IRL: Notebook 2002-03-14

Indy Racing League Notebook Hattori takes over Bradley ride; Cheever crew shuffled INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, March 14, 2002 - Indy Racing League veteran Shigeaki Hattori will drive for Bradley Motorsports for the rest of the 2002 season starting...

Indy Racing League Notebook
Hattori takes over Bradley ride; Cheever crew shuffled

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, March 14, 2002 - Indy Racing League veteran Shigeaki Hattori will drive for Bradley Motorsports for the rest of the 2002 season starting with the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 on March 17 at Phoenix International Raceway, team owner Buzz Calkins announced March 14.

Hattori succeeds 1996 Indy Racing League co-champion Calkins, who retired as a driver in February to concentrate on team ownership.

EPSON America will sponsor the No. 12 Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by Hattori, a native of Okayama, Japan. Hattori, 38, has made 17 IRL starts since 2000, with a best finish of seventh at three races. He finished 13th in the Indy Racing standings in 2001 after competing a full season with Vertex-Cunningham Racing.

A Chevrolet engine will power Hattori at Phoenix, but the team will switch to an Infiniti engine starting at the Yamaha Indy 400 on March 24 at California Speedway. Starting at California, Hattori also will be backed by NISMO, the motorsports division of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. in Japan.

"We are very excited to have Shigeaki joining Bradley Motorsports," Calkins said. "With the combination of his driving talents, strong backing from partners like EPSON and the top personnel and equipment the of the Bradley team, there is no reason that together we can't run up front immediately.

"Shigeaki has proven in the past that with the proper equipment and people behind him that he is a consistent factor in races. It's our belief at Bradley Motorsports that we can give him this combination and confidence to run at the front in the IRL."

Said Hattori: "I am very excited to be working with the Bradley Motorsports team. The team is full of talented people, and I'm looking forward to working with engineers David Cripps and Brian Ma. Also I'm proud to be representing, not only EPSON, but also Infiniti. The Infiniti Indy engine has proven to be very powerful, and I believe it will be the dominant engine in the IRL soon. I think this will be my best opportunity for success in the IRL."

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Crew changes at Cheever Racing: Red Bull Cheever Racing General Manager Richard Caron recently made these organizational changes for the rest of the season, starting with the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 on March 17 at Phoenix International Raceway:

*Owen Snyder III will be the chief mechanic for the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone driven by rookie Tomas Scheckter. Snyder, who joined the team in 1997, was formerly the chief mechanic for Eddie Cheever Jr.

*Paul Burgess will be the race engineer for the No. 52 car driven by Scheckter. Burgess was the race engineer for Cheever at the season-opening 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami on March 2. He joined the team this year as technical director.

*Dave Meehan will be the chief mechanic for the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone driven by Cheever. Meehan was the chief mechanic of the No. 52 car at Miami. He joined the team in 2001.

*Len Paskus will be the race engineer for the No. 51 car driven by Cheever. Paskus was the race engineer for the No. 52 car at Miami. He joined the team this year.

"After reviewing our performance at Homestead-Miami Speedway, we decided that we needed to mix things up a little in the team," Caron said. "Owen has done a phenomenal job working with Eddie, but we feel his Indy Racing experience would be more valuable in training our young, rookie driver Tomas. Paul Burgess, as the race engineer, works well with Owen, so they will both move to the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti.

"Len Paskus and Dave Meehan, who both joined Cheever Racing in the past year, have proven to be remarkable new talent. Eddie has the experience in this group, but some fresh ideas from this pair will help revitalize the crew of the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti."

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Foyt's 500th: Indy Racing legend A.J. Foyt will make his 500th Indy Racing start as either an owner, driver or owner-driver March 17 at the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Foyt owns the No. 11 A.J. Foyt Racing/Banco Chile Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by Eliseo Salazar and the No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by Airton Dare in the Indy Racing League.

His first start as a driver was in 1957 at Springfield, Ill. Foyt retired from driving in 1993 after a career that included four Indianapolis 500 victories and since has fielded cars as an owner.

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Sports celebrities coming to Phoenix: 310 Racing will play host to a number of sports celebrities during the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 on March 17 at Phoenix International Raceway, supporting the team and its driver, rookie George Mack.

Among the athletes scheduled to attend the race as guests of 310 are Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway, Shawn Marion and Bo Outlaw, all stars of the NBA's Phoenix Suns; and Ray Lankford of baseball's San Diego Padres. The Padres conduct spring training in the Phoenix area.

