Series news and notes 2011-01-13

Today's IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
1. Franchitti receives his second Baby Borg
2. Micklewright joins AFS Racing
3. Pelfrey reforms team to compete in Star Mazda

1. Franchitti receives his second Baby Borg: Four weeks after wrapping up a second consecutive IZOD IndyCar Series championship -- his third title in four years -- Dario Franchitti was able to step out of his whirlwind of activity and reflect.

"I was riding a motorcycle through the Australian outback and it suddenly hit me what we achieved," said Franchitti, who won the Indianapolis 500 for the second time on his way to the series championship. "For me, these things are not in the moment that I understand what we have done so it literally took until I was in the middle of nowhere when I thought, 'Oh, my God, what a year.' ''

Franchitti was presented his second "Baby Borg" -- the BorgWarner Championship Driver's Trophy -- by Timothy Manganello, chirman and CEO of BorgWarner Inc. during the company's annual Indianapolis 500 celebration dinner Jan. 12 in Detroit. Manganello also presented Target Chip Ganassi Racing owner Chip Ganassi with the BorgWarner Championship Owner's Trophy.

"It's great to get another one; I'd like to have a whole collection," said Franchitti, who returns to the IZOD IndyCar Series in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car for the 2011 season that kicks off March 27 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

A replica of the Borg-Warner Trophy, which recognizes every Indianapolis 500 winner and is on permanent display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, the Baby Borg is 14 inches tall that rests on a beveled black marble base that includes a hand-crafted three-dimensional sterling silver image of the winning driver's face. Rick Mears, winner of the 1988 Indy 500, was the first recipient of the driver's trophy.

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2. Micklewright joins AFS Racing: Veteran motorsports executive Neil Micklewright has joined Firestone Indy Lights championship-winning entrant AFS Racing as General Manager/Vice President of Operations.

"I am absolutely delighted to have been given this opportunity by Mr. Peterson," said Micklewright. "The history of AFS Racing as both a perennial Championship contender and also developer of star drivers is hard to beat. I relish the chance to be involved with a first-rate Firestone Indy Lights Team and look forward to contributing to many more years of success."

Micklewright comes to AFS after serving as General Manager/Vice President of Operations for Forsythe Racing from 1994 through 2009. Prior to that, he was Team Manager for Douglas Shierson Racing where he participated in his first Indy 500 win with world renowned race driver Arie Luyendyk. He also spent 11 years in Formula 1 prior to moving to the States. AFS Racing will run its operation out of Forsythe Racing's Indianapolis, Indiana facility.

"I'm very pleased to have Neil join AFS Racing. His tasks will include securing sponsorship and handling race operations," said team owner Gary Peterson. "The chance to work side-by-side with Neil in Forsythe Racing's Indianapolis facility is a dream come true for me. I trust Neil and his experience in running one of the premier teams in the history of open wheel to help AFS make the transition into fulltime IndyCar racing as soon as possible."

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3. Pelfrey reforms team to compete in Star Mazda: Former IZOD IndyCar Series team entrant Dale Pelfrey announced Jan. 12 that he will revive Pelfrey Indy Racing, his IZOD IndyCar Series team that raced from 1998-2000, to compete in the Star Mazda Championship under the banner of Team Pelfrey.

Nick Andries, a rising young open-wheel racer who competed in both the 2010 Skip Barber National series and the Star Mazda Championship with sponsorship from Pelfrey, has been signed as the new team's first driver.

Headed by veteran open-wheel team manager Geoff Fickling and headquartered at a new 6300 sq. ft. facility in the St Petersburg, Fla., area, Pelfrey Indy Racing will make its official Star Mazda series debut at the St Petersburg Grand Prix, March 25-27.

"I ventured back into race team ownership after a 10-year hiatus because I was seeing so many talented young racers like Nick fail to get the opportunity to move up and race in the Star Mazda," said Pelfrey, former owner of Dayton, Ohio's Enginetics Aerospace, a company specializing in the design and manufacturer of jet engine components for the international market.

"The Star Mazda series is only one step below (Firestone) Indy Lights and a valuable stepping-stone in the professional career ladder (Mazda Road) to Indy. I have hired an experienced, professional crew for P.I.R. which will be led by Geoff Fickling, who won the 2010 Team Championship with Andersen Racing. I have also re-signed a fine young driver, Nick Andries who I have supported throughout his racing career. My plan is to add two more drivers making P.I.R. a solid three-car team."

Pelfrey has a track record of building successful open-wheel teams. Team Pelfrey signed Sarah Fisher as an 18 year-old rookie to compete in INDYCAR and fielded a car for her first INDYCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway in 1999. Team Pelfrey has also provided racing opportunities to a number of other drivers including Lyn St. James, Danny Ongais, Memo Gidley, Bryan Tyler, Billy Boat, Robby Unser and John Paul Jr., who led 39 laps of the 1998 Indianapolis 500.

"I want to thank Dale for his support throughout my racing career and for what I feel is my most important opportunity so far," said Andries, a 20-year-old college student at St. Petersburg College. "The opportunity to start a new team is very exciting because P.I.R. has put together the right personnel for success. It's a new team, however all the guys know each other and have worked together before. As a result, I strongly believe the team and I will be ready to contend for race wins -- and ultimately the 2011 championship -- starting at St. Pete."

Pelfrey is committed to providing the team with the tools to be successful and competitive in 2011. The team has an ambitious test schedule, with multiple tracks, before the Star Mazda Season Opener in front of their hometown crowd on the Streets of St. Petersburg. Work is already underway as the team moved into their new shop in Clearwater on Dec.15. Equipment has been purchased and an experienced full-time crew, many who worked for the successful Andersen Racing Star Mazda team, has already begun preparations for next season.

"First of all, we're extremely grateful to Dale for not only putting this team together, but how he has assembled it," Fickling said. "From Day One when we first began discussing this venture, he made it clear that if we were to do this, he wanted it to be done the right way and every step of the way he has proven that. We've assembled the best of the best in terms of personnel, equipment, shop space, and the resources to immediately contend for a championship. I can't express enough how excited we are to be a part of a project like this."

-source: indycar

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Series INDYCAR , INDYLIGHTS