Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Dragon Racing, Tracy to debut at Long Beach
2. Gen. Colin L. Powell Announced as Grand Marshal for Baltimore Grand Prix
3. IZOD Presents Hot Wheels Fearless at the 500
4. Team E signs Mitchell for Long Beach
5. Carpenter, Fisher launch in Laps for Literacy
1. Dragon Racing, Tracy to debut at Long Beach: Jay Penske, former co-owner of de Ferran Dragon Racing and Luczo Dragon Racing, today announced the formation of Dragon Racing, a new team created to compete in the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series.
Dragon Racing will begin the 2011 program with a start on April 17 at the Long Beach Grand Prix, and has secured the services of veteran Paul Tracy as the driver for Dragon Racing's No. 8 entry. A total of five races are planned with Tracy during in the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season, including Long Beach, Texas, Toronto, Edmonton and Sonoma. In addition, the team will enter a car in the Indianapolis 500 with a driver yet to be named.
"We are very excited to be returning to the IZOD IndyCar Series and delighted to have a driver like Paul Tracy piloting the race car," Penske said. "Paul is an outstanding driver and we are confident this partnership will become the building blocks for something longer term. After discussing available options with my former co-owners, and with their full support, I decided to take a different path and as a result I am extremely pleased to continue the Dragon name with a team that is substantially the same as our 2010 lineup managed by 21-year-veteran John Cummiskey."
Tracy, now in his 21st season of Indy car racing, has compiled an impressive career. He's listed among the top 10 in almost every statistical category, including wins (tied for seventh with 31), poles (ninth with 25) and laps led (sixth with 4,238). Tracy earned 75 career podium finishes, 102 top-5 finishes and captured the Champ Car World Series championship in 2003. Tracy has won at Long Beach four times.
"It's great to be racing again, and I'm excited to be working with Dragon Racing," Tracy said. "I explored several options for the 2011 season, and partnering with Jay Penske makes it that much more special for me. I've known Jay for many years, since my time with Penske Racing. After just a few discussions I realized we shared the same vision and that the newly formed Dragon Racing team was the best fit for my extended return to the IndyCar Series. We've been working hard to bring this partnership to life, and I look forward to competitive runs at a number of tracks I've had success in the past."
Added Penske: "Even though we are initially only running a limited schedule, the team is very realistic and understands we will face challenges together during the season. However, with Paul's talent, and our crew's collective racing experience of over 150 years, I feel that we can be competitive at any race we compete in and may even surprise a few people along the way."
It's great to be racing again, and I'm excited to be working with Dragon Racing.
Ralphs Grocery will join Dragon Racing as the primary sponsor for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in a retailer partnership that includes support from PepsiCo, FritoLay, Berringer Wine and Rockstar Energy Drink. Motegi Racing and Wheel Pros will provide extended sponsorship support for all Dragon Racing events in the 2011 season.
"Motegi and Wheel Pros have a strong association with racing, and we are thrilled to join with Dragon Racing in support of Paul Tracy this season," said Jody Groce, President of Wheel Pros. "We have been a long-time sponsor of Paul and to be a part his new partnership with Dragon is just great for our brands and associates throughout the organization. We look forward to helping bring the team back to prominence within the IZOD IndyCar Series."
The team will have additional sponsor news, to be announced soon.
2. General Colin L. Powell Announced as Grand Marshal for Baltimore Grand Prix: The Baltimore Grand Prix announced today that former Secretary of State, Gen.Colin L. Powell, will be the honorary Grand Marshal for the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix to be held Sept. 4.
As Grand Marshal, General Powell will give the command to "Start Your Engines" to the field of IndyCar drivers at the start of the 80-lap event which will be televised live on VERSUS. Gen. Powell will also be given the opportunity to take a 180 mile per hour tour of the 2.0 -ile temporary street circuit in downtown Baltimore from the passenger seat of the famed INDYCAR Racing Experience two-seater.
"I've always had a passion for racing and a passion for the city of Baltimore," said General Powell. "The opportunity to be Grand Marshal for the inaugural grand prix is an honor as it will showcase the city of Baltimore and the beautiful Inner Harbor to a worldwide audience and I'm very happy to be a part of that, and I must admit, I'm really looking forward to my 180 mile per hour tour of the city."
I must admit, I'm really looking forward to my 180 mile per hour tour of the city.
Baltimore Grand Prix President and CEO, Jay Davidson, was enthused by the General's acceptance of the Grand Marshal role. "The city of Baltimore has a long history with the United States Armed Forces and to have General Powell in our city to experience this inaugural event is an absolute honor," said Davidson. "We are planning a number of activities surrounding the Baltimore Grand Prix that will thank and celebrate the role and sacrifice that members of the military have given to our country."
3. IZOD Presents Hot Wheels Fearless at the 500: Since the inaugural running of the Indianapolis 500 in 1911, men and women have risked their lives chasing speed and glory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. On May 29, a Team Hot Wheels member will attempt both in the IZOD Presents Hot Wheels Fearless at the 500.
