IRL: Notebook 2001-11-21

Barnhart gives glimpse into Indy Racing future; Boat returns to Midget roots INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2001 - Indy Racing League Vice President of Operations Brian Barnhart recently delivered the keynote address at the annual IRL Crew ...

Barnhart gives glimpse into Indy Racing future; Boat returns to Midget roots

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2001 - Indy Racing League Vice President of Operations Brian Barnhart recently delivered the keynote address at the annual IRL Crew banquet in Indianapolis, giving a sneak preview about the positive future of America's top open-wheel racing series.

The IRL Crew is the official fan club of the Indy Racing League. Its annual "Salute to the IRL" banquet took place at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Resort & Inn on the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Barnhart called the 2001 Indy Racing League schedule a "watershed season." He also indicated that future Indy Racing League seasons would be capped at approximately 17 events, citing cost containment and "quality of life" issues.

Regarding the 2002 season, Barnhart said interest is strong in the new Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series. More than 140 information kits detailing costs, specs and rules for the new developmental series have been sent to prospective participants, Barnhart said. The IRL Crew also named its Volunteer of the Year at the banquet, with the award presented to Glen Harm of Colorado. Harm attended nine of the 13 Indy Racing events this year and was a frequent volunteer at the IRL Crew booth during those events.

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Boat returning to Turkey Night roots: Indy Racing star Billy Boat will try to keep an impressive streak alive as he competes in the Turkey Night Grand Prix on Nov. 22 at Irwindale Speedway in Southern California.

1998 Indianapolis 500 pole winner Boat won the USAC Midget race in each of his last three starts in the annual event, 1995-97. He will drive the Van Buerden Insurance/Advanced Racing Suspension Gaerte/Drinan fielded by John Lawson of Fresno, Calif., with whom Boat worked closely during his record-breaking USAC short-track career.

Boat said it has been at least two years since he's driven a midget. But he's not concerned about any rust.

"It's been a few years, but it's kind of like riding a bike," Boat said. "I don't think you forget."

Boat earned each of his Turkey Night wins at a different track, an unprecedented feat. His wins came at Bakersfield, Perris and Ventura in California. Boat wants a fourth win.

"John Lawson, whom I spent most of my midget career with, called me up and said, 'Hey, I'm kind of winding down my midget involvement. I'd like to try to go out with a bang, and why don't you come drive this thing for me?'

"It's been a few years since I ran Turkey Night. I've really enjoyed the years that I used go over and run it. I agreed to go run his car for him, and I'm looking forward to it, I'm excited."

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Paterno's feat thrills Indy Racing marketing executive: When Penn State's Joe Paterno recently became the all-time win leader among college football coaches, there was some cheering going on at Indy Racing League headquarters in Indianapolis.

Matt McCartin is the director of Indy Racing marketing. He also is a former three-year starter for the Nittany Lions at offensive tackle.

"He's (Paterno) just an outstanding individual," said McCartin, who played in three bowl games, Cotton, 1988; Fiesta, 1989; Orange, 1990.

"Even 10 years after I played there, he always remembers your name, he'll take your call, he's always there for you. And he looks out for his players, which you don't see a lot in college sports.

"He wants to make sure you graduate, that you attend your classes. You're a student/athlete, but you're a student before you're an athlete, and he was always stressing that to us in everything he did."

Paterno emphasized that each of his players isn't going to make it to the pros and that a degree will lead to a good job, McCartin said.

After beating Indiana on Nov. 17, Paterno's career record (all at Penn State) is 326-95-3. He tied Paul "Bear" Bryant's record of 323 victories on Oct. 20 with a win over Northwestern, then set the mark when his team beat Ohio State, 29-27, on Oct. 27 in the Buckeyes famous "Horseshoe" stadium.

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Dare tying the knot: 2000 Indy Racing Rookie of the Year Airton Dare will be married to his longtime girlfriend, Daniela Urmenyi, on Nov. 24 in the couple's hometown of Bauru, Brazil.

Dare finished a career-best 10th in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series point standings in 2001 in his second season with TeamXtreme.

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IRL Ministry now online: IRL Ministry has launched its Web site at www.irlministry.com.

The site includes information on IRL Ministry and Chaplain Mark Wingler and the group's monthly newsletter. Planned enhancements to the site include a list of chapel services at 2002 Indy Racing events.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Billy Boat , Brian Barnhart