IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League news and notes 2005-05-23

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- May 23, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Indianapolis 500 field visits New York 2. Drivers go karting for charity 3. Star Wars is talk of Gasoline Alley 4. Schmidt to appear on CNN 1. Indianapolis 500 field ...


Today's IRL headlines
1. Indianapolis 500 field visits New York
2. Drivers go karting for charity
3. Star Wars is talk of Gasoline Alley
4. Schmidt to appear on CNN

1. Indianapolis 500 field visits New York: The 33 drivers who will comprise the starting field for the 89th Indianapolis 500 lined up in traditional 11-row order -- wearing their colorful firesuits and with helmets tucked under their right arms -- in Times Square for an unprecedented media photo opportunity behind a "yard of bricks" graphic.

The Borg-Warner Trophy and a Team 7-Eleven show car of MBNA Pole winner Tony Kanaan flanked the field.

The drivers were joined by former U.S. Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, who will drive the Pace Car in the May 29 classic. The Borg-Warner Trophy made its first public appearance in New York City since its unveiling at the Roosevelt Hotel in 1936.

"It's going to be a fun day," said two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, who occupied the space reserved on Military Island for the middle starter in Row 2.

It was a full day of activity for the drivers. Kanaan, the reigning IndyCar Series champion, and Danica Patrick appeared on ESPN2's "Cold Pizza" and on Fox News Channel. Patrick will be the fourth woman to start the 500-Mile Race.

In the afternoon, Patrick was a guest on the syndicated "Jim Rome Show," taped a segment for "CNN NewsNight with Aaron Brown" and was a guest on the "Late Show with David Letterman." Letterman, an Indianapolis native and co-owner of Rahal Letterman Racing, will cheer on Patrick and teammates Kenny Brack, the 1999 race winner, and Vitor Meira on Race Day.

After the photo opportunity, the drivers returned to the Marriott Marquis for a luncheon and interviews with national and international print, video and online media outlets.


2. Drivers go karting for charity: Six Menards Infiniti Pro Series drivers joined 2004 series champion Thiago Medeiros at Fastimes Karting in Indianapolis May 23 to help raise funds for Junior Achievement.

For the fourth consecutive year, FedEx has sponsored the karting outing at the facility in an effort to raise funds for Junior Achievement's "Exchange City" program. In the program, students cover a six-week curriculum that teaches them about financial responsibility. At the end of the program, the kids run a virtual city for a day and are expected to turn a profit.

Twenty-two teams of four participated in the all-day event. The Menards Infiniti Pro Series team of Mishael Abbott, Cole Carter, Wade Cunningham and Travis Gregg was eliminated in the first 45-minute heat.

After falling a lap behind early, Gregg made a pass for second place with 14 minutes remaining in the session. A pit stop to switch drivers caused the team to lose that position and fall half a lap down. Cunningham, a former world karting champion, anchored the team and cut a 15-second deficit down to three seconds before time expired. Cunningham turned a lap in 26.018 seconds, which was quickest in the session.

Medeiros started fourth for the FedEx team, which was put together by Tony Ferguson, manager of air, ground and freight services. Ferguson is also a pit tech for the Indy Racing League. Medeiros drove the first 15 minutes of the heat and built leads of 1, 3 and 5 laps over the competition. Al Unser and Chris Festa also drove for the FedEx team.

"It was fun hanging out with everyone aside from racing, and it's for charity, a good cause," said Gregg, the series points leader.

The Menards Infiniti Pro Series drivers will practice and qualify at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26. The Futaba Freedom 100 is May 27.


3. Star Wars is talk of Gasoline Alley: Like most of the country, the final installment of the Star Wars series of movies has been a topic of conversation in Gasoline Alley.

"I think anyone who has grown up in our generation knows Star Wars," said 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier. "It's always been pretty cool. I've heard this one is a pretty good one. I remember being a kid and everyone said that was the end of the story. There would be no more, and then there was more. I'm hopeful that it continues and is sort of a lifetime series of movies."

Richie Hearn, driver of the No. 70 Meijer Coca-Cola Racing Special Panoz/Chevrolet/Firestone, was one of the first people in the garage area to see the movie. He saw the Star Wars, Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith on May 19 when practice for the Indianapolis 500 was rained out.

"I thought it was a good movie, but I'm kind of a Star Wars geek," said Hearn,. "I have all the movies and I was happy with way it all tied in. The special effects were pretty incredible. I'm definitely going to see it again."

Jimmy Kite, driver of the No. 91 Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone said he hadn't seen the movie, but had plans to see it soon.

"I've been waiting on this one since the last one ended," Kite said. "You know it always comes out in May, and I've had the date circled. My PR guy and I have been counting down the days. As soon as he gets up here, we're going right to the movie theater to watch it."


4. Schmidt to appear on CNN: Sam Schmidt, owner of Sam Schmidt Motorsports and founder of the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, is scheduled to appear on CNN at approximately 1:30 p.m. (EDT) on May 24.

Schmidt, who will field a car for Richie Hearn in the Indianapolis 500 and four cars in the Futaba Freedom 100 for Jaime Camara, Chris Festa Travis Gregg and Tom Wood will be on Live From--, which runs 1-3 p.m. (EDT) on the cable television news network.


The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast by ABC at 1 p.m. (EDT) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Futaba Freedom 100 on May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast by ESPN2 at 2 p.m. (EDT) on May 27.


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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Buddy Lazier , Helio Castroneves , Jimmy Kite , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Richie Hearn , Sam Schmidt , Mishael Abbott , Tom Wood , Chris Festa , Travis Gregg , Cole Carter , Wade Cunningham , Jaime Camara , Danica Patrick , Al Unser , Thiago Medeiros , Vitor Meira