IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-04-18

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- April 18, 2007 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. IndyCar Series improving racing's environmental footprint 2. War relic returned to original owner 1. IndyCar Series improving racing's ...

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- April 18, 2007

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. IndyCar Series improving racing's environmental footprint
2. War relic returned to original owner

1. IndyCar Series improving racing's environmental footprint: On April 22, Americans will gather to celebrate Earth Day, where they will honor gains made and create new visions to accelerate environmental progress.

From its Honda Accord Hybrid pace car to its 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol fueled Honda Indy V-8 engines, the IndyCar Series is playing its part in protecting the planet.

"When we're talking about ethanol, it plays a big part in our efforts to control global climate change," said Jeff Simmons, driver of Rahal Letterman Racing's Team Ethanol-sponsored IndyCar Series entry. "That's certainly one of the main issues right now in terms of protecting our environment and protecting the earth."

Long recognized for its leadership in motorsports safety and innovation, the IndyCar Series expanded its role by improving auto racing's environmental footprint in 2007. After using a blend of 90 percent methanol and 10 percent ethanol in 2006, it successfully converted to 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol earlier this year.

It also is using the Honda Accord Hybrid Pace Vehicle, which runs on electric and gas power as its primary safety vehicle. The IndyCar Series is the first in motorsports to utilize these technologies proven to benefit the environment.

"The IndyCar Series is setting a good example for the rest of the United States and the world by using ethanol," said Vitor Meira, who has used ethanol throughout his racing career.

***

2. War relic returned to original owner: Dr. Geoffrey Billows, the Indy Racing League's assistant director of medical services, has fulfilled one of his late father's wishes. After more than 60 years, a World War II artifact has been returned to its original owner.

With the assistance of Dr. Mineo Kawasaki, president of Kawasaki Hospital in Hitachiota and director of medical services at Twin Ring Motegi in Motegi, Japan, a Japanese flag in the possession of Billows' family recently was presented to World War II veteran Kaneo Kato. The Nissho-ki - signed by family members, friends and neighbors - was presented to drafted soldiers before they entered the service.

Kawasaki said Kato, 87, who resides in a nursing home, "was very excited to receive it. He saluted."

"My dad was stationed in China in World War II, and at some point he was given a Japanese flag by an Australian soldier," Billows said. "The flag had writing all over it. He brought it home and kept it all through the years. I can remember as children we would take it to school for show and tell days.

"It was always his desire to return it somehow, but he didn't know how to go about that. Several years after his death, I had the great fortune to meet Dr. Kawasaki and we've become great friends over the years. About two years ago I asked Dr. Kawasaki to help me return this flag. He went through the Japanese government and they were able by reading all the names on the flag to trace it to its original owner."

Billows and Kawasaki visited with Kato's family, which will attend the Indy Japan 300 as guests, at Twin Ring Motegi. They brought the framed flag.

"I'm sure my father would be very excited to see the flag returned," Billows relayed to the family through an interpreter. "I hope your family will be able to keep the flag for generations to come and it would be a great source of pleasure."

***

The 2007 IndyCar Series season continues with the Indy Japan 300 at 11:30 p.m. (ET) on April 20. It will by broadcast live by the IMS Radio Network with live video streaming on www.indycar.com. The race will be telecast at noon (ET) on April 21 by ESPN. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The sixth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Freedom 100 on May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast as part of ESPN2's coverage of Carb Day at 4 p.m. on May 25.

-credit: irl

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jeff Simmons , Vitor Meira