PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE 'TEST IN THE WEST' NOTEBOOK Teammates Dismore, Sharp fastest at desert mile PHOENIX, Feb. 26, 1999 - The Kelley Boys are at it again when it comes to going fast in Pep Boys Indy Racing League testing. ...
PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE 'TEST IN THE WEST' NOTEBOOK Teammates Dismore, Sharp fastest at desert mile
PHOENIX, Feb. 26, 1999 - The Kelley Boys are at it again when it comes to going fast in Pep Boys Indy Racing League testing.
But don't think driver Mark Dismore is smiling over his top speed of 175.627 mph in Friday's opening day of the "Test in the West" at Phoenix International Raceway. Dismore's closest challenger was teammate Scott Sharp at 175.593.
"The speed's there for qualifying," said a serious Dismore, "but I'd throw away all the qualifying to have a good race car."
Dismore, from Greenfield, Ind., and Sharp, from Indianapolis, turned their fast speeds in the morning session driving with light fuel loads.
In the afternoon, Dismore's speed dropped 5 mph in full-tank testing with his MCI WorldCom Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. Sharp's afternoon speed in his Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear dipped to 174.182 mph. Greg Ray, driving the Glidden-Menard Dallara/Aurora/Firestone machine, topped the afternoon session with a lap around the 1-mile oval of 174.953 mph.
"I think we'll be competitive, but we're not where we want to be," Dismore said. "We're trying a lot of things. I know we can go fast with a light load. We try a heavy load, and the car won't stay under me for 10 laps. We can't find what it wants."
Dismore said it was good that there were 19 cars involved in the testing, because they added more race-like rubber to the surface and created "obstacles" for the drivers.
"We'll get it figured out," Dismore concluded about the car's handling. "Meanwhile, I'm getting a headache."
Behind the front three came Scott Goodyear of Pennzoil Panther Racing and A.J. Foyt Enterprises teammates Kenny Brack and Billy Boat.
Rookies Jaques Lazier and Greg Gorden recorded lap speeds of 162.067 and 161.095, respectively.
The "Test in the West" will conclude with a full day of testing starting at 9 p.m. Saturday. All teams are preparing for the MCI WorldCom 200 on March 28 at PIR.
Full season for Robby: Robby Unser, fifth-place finisher at last May's Indy 500 and the 1998 Sprint PCS Pep Boys Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year, has been released from his test-driving contract with Team Cheever and signed on for a full season with Team Pelfrey. He drove the Pelfrey car at season's first race at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla., finishing 15th.
"This is real big for me," said Unser, son of three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser. "I want to run good, run strong and do what I do."
Said Team Cheever driver-owner Eddie Cheever Jr. in a statement: "Naturally, I'm sorry that we weren't able to keep Robby in our camp this year, but we're are delighted that he is joining such a good team and strong organization as Team Pelfrey. Robby is one tough competitor. His enthusiasm and talent brings a lot to this series, and I am looking forward to going head to head with him on race day."
Team Pelfrey expects to announce a sponsor by the March 28 race at Phoenix International Raceway.
Second step: Jaques Lazier took his second step Friday at PIR toward his goal of joining his brother, 1996 Indy 500 champion Buddy Lazier, as a driver in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League.
Jaques, 28, passed his Indy Racing League rookie test in January at Walt Disney World Speedway, but concurred with league Director of Racing Operations Brian Barnhart that he needed more practice before participating in his first race. Lazier's goal is to make his debut in the MCI WorldCom 200 on March 28 at PIR.
"It was a good idea to get more experience," said Jaques, whose father, Bob, drove in the 1981 Indy 500. "There are no high expectations for me. I hope to be around for a few years, so I want to get the most seat time as I can and get ready for my first race."
Lazier drove an Infiniti-powered car prepared by ISM Racing. It was set up Friday morning by ISM regular driver Jeff Ward. Ward, who placed third in the season opener at Walt Disney World Speedway last month, had no other driving duties scheduled during the two-day open test session. Ward drove his bus over from his California home for his short assignment.
Helping out: Roberto Moreno, the Brazilian who has driven both Formula One and Indy-style cars, was in the Team Truscelli pits coaching rookie driver Greg Gorden during Friday's testing.
"I met him at the last race at Orlando, and we've become good friends," team owner Joe Truscelli said of Moreno.
"The experience he has is incredible. We want to get as much of this experience from him as we can. We'll keep running Greg as long as he is comfortable. We're putting Roberto in the car so he can get some experience in an IRL car."
Long drive: Billy Boat's publicity drive to work in his A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear Thursday was a big media hit, receiving much television exposure in the Phoenix area. Foyt's nephew and team manager, Tommy LaMance, has an idea about a future event since a similar one took place in Orlando, Fla., involving 1998 Indy 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. Cheever then won the season-opening TransWorld Diversified Services Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway in January after driving to work in his race car in December.
"If Boat wins at Phoenix (MCI WorldCom 200 on March 28), I've told Kenny Brack he's driving from Houston to Indy (for the Indianapolis 500 on May 30)."
Brack, the Swede with Speed, lives during the season in Foyt's hometown of Houston.
