PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE NOTEBOOK Teen-age midget racer Sarah Fisher lined up for rookie test at Vegas INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 20, 1999 - Midget racer Sarah Fisher is in line to become just the second woman and the second teen-ager to compete in...
PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE NOTEBOOK Teen-age midget racer Sarah Fisher lined up for rookie test at Vegas
INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 20, 1999 - Midget racer Sarah Fisher is in line to become just the second woman and the second teen-ager to compete in a Pep Boys Indy Racing League event.
Fisher, 18, will take her Pep Boys Indy Racing League rookie test during the second week of September at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, said Mack McClellan, former Cahill Racing team manager who is arranging the test.
If Fisher passes the test, McClellan is trying to line up sponsorship for her to compete in the final two races of the Indy Racing season, the vegas.com 500 on Sept. 26 at Las Vegas and the Lone Star 500 on Oct. 17 at Texas Motor Speedway.
"Sarah is a very intelligent driver with tremendous talent," McClellan said. "Her success on pavement this season proves that she has the talent to become a fine Indy Racing driver."
Fisher, from Commercial Point, Ohio, has won five features this season in her Mead Carbonless Papers-sponsored midget. In July, she became the first woman to win a feature at the high-banked Winchester (Ind.) Speedway, capturing a NAMARS event. She also has competed in USAC midget events on pavement this season.
"This test is a great first step toward reaching my goal of competing in the Indianapolis 500," Fisher said.
Lyn St. James is the only other woman to have competed in a Pep Boys Indy Racing League event. Michel Jourdain Jr. was 19 when he drove in the 1996 Indianapolis 500.
Vegas testing: Six Pep Boys Indy Racing League teams tested at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this week in preparation for the Vegas.com 500 on Sept. 26 at the 1.5-mile oval, with Kelley Racing's Scott Sharp turning the fastest lap overall at 209.45 mph Wednesday.
His teammate, Mark Dismore, was fastest Thursday at 209.21 mph.
Other teams testing were A.J. Foyt Racing, Galles Racing, Panther Racing, Team Cheever and Hemelgarn Racing.
Hemelgarn's Buddy Lazier was third fastest at 208.83 mph.
"Testing is always 90 percent negative and 10 percent positive," said Eddie Cheever Jr., who reached speeds faster than 205 during the test. "There are so many things you have to test. If everything you tried worked, we'd be lapping the field after the third lap of the race. It just doesn't work that way.
"We deal in tenths of a second. Over a 30-lap run, we try to get our average up by a half-mile. That's a successful day."
Making plans: Eddie Cheever Jr. is still in the thick of the Pep Boys Million championship chase, as he is sixth in the points in his The Children's Beverage Group-Team Cheever Dallara/Infiniti/Goodyear.
While Cheever tries to close a 33-point gap to leader Scott Goodyear, he's also making plans for the 2000 Indy Racing season.
"The Nissan program is going strong, and we look forward to continued progress this season, and next season with the new engine formula," Cheever said. "We know we have the power and reliability to get the Infiniti engine into the winner's circle for the first time.
"We're evaluating all of our other vendors. Nothing is set yet, but we will field the strongest possible package in 2000."
Cheever also addressed reports that his chief mechanic, Owen Snyder III, may leave the team to start an Indy Racing team with two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. as driver.
"We would never get in anybody's way should he or any other team member want to take their careers in a different direction," Cheever said. "Owen is extremely talented. He's one of the absolute best in racing situations. However, in my opinion, at Team Cheever, every crew member has made significant contributions to our successes, and that will continue regardless of any personnel changes during the offseason.
"If Owen believes it's time to take a shot at the business side of racing, then we'll wish him the best."
Comeback continues: Chief mechanic Steve Fried will continue his recovery from serious injuries suffered during a pit-lane accident during the Indianapolis 500 when he returns to work with Conti Racing during the Colorado Indy 200 presented by Deloitte & Touche next weekend at Pikes Peak International Raceway.
Fried will operate the fuel valve on the Energizer Advanced Formula Dallara/Aurora/Firestone driven by rookie Robby McGehee.
Expanding to ice: Gary Pedigo, one of the owners of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League points-leading Pennzoil Panther Racing team, is expanding his sports ventures into hockey.
Pedigo heads up a group of investors in the process of purchasing the Indianapolis Ice team from Chicago-based owner Horn Chen. Actually, the Pedigo group is purchasing a Central Hockey League franchise as well as the assets, including the name, of the disbanded International Hockey League Indianapolis team.
A press conference is scheduled for next Wednesday to introduce the hockey partners and unveil a team logo.
Pedigo, who owns Pedigo Chevrolet/Geo, shares ownership of Pennzoil Panther Racing with San Diego Chargers quarterback Jim Harbaugh, team manager John Barnes and auto racing television producer Terry Lingner. Driver Scott Goodyear leads the standings by two points over Greg Ray heading into the Colorado Indy 500 presented by Deloitte & Touche on Aug. 29 at Pikes Peak International Speedway.
A number of race drivers attend hockey games in Indianapolis during the winter. And Panther Racing driver Scott Goodyear is a Toronto native who follows the sport closely.
Michner staying busy: Andy Michner returns to Pikes Peak International Raceway next weekend, but he will race a different vehicle than the one he drove to 16th place in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League event last year.
Michner, from Ann Arbor, Mich., has been out of an Indy Racing ride since parting company with Brant Motorsports following a 13th-place finish in March at Phoenix. Instead of being at the wheel of an Indy Racing car on Aug. 29 for the Colorado Indy 200 Presented by Deloitte & Touche, he will be in the cockpit of a USAC midget in a preliminary event.
Michner will be driving the Benchmark Products, Major League World Class, Andy Michner Motorsports Hawk chassis powered by a Kalitta engine. He continues to work toward a full-time Pep Boys Indy Racing League or NASCAR Busch Series ride for 2000.
Hot laps: Bob Riley, of Indy Racing chassis manufacturer Riley & Scott/Reynard, and his wife, Bea, were caught in Istanbul, Turkey during the earthquake that has killed thousands. Their son, Bill, tried unsuccessfully to reach them at their hotel the morning of Aug. 17. But just before he called the U.S. embassy to check on his parents, Riley received a fax from his parents informing him they were OK. The Rileys are on a 10-day cruise through the Greek Isles.
Pep Boys Indy Racing League standout Robby Unser will visit the American Red Cross Homeless Shelter in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Aug. 24. Unser will promote helmet safety to those at the shelter. Local businesses recently contributed bicycles and helmets to the shelter. The American Red Cross is the official charity of the Indy Racing League.