCar, "but there are factors out of our control that have a very large influence on that. For us, it's about chipping away at it and keeping the companies that we've been talking interested and commit as soon as possible."
Hinchcliffe recorded a best time of 52.8 seconds as the temperature never rose above 50 degrees, but the gusty winds of Dec. 13 subsided.
"We managed to get up to speed pretty quickly and got to the point where I was comfortable enough in the car that we could start doing some setup changes and some development work for the team," he said. "It was a huge and successful day in that respect. I'm very happy that it didn't take two days to get up to a reasonable pace and that I was actually able to help the team with their test plans.
"The chemistry was quite good and the atmosphere on the team was phenomenal. I could definitely see myself driving this car again."
Servia completed 73 laps (best of 53.0 seconds) for a two-day total of 136. He noted there "wasn't any rust; at least I don't think so" following the layoff in which he didn't pursue opportunities in other auto racing disciplines because of potential deals in the IZOD IndyCar Series, which didn't come to fruition.
"It's been amazing for me because fortunately or unfortunately it's reminded me of how much I like this sport," he said. "I now know why I've been grumpy for a year. From a testing point of view, we had a very explicit agenda of things they wanted to accomplish and get good reads from.
"I'm very happy that we made progress and found some direction on things and improved the car. It was a lot of fun. And it was as much fun, or more than I expected to work with James. He was on a little different program but showed how fast he can be. I'm hoping to work with him and the team in the future. The test showed what everybody is pushing for, and that Newman/Haas is the most committed to put something together with me. Also, there are two other teams that have at least three months of work trying to get a deal together, so who knows what's going to happen.
"I have unfinished business in the IndyCar Series, and especially now that it's gaining momentum and getting hot again I want to be part of it."
2. Tickets for Baltimore Grand Prix go on sale: Organizers of the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix have billed the Sept. 2-4, 2011, race weekend as a "Three Day Festival of Speed." Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 16.
The event on the streets of downtown Baltimore will feature the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Mazda Road to Indy series Firestone Indy Lights, Star Mazda and USF2000, with music, food and activities for all ages complementing the on-track action.
"We've seen a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for the Baltimore Grand Prix since it was made official in June," said Jay Davidson, president of the Baltimore Grand Prix. "Based on the huge number of fans that we are hearing from every day, we expect a very strong demand for tickets. We are also happy to make tickets available just in time for the holidays. We think that Baltimore Grand Prix tickets will be great gift ideas this season."
Both Grounds Admission and Reserved Grandstand tickets will be available, and both will be available as single-day or three-day tickets. Reserved grandstand tickets will offer fans a guaranteed seat for the races on Saturday and Sunday as well as the best view of the action at key locations around the track. Single-day reserved tickets start at $65, while three-day Reserved Grandstand tickets range from $130 to $160.
Grounds Admission tickets start at $20 for Friday, when most grandstands will be general admission seating for IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights practice sessions. "Junior" tickets also will be offered for all packages for children 12 and under.
Tickets will be available at www.baltimoregrandprix.com or by phone at 877-4-FLY-TIX.
Also available will be single-day and three-day Paddock Passes, which do not provide admittance into the Grand Prix but allow fans access to get a behind-the-scenes look at car, crew and driver preparation in the IZOD IndyCar Series paddock in the Baltimore Convention Center.
A variety of activities will be concentrated in three entertainment zones throughout the infield area: the Family Fun Zone, the Action Sports Zone and the Party Zone. Fans will be treated to live local music throughout the weekend, major concerts at night, food, beer gardens, interactive exhibits and entertainment ranging from professional beach volley ball to extreme sports demonstrations.
Last week, more than 10,000 presale tickets were purchased, including more than 6,000 in a two-hour span, exceeding organizers' expectations.
3. Sarah Fisher Racing hosts food drive: Sarah Fisher Racing will host the "12 Days of Christmas Food Drive" with Indianapolis' St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry to serve as the beneficiary for the third consecutive year.
The food pantry, the largest in the Midwest with an all-volunteer staff, provides nutritious meals and groceries for the homeless and working poor of Indiana.
The Sarah Fisher Racing shop (4701Rockville Road, Suite A) in Indianapolis, O'Gara's Irish Pub (522 Main St.) in Beech Grove, Ind., Cardwell Do-it-Best Home & Garden Center (3205 Madisoon Ave.) in Indianapolis, Hogan's Pub (104 N. 2nd Ave.) in Beech Grove, Ind., and three Lamping Clearners locations (625 Main St., Beech Grove, Ind.; 3939 S. Keystone Ave, Indianapolis; and 4030 S. Emerson Ave., Indianapolis) will serve as collection sites for non-perishable food donations through Dec. 24.
Cash and food donations will also be accepted through the US Mail to the Sarah Fisher Racing shop.