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Tragic loss for Marlboro Team Penske: Gary Buckner, a member of Marlboro Team Penske since 1993, died unexpectedly March 8 in Reading, Pa.

Buckner was 43. He is survived by his wife, Kristen Edmonds Buckner, his three children, Russell D. Buckner, Ryan C. Buckner and Megan E. Buckner, and by his father, James R. Buckner.

"It was a true pleasure to know and work with Gary, he was a first-class individual," said Roger S. Penske. "First and foremost, Gary was a devoted family man to his wife and three children. He was an inspiration on the track as well, always displaying the utmost dedication to his team and the sport of auto racing. He was with us for our record season in 1994, and he hung in through the lean years and helped us get back on top in 2000 and 2001.

"I will always think of Gary as a true champion in every respect. I'm thankful racing brought him into our lives to share our time together."

Buckner began his career in racing in 1981 when he took a position in the fabrication department of Reynard Racing Cars Ltd. From there, he would go on to work for Vince Granatelli Racing and Hall-VDS Racing before coming to Marlboro Team Penske.

He began his career with Marlboro Team Penske at the end of the 1993 season in the fabrication department. He eventually became the fabrication manager for Penske Racing in Reading, Pa., where he oversaw all aspects of the team's fabrication department. Buckner also organized and contributed to the construction of all of the team's pit equipment.

In addition to his fabrication duties, Buckner was the tire man for Gil de Ferran and served as the outside rear tire changer on de Ferran's pit crew. Prior to his work on de Ferran's crew, Buckner was on the pit crew for two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr.

"Above all, Gary was a person I liked very much," de Ferran said. "He was one guy that was absolutely imperative to the success of our team. Not only because he worked hard himself, but his attitude was second to none and very contagious. He was a fierce competitor and always pushed everyone on the team to work to the best of their ability. It was a joy to work with Gary, he was just a nice guy."

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. (EST) March 15 at Losantville Separate Baptist Church in Losantville, Ind. Contributions may be made to the "Buckner Children Trust Fund," c/o First Union Bank, Green Hills Branch, 101 Love Road, Reading, PA 19607.

Plans are underway for Marlboro Team Penske to honor Buckner at the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 on March 17 at Phoenix International Raceway.

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Helping hand: Air Force Senior Airman Mike Nelson, of Rockwell, N.C., will join the Red Bull Cheever Racing crew March 17 to assist with Eddie Cheever Jr.'s pit stops during the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Nelson was invited as part of a promotion by the team to thank the men and women serving in the Armed Forces.

Red Bull Cheever Racing will invite members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines to be a part of the crew at each Indy Racing League event leading up to the Indianapolis 500.

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Foyt heading to D.C.: Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt and his son Larry will join executives from Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., in Washington, D.C. on March 20 when they will help the Meals on Wheels Association launch the "March for Meals Campaign" to raise awareness for senior meal programs.

Harrah's will announce details of their $1-million commitment to support the campaign over the next three years. During March, the Foyt/Harrah's Racing teams in both the IRL and the NASCAR Busch Series will donate a meal for every race lap completed, 10 meals for every race lap led and 10,000 meals for every race won.

Airton Dare drives the No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone in the IRL. Larry Foyt is the owner and driver of the No. 14 Harrah's Monte Carlo in the NASCAR Busch Series.

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Hot laps: 2001 Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves leads the voting for the IRL Crew Most Popular Driver Award after the first round of fan voting during the 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. is second and Sam Hornish Jr. third. Fans can vote at the IRL Crew booth on the midway at Phoenix International Raceway during the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 on March 15-17 ... Indy Racing veteran Tyce Carlson flew in a U.S. Air Force F-16 Flying Falcon fighter jet March 14 at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. Carlson drives for PDM Racing, which has longstanding links with the U.S. Air Force. The team's car is painted in the same color scheme as the U.S. Air Force's Thunderbirds precision flight team ... Indy Racing standout Robbie Buhl will visit young patients at the Loma Linda University Children's Hospital Foundation at 10 a.m. (PST) March 21 in Loma Linda, Calif., as part of his work as national spokesperson for Racing For Kids. Buhl will drive in the Yamaha Indy 400 on March 24 at California Speedway in nearby Fontana.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buzz Calkins , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Shigeaki Hattori , Eliseo Salazar , Airton Daré , Helio Castroneves , Larry Foyt , George Mack , Tyce Carlson , Emerson Fittipaldi , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske