BEDFORD PARK, IL., Wednesday, November 15, 2000 -- Blueprint Racing Enterprises, LLC launched into its first full year of competition with high hopes and a long-term vision. The team retains the vision that saw the purchase of two 2000 G Force ...
BEDFORD PARK, IL., Wednesday, November 15, 2000 -- Blueprint Racing Enterprises, LLC launched into its first full year of competition with high hopes and a long-term vision. The team retains the vision that saw the purchase of two 2000 G Force chassis, the hiring of open wheel hot shoe Jimmy Kite and strong runs in the Belterra Resorts Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway and the season-finale Excite 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. While the hopes for 2000 were not met, 2001 brings new hopes and plans.
The team finished 23rd in the season-long entrants race with 97 points. Kite ranked 24th in the drivers championship standings with 79 points. The team collected $319,750 with the #27 Blueprint Racing Special during the season.
"The season certainly wasn't what I had hoped for when I signed on with Blueprint back in February," reflected Kite. "However, I think we showed we are serious and have the team to get the job done. All the guys from Brad (McCanless, team manager and engineer) and Randy (Ruyle, crew chief) on to the newest members of the team were committed. Keith (Sanders, co-owner) and Ed (Rachanski, co-owner) kept improving the program each race. We really showed how strong we were in the last two events. I know that the pieces are there, we just needed a bigger hammer to pound them all into place."
Blueprint Racing began the season with a 1999 G Force chassis and driver Niclas Jonsson at the Walt Disney World Indy 200 in Orlando, Florida with a 12th place finish. The second event of the year the team hired Indy Racing veteran Jimmy Kite to finish off the year. The team also purchased a new 2000 G Force but opted to run the '99 car again at Phoenix International Raceway for the MCIWorldcom Indy 200. Kite would begin a disappointing streak of mechanical ailments being forced out on lap 14 finishing 26th.
The first run of the 2000 G Force at the Indianapolis 500 "open test" in April, resulted in the third-quick time of the day in just a handful of laps. The team arrived for the third event in the nine-race Indy Racing Northern Light Series title chase at Las Vegas with high hopes. Kite would streak through the field before a broken crankshaft trigger sensor would force the team behind the wall for lengthy repairs. The red, white and blue #27 would finish the event in 16th, running lap times equal with the leaders.
Practice at Indianapolis resulted in top-10 speed runs every day the Blueprint Racing team hit the track. However, a disappointing accident Pole morning forced the team into a second 2000 chassis, purchased from Indy-winning Ganassi Racing, and onto the grid the second day of qualifications. Kite again looked poised to run all day with the leaders before a mechanical failure took the red G Force to Gasoline Alley and out of the 84th running of the "world's greatest race." An accident in the first session of practice for the Casino Magic 500 at Texas Motor Speedway forced the team once more to the venerable red and blue '99 G Force. Kite completed the day seven laps down in 16th place.
Again forced to run the '99 chassis one week later at the Radisson 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colorado, the team hoped to be able to run closer to the pack with 1999 car than they did at Texas. However, a fuel pump failure resulted in another DNF for the Bedford Park, Illinois-based race team. The team was credited with 50 laps and 24th position. Hope rose again when Kite returned to his home track of Atlanta Motor Speedway in July. The 2000 chassis was repaired and painted a cooper-colored red for the race. The team felt strong about its chances. Kite was forced to start at the back of the field when the #27 burnt a piston in practice just prior to qualifying. However, Kite showed his typical race-savvy by charging through the field. Despite a masterful job of calling the race by McCanless and strong pit stops, a second burnt piston would throw water on the team with Kite falling out on lap 199 of the Midas 500 Classic. Blueprint earned 12th place points despite running just outside of the top-five at the time of the failure.
The new Kentucky Speedway is a Jimmy Kite track. High-banked and fast the track requires horsepower and driver skill. Blueprint Racing came to Sparta, Kentucky with both. Again, a poor qualifying run forced the team to start 12th. However, Kite did not run outside the top-ten for very long. He quickly declared his dominance at the event and the Northern Light Series took notice. A mistimed pit stop dropped Kite from running in the top-five and cost the team a lap. The Stockbridge, Georgia resident regained the lap and took the lead before the second round of pit stops. However, as if scripted, the engine on the black and gold #27 G Force expired following the team's second stop while Kite was in the lead. The same scenario nearly played out in Texas where Kite again battled through the field bringing the black and yellow racer up into the top-seven only to have the engine falter after the second pit stop of the day.
Ed Rachanski is the man that started Blueprint Racing in 1995. He is the spark that has kept Blueprint involved, in one form or another, every year of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series. "We showed we have a great team," said Rachanski. "We just had some mechanicals. Sonny Meyer is one of the outstanding engine builders in the history of the sport and I feel bad that we handicapped him some in the engine department. I'm looking forward to 2001. We have a great team and a great driver in Jimmy. I just want to put our best effort behind that kid."
Co-owner Keith Sanders looked on the year with the eye of a businessman. "This is my first year in racing and we had certain goals. We didn't meet all of those goals. However, we did a good job of assembling and maintaining a strong, core-group of guys on the team. There are certainly a few changes to be made over the winter that will help us finish races. Some of those changes are hard, but we know they need to be made. With the changes to the engine program we expect that that question will be removed. I am excited that most of the team is interested in returning. They all know that we have something special here. We are looking at putting together everything we need to go for the Indy 500 and the Northern Light Cup. I am very optimistic about 2001."
Currently, significant changes to the 2001 engine program are being made. The team anticipates the announcement of a new supplier prior to Thanksgiving. In 2001, Blueprint Racing will again run a G Force update kit to compliment the two G Force chassis. Team principals are speaking with several high-level corporations about sponsorship in the new season and the mood is extremely upbeat in the shop.
Having been a part of nearly every Indy Racing event that Kite has run, McCanless has a unique perspective on the year that both Kite and Blueprint had. "This has been a roller coaster of ups and downs this year. We have gone from not qualifying due to mechanical problems, to leading races and losing a motor while doing it. With the personnel changes we have made, we have grown to be a very good team. We are going to work hard on mechanical consistency during the off-season. That would put us in a much better position to run up front in 2001."
"Looking at the end results, we did very bad," reviewed Ruyle, who was Jim Guthrie's crew chief on the winning #27 Blueprint Racing entry at the 1997 Phoenix 200. "But if you look at where we were running, we had a very strong team; always in the top-ten. I just want to say the guys we had at the last two races did a very good job."
Blueprint Racing Enterprises, LLC is currently preparing for the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series championship. The team has every intention of placing the #27 not only into victory lane at several of the 13-races that make-up the 2001 Northern Light Series but also to take home the Northern Light Cup. The team also has plans to be drinking the milk in victory lane at Indianapolis in next season.
"The team is strong," offered Kite. "We have what it takes and I think we are starting to get into some people's heads. Right now they know we are fast, they just don't know if we can finish. But, if most of the pieces return to this puzzle in 2001 we won't need a hammer at all to make them fit. They will all slide into place. I feel great about the 2001 season."