CHAMPCAR/CART: Series Happenings, 1999-11-18

FedEx CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES HAPPENINGS Notes and Quotes from Championship Auto Racing Teams, November 18, 1999 Herdez, the Mexican food company which serves as primary sponsor of Michel Jourdain Jr.'s car in the...

FedEx CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES HAPPENINGS Notes and Quotes from Championship Auto Racing Teams, November 18, 1999 Herdez, the Mexican food company which serves as primary sponsor of Michel Jourdain Jr.'s car in the FedEx Championship Series, announced Tuesday that it has partnered with Bettenhausen Motorsports for the 2000 FedEx Championship Series.

The Herdez-backed Bettenhausen team will campaign a Mercedes-powered Lola for Jourdain Jr., who will be entering his fifth year in the FedEx Championship Series after spending the previous four driving for Payton Coyne Racing.

"We believe that with this change of team, our driver will have the necessary tools to be competitive at the start of the new millennium," said Antonio Marron, motorsports director of Herdez/Bettanhausen Motorsports. "Our driver is ready for new challenges in his fourth full season and fifth in the series.

"Regarding our new team, they have a professional and competitive program, something that suits us very well. Undoubtedly, with these elements at hand, the result will be a successful combination."

Said Jourdain Jr., "I followed very closely all the procedures to finally reach the agreement with Bettenhausen Motorsports. They are very professional and after testing in late October at Sebring with the team, I am convinced that they are the best option for us. This pleases me very much and I am looking forward to starting work with them."

* CONTINUING THE SHUFFLE

The Herdez/Bettenhausen announcement follows last Wednesday's announcement that Team Rahal has signed Kenny Brack to drive the team's Shell Ford Reynard, replacing Bryan Herta. Brack joins Team Rahal from the Indy Racing League, where he won four races in three seasons, including the 1999 Indianapolis 500. He won the 1998 IRL championship and was runner-up in this season's championship. "Kenny is one of the bright young stars in open-wheel racing," said Team Rahal co-owner Bobby Rahal. "He has consistently proven over his career that he is a championship contender. I have no doubt that the combination of Kenny and Max [Papis, who drives the Miller Lite Ford Reynard for Team Rahal] will push us to new heights and enable Team Rahal to challenge for the championship in 2000 and beyond." Brack is looking forward to competing on the unique mix of road, street and oval courses which comprise the FedEx Championship Series. "From a driver's standpoint, joining a professional racing organization with a proven record like Team Rahal gives me a chance to win races and compete for the CART championship," Brack said. "Over the last several seasons, I have raced exclusively on ovals, and while I like the challenge of racing on ovals, my background is in 16 years of road racing. I like the ovals, but the unique combination of the CART schedule allows me the best of both worlds." Team Rahal also announced that it had hired veteran race engineer and designer Don Halliday to join the team's engineering staff for the 2000 season. A native of New Zealand, Halliday has most recently served as Technical Director for Team KOOL Green, where he engineered Dario Franchitti's (KOOL Honda Reynard) run to a runner-up finish in the FedEx Championship Series, as well as Franchitti's third-place performance in 1998.

Halliday served as Director of Engineering for the Tasman Motorsports Group prior to his stint with Team KOOL Green. "Bringing in a talent like Don Halliday gives our team added experience," said Rahal. "Don's engineering background in open-wheel racing is as extensive as anyone's in the sport. We believe Don's assistance will help take Team Rahal to the championship level."

* STILL MORE SHUFFLING

Also last week, Marlboro Team Penske announced that it had signed Helio Castro-Neves to campaign a Honda Reynard alongside teammate Gil de Ferran in next year's FedEx Championship Series. Castro-Neves became available when Hogan Racing, the team he competed for this year, announced that it was disbanding at the conclusion of the season. Castro-Neves is entering his third year in the championship and comes off a season in which he earned his first pole position at Milwaukee and matched his career-best finish with a runner-up effort at Gateway. He replaces Greg Moore, who had signed to join the team before losing his life in a single-car accident during CART's season finale at California Speedway.

* ON THE TUBE

FedEx Championship Series runner-up Dario Franchitti will make a guest appearance on the NBC-TV sitcom Suddenly Susan on Monday, Dec. 6. The program, which stars Brooke Shields, airs at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 7 p.m. Central in most markets. Meanwhile, CART team owner John Della Penna makes his television debut on the Veronica's Closet Thanksgiving show airing Monday, Nov. 22 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on NBC. Della Penna purchased the non-speaking, walk-on opportunity at the Toyota Grand Prix Charity Ball in Long Beach. "I always purchase an auction item in Long Beach as a way of making a donation to Toyota's worthwhile charities," Della Penna said. "When this item came up for bid, I couldn't miss out on the opportunity to see Kirstie Alley [who plays the title character, Veronica Chase] in person. It was a thrill to the have the opportunity to watch the Veronica's Closet cast in action. The creative process intrigued me most. To see each scene change a little with each shot was fascinating."

* TUBE, TAKE TWO

Anthony Edwards, star of the top-rated NBC drama, ER, will appear on the nationally-syndicated Rosie O'Donnell Show on Monday, Nov. 22, to promote his involvement with Team CAN, a charitable non-profit organization dedicated solely to finding an effective biological treatment, prevention and cure for autism and related disorders. Formed by former Champ Car driver Stefan Johansson, Team CAN, an acronym for "Cure Autism Now," will field a one-car effort in the 2000 FedEx Championship Series. Edwards and Artisan Entertainment producer Jonathan Shestack are among a number of Hollywood celebrities who have lent their support to CAN's cause. Edwards also appeared on CBS-TV's The Late Show with David Letterman last week to discuss his involvement with the project. Details regarding Team CAN's equipment package and driver lineup for the 2000 FedEx Championship Series campaign will be released at a later date.

* CONGRATULATIONS ...

... To PacWest Racing Group owner Bruce McCaw and his wife, Jolene, on the birth of Wynn Bruce Elroy McCaw on Thursday, Nov. 11. Baby McCaw checked in at six pounds, 10 ounces. All family members are doing fine.

* GIDLEY WINS

Memo Gidley, who made a combined 10 starts for Walker Racing and Payton Coyne Racing during his recently concluded rookie FedEx Championship Series season, won the MBA Formula S1 feature at the Shift Kart USA Nationals in Las Vegas last weekend. Gidley, who qualified on the pole, finished 2.212 seconds ahead of runner-up Michael Valiante in the 25-lap event.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Stefan Johansson , Gil de Ferran , Memo Gidley , Bobby Rahal , Dario Franchitti , Bryan Herta , Kenny Brack , Michael Valiante , Bruce McCaw , Greg Moore , Michel Jourdain
Teams Team Penske