IRL: Notebook 2003-10-16

Indy Racing League Notebook De Ferran to be honored; Richmond continues upgrades. INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2003 -- Gil de Ferran joined an exclusive club with his victory in the Chevy 500 on Oct. 12 at Texas Motor Speedway: He became...

Indy Racing League Notebook

De Ferran to be honored; Richmond continues upgrades.

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2003 -- Gil de Ferran joined an exclusive club with his victory in the Chevy 500 on Oct. 12 at Texas Motor Speedway: He became only the second Indianapolis 500 winner ever to win his final career start in motorsports.

De Ferran announced Aug. 25 that he was retiring after this IRL IndyCarTM Series season. He won the 87th Indianapolis 500 on May 25 in his Marlboro Team Penske entry.

Ray Harroun was lured out of retirement to race in the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911 and then retired for good after winning the race. Sam Hanks never made another Indy-style start after winning the 1957 Indianapolis 500, but he fulfilled a contract with Mercury to compete in USAC stock-car races for the rest of the season.

Though de Ferran isn't racing anymore, he is keeping busy. On Oct. 15, he made an appearance in Indianapolis promoting the 2004 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race theme, "Lights! Camera! Traction!"

On Oct. 23, officials from the city of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where de Ferran lives, will honor de Ferran. He will be presented with a key to the city, and a brick with his name on it will be inserted into a very prominent walkway near the Performing Arts Center.

When de Ferran is not participating in events, he has found time to watch some of the Major League Baseball playoffs. De Ferran wasn't much of a baseball fan when the season began, but he participated in a celebrity softball game in July before the Kansas Indy 300 and sang "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" in July at a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

De Ferran participated in pre-game activities in August with the St. Louis Cardinals and threw out the first pitch in September at a Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

"It's funny," de Ferran said. "I was talking to a friend of mine today about it, and I was watching the Red Sox and Yankees game, and he said 'What are you doing?' I said, 'I'm watching the baseball game.' He said, 'You're doing what?!'

"I'm really getting into it. I started watching baseball more and more, and I started following the Cubs more and more. I understand the game a lot better, and believe it or not, I actually turn the TV on to watch the games."


SEMA Show: Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT) is bringing the Indy Racing Challenge to this year's SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show.

The SEMA Show, which takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center, is the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world.

The Indy Racing Challenge is a high-performance mobile race simulator that uses the league's IndyCar Series video game that allows participants to sit in an actual IndyCar Series car and compete against each other and their favorite drivers on real IndyCar Series tracks.

It will be set up in Silver Lot 2, just west of the Center Halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center, from Nov. 4-7.

"The IRL offers some of today's most exciting motorsports events, and we are very excited to bring the Indy Racing Challenge to the SEMA Show this year," said Phil Pacsi, executive director, North American consumer tire brand marketing, BFNT. "The display promises to be a must-see stop on the schedule of all show-goers."

Firestone has been the official tire of the IRL since 1999.

"Firestone and the IRL have enjoyed a long and successful working relationship, and we are very happy to team with the company to bring the IRL Indy Racing Challenge to this year's SEMA Show," said Bill Long, vice president, marketing, IRL. "The SEMA Show is a great opportunity for the IRL and Firestone to display the speed, excitement and color of the IndyCar Series."


Richmond upgrades: Richmond International Raceway is embarking on another round of expansion and upgrades to the .75-mile oval. More than 1,400 seats will be added for the 2004 season, bringing the track's capacity to 107,097.

The project includes new seats in the Veranda Grandstand in Turn 1, development of 55 new acres of parking on the north side of the track's property and the addition of a second spectator care center outside of Turn 2 next to the amphitheater. The amphitheater, which is used on race weekends as well as for concerts and special events on non-race weekends, is being remodeled. Gravel roads also are being added to several parking lots, which will help with traffic ingress and egress, especially during inclement weather.

Including this round of projects, the track has spent more than $40 million on improving the facility over the last few seasons, according to Richmond President Doug Fritz.

"The new seats offer a fantastic view of the great side-by-side racing fans and drivers have come to expect at 'The Action Track,'" said Fritz. "Richmond International Raceway is committed to making our fans' experience the best in motorsports. We hope the other upgrades that are part of our ongoing capital reinvestments to this great facility will help reinforce our dedication to our loyal fans."

The fourth IRL IndyCar Series SunTrust Indy Challenge will take place June 26, 2003 at Richmond. The event will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and the IMS Radio Network. Tickets for the SunTrust Indy Challenge are available by calling (804) 345-7223 or logging on to


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran
Teams Team Penske