Connor to Do a Double at IMS and the Glen June 18-19
CENTERVILLE, Ohio, June 11 - Employees of The Connor Group who walk by the water cooler on Monday, June 20 and casually ask Larry Connor what he did over the weekend better be prepared to stay awhile and be impressed.
Connor, the owner of the Centerville, Ohio-based real estate investment firm and an accomplished road racer, plans to follow the lead of Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon and "do a double" the weekend of June 18-19.
Neither Stewart nor Gordon competed in both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 over the Memorial Day weekend this year as they've done in the past. Connor, however, plans to compete at two of America's most famous road courses June 18-19: the infield road course at the world-famous Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway (IMS) and the historic Grand Prix course at Watkins Glen International (the Glen) in Watkins Glen, N.Y.
The Bellbrook, Ohio native will be behind the wheel of Genoa Racing's No. 36 for the Liberty Challenge Menards Infiniti Pro Series race at IMS at 5:45 p.m. EDT (4:45 p.m. local time) on Saturday, June 18.
The following day he'll drive his own ex-Michael Schumacher 1991 Benetton B191 Formula 1 car in a one-hour enduro and a U.S. BOSS series race during a Historic SportsCar Racing (HSR) weekend at the Glen.
Admittedly none of those three races will be as long as the Indy 500 or the Coca-Cola 600, but it'll still be a challenge to set up two different cars and compete on two different road courses while logging numerous air miles between the two tracks. Connor plans to make six different flights in a private plane between Wednesday, June 15 and Sunday, June 19 as he commutes between the two facilities for practice, qualifying and the three races.
The Saturday, June 18 race at IMS is the inaugural Menards Infiniti Pro Series race on IMS's 2.605-mile road course. The series is the official development series of the Indy Racing League. It is a support event for the U.S. Grand Prix Formula 1 race on the same course the following day.
The Menards Infiniti Pro Series uses open-wheel Dallara chassis, Infiniti 3.5-liter V8 engines that produce 450 hp at 8,200 RPMs, and Bridgestone/Firestone tires.
The 25-lap/65.125-mile Liberty Challenge at IMS will be Connor's first Menards Infiniti Pro Series race, although he tested Genoa Racing's car at Homestead-Miami Speedway in January and on the road course at IMS in March. It's the first of two Infiniti Pro Series races he plans to compete in this year. He's also signed to drive the same car in the Corning 100 Infiniti Pro Series race at the Glen on Sept. 25.
Connor's races at the Glen on Sunday, June 19 will include a one-hour historic enduro at 10:30 a.m. EDT and the U.S. BOSS series race at 3:05 p.m. EDT.
Both of these classes features high-performance, open-wheel cars that are no longer eligible for professional racing. These include historic Formula 1 cars, Indy cars, Indy Lights cars, champ cars, Formula 3000 cars, Formula 5000 cars and Formula Atlantic cars.
The U.S. BOSS race at the Glen is the second event in a six-race series. Connor leads the U.S. BOSS series' current point standings, as he won the series' first race of the year May 1 at Road Atlanta Motorsports Park in Braselton, Ga. by beating his friend and occasional teammate, Duncan Dayton. Connor drove his Formula 1 car, while Dayton was in a 1995 Reynard Indy car. Bill Hart finished third in a 1999 Lola champ car and Robert Garcia was fourth in a 2002 Dallara Indy Racing League Indy car.
Connor won 11 U.S. BOSS Series races in 2003 and 2004 with his Benetton Formula 1 car, and he holds the outright track record at Road Atlanta and several other tracks with that race car.
IMS is about 516 miles from the Glen as the crow flies. There's a time zone change to deal with too, as legislation to adopt daylight saving time is still pending in the Indiana state legislature. Indianapolis is located in a county that currently uses Eastern Standard Time all year long.
Connor's marathon weekend begins with a flight from Dayton, Ohio to Elmira, N.Y. on Wednesday, June 15 so he can be at Watkins Glen in time for an all-day test day there on Thursday, June 16.
Thursday night, June 16 he flies from Elmira, N.Y. to Indianapolis so he can practice at IMS beginning at 9:15 a.m. EST Friday morning and qualify that car at 12:30 p.m. EST Friday afternoon.
As soon as qualifying is over Connor plans to be back in the air and headed for New York, where he hopes to get a little more practice in with the F1 car later Friday afternoon. He'll qualify that car Saturday morning before flying back to the Hoosier state in the early afternoon.
Then he'll compete in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series race at IMS Saturday at 4:45 p.m. EST (5:45 p.m. EDT) before taking a late-evening flight back to Elmira Saturday night in order to compete in the two races at the Glen on Sunday.
After that Connor will return to Ohio late Sunday night. He'll be tired and hopefully happy.
Connor isn't doing anything out of the ordinary to prepare for such a grueling weekend. It's sort of par for the course for the 55-year-old father of three, who competed in the LMP 900 class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans last June.
The June 18 Infiniti Pro race is slated to be televised on ESPN2 on a tape-delayed basis on Thursday, June 30 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT.
For more information on Connor's company, see theconnorgrp.com. For more information on the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, see indyracing.com/pro. For more information on the vintage races see hsrace.com and usboss.com. Other interesting information can be found on indianapolismotorspeedway.com, theglen.com and restartcommunications.com.