IRL: Indy Racing Northern Light Series notebook

For Immediate Release INDY RACING NORTHERN LIGHT SERIES NOTEBOOK USAC standouts to earn bonuses from 'Road to Indy' program INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - Top drivers in six USAC racing series will split $30,000 in year-end bonuses ...

For Immediate Release

INDY RACING NORTHERN LIGHT SERIES NOTEBOOK USAC standouts to earn bonuses from 'Road to Indy' program

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - Top drivers in six USAC racing series will split $30,000 in year-end bonuses posted by the Indy Racing League as part of its "Road to Indy" incentive program in the year 2000. Included are participants in the Coors Light Silver Bullet Series, the Stoops Freightliner Sprint Cars, the MCI WorldCom National, Western and TQ Midget Car Series and the Western Sprint Cars. Recognizing the top talent of USAC's front-engine, open-wheel racing series, the "Road to Indy" program offers incentives to drivers with aspirations of competing in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series and racing's pinnacle, the Indianapolis 500. In 1999, USAC national champions Ryan Newman, Dave Darland and Jason Leffler, plus Russ Gamester, Tracy Hines, Jack Hewitt, Tony Elliott and Jerry Coons Jr. enjoyed the fruits of success, which included the "Road to Indy" bonuses. The awards will be distributed in the following amounts: Each national champion will receive $4,000, with series runners-up receiving $2,500 and third-place drivers receiving $1,000. Western Sprint and Midget Car champs will receive $1,500 each, with runners-up receiving $1,000 and third-place finishers receiving $500. The TQ Midget Car Champions will receive $1,000 and the runner-up $500. Eligibility for the awards dictates that drivers must display the "Road to Indy" patches on their uniforms and the decals on their cars. "We are extremely proud of our association with the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis 500," said USAC President/CEO John Capels. "Since 1956, nearly 50 percent of the drivers earning their initial starting berths at Indianapolis have come from our ranks (132 of 276), and that speaks volumes for our formulas. These incentive bonuses are welcomed by our participants and create stimulus all season long."

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Schmidt, Gidley honored: Sam Schmidt and Memo Gidley recently were announced as the inductees into the U.S. F2000 Hall of Fame.

Schmidt won the U.S. F2000 national championship in 1996 and moved to the Indy Racing League in 1997. He earned his first career Indy Racing victory in 1999 and finished a career-best fifth in the point standings. Schmidt suffered paralysis in a testing accident in January 2000 at Walt Disney World Speedway.

Gidley finished second in the 1995 U.S. F2000 standings to current Indy Racing rookie standout Jeret Schroeder. He made his CART debut in 1999 with Walker Racing and passed the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program April 10 of this year with Team Pelfrey.

*** Jaques Lazier back at Vegas: Jaques Lazier will be back behind the wheel of the Miles of Hope/Exodus Communications/Truscelli Team Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone at the Vegas Indy 300 on April 22. Lazier suffered a back fracture at the season-opening Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway in January. He was in Indianapolis on April 10 being fitted for a special seat.

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Hemelgarn, Lazier, Blanks busy in community: Hemelgarn Racing owner Ron Hemelgarn, driver Indianapolis 500 Buddy Lazier and Tae-Bo exercise program founder Billy Blanks will participate in a variety of community and charity functions this week in the Midwest. Hemelgarn, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Lazier and Blanks will volunteer for a Habitat for Humanity project just east of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on April 13. The Masco Corporation, parent company of Delta Faucet, will sponsor the Habitat for Humanity home and provide all the building products.

Employees of Delta Faucet - a major sponsor of the Hemelgarn car driven by Lazier - and their families will work with Habitat for Humanity-Indianapolis volunteers to help build a home for a local family at the site, 1857 N. Luett Ave. Hemelgarn, Lazier and Blanks will speak at D.A.R.E. events April 14 at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City and April 15 at the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. D.A.R.E. is the largest school-based drug prevention program in the United States. The Delta Faucet/Coors Light/Tae-Bo/Hemelgarn Racing car driven by Lazier will be on display at both D.A.R.E. functions.

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Mexmil to sponsor youth program at Indy: The Mexmil Company, primary sponsor of Dick Simon Racing in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series, will play host to a three-day program for the Adkins Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis from May 26-28 during the Indianapolis 500.

Children from the club will meet Dick Simon Racing driver Stephan Gregoire when he visits the club May 26. On May 27, members of the Boys and Girls Club will visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and tour the garage area, meet the Mexmil crew, attend the Indianapolis 500 Drivers Meeting, visit the Hall of Fame Museum and have lunch with Gregoire and the Mexmil crew.

