INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- May 22, 2007 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines: 1. Road to Indy: Rice hopes to follow "Buddy System" to 2007 success 2. Gruning joins Indy Racing as vice president of sales 3. Foreman joins ...
INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- May 22, 2007
Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines:
1. Road to Indy: Rice hopes to follow "Buddy System" to 2007 success
2. Gruning joins Indy Racing as vice president of sales
3. Foreman joins Panther Racing's ownership group
4. Giebler honored as '500's' Fastest Rookie
5. PEAK partners with Andretti Green Racing
6. Prendeville to raise funds for Best Friends Animal Society
1. Road to Indy: Rice hopes to follow "Buddy System" to 2007 success: In 2004, Buddy Rice came to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a re-building team and surprised everyone the 88th Indianapolis 500.
He hopes to follow the same "Buddy System" for the 91st edition of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" on May 27.
Rice, who will make his fourth start in the race, was Kenny Brack's substitute with Rahal Letterman Racing when he arrived at the Speedway in 2004. He practiced quietly until Pole Day, when he surprised the field with a pole-winning run.
On Race Day, Rice's car was the class of the field and won the after a late charge to the front just before a downpour halted the race after 180 of the 200 laps.
"We did it unconventionally, anyway," Rice said. "No one had us a favorite to sit on the pole, nobody had us as a favorite to win the race.
"To think it happened and to do it the way we did, I think it was great. I think that it's definitely unique, and maybe I'll have another opportunity to have a proper winning victory celebration, but I'm definitely happy with what I have right now."
This season, Rice has moved to another rebuilding team. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing has fielded cars for five drivers since co-owner Robbie Buhl retired a few weeks before Rice's 2004 "500" win.
Rice said the switched is a good move for him. DRR co-owners Dennis Reinbold and Buhl have stepped up their competitive operational level and he works well with teammates Sarah Fisher and Roger Yasukawa.
"I'm really happy here," said Rice, who missed his chance to defend his race win in 2005 because of injury and crashed out of the 2006 event. "Dennis has taken great strides in getting his team to be a lot more competitive between the engineers, the staff and everybody he's brought in. And it's been extremely exciting, and it's great to take part in that.
"I think I've had more top-10 finishes this year (in the first four races leading up to Indy) than the last two years combined. That already shows an improvement for me to get here, and they've really stepped up their deal."
2. Gruning joins Indy Racing as vice president of sales: The Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body for the IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series, announced that Gregory Gruning has been named the league's vice president of sales. The announcement was made by Terry Angstadt, president, commercial division for the Indy Racing League.
Gruning will be responsible for all sales and new business development as well as the league's client services efforts and hospitality. He will also be responsible for managing the league's recently announced consultancy with Just Marketing International, and he will serve as point person for any and all agency requests made to the league.
"Greg is a results driven individual who brings us proven performance in areas of strategic business and marketing planning and his motorsports background affords us an added advantage," Angstadt said. "We are on the threshold of a very active and optimistic era for IndyCar Series racing and its drivers, teams and events and Greg's experience and knowledge will help us deliver the story of the sport's excitement, relevancy and value in today's sponsorship marketplace.
"Our incomparable history and tradition, coupled with leading-edge technology, distinguishes the IndyCar Series as a compelling sponsorship platform."
Gruning, a 1990 graduate of Indiana University with a degree in marketing, joins the Indy Racing League from NewPage Corp. where he served as vice president, marketing and led a team responsible for launching a $2.1 billion coated-paper company while managing all functions of product, placement, price and promotion.
From 1996-2005, Gruning worked at Mead where he advanced from being a regional sales representative to director of the company's North American business development.
While at Mead, Gruning championed and worked closely with NASCAR to develop its business-to-business council which allowed companies within the sport to identify reciprocal relationships and learn best practices on how other partners leverage their sponsorship. The council is recognized within sports properties as an industry leader.
3. Foreman joins Panther Racing's ownership group: Two-time IndyCar Series champion Panther Racing announced that former heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman and his sons will become the team's newest co-owners.
Foreman, a 1968 Olympic gold medalist and an ordained minister, is making his return to professional sports since he retired from boxing in 1997.
"This is a very special day for Panther Racing," team co-owner John Barnes said. "To add a true professional and sports legend like George Foreman to our ownership group is a tremendous boost to our team. George brings with him experience from decades in professional sports and the business savvy to help our team's sponsorship efforts. His passion for cultivating successful business opportunities is as strong as his career in the boxing ring. The Panther Racing franchise just got a lot stronger."
George Foreman Jr. and brother George III serve as vice presidents of George Foreman Enterprises, the marketing company founded by their father. They also founded their own investment company, JR3, which has strategic investments in a diverse portfolio of industries including real estate, apparel, exercise equipment, sporting goods, financial services, entertainment, and music.
"I've been blessed throughout my life to partner with winning organizations," the eldest Foreman said. "Now that I am part of Panther Racing, I am looking forward to being part of a winning team. Much like the Foreman name, Panther Racing is an institution in sports and I'm proud to be a partner in their world-class Indy team.
"From our first meeting, I've been impressed with John Barnes and the entire Panther Racing organization. This is a very hard-working team that we admire."
Panther Racing is preparing for the 91st Running of the Indianapolis 500, where it will feature drivers Vitor Meira, Kosuke Matsuura and John Andretti.
"All I could say was 'Wow' when John (Barnes) told me who our newest team owner was," Meira said. "There are many common threads between Panther and George Foreman. Both of us our champions, both of us are committed to working hard in sports and in business, and now we are going to accomplish great things together."
4. Giebler honored as '500's' Fastest Rookie: In a matter of days, Phil Giebler will have been toasted and roasted.
Giebler, who qualified for the 91st Indianapolis 500 with a four-lap average of 219.637 mph in the No. 31 Ethos Fuel Reformulator Panoz/Honda/Firestone prepared by Playa Del Racing, was honored at the 33rd Fastest Rookie luncheon presented by the American Dairy Association of Indiana.
Later in the week, he will join Richie Hearn and Roberto Moreno at the Last Row Party, which humorously salutes the 31st, 32nd and 33rd drivers in the field for the May 27 race.
Giebler, of Oxnard, Calif., is just happy to be among the starters. During Third Day Qualifying, his car made contact with the outside and inside retaining walls on his fourth qualification lap. The team feverishly worked to restore the car for limited practice and a successful qualifying attempt on Bump Day.
"The team is capable of faster times, but all we had to do was get it in the field," said Giebler, who experienced more anxiety to start the day by locking the keys to his rental car in the trunk. "I was so happy for the guys, who worked so hard to repair the car. When I say the smiles on their faces, I was really happy."
The public events continue throughout the week for Giebler, who joined the 32 other starters for a photo opportunity in Times Square on May 21 followed by a media luncheon in midtown Manhattan.
"(The Month of May) is bigger than I could have imagined," he said. "There's a lot of stuff going on and it's great to be here. I'm trying to soak it all in and enjoy the whole week."
5. PEAK partners with Andretti Green Racing: PEAK Antifreeze announced its sponsorship of Andretti Green Racing for the remainder of the 2007 IndyCar Series season.
Marketed and distributed by Old World Industries, one of the largest privately-owned companies competing in the automotive aftermarket, PEAK Antifreeze is an associate sponsor of Andretti Green and is also the "Official Antifreeze & Coolant" of Danica Patrick's No. 7 Team Motorola entry.
"We're delighted to have PEAK onboard for the 2007 IndyCar Series season," said Michael Andretti, who co-owns Andretti Green Racing with Kim Green and Kevin Savoree. "PEAK has a standard of excellence in the automotive industry that is second-to-none and we're proud to add their brand to the Andretti Green family."
PEAK Antifreeze can be found at major retailers such as AutoZone, NAPA, Pep Boys, O'Reilly, CSK, Meijer, Wal-Mart and Walgreens. In total, Old World products are sold on the shelves of more than 200,000 outlets nationwide, across every retail channel - whether automotive, mass merchandise, home/hardware, food/drug, or convenience.
"I'm thrilled that PEAK has joined the sponsor family at Andretti Green," said Patrick. "They have been a long-time supporter of mine and I am glad they are continuing on with me at AGR as we chase our first IndyCar Series win together."
6. Prendeville to raise funds for Best Friends Animal Society: Indy Pro Series driver Andrew Prendeville and officials of Best Friends Animal Society announced a fundraising program centered around Prendeville's race car called "Racing Laps for Best Friends."
A special Web site at www.racinglapsforbestfriends.com has been established to accept monetary donations for Best Friends, which operates the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the United States. Donations may also be made by telephone at (435) 644-2001, extension 4801; by mail; or at the Racing Laps for Best Friends donation centers at Indy Pro Series races.
"Best Friends Animal Society and I are very pleased to announce this program," said Prendeville, will make his first start at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Freedom 100 Indy Pro Series race on Friday, May 25, during Miller Lite Carb Day.
"We believe that we have created a very unique sponsorship program with the per-completed-laps calculation. By having amounts ranging from 25 cents to $10 per lap, we feel that we're providing the opportunity for fans of all financial means to donate to Best Friends. We also believe that it is a great way to build awareness for Best Friends, the Indy Pro Series, and open-wheel racing at large."
Best Friends Animal Society supports animal welfare programs throughout the world. At any given time it is caring for approximately 1,500 animals at its sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. Best Friends hopes the exposure to racing fans will raise awareness of the organization and gain support for animal welfare.
Mari Hulman George, the chairman of the board of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a life-long animal lover, is helping Prendeville get the Racing Laps for Best Friends program off to a great start.
She has given him permission to set up a tent in the parking lot of the Hall of Fame Museum on the Speedway grounds from May 23 through May 27 to accept donations from fans attending the Freedom 100 and the Indianapolis 500. Fans are urged to look for the program's representatives under a red, 10-foot by 20-foot tent.
In addition to making straight donations to Best Friends, fans can pledge an amount per lap based on the number of laps they predict Prendeville will complete in each Indy Pro Series race, starting with the Freedom 100.
"After visiting the sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, I have to say that it is one of the most peaceful places I have been to in this country," Prendeville said. "There is an interesting history to the area dating back to Native American times, and being in the high desert creates a favorable climate for the animals year round. I am very impressed with the scientific approach that Best Friends uses to bring injured and traumatized animals back to good health."
The 2007 IndyCar Series season continues with the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500 at 1 p.m. (ET) on May 27. The race will be telecast live by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The sixth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Freedom 100 on May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast as part of ESPN2's coverage of Carb Day at 4 p.m. on May 25.