The masked driver will attempt to break the world record distance jump of 302 feet in a four-wheeled vehicle preceding the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. The driver will sit atop a 10-story frame, speed down a 90-foot ramp and soar across an infield section in Turn 4 at the Speedway.
The stunt brings to life the iconic Mattel Hot Wheels V-Drop track set that youngsters have attached to their bedroom doors for years, and is part of an overarching brand campaign designed to extend the Hot Wheels experience to fans of all ages.
"The essence of this multi-year, multi-platform campaign is all about taking the feelings you experienced when playing with Hot Wheels as a kid and bringing them to real life in full scale," said Simon Waldron, vice president of marketing for Hot Wheels. "Featuring an epic vehicle stunt at this year's centennial anniversary of the Indy 500, we are engaging fans with a jaw-dropping moment in a way that only Hot Wheels can."
The jump will be attempted by the Yellow Racer from Team Hot Wheels - professional stunt drivers spanning four vehicle disciplines: rally (green), drift (blue), off road truck (yellow) and freestyle motocross (red). The driver's identity will be revealed following the world record attempt. A 30-minute documentary-style special is in the works to air on Race Day.
The experiential marketing campaign includes a sweepstakes - with prizes including a VIP trip to the Indy 500 - and social media applications.
Fans can engage with Team Hot Wheels branded content at www.hotwheels.com/videos and become a fan on www.facebook/Hot Wheels to watch exclusive behind-the-scenes training and stunt videos.
Through April 30, fans can go to www.hotwheels.com/forreal for a chance to win a VIP trip to the Indianapolis 500 or thousands of other prizes.
"It's all about evolving Hot Wheels," Waldron said.
Team E is happy to be back on track again this season with Rusty Mitchell.
4. Team E signs Mitchell for Long Beach: Texan Rusty Mitchell will make his Firestone Indy Lights debut at the Long Beach 100 with Team E.
Mitchell is the latest up-and-coming driver to join the Florida-based Firestone Indy Lights team. The Star Mazda graduate earned his seat in the No. 17 Team E/Motorola/ Petro Communications entry after impressing the crew and Team Owner Neil Enerson recently in private testing at Firebird International Raceway.
"Team E is happy to be back on track again this season with Rusty Mitchell," said Enerson. "Rusty, although a rookie to our series, is not a rookie to racing. Rusty ran his own Star Mazda team. His understanding of the owner and driver side of the business at this level is rare. We look forward to him competing at Long Beach."
Based in Midland, Texas, the 28-year-old Mitchell has had plenty of success in his racing career.
He captured four IKF regional championships, one WKA divisional championship and a SKUSA Long Track National championship in go karts before making the move to cars.
Mitchell captured both the SCCA Southwest Division National Formula Enterprises title and the FormulaCar Magazine FE Championship Midwest/Southwest crown in his first season of action.
Mitchell raced in the Star Mazda championship the past two seasons, earning one pole position, one podium position, four top-fives and 14 top-10s with a privateer effort. Prior to joining Team E on the streets of Long Beach, the Texan has made the transition to sports car competition this season, co-driving an Intersport Racing LMP Challenge entry in the American Le Mans Series.
"I can't wait to compete at one of the most prestigious events in North America with such a great team," said Mitchell. "Neil and all the guys at Team E have shown they have the personal and equipment in place to win races in the (Firestone) Indy Lights series. I think this is a great opportunity for myself, as well as my sponsors to get our feet wet in the series, and hopefully put together a multi-race package later in the season, and possibly a full year in 2012. I want think my sponsors Motorola and Petro Communications, as well as Neil Enerson and the guys at Team E for getting this deal put together in such a short amount of time."
I am very excited to finally start our 'Laps for Literacy' program.
5. Carpenter, Fisher launch in Laps for Literacy: IZOD IndyCar Series driver Ed Carpenter and team owner Sarah Fisher have started a program entitled "Laps for Literacy" developed by Heather Carpenter and supported by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.
"I am very excited to finally start our 'Laps for Literacy' program," Carpenter said. "We have all been working very hard to put this together, and I especially have to thank my wife, Heather, for heading this program. I can't wait to meet all of the kids and talk to them about our sport and the importance of reading and education in everyday life. Leading into the Centennial 500, I can't think of a better way for our team to serve the kids and schools of our state."
In conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 in May, the duo will be visiting 100 classrooms across Indiana.
"I'm really honored to have the support from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation for our first annual 'Laps for Literacy' program," Fisher said. "Developed by Heather Carpenter, it shows the strength in Ed's family and speaks highly in regards to the type of people they truly are. It will be a tremendous opportunity to share our sport with kids and schools which otherwise might not get to see Indy, and an even better opportunity to help them with some of their needs."
For more information on the 'Laps for Literacy' campaign or to view a detailed schedule of school visits, visit www.sarahfisherracing.com/laps.
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series continues with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 17 on the Streets of Long Beach, Calif. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 212 and www.indycar.com. The 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season continues April 17 on the Streets of Long Beach, Calif. with the Long Beach 100. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 2 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS.