IRL: Indy 500 IMS Media Tour notebook 2005-04-06

2005 INDIANAPOLIS 500 MEDIA TOUR NOTEBOOK Tom Carnegie Day is May 13 at IMS; Cheever team describes pit stop essentials INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 6, 2005 -- Notes from the second day of the 2005 Indianapolis 500 Media Tour: IMS to salute...

2005 INDIANAPOLIS 500 MEDIA TOUR NOTEBOOK
Tom Carnegie Day is May 13 at IMS; Cheever team describes pit stop essentials

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 6, 2005 -- Notes from the second day of the 2005 Indianapolis 500 Media Tour:

IMS to salute Carnegie May 13: "Fast Friday" for the Indianapolis 500, May 13, will be known as Tom Carnegie Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it was revealed in a surprise announcement April 6 during the Indianapolis 500 Media Tour.

Carnegie, who will be in his 60th year as the familiar leading voice on the Speedway's public-address system, will be honored on that day, which just precedes MBNA Pole Day qualifications for the 89th running of the historic auto race.

An autograph session, video tributes and public-address tributes are scheduled, commemorative pins will be given away and "bobblehead" Carnegie dolls will be available for sale that day.

Carnegie was surprised and in attendance at the announcement, which was made just after Playa Del Rey Racing's driver announcement on the tour.

"I'm honored that the Speedway would officially recognize Fast Friday as Tom Carnegie Day," Carnegie said after the announcement. "That's very meaningful. (60 years) is sort of (a long time). You look back and say, 'My gosh,' how did that happen?' That's my feeling right now.

"But it's been easy. And it's been inspired by love of the race and love of the people who've been there all those 60 years. Of course, the Hulman-George family. What they've meant to racing, what they've meant to the leadership has inspired me to be here, to be part of it. I just appreciate the attitude of the family and the fans. After 50 years, it began to be important!"

***

Speedy pit work: The tour visited the Red Bull Cheever Racing shop April 6 for a Pit Stop 101 demonstration, and answers led to more questions.

Rob Channel, the air jack man for Alex Barron's entry, told the group that "I've watched tire changers get better and better, and we're down in the 5s (five-second range) now."

After that, Barron's crew changed four tires in 5.67 seconds.

Max Jones, the team's director, said the crew practices eight to 10 pit stops at the end of every work day.

"To load 30 gallons of fuel takes 10.6-10.8 seconds," Jones said. "We're always waiting on fuel. Our fueler tries to lock on even before the car stops, and that might save a tenth (of a second). We know that fuel will flow faster out of the (pit side) tank the faster the faster the car gets down on the ground, so that's important to the tire changers to get done. It all works together."

***

Cheever may practice in May: Eddie Cheever Jr., the 1998 winner of the "500," said he could be on the track in May -- but not in contention for spot in the field.

"I think it's possible that I might do some testing," Cheever said. "But it depends on our workload. Our drivers are very, very busy, and there are some technical issues that we're trying to play with that might make it possible that I'd do some testing.

"It wouldn't be a newsworthy event, either. I might just do some laps. That's all. I think it's highly improbable that (he'd be in a third car). We still haven't gotten the cars to a point where we're happy with their performance, so there's a lot of work still to be done. All of the management needs to focus on these two cars (for Barron and Patrick Carpentier), not on a third one."

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Panther on schedule: John Barnes, co-owner of Panther Racing, said the team's accident misfortunes of late in the IndyCar® Series would not affect the team's preparations for Indy.

"We have nine cars," Barnes said April 5. "Three of the cars for Indy are finished, and one was at the track today (for a test day). The other two cars will be 'up' next week. The backup cars will go to Motegi as backup cars, and the cars we run at Motegi will come out of service until Richmond. We'll have six cars at Indy."

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Good equipment for Schmidt: Team owner and Indianapolis 500 veteran Sam Schmidt will have a pair of cars from Marlboro Team Penske to prepare for veteran Richie Hearn for the Indianapolis 500.

"We're supposed to go to Reading (Pa.) next Tuesday and pick up the two Panoz chassis which we purchased from Roger," Schmidt said April 6. "One was the backup to (Gil) de Ferran and one was Helio's (Castroneves) backup before he switched to a Dallara (in '03). So they're both incredible race cars. We should be ready to go on May 10."

