IRL: Indy Racing Northern Light Series

INDY RACING NORTHERN LIGHT SERIES NOTEBOOK New team managers join Team Menard, Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Aug. 11, 2000 - Two prominent Indy Racing Northern Light Series teams have new team managers this week after...

INDY RACING NORTHERN LIGHT SERIES NOTEBOOK
New team managers join Team Menard, Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Aug. 11, 2000 - Two prominent Indy Racing Northern Light Series teams have new team managers this week after the departure of Thomas Knapp from Team Menard.

Mitch Davis left his position of team manager with Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing to assume a similar role with Team Menard. Lead engineer Jim Robinson has assumed Davis’ duties at Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

The round of moves was triggered Aug. 2 when Knapp left his role as engineer/team manager with Team Menard, which he joined with driver Greg Ray after the 1998 season. Knapp helped Ray win the series championship, and Team Menard won the entrant championship.

Ray is 11th in the Northern Light Cup point standings this season. He earned his first victory of the year on July 15 in the Midas 500 Classic at Atlanta Motor Speedway after winning three times en route to the title last year. “We certainly could have, and probably should have, won events earlier in the season,” Knapp said. “But at this point, we stand 11th in overall championship points. Given these circumstances, it seemed only prudent that Menard and I begin our preparations for the future sooner rather than later.”

Said team owner John Menard: “Tom and I had a great run. Winning the series championship last year proved that Team Menard has come into its own as a force within the Indy Racing Northern Light Series. But given how this year’ s championship has played out, there was really no sense in us not moving forward and beginning to make plans for the future.

“For a variety of reasons, we concluded that the needs of both of us were better suited by us going our separate ways.”

Knapp fielded a team in Indy Racing competition in 1997 and 1998, with Ray as his driver. Knapp has more than 20 years of motorsports experience in Indy Racing, Formula Atlantic, Indy Lights, Formula Ford 2000 and Sports 2000.

Davis joined the new Team Purex/Dreyer and Reinbold Racing late last year. His leadership helped driver Robbie Buhl win the team’s first race, the season-opening Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World in January.

“Dreyer & Reinbold Racing has greatly benefited from our relationship with Mitch Davis, and we truly support him in his professional endeavors,” said Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing co-owner Dennis Reinbold. “We sincerely wish Mitch and his family only the best in the future.

“We have worked extremely hard at developing a first-class program, and we believe this move speaks volumes about how our program has progressed.” Reinbold and fellow team co-owners Buhl and Eric De Bord picked Robinson to replace Davis for the final two races of this season and the 2001 season. “Jim and I have worked extremely well this year, and he is highly respected by not only our team but by the racing community, as well,” Buhl said. “Jim is an effective leader and communicator and will keep us professionally prepared and focused.”

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Auction raises $35,000 for Schmidt: CART team owner Bruce McCaw and his wife, Jolene, cast the winning bid of $35,000 for a Firestone Firehawk racing tire signed by 107 drivers, team owners, sports figures and celebrities.

The proceeds of the auction, conducted on the popular Web auction site eBay, were donated to the Sam Schmidt Family Trust. Schmidt suffered a spinal-cord injury in an Indy Racing Northern Light Series testing accident in January.

The tire was up for bids on eBay from June 1-11, but the designated reserve price set by the Firestone Racing program was not met. After the auction closed, additional offers for the tire were made, culminating with a joint agreement between the McCaws and Firestone Racing that would yield $35,000 to the Schmidt Family Trust.

“I’m very proud that Bruce and Jolene’s generosity, combined with the support of the Firestone Racing program, enabled this financial contribution to the Sam Schmidt Family Trust,” said Al Speyer, Bridgestone/Firestone motorsports director. “There is a strong bond within the racing community, uniting competitors when one of its own faces a tough challenge. This fund-raising activity once again proves the motorsports community is an extended family of good, caring people.”

***

On the newsstand: Indy Racing Northern Light Series standouts Eddie Cheever Jr. and Sarah Fisher were featured in the pages of national publications recently.

1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Cheever is featured in the August 2000 issue of Road & Track as part of the “Road & Track/Speedvision Salute to American Grand Prix Drivers.” Cheever made 132 Formula One starts, more than any other American, from 1978-89 before moving to Indy-style racing in 1990.

Rookie Fisher, 19, is the subject of feature stories in the September issues of Teen People and MXG Magazine.

***

Leading the parade: Northern Light Series standout Donnie Beechler served as the grand marshal of the 2000 Illinois State Fair Twilight Parade on Aug. 10 in his hometown of Springfield, Ill.

Illinois Governor George Ryan bestowed Beechler with the honor earlier this month.

“Working hard to excel at what you do is the essence of the Illinois State Fair, and that is precisely what Donnie Beechler has done,” Ryan said. “Donnie started out racing on tracks around central Illinois, including the State Fair, and now has made it to the pinnacle of his sport, the Indianapolis 500.”

Beechler joined Cahill Racing in 1998 after a successful USAC short-track career. He is ninth in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series point standings this season and still eligible to win the Northern Light Cup with two races remaining.

***

CARA honored: CARA Charities was recognized July 28 at Chicago Motor Speedway for contributions to child safety issues by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the Department of Transportation. Rodney Slater, secretary of the Department of Transportation, presented the Buckle Up America Champion Award to CARA Charities National Director, Mary Lou Beaudry-Bogner.

Through the “Buckle Up Baby” Infant Car Seat program, CARA Charities has donated more than $330,000 to children’s hospitals in the United States, Canada and Japan since 1993. The funds are designated to provide needy families with car seats to bring their newborn babies home from the hospital. This project has been supported by PPG Industries and by the Bridgestone/Firestone Trust Fund in 2000.

“We are honored to receive this award,” said Beaudry-Bogner. “The Buckle Up Baby Infant Car Seat project is one of our most important programs. Without the hard work of our members, the support of the racing community and the dedication of our corporate partners, we could not help families in the communities where we race.”

CARA Charities was founded in 1981 to serve the community through charitable work and promote the friendship of all those involved in the motor sports family. More than $3 million has been distributed to numerous racing and community organizations.

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Another award for Northern Light: Northern Light Technology, Inc. (www.NorthernLight.com) recently was announced as one of the 100 best Web sites for small business by Entrepreneur magazine.

The small-business magazine selected Northern Light as one of the best search tools on the Internet.

Northern Light, series sponsor of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series, is an award-winning search engine and leading provider of information management solutions to enterprises and individuals.

***

Hot laps: An Indy Racing show car painted in the colors of the U.S. Air Force’s “Thunderbirds” flight team was on display at the U.S. Air Force Museum through Aug. 7. The car will be on display throughout the country to promote the U.S. Air Force. Rookie standout Sam Hornish Jr. drives a car with the same paint scheme for PDM Racing in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series … The Delphi show car will be on display at the Indiana State Fair on Aug. 12-13. Indy Racing standout Tyce Carlson will sign autographs at the show car from 1-3 p.m. (EST) Aug. 12 … The Pennzoil Panther show car will be on display at the Cincinnati Zoo on Aug. 11 and at the Boone County Fair in Florence, Ky., on Aug. 12 as part of the pre-race promotion for The Belterra Resort Indy 300 on Aug. 27 at Kentucky Speedway.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Donnie Beechler , Sam Schmidt , Tyce Carlson , Bruce McCaw , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Dreyer & Reinbold Racing