IRL: Notebook 2002-04-26

Indy Racing League Notebook Knapp leaves Kelley Racing; Last Row Party is May 23. INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, April 26, 2002 -- Engineer Thomas Knapp left the Kelley Racing team after the Firestone Indy 225 on April 21. Knapp was the engineer for...

Indy Racing League Notebook
Knapp leaves Kelley Racing; Last Row Party is May 23.

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, April 26, 2002 -- Engineer Thomas Knapp left the Kelley Racing team after the Firestone Indy 225 on April 21.

Knapp was the engineer for the No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. But he and team owner Tom Kelley agreed to part company.

"I wish every future success to Kelley Racing and Al Unser Jr.," Knapp said. "The results we have posted in the first three events of the season may have been modest in comparison to our hopes, but this was not the issue on either side of the equation. I believe Tom Kelley, and I agree that neither the best interests of the team nor of TKM (Thomas Knapp Motorsports) would be served by continuing this relationship at this time."

Knapp has a long history of working with 1999 Indy Racing League champion Greg Ray, as the two entered the Indy Racing League together in 1997. Ray made 12 of his first 14 IRL starts for TKM, as they stunned the motorsports world by qualifying second for the 1998 Indianapolis 500 despite a very limited budget.

Ray recently signed with A.J. Foyt Racing through the 2003 season, starting with the Indianapolis 500. But Knapp indicated he now will work on other projects and with clients of TKM.

"Part of the rationale for making the separation now was to allow everyone adequate time to properly prepare for our biggest race of the year, the Indianapolis 500," Knapp said.

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Last Row Party: The Indianapolis Press Club once again will honor members of the Indianapolis 500 11th Row Club during this year's 30th Annual Last Row Party on May 23 in the Brickyard Crossing Inn and Resort Pavilion at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

For the last three decades, The Last Row Party has paid tribute to the resilient drivers who claim the 31st, 32nd and 33rd starting spots in the Indianapolis 500 field.

In years past, drivers earning a place in the last row have included some of the greatest legends in auto racing, including Mario Andretti, Gary Bettenhausen, Gordon Johncock, Johnny Rutherford, Tom Sneva and Al Unser. Many of those veterans will return to the party this year mark the 30th anniversary of the event.

The final three starters of this year's "500" will receive special jackets, checks for 31, 32 and 33 cents, respectively, and have their names affixed to a permanent trophy, which bears the names of their racing predecessors.

The party starts with a reception at 6 p.m. (EST), followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and the driver program at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $33 per person, which includes dinner, beverages and entertainment. Last Row Party tickets and order forms can be obtained by calling Patty Schnell of the Indianapolis Press Club at (317) 237-6222. Tickets also can be ordered through the mail by sending a check -- payable to the Indianapolis Press Club -- to Last Row Party, Indianapolis Press Club, 150 W. Market St., Indianapolis, IN, 46204.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Al Unser Jr. , Mario Andretti , Tom Sneva , Gordon Johncock , A.J. Foyt , Johnny Rutherford