IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-02-07

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Feb. 7, 2006 Today's IRL headlines 1. Milwaukee Mile to add SAFER Barrier 2. Scheckter raises more than $30,000 through raffle 1. Milwaukee Mile to add SAFER Barrier: Officials at the Milwaukee Mile plan to...


Today's IRL headlines
1. Milwaukee Mile to add SAFER Barrier
2. Scheckter raises more than $30,000 through raffle

1. Milwaukee Mile to add SAFER Barrier: Officials at the Milwaukee Mile plan to add the SAFER Barrier to its 1-mile oval this spring.

The energy absorbing barrier, which consists of rectangular steel tubing backed by polystyrene foam blocks that are installed in front of the track's traditional cement walls, is designed to reduce forces incurred by a car in an accident and increase driver safety. The technology is tailor-made to address each track's design.

"The Milwaukee Mile has a rich racing history," said Gary Girard, chief operating officer of the Milwaukee Mile. "With the installment of the SAFER Barrier by April 30 of this year, we look forward to providing the safest racing environment available for all of our competitors -- from the stars of the Indy 500 to our weekend road course club racers competing on America's Legendary Oval."

The addition of the SAFER Barrier to the Milwaukee Mile marks the first time that every oval which will host the IndyCar Series in 2006 will have the energy absorbing wall.

"We applaud Milwaukee's decision to add the SAFER Barrier," said Brian Barnhart, president and COO of the Indy Racing League. "It is great to see each of the ovals we will race at in 2006 has taken steps to improve driver safety by adding the SAFER Barrier."

The SAFER Barrier was installed first on the four outside retaining walls of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's historic 2.5-mile oval in May 2002 after nearly four years of development by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy Racing League and University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Midwest Roadside Safety Facility. NASCAR joined in the development of the project in September 2000.

Since SAFER's debut in time for the 2002 Indianapolis 500, nearly every major oval racing facility in the United States has installed the system.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League CEO Tony George and the SAFER Barrier development team have won several prestigious awards for motorsports engineering and innovation. In 2002, they received the Louis Schwitzer Award, SEMA Motorsports Engineering Award and GM Racing Pioneer Award. George received the inaugural Pioneering and Innovation Award at the Autosport Awards Dec. 5, 2004, in London for his leadership in the development of the SAFER Barrier and received the Jack O'Neal Safety Award from the United States Auto Club in January 2006.

2. Scheckter raises more than $30,000 through raffle: IndyCar Series driver Tomas Scheckter's raffle to help pay for his cousin's cochlear implant surgery raised more than $30,000 with Sasenndra Meka from Huntsville, Ala. winning an autographed 2004 Panther Racing helmet.

"My progress has been remarkable," Jaki Scheckter told Panther Racing's website. "I'm used to (hearing) noise, but still need to understand speech sounds so I can be comfortable to listen. Still a long way to go. It may take up to a year before I'm comfortable listening to speech."

Jaki Scheckter, who accompanied his cousin to various IndyCar Series events over the last four seasons, underwent the life-changing surgery several months ago. He is now working with a speech therapist to help speed up the process of getting him comfortable and adjusted to his new lifestyle.

"So far this is starting to have an impact on my life," he said. "However, I can't imagine what will happen yet. Only now can I start to imagine (what it will be like) when I feel comfortable with speech, speaking on the phone, listening to the radio."

The entire Scheckter family has made a new group of friends since Tomas Scheckter started the raffle late last year. One of those friends, The Gift of Hearing Foundation (, is dedicated to improving the lives of cochlear implant patients and those who have profound hearing loss.

Donations poured in after the original announcement, and the more than $31,415 that was raised came from 21 states and four countries.


The IRL IndyCar Series opens the 2006 season with the Toyota Indy 300 on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The IMS Radio Network broadcast is also carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 152, "XM Extreme" and The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition also opens on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Tony George , Brian Barnhart
Teams Panther Racing