IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League notebook 2003-10-02

Taylor tests IndyCar Series car at Texas; Castroneves tests at Milwaukee INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2003 -- Mark Taylor, the 2003 Menards Infiniti Pro Series champion, tested a Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone IndyCarTM Series car...

Taylor tests IndyCar Series car at Texas; Castroneves tests at Milwaukee

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2003 -- Mark Taylor, the 2003 Menards Infiniti Pro Series champion, tested a Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone IndyCarTM Series car Oct. 1 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The test marked Taylor's first laps in an IndyCar Series car.

"It felt very comfortable, really," Taylor said. "The extra power is a big difference, and you have to be careful with it. There are a lot more little gadgets on it that you have to get used to. That was the biggest thing I was struggling with, using the pit limiter and different knobs that are there."

"It is nice to have that much horsepower under you. It is just a great experience. It is what I want to do."

In his first season in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, the official development series of the Indy Racing League, Taylor has won a record seven events and clinched the championship with one race remaining, the dreamerscandles.com 100 set for Oct. 11 at TMS.

Taylor felt his experience in the Pro Series helped during the IndyCar Series test session.

"Absolutely," Taylor said. "The cars are very similar handling-wise. It's a lot easier when you are the only one on the track. I expect when other cars are out there, it will be a different issue."

"I feel that (the Pro Series) has given me a very good grounding as far as ovals are concerned. It made it a lot easier for me to get into the IndyCar (Series) cars. If I had come straight to the IndyCar Series, it would have made it a lot harder."

While Taylor moved up to test an IndyCar Series car, USAC standout Dane Carter, son of 1985 Indianapolis 500 pole-sitter and Panther Racing spotter Pancho Carter, tested the Panther Racing Pro Series car.

"It was a lot of fun," Carter said. "The car was very stable and didn't do anything strange. The guys had the car set up very well. It was set up more conservative than when they come back for the race. The track was really nice. It was a fun ride."

Carter, 24, from Brownsburg, Ind., has competed in USAC since 1997 and is expected to make his first Pro Series start at the dreamerscandles.com 100 at TMS.

"My ultimate goal is to get something together to run the series next year," Carter said. "One day, I would like to progress on to the IndyCar Series."

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Castroneves, Herta test at Milwaukee Mile:

IndyCar Series cars took to The Milwaukee Mile for the first time Oct. 1 with two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and Andretti Green Racing driver Bryan Herta taking part in an IRL-sanctioned test.

The IndyCar Series will compete at "The Mile" for the first time on July 25, 2004.

"The test went really well at Milwaukee," Herta said. "I've always enjoyed racing there because it is a very good track. The Archipelago/Motorola crew gave me a good car, and it was comfortable right from the start. It is hard to say what the racing will be like next year because we were the only ones running today. Also, it was very cold, so our lap times really aren't indicative of what the cars will be running here next year."

The high temperature on Oct. 1 in Milwaukee was 50 degrees, 17 degrees below normal.

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Sneva, Goodyear join Firestone Heroes of Indy Roster:

The final two drivers in the Firestone Heroes of Indy race were named last week by Texas Motor Speedway officials. The race, set for 2 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 12, will feature 10 of the greatest drivers in the history of the Indianapolis 500 in a 25-lap showdown driving identically-prepared Thunder Roadsters on a quarter-mile paved oval prior to the IRL IndyCar Series season-ending Chevy 500.

Tom Sneva and Scott Goodyear were the ninth and 10th drivers named to compete in the historic race.

Sneva won the 1983 Indianapolis 500 with Bignotti/Cotter Racing and won the 1977 and '78 USAC National Driving Championships driving for current IRL IndyCar Series team Penske Racing.

Goodyear, who serves as color analyst for ABC/ESPN's coverage of the IndyCar Series, finished second in the Indianapolis 500 in 1992 and 1997. He lost to Al Unser Jr. in 1992 by .043 of a second, the closest finish in the history of the Indainapolis 500. He scored five Indy-style wins, including 500-mile races at Michigan in 1992 and 1994.

Sneva and Goodyear join legends Arie Luyendyk, Johnny Rutherford, Gordon Johncock, Parnelli Jones, Pancho Carter, Bill Vukovich II, Lloyd Ruby and Jim McElreath as drivers of the Thunder Roadsters.

Rick Mears will serve as the event's flagman, working closely with pace car driver Al Unser and grand marshal A.J. Foyt. The three men are the only drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 four times.

"The field for the first Firestone Heroes of Indy is phenomenal," said Texas Motor Speedway General Manager Eddie Gossage. "The participants represent 21 victories in 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,' a quarter of all Indianapolis 500 race wins. The competitive fire still burns in these greats. It will be special for the fans to see racing's history-makers in action."

The Thunder Roadsters are produced by 600 Racing and resemble the roadsters that dominated the Indianapolis 500 and Indy-style racing through the 1950s and 1960s. The cars are powered by a 1250cc Yamaha engine and will sport special Firestone Firehawk tires for the event.

The Firestone Heroes of Indy race will include a full weekend of activities celebrating the accomplishments of drivers who established much of the history of the Indianapolis 500. In addition to practice and qualifying for the race, the participants will participate in autograph sessions open to the public and a special "Heroes" reception featuring "Mom" Unser's fabled chili, an Indianapolis 500 tradition.

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Road Trip:

The Chevy 500 Road Trip presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors hit the road Oct. 1 to promote the Oct. 10-12 Chevy 500 championship weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

The caravan stopped at Academy Sports & Outdoors in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Oct. 1, and will be in Austin, Texas Oct. 2 and Houston Oct. 3.

IndyCar Series drivers Alex Barron, A.J. Foyt IV and Dan Wheldon are participating in parts of the trip, along with Menards Infiniti Pro Series driver Arie Luyendyk Jr.

The IRL Fan Experience Simulator will be on site at an Academy Sports & Outdoors location in each city from 3-9 p.m. (CDT), with drivers appearing from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

The road trip promotes the Oct. 12 Chevy 500 race weekend that includes the Oct. 11 dreamerscandles.com 100 Menards Infiniti Pro Series and the Silverado 350k NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races as well as the Oct. 12 Firestone Heroes of Indy race at Texas Motor Speedway.

"This is now our third year for doing this, and it has been a lot of fun," said Texas Motor Speedway General Manager Eddie Gossage. "It's a great way to get out and meet the fans and spread the good word about the Chevy 500 championship IndyCar Series event."

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More Texas Happenings:

Four lucky fans will once again have the chance to become the "Rent-Way Fan 4 Life" at the Chevy 500. Fans can enter the contest at 60 Rent-Way stores in the Fort Worth-Dallas area. Four winning entries will be drawn Oct. 6. The four winners will be paired with an IRL IndyCar Series driver at a special function at Texas Motor Speedway on Oct. 9. If one of the four selected drivers wins the Chevy 500, his "Rent-Way Fan 4 Life" partner will win a Texas Motor Speedway Season Ticket for life, a lifetime membership to The Speedway Club at TMS and a $1,000 shopping spree at the TMS Speedway World gift shop. The participants and up to three guests each will watch the Chevy 500 race in style from custom "living rooms" set up adjacent to Victory Lane. The four, four-foot-high platform "living rooms" will be provided by Rent-Way, the second largest rental/purchase company in America, and include a television and couches for the four fans and friends to watch their drivers compete. For the nearest participating Rent-Way location, call 1-800-RENTWAY.

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Taylor enjoys short-track racing: Menards Infiniti Pro Series champion Mark Taylor got his first look at dirt-track racing on Sept. 25 when he attended the 52nd Clabber Girl Hut Hundred USAC National Midget Car Series race at the Terre Haute Action Track in Terre Haute, Ind.

Dave Darland won the event.

"It's very special, I can say that," Taylor said. "I've never been to a dirt track or anything like this before, so it's going to be something I always remember. It's great racing. I can see why people enjoy it so much. It's my first, but it probably won't be the last one I come to."

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Nice Deal:

The 2003 Speedway Children's Charities Gala will take place the evening of Oct. 9 at The Speedway Club at Texas Motor Speedway. The annual Gala begins the Chevy 500 race-week activities.

"Our Speedway Children's Charities Gala is one of the highlight events of race week," said SCC director Alicia Jenkins. "One again, we have an exciting program lineup and are almost sold out of our available tables."

Former Indianapolis 500 winners Johnny Rutherford (three-time winner), Al Unser (four-time winner) and '500' veteran Lloyd Ruby, who are driving in the Firestone Heroes of Indy race on Oct. 12, are expected to attend. Also in attendance will be IndyCar Series team owner and former Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver David Starr.

Longtime sportscaster and current SCC Texas chapter board member Scott Murray and Pam Minick of "Billy Bob's Texas" in Fort Worth, Texas, will host the evening that includes a silent and live auction and dinner on the ninth floor of The Speedway Club.

One of the highlights of the live auction will be a Texas duck hunt with Foyt, Rutherford and Starr.

More than 100 other items will also be available, including a 2004 Indianapolis 500 race weekend package, Indianapolis Motor Speedway ladies leather jacket autographed by many Indy 500 winners and a Jeff Gordon oil painting by Rome Milan.

Speedway Children's Charities is a non-profit organization that distributes funds to local qualified charities benefiting children. All proceeds are used to directly affect children and their needs. In six years of raising funds for the children of North Texas, the Texas Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities has distributed over $1,880,000 to local children's organizations. For more information on the Speedway Children's Charities Gala, call (817) 215-8564.

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Hot Laps:

Infiniti Pro Series standout Aaron Fike won the first feature of the USAC MOPAR Twin 25's midget race Sept. 27 at Indianapolis Raceway Park--Officials from 7-Eleven Inc. and Andretti Green Racing will make an announcement Oct. 12 regarding the 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season.

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Mark Taylor , David Starr , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Arie Luyendyk , Scott Goodyear , Helio Castroneves , A.J. Foyt IV , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Al Unser Sr. , Rick Mears , Tom Sneva , Parnelli Jones , Dave Darland , Aaron Fike , Lloyd Ruby , Jim McElreath , Bill Vukovich , Pancho Carter , A.J. Foyt , Johnny Rutherford , Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske