IRL: IRL Weekly Notes 99-02-04

PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE NOTEBOOK Goodyear to appear on ABC's "Good Morning America" INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 4, 1999 - Pep Boys Indy Racing League standout Scott Goodyear will bring national exposure to the league and his Pennzoil Panther...

PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE NOTEBOOK Goodyear to appear on ABC's "Good Morning America"

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 4, 1999 - Pep Boys Indy Racing League standout Scott Goodyear will bring national exposure to the league and his Pennzoil Panther Racing team by appearing on the popular ABC show "Good Morning America" on Sunday, Feb. 7. Goodyear will be featured in a segment of the show between 8-9 a.m. (EST) that focuses on the New York Toy Fair. Goodyear, a father of three children, will give his "expert" opinion about a new toy car for kids. *** Hey cousin, what's bussin'?: That's about the way Stan Wattles and Greg Wattles came together for the first time at the inaugural Pep Boys Indy Racing League race at Las Vegas in 1997. Stan Wattles was an aspiring Indy-style driver, and Greg was working in the human resources department of a company based in Australia. He was assigned to a branch office in Vegas. At that point the distant relatives had never met. Now as Stan Wattles prepares for the MCI WorldCom 200 on March 28 at Phoenix International Raceway, long lost cousin Greg Wattles is manager for Stan's Metro Racing Systems Indy Racing League team. Greg Wattles initiated the first contact. "I went to the MGM Hotel with a letter of introduction, gave the concierge $20 and asked him to deliver it to Mr. and Mrs. Wattles," Greg said. "He called about me about 5 that afternoon, and I wound up spotting for him in the race." Greg then did some consulting for his newfound cousin, and early last summer Stan told Greg he had an opening as team manager. Greg informed his family this was his lifetime goal and made a major career change. "It was just like a dream to get involved with an Indy-car team," he said. Actually, Greg Wattles had a racing background. He drove shifter karts and went through the Skip Barber racing school. He was born and reared on a farm in Clay City, Ill. He said that although he had never seen the Indianapolis 500 in person until last May his family always gathered to watch the race on either a Terre Haute or Evansville, Ind., television station. He also followed Stan's career since the fathers of the two Wattles were "second or third cousins." Stan's team is based in Stuart, Fla. Greg lived in Florida for 11 years yet never encountered his cousin until that day in Las Vegas. Greg's first race as team manager was the Lone Star 500 last September at Texas Motor Speedway. Stan had his best finish of eighth. They experienced problems with their Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear in the 1999 season opener at Walt Disney World Speedway and placed 24th although Stan was running at the finish. Greg already has made his presence felt. He has hired Amy Textor to handle public relations and Edmund Dyjack to seek sponsorship. Katech now is preparing the engines and a switch was made to the Gear Shed for gearbox overhaul. Crew chief Glen Blakeley joined the team from Dan Gurney's All-American Racers. He worked on the motorcycle project there, but also has had mechanical experience with Bill Elliott's and Emerson Fittipaldi's teams. "For everybody, it's their dream to wear one of those Indy 500 winner rings someday," Blakeley said. While in Phoenix for testing, Stan Wattles plans to visit an area school as part of his Make The Difference program for the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

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Busy schedule: Driver Greg Ray and Team Menard face a hectic two-plus weeks of testing leading up to the MCI WorldCom 200 on March 28 at Phoenix International Raceway. First Ray, who replaced Tony Stewart in the Glidden Dallara/Aurora/Firestone, will participate in Firestone tire testing Feb. 17-18 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, followed by the league's "Test in the West" Feb. 26-27 at Phoenix and then another Firestone session March 3-5 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Ray missed a shot at the PPG Pole and a good finish in the TransWorld Diversified Services Indy 200 two weeks ago at Walt Disney World Speedway due to some gearbox difficulties. In the race, the link shaft nut came loose, halting Ray's run after 163 laps and putting him in 21st place. Team manager Thomas Knapp feels he has solved the gearbox woes with the hiring of Vitor Pinto, a Portuguese and former Chip Ganassi crewman that Knapp has known for eight years. "We're looking to add the final piece to the (mechanical crew) puzzle shortly," Knapp said.

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Watching, working: John Barnes, one of the four owners of Pennzoil Panther Racing, will take driver Scott Goodyear and the team to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for testing Feb. 8-9 and then to the league's "Test in the West" Feb. 26-27 to the MCI WorldCom 200 there on March 28. But first, Barnes will stop off at Phoenix this weekend to watch the USAC Copper World Classic show for USAC midgets and Coors Light Silver Bullet Series cars. He will pay close attention to midget drivers Ed Carpenter (Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George's stepson) and A.J. Davis (a Panther Racing crew member), and Silver Bullet driver Dave Steele, team test driver and part-time Pep Boys Indy Racing League competitor. Steele set the Silver Bullet qualifying record last year at 138.450 mph. Goodyear finished second to winner Eddie Cheever Jr. in the Indy Racing League season-opening TransWorld Diversified Services Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway on Jan. 24. "We just need to work a little bit better," said Barnes, who shares ownership with pro football quarterback Jim Harbaugh, car dealer Gary Pedigo and TV producer Terry Lingner.

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Heading west: Harrington Motorsports made its Pep Boys Indy Racing League debut last month at Walt Disney World Speedway is heading west for both the league's annual "Test in the West" Feb. 26-27 at Phoenix International Raceway as well as the MCI WorldCom 200 on March 28. A faulty-acting engine limited driver Scott Harrington to 49 laps and 25th place in the first race. "Being a new team, we were pretty well satisfied getting into the race," said team manager Steve Dunlap, who moved over from LP Racing. "We're staying with Nissan (Infiniti). We're in for the long haul." The team is owned by Harrington's father, Gene, a Louisville businessman.

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The boss is busy: When Brazilian Gualter Salles drives in his second Pep Boys Indy Racing League event -- the MCI WorldCom 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 28 -- he'll have do so without his "coach," Tony Stewart, who shares ownership of the team with Larry Curry and Andy Card. Stewart, 1996-97 Indy Racing League champion, starts a full season of NASCAR Winston Cup competition in the Daytona 500 on Feb. 14 driving for car owner Joe Gibbs. On March 28, he'll be at Texas Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Primestar 500. Curry and Stewart first began discussing assembling an Indy Racing League team at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last May. "He talked to me about doing this, about doing that," Curry said. "I was at the point I wanted to do something different. It was like I had done everything else. I wanted to control my own destiny." A program began to materialize in November, and the team picked up a sponsor, TECO Energy, assembled a car and brought it to Walt Disney World Speedway in a week. Salles was signed on to drive because he had experience in a CART car, and Stewart coached him through the first race weekend. Salles qualified 23rd and finished in the same position when an engine malfunctioned, slowing the car directly in front of defending Pep Boys Indy Racing League champion Kenny Brack, who ran into him. Both cars wound up against the Turn 3 wall. "It's unfortunate what happened to Kenny," Curry said. "(Salles) did blow an engine. If it had blown 50 feet further along it wouldn't have happened." Curry is now procuring a new car and motor and hopes to make a major sponsor announcement late next week. The team has yet to be named and is operating out of a 5,000 square-foot shop behind Curry's Indianapolis-area home.

*** On the mend: Michael Goodyear, 2-year-old son of Pep Boys Indy Racing League standout Scott Goodyear, is on the mend after outpatient surgery Jan. 28 to insert two pins into his broken arm. Michael Goodyear suffered the broken arm in Orlando-area hotel room Jan. 23 -- the night before the TransWorld Diversified Services Indy 200 - after taking a tumble while wrestling with his older brother and younger sister. His arm was placed in a sling so he could watch his father race Jan. 24. Further examination at Methodist Hospital back home in Indianapolis revealed that the break was more severe than earlier thought. Michael is feeling fine after surgery. His first request was to take the family's car through the car wash to "make his ouchy better."

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Did you know?: Arie Luyendyk is the only driver to win the 200-mile race at Phoenix International Raceway in both a CART car and a Pep Boys Indy Racing League car. He won the race in 1991 averaging 129.988 mph and the inaugural Indy Racing League event there in 1996 averaging 117.368 mph. Luyendyk will be in the Treadway Racing pits but not driving when the Pep Boys Indy Racing League competes at PIR in the MCI WorldCom 200 on March 28. The Flying Dutchman has retired except for one final shot at becoming a three-time winner of the Indy 500 on May 30.

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Racing retreat: Indy Racing League Ministries has scheduled the first "Women in the Fast Lane" Christian Women's Retreat for Feb. 20-21 at the Brickyard Crossing Inn in Indianapolis. Guest speakers will be Dianne Simon, wife of veteran driver/car owner Dick Simon, and Linda Baker, wife of IRL Ministries chairman Don Baker. The retreat is limited to 150 women, and registration ends Feb. 10. Checks for $60 made payable to "Wanda Davis" should be mailed to: Women in the Fast Lane, 2144 Tansel Road, Indianapolis, IN 46234. Any questions can be answered by calling Davis at (317) 273-9558.

Source: IRL/IMS

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bill Elliott , Tony Stewart , Gualter Salles , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Arie Luyendyk , Scott Goodyear , Kenny Brack , Dan Gurney , Dave Steele , Emerson Fittipaldi , Skip Barber , Scott Harrington , Stan Wattles , Chip Ganassi , Tony George , Dick Simon , John Barnes
Teams Panther Racing