Winners of a reading program at the Boys and Girls Club will have breakfast in the Mexmil hospitality area on Race Day, May 28. Then they will head to the grandstands to watch the 84th Indianapolis 500 before enjoying the team hospitality area again after the race.

Mexmil and Dick Simon Racing plan to repeat the program in various Northern Light Series markets throughout the 2000 season.

The Mexmil Company is the world's leading manufacturer of insulation systems for the aerospace and motorsports industry.

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Teams hitting the Web: Indy Racing teams Hemelgarn Racing and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing recently launched sites on the World Wide Web. Hemelgarn's site can be found at www.hemelgarnracing.com and includes information on the team and driver Buddy Lazier. Fans also can sign up for a free team e-mail newsletter at the site. Dreyer & Reinbold's site is at www.drracing.net and includes information on the team and driver Robbie Buhl. *** Texas Motor Speedway to become Internet provider: Fans wanting to surf the Internet and get the latest information on Texas Motor Speedway have a new option - and it won't cost a penny.

Texas Motor Speedway has formed a partnership with Mall.com, sponsor of the Mall.com 500 Indy Racing event Oct. 15 at TMS, to provide free, unlimited Internet service to anyone through the "TMS Insider."

"This is a truly amazing thing," said TMS General Manager Eddie Gossage. "Access to the World Wide Web - for free. This is really great for race fans who will be able to receive speedway information directly. Even the casual fans will find the service to be informative."

Subscribers can download the service with a free CD that can be shared or can go directly to tmsinsider.com and download the free Internet service. The TMS Insider site will have 2,521 dial-up numbers, including 56 in Canada, enabling users to access free, unlimited Internet access. Subscribers will get one e-mail address as part of the service and will receive speedway information directly at that address. The tmsinsider.com home page will also be constantly updated with the most current speedway information. "We're happy to be working with the speedway on this venture," said Mall.com President and CEO Larry Latham. "This will be a great service for anyone, whether you're a race fan or a customer of Mall.com."

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Leonard's wife dies: Diana Leonard, wife of former Indianapolis 500 star Joe Leonard, died on March 31 in their hometown of San Jose, Calif. Survivors include her husband and two children, Joseph Jr. and Debra and two grandchildren. Leonard drove in the Indianapolis 500 nine times, finishing third in 1967 and 1972. In 1968, he drove the turbine car, won the pole with a record speed and was leading when a fuel shaft broke. Leonard will be honored as one of the "Legends of the Speedway" in May.

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Tornadoes miss Rutherfords: The devastating tornadoes that recently struck downtown Fort Worth, Texas, missed the home of three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Johnny Rutherford and his wife, Betty, by two blocks. "Our son Jon lives downtown in the middle of 7th Street where it happened," Betty Rutherford said. "It was an old building, and one of those they missed. "We were right in the path, and it was only two blocks away where it hit. It got dark, dark, dark, then it got still and then it started to rain in sheets. There was hail the size of golf balls. We're all fine, thankfully."

*** Hot laps: Blueprint Racing has added several new sponsors to its support lineup in 2000. Coming on board last month at the MCI WorldCom Indy 200 at Phoenix were Saban Electric of Chicago and Groen Brothers Aviation, Inc. of Salt Lake City. Jimmy Kite drives Blueprint's entry in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series ... Indy Racing standout Davey Hamilton won the USAC Western Sprint Car Series main event April 1 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway ... Indy Racing rookie Sarah Fisher recently received one of the Rich Vogler Memorial Scholarships, a $1,000 grant, from Vogler's mother, Eleanor. Fisher, 19, will attend an Indiana college on a part-time basis this fall to study mechanical engineering ... Kevin Blanch, crew chief of the Pennzoil Panther entry driven by Scott Goodyear, recently was honored for his strong writing and public-speaking performance at the Dale Carnegie School of Management in Indianapolis, where he is a student ... Indy Racing driver Ronnie Johncox and his wife, Amy, became the proud parents of their first child, a boy named Winfield Lee, on March 29.

-IRLNS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jason Leffler , Ryan Newman , Sarah Fisher , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Scott Goodyear , Memo Gidley , Jeret Schroeder , Jaques Lazier  , Jimmy Kite , Sam Schmidt , Dave Darland , Tracy Hines , Jack Hewitt , Tony Elliott , Ronnie Johncox , Russ Gamester , Dick Simon , Johnny Rutherford , Jerry Coons Jr.