Big Daddy: Dan Lloyd Sr. admits he is the "Big Daddy" of the new sponsor for Galles Racing.
Team owner Rick Galles and Lloyd jointly announced Friday at PIR that the team would be sponsored by Big Daddy's BBQ. Galles had Lloyd in tow through the garages and pits at PIR. But Lloyd is no neophyte to auto racing. His introduction in 1952 did not come on the best of circumstances, but it has continued for many years. Lloyd's mother, a prominent national newspaper editor, was killed in a car accident in Albuquerque, N.M., on the way to the governor's inauguration.
"The next week my uncle took me to Speedway Park (in Albuquerque)," Lloyd said. "I was 8 and playing in the pits with Al Unser while his brothers were racing on the track," Lloyd said. "Jerry and Bobby were racing in an Australian pursuit race. They had to eat a pie in the pit before going onto the track."
Lloyd went on to become involved in the oil and gas business for years. He also drove stock and sprint cars for a while but later became primarily a sponsor. He remembers bringing sprint drivers Johnny Capels and Buddy Taylor from Albuquerque to Phoenix for the first time.
Later when Capels crashed his "Golden Greek" sprint car, Lloyd sold it to Ed French of El Paso, Texas, who became a legendary sprint driver in the Southwest while winning more than 600 races.
Lloyd, who lives in Oklahoma City, first concocted his sauce in 1970 when he held a big party to celebrate an oil well coming in. He continued to make it over the years and gave it away until his wife said this was costing too much. So he formed a company to produce it and introduced the sauce last April at Homestead, Fla., serving 9,000 people in three days.
It wasn't until January that he and car owner Galles came together to discuss a sponsorship program. Dan Jr. received a call in Dallas asking whether the Lloyds were interested. The two families had known about each other for 40 years but had never met.
"This is my first time with an Indy-type car," Lloyd Sr. said about the sponsorship. "I think the IRL is a great league. It gives the midget and sprint driver a chance to move up."
Happy anniversary: Bob Brant, owner of the car Andy Michner drives in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League, faces a dilemma when the Indy 500 rolls around May 30. That date also happens to be the 25th wedding anniversary of Brant and wife, Rhonda. The couple from West Virginia met in eighth grade.
"I think I'll put a decal on the car saying 'Happy 25th,' Brant said.
Ouch: An engine malfunction only 25 laps into practice Friday put Treadway Racing driver Sam Schmidt on the sidelines for half of the day.
"I definitely rather have it happen now than race weekend," Schmidt said. "We have a lot of work to do. We're behind and have to catch up."
In the pits: Working in the pits with the G Force teams was Nigel Bennett, once designer of the Penske CART race car and now chief designer for G Force.
Byrd seeks pain relief: Car owner Jonathan Byrd will visit famed racing doctor Terry Trammell next Friday in Indianapolis for an examination of ailing back. He has bone spurs on his spinal column that cause pain when they rub against a nerve.
"Test in the West" schedule: Pep Boys Indy Racing League testing will resume from 9-11:30 a.m. Saturday, ending with a session from 1-5 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Pep Boys Indy Racing League drivers will participate in an autograph session for fans from 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on the track.
Combined Practice Summary, 'Test in the West,' Friday, Feb. 26
Car Driver Team C/E/T Time Speed 28 Mark Dismore Kelley Racing D/A/G 20.498 175.627 8 Scott Sharp Kelley Racing D/A/G 20.502 175.593 2 Greg Ray Team Menard D/A/F 20.577 174.953 4 Scott Goodyear Pennzoil Panther Racing G/A/G 20.762 173.394 14 Kenny Brack A.J. Foyt Enterprises D/A/G 20.879 172.422 11 Billy Boat A.J. Foyt Enterprises D/A/F 21.019 171.274 12 Buzz Calkins Bradley Motorsports G/A/F 21.050 171.021 91 Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn Racing D/A/G 21.067 170.883 42 John Hollansworth Jr. TeamXtreme D/A/F 21.177 169.996 20 Tyce Carlson Blueprint-Immke D/A/F 21.246 169.444 7 Stephan Gregoire Dick Simon Racing G/A/F 21.363 168.516 10 John Paul Jr. Byrd/Cunningham Racing G/A/F 21.400 168.224 5 Sam Schmidt Treadway Racing G/A/F 21.421 168.059 66 Scott Harrington Harrington Motorsports D/I/F 21.478 167.613 53 Jeff Ward ISM Racing G/I/G 21.760 165.441 44 Robbie Buhl SRS D/I/F 21.917 164.256 3 Andy Michner Brant Motorsports R/A/G 21.949 164.017 81 Robby Unser Team Pelfrey D/A/F 21.965 163.897 53 Jaques Lazier ISM Racing G/I/G 22.213 162.067 33 Greg Gorden Truscelli Team Racing G/A/G 22.347 161.095 6 Eliseo Salazar Nienhouse Motorsports D/A/F 22.977 156.678 Chassis key: D-Dallara; G-G Force; R-Riley & Scott. Engine key: A-Aurora; I-Infiniti. Tire key: F-Firestone; G-Goodyear.