Schmidt talked about his Day at the Races program in which the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation brings people with disabilities to the tracks.

"One of the things we speak to when we have the Day at the Races program is that there's such a negative connotation about a spinal cord injury when you're in rehabilitation that the general prognosis is, 'What am I going to do with my life?'" Schmidt said. "Seventy-five percent of the people who are injured are under 25 years old, so they're thinking, 'I have my whole life ahead of me, but what am I going to do, I'm paralyzed?

"When we bring them out to the track, we just instill a positive that they have to get passionate about something. I had owned some businesses, I had done well. But there was one thing that made it worthwhile to spend two hours to get up in the morning, and that's racing."

Ida Cahill, new president and CEO of the Schmidt Foundation, said the Day at the Races for the month of May would be May 20 and the "Racing for Recovery" auction May 16 at Eddie Merlot's in Indianapolis.

"We wanted to expand it (the Day at the Races), but Sam's hospitality trailer just had an awning. When it gets hot, people with spinal-cord injuries can't regulate their body temperatures. I called Michael Andretti and he was nice enough to offer his hospitality coach and also to provide lunch."

Cahill, who previously worked for the Christopher Reeve's foundation, got an awakening to motorsports last year at the IndyCar Series race at California Speedway.

"I'm totally new to motorsports," she said. "My first race was Fontana last year, and Sam arranged for a two-seater ride for me. I was a little nervous. You don't get the sense of how fast you're going until you come past the pit where all the people are and all of a sudden, they're gone. I had to go to a meeting afterward with a CEO, and I wondered how I could go to a meeting after wearing a helmet and suit and doing that.

"Sam just laughed."

***

More innovation for Impact: The tour stopped at Impact Racing's shops, where racing safety guru Bill Simpson manufactures his newest innovations in racing safety.

"We have three, of what I consider, major (new) things for '05," Simpson said. "The first is the liner of our helmet, which is now Snell-certified for the 2005 standard.

"The second is our outer layer of our fire suit fabric, which we call Impactanium, which is a carbonized fiber. The combination of the two is a 30-35 percent increase in time, what they call TPP, which is the time it take for flame to impinge the fire suit to where you feel burn, which is 180 degrees.

"The third thing is we're making a shoulder harness specifically for the HANS device, which is a little bit backward because we've gone from a 3-inch harness to a 2-inch harness, but we've made some adjusting of hardware that's a 9,000-pound test.

"That's three things we've done for '05 and into '06. There's only so many hours in the day, and I need a little rest!"

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Playa Del Racing aims high: Playa Del Racing announced the filing of its entry for the "500," with veteran Jaques Lazier in the seat.

Lazier is looking forward to starting the month of May in a race car, something he hasn't been able to do recently, as he has climbed into rides late in the month in recent years and relieved Robby Gordon on Race Day last year when Gordon had to fly to Charlotte, N.C., for his NASCAR driving duties.

"I think it definitely is (more comfortable)," Lazier said. "It allows us the opportunity to do a lot more things. Obviously, I don't view us as a team that's necessarily going to be going for the pole. I view us as a team as more of a solid-15 start, and I believe with the amount of time we can have on track that we can really utilize it to maximize our Race Day package. Hopefully, we can run all day long and be the first one to the checkered flag."

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Playa Del Racing co-owner blazes trail: The co-founders of Playa Del Racing are Gary Sallee and Sue Schafer, two of four owners. Schafer joins a short list of women who have owned or co-owned entries for the "500," including Lydia Laughery, Felicia McCormack and LeeAnne Nash.

Schafer has had PR and marketing roles at the "500," but this role is new.

"I'm extremely excited," she said. "There is a point sometimes when I get a little nervous, but I am so blessed with the people around me and the network of individuals that have embraced our return to racing and me into developing into a role as a car owner -- the George family, the Indy Racing League, such wonderful people, you guys in the media.

"I'm going to take it every day and enjoy the 'now' because I know how special the first time around is."

***

Indy 500 tickets: To purchase tickets, camping or parking for the 89th Indianapolis 500, contact the IMS ticket office at (800) 822-INDY or log on to www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.

-ims-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Eddie Cheever , Michael Andretti , Jaques Lazier  , Patrick Carpentier , Richie Hearn , Alex Barron , Sam Schmidt , Max Jones , John Barnes , Eddie M
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske