Series news and notes 2011-01-12

Today's IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
1. Barber Motorsports Park to host Preseason Open Test
2. Edmonton returns to 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights schedule:
3. Drivers to Celebrate 100th Anniversary of Indianapolis 500 with Visits to U.S. Troops in Europe and Middle East
4. Carbone to join Schmidt for 2011

1. Barber Motorsports Park to host Preseason Open Test: IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights teams will continue preparations for the 2011 season with an Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park on March 14-16.

The first four races of the IZOD IndyCar Series will be competed on road/street courses, including the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 10.

IZOD IndyCar Series teams will be on the 2.38-mile circuit that features 80 feet of elevation change March 14-15. Firestone Indy Lights teams will be joined by Star Mazda teams on the track March 16.

"This continues to strengthen our relationship with INDYCAR," said Gene Hallman, President of ZOOM Motorsports, the exclusive event promoter of Barber Motorsports Park. "We are pleased to have the IZOD IndyCar Series back again to test at our facility, and we hope that it provides more opportunity to promote the event in April. Barber Motorsports Park is a very technical track and the more familiar the drivers get with the layout, the better the racing will be."

Team Penske's Helio Castroneves won the inaugural IZOD IndyCar Series event at the track in Birmingham, Ala., last April, holding off two-time series champion Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing by 0.5703 of a second.

"It's a track I really enjoy driving," said Charlie Kimball, who will see his first track time during the Open Test in the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing car. "I'll have all the depth of the Chip Ganassi Racing team there to draw on. It's a question of getting comfortable in the car, learning as quickly as possible and moving forward."

American Honda Motor Company announced Sept. 9 that it will be the title sponsor of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union through 2013. A 3.5 million-square-foot Honda Manufacturing of Alabama facility in nearby Lincoln employs more than 4,000 associates at its vehicle and engine operation.

An oval Open Test will be conducted May 9-10 at Kentucky Speedway before the first oval race of the season -- the Indianapolis 500.

The season opener for the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights is March 27 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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2. Edmonton returns to 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights schedule: INDYCAR, the sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights, announced today that it will return to Edmonton, Alberta, after City Council and promoter Octane Motorsports Events, Inc., reached an agreement on providing facility upgrades.

The IZOD IndyCar Series will compete at the Edmonton City Centre Airport on its previously scheduled date, Sunday, July 24. Firestone Indy Lights also will compete on the temporary circuit that weekend.

"We are extremely pleased that the City of Edmonton and Octane were able to reach an agreement to continue our event," said Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division, IZOD IndyCar Series. "We have to thank the city, mayor, local businesses and Octane for working together to make this happen and, of course, the fans for pushing for it. We know our fans in Edmonton are looking forward to seeing this race restored and we plan on to deliver a great event for them."

INDYCAR announced Nov. 3, 2010, its intention not return to Edmonton for a fourth consecutive after the City of Edmonton and Octane were unable to reach an agreement on race circuit changes.

Octane sought to retain the 1.96-mile, 14-turn course that incorporated Runway 12-30, but the city moved all air traffic to that runway after closing a companion runway a week after the Honda Indy Edmonton in July. Retaining the circuit, which was repaved before the initial IZOD IndyCar Series race, would close the airport - primarily used for cargo, by the military and private pilots - during the three days of the event.

"We are extremely glad to finally be able to officially invite racing fans to gather in Edmonton on July 22, 23 and 24," said Francois Dumontier, president of Octane Motorsport Events, Inc. "While it may have taken more time than expected to confirm its return, our group has all intentions to use the next seven months to offer to Edmontonians and Western Canadians the very best motorsports spectacle they've seen since 2005 in Alberta's capital city."

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3. Drivers to Celebrate 100th Anniversary of Indianapolis 500 With Visits to U.S. Troops in Europe and Middle East: Sarah Fisher, the first female IndyCar driver/team owner, will join drivers Mario Andretti, Al Unser Jr., Johnny Rutherford, Davey Hamilton, Larry Foyt, Martin Plowman, racing announcer Jack Arute and IZOD IndyCar Series spokesmodel Cameron Haven this week on a 10-day goodwill tour of U.S. bases in Europe and the Middle East.

