VISION RACING INDY LIGHTS ENTRY TAKES ON NEW OWNERSHIP, SPONSORSHIP
YOUNGEST GEORGE ASSUMES HELM, PEOPLE'S LIBERATION BECOMES PRIMARY SPONSOR
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 20, 2009) - Vision Racing co-owners, Tony and Laura George are pleased to announce that their daughter, Lauren George, has officially joined the ranks of team ownership. The younger George assumed the role of team owner on May 7, 2009, her 18th birthday, and will oversee the team's Firestone Indy Lights operation that includes the No. 21 Vision Racing Dallara/Firestone entry driven by James Davison.
"Laura and I have decided to bring Lauren into ownership with the intent of making her responsible for directing our Firestone Indy Lights program," Tony George said. "She has literally grown up around the sport and has developed a passion for it. Given her desire, ambition and acumen, her mother and I agreed that this would be a perfect opportunity for her. We are very proud of her and are excited for both her and the team."
When you attend your first Indianapolis 500 Pole Day at just four days old, perhaps a racing savvy comes naturally, but George isn't taking the appointment and subsequent assignment lightly, nor is she resting on any laurels.
"Since the formation of Vision in 2005, I have watched the team grow from the ground up and have been able to see first hand the many challenges of operating a successful racing team," she said. "I have been known to offer my dad my 'two cents' about the team from time to time, mostly when it's not asked for, so maybe this is my parents' way of showing me just how difficult it is to operate a team. Regardless, I'm excited for the opportunity and plan on giving it my full attention and devotion."
George will be graduating from Park Tudor School this month and entering the University of Notre Dame. However, for someone who just celebrated their 18th birthday, yet will be attending their 19th consecutive Indianapolis 500, balancing racing and everything else life brings just comes with the territory.
George noted, "Just because I will be completing my studies, I don't think the day to day operation is going to change at all. We have a wonderful group of guys at the shop, from the two car IndyCar team all the way down through the Lights team and our partnership with Bryan Herta and Steve Newey, so I have no concerns about the team's direction. Looking forward, I think one of my main objectives is to make the team sustainable so that in the future Vision can give talented young drivers, who we believe have the potential to be great assets to IndyCar on and off the track, the opportunity to show their ability to the top teams in IndyCar."
Furthermore, George hopes that her new Notre Dame connection will not just be an investment in her personal education endeavors, but reap dividends for the team as well. She added, "Today, it's unrealistic to go looking for a major sponsor to fund an entire program. In looking at the success of the Vision Wellness Tour, I think there's something to be said for having a mission and finding a group of sponsors who share that same mission. I have a few ideas that I would like to see materialize, maybe in the near future, maybe several years from now. I'll just be learning as much as I can at Notre Dame, being mindful of my goals with the team. Notre Dame is also known for having one of the largest and most loyal alumni networks in the world, so hopefully I can make some helpful connections during my time there as well."
Speaking of adding sponsorship to the team, in addition to placing George at the helm of the Vision Racing's first Firestone Indy Lights effort since 2005, the team is pleased to announce that its partnership with People's Liberation, Inc. has been extended to serve as the primary sponsor of the No. 21 Dallara/Firestone machine starting with Friday's Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and carrying through the remainder of the season.
The car will be sporting a new look with the logo, and the orange and white color scheme of the People's Liberation brand. The parent company, People's Liberation, Inc., recently signed an exclusive distribution agreement for the brand in the U.S. with retailer Charlotte Russe, and has additional plans to expand internationally in Europe and Asia.
"It's great to have People's Liberation on board," George said. "The brand fits the FIL perfectly. It's young, it's exciting, and its apparel for those who are on the rise in their own way. You can't miss the car, and I think it's going to look great running up front on track."
People's Liberation, Inc. also joins SONAX to form the team's Indy Lights sponsorship portfolio.
"We are excited for Lauren, and to have the opportunity to continue to grow our partnership with the George family and the Vision Racing teams", says Colin Dyne, CEO of People's Liberation, Inc. "We think both Indy Lights and Lauren really reflect the spirit and vitality of the People's Liberation brand".
Vision Racing is returning to the famed 2.5-mile oval for the first time in Firestone Indy Lights competition since 2005 where they finished third with driver Jay Drake.
Davison will be making his second start at the historic Brickyard in a Firestone Indy Lights machine on Friday. His first attempt last year with Sam Schmidt Motorsports saw him start from the second spot and finish in the 17th position. In an open-test at Indianapolis earlier in the month, Davison was seventh fastest overall.
"I don't think a top-five finish this Friday is out of the question, realistically," George said. "We have been working with our car for three or four months, while most teams have had three or four years, even more, of data and information to draw off of, so we're at a bit of a disadvantage on ovals at the moment but we'll get there. There's a good deal of work to be done in order to dial in the car for the race, but I'm confident in the team's ability to get it done. The Freedom 100 is a special race, especially as my brother won the inaugural race driving for AJ Foyt in 2003, so it's fitting that my first "official" race as team owner will be at the Brickyard."
In the most recent race on the 1.5-mile oval at Kansas Speedway Davison and the team drove to an eighth place finish for their third top-ten finish of the 2009 season. That also put him in the tenth spot in the championship point standings. His best career-oval finish is second which came last year at Kentucky Speedway.
George concluded, "In looking at our results so far this season there is certainly a lot of promise, but we're not satisfied with where we're at by any means. We were pretty competitive in St. Pete in Long Beach, but due to some unfortunate circumstances we weren't able to capitalize on our speed quite how we would have liked. On the ovals we appear to be about an 8th place car at the moment, as we started and finished 8th in Kansas and ran 8th at the Indy test. The team's real strength will show in July when we get back to the road courses. The car was fast in pre season testing, and I expect to be contending for the wins as soon as we get to Watkins Glen. I hope to see the People's Liberation/Charlotte Russe car in Victory Circle very soon."
Firestone Indy Lights action begins Thursday, May 24th for practice and qualifying. The Freedom 100 will run on Carb Day, Friday May 25th at 12:20 pm ET