Departing from New York, the Indy 500 Centennial Tour aims to increase troop morale by bringing the excitement of the 100th anniversary celebration of the Indianapolis 500 directly to more than 10,000 service men and women at military bases and on an aircraft carrier at sea. The team will give motivational talks and participate in autograph and Q & A sessions, meet and greets, and photo opportunities.

In addition to receiving thousands of gifts, several lucky troops will experience the thrill of being an IndyCar passenger in the specially modified Dallara racecar built-for-two that is accompanying the tour. The troops will get the rare opportunity to face the g-forces and encounter the speeds involved in IndyCar racing as they are driven by Andretti, Unser and Rutherford.

The Tour is organized by the Morale Entertainment Foundation and the Pentagon's Armed Forces Entertainment agency, with support from the IZOD IndyCar Series, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis Racing Experience.

"The troops serving downrange are always happy to get a taste of home," said Lt Col USAF Kathleen Weatherspoon, Chief, Armed Forces Entertainment, who is working with Morale Entertainment to finalize the details for the tour. "And nothing says 'America' more than bringing these amazing drivers to share their stories and thank our men and women in uniform. The constant training, required discipline, and danger these drivers experience in their chosen profession directly resonate with our military members." Armed Forces Entertainment is the official Department of Defense agency providing entertainment for American troops stationed around the world.

Established in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has long prevailed as an icon of motorsports excellence and is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 in 2011.

The IZOD IndyCar Series is committed to supporting America's troops, says ICS CEO Randy Barnard. "The camouflage paint scheme on the National Guard Panther car is seen by millions in person and on TV and underscores our commitment to our troops," he said. "We donate tickets to National Guard members wherever we race, and support visits by our drivers to domestic and foreign military bases."

Tour sponsors and partners include The Pantry Inc., parent of Kangaroo Express convenience stores, Honda, IZOD, the Indy Racing Experience, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the IZOD IndyCar Series, espnW and Track Chic. DHL, the "Specialists in International," is donating its shipping services to speed the delivery of tour materials to Europe and the Middle East.

The Morale Entertainment Foundation has been taking inspirational celebrities to visit U.S. troops since 2008. They have taken three groups of NCAA football coaches and more recently five Legends of Aerospace - Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan, plus famed test pilot Bob Gilliland and Vietnam War USAF ace Steve Ritchie. "We enjoy the opportunity to provide a boost to our brave men and women abroad," said Morale Entertainment Foundation tour director, Thomas M. Lee.

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4. Carbone to join Schmidt for 2011: F2000 Championship Series champion Victor Carbone will join Sam Schmidt Motorsports for the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season, team owner Sam Schmidt announced Jan. 11.

Carbone, an 18-year-old from Sao Paulo, Brazil, makes the jump to the Firestone Indy Lights championship-winning team Sam Schmidt Motorsports after having spent the last two seasons racing in F2000 with Alegra Motorsports. Last season, Carbone won the championship in 2010 with eight podium finishes, including six victories, along with six poles and four fast laps.

"I am really excited for the 2011 racing season as I will have a great opportunity in driving with Sam Schmidt Motorsports," Carbone said. "They have just won the championship, so I will be working with some of the best people available."

Carbone had the chance to test with Sam Schmidt Motorsports in December, getting his first taste of the Firestone Indy Lights race car. The jump to the Firestone Indy Lights vehicle from the F2000 car is a big step, but one that Carbone is confident he can handle.

"I am aware this is a big step, and things are different from the F2000 world," Carbone said. "Even though there are many differences, I feel the two years I spent in F2000 gave me the necessary foundations for me to make this move. I will work very hard to listen, learn, and do whatever it takes to achieve good results."

Prior to his stint in F2000, Carbone raced in the Skip Barber ladder system, competing in the Skip Barber Regional Series and the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Championship Presented by Mazda, both in 2008. He was also a successful kart racer, winning in various classes in Brazil and the United States.

Schmidt is impressed with Carbone's maturity and expectations, and most importantly, his results in the December test.

"We're going to give Victor all the tools he needs to be successful in 2011, but make no mistake, this is a big step for him," Schmidt said. "He's got a learning curve ahead of him, but as a team, we're confident that we can put together great results this year. The maturity and experience he already has at 18 is incredible, and I can't wait to see what he does when the racing season begins."

-source: indycar

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Series INDYCAR , INDYLIGHTS