IRL: Pep Boys Indy Racing League Notebook 1999-04-22

PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE NOTEBOOK Barnhart-Galles Racing to debut at Charlotte By Dick Mittman indyracingleague.com INDIANAPOLIS, April 22, 1999 -- Car owner Rick Galles had decided not to field a Pep Boys Indy Racing League...

PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE NOTEBOOK Barnhart-Galles Racing to debut at Charlotte

By Dick Mittman indyracingleague.com

INDIANAPOLIS, April 22, 1999 -- Car owner Rick Galles had decided not to field a Pep Boys Indy Racing League team until the year 2000, instead he created a new racing services business utilizing members of his racing team in his Albuquerque, N.M., hometown. Driver Davey Hamilton, on the other hand, wasn't ready to toss in the towel and return to driving super modifieds and sprint cars full time for the rest of the season. So Hamilton arranged a meeting between the veteran Galles and young car owner Greg Barnhart of Chicago. Hamilton drove for Galles in the season opener at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla., and for Barnhart in the second race at Phoenix International Raceway. He recorded finishes of eighth and 27th in the two races. Barnhart flew to Albuquerque, met with Galles and they clicked immediately. The pair announced a merger, and Barnhart-Galles Racing, with Hamilton driving, will make its debut in the VisionAire 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., on May 1. "We're partners," Galles said of Barnhart. "He's a very astute businessman who catches on very quickly. He understands what has to be done." The team will be based in Galles' shop in Albuquerque. Galles has lured back Alan Mertens, who was engineer on Galles' team for Al Unser Jr. from 1988 through 1993. For Hamilton, it means he can resume chasing that elusive Pep Boys Indy Racing League championship. He has finished second in the final standings the previous two seasons. After two races, he's in 17th place, but only 66 points behind leader Scott Goodyear. "Davey's pretty happy, very excited," Galles said. "He's a very good guy, very unselfish. He needs a fair break. We're way behind. We need to get him comfortable, and he needs some races." Galles feels that as the team develops it will be able to make a strong push in the second half of the season. Darren Russell will be chief mechanic on the Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear car. The team will be sponsored by the Spinal Cord Foundation, and the car will be called the Spinal Conquest. Barnhart-Galles and the Dallas-based sponsor have signed a three-year contract. The team held its initial testing session Tuesday, April 20, at Texas Motor Speeday, a sister track to Lowe's Motor Speedway. After a sponsor deal soured on him prior to the Phoenix race, Galles retired his team and farmed his crew out to owner-driver Marco Greco for Phoenix. He started Galles Racing Services specializing in gearboxes, motors and fabrication so he would not have to lay off any of his crew. The new business will continue to operate, concentrating on Formula 2000 cars.

FATHER-SON: John Hollansworth Sr. and Jr. put on quite an exhibition at Texas Motor Speedway during an April 15 test session. John Jr., of course, was there to test his Pep Boys Indy Racing League pcsave.com/Lycos Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. Father John decided to join him with his 1917 Peerless. John Sr. will drive this car in the Great American Race from Georgia to California in June. John Jr. went much faster, naturally, but the racing media attending the session cast their votes for dad and his 80-year-old machine. "The neatest thing was to be able to be on the track with my son," the senior Hollansworth said. The younger Hollansworth topped out at 222.80 mph in testing the previous week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for his rookie assault there. At Texas, he recorded a 218.80-mph lap and admitted TeamXtreme hasn't found the balance needed on the 1.5-mile tracks yet. Some changes are being made on the setup for the VisionAire 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., on May 1. "Overall, we learned a lot tonight and it will help our performance at Charlotte," general manager John Lopes said. Hollansworth has placed 19th and 15th in his first two Pep Boys Indy Racing League races and ranks 19th in the standings.

BACK TO SCHOOL: Metro Racing's Stan Wattles will be taking his "Racing To Make A Difference" program to the Dore Academy in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday, April 27. Wattles, members of his crew and the MRS/NCLD Oldsmobile/Dallara/Goodyear car will be at the school from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The Sewall's Point, Fla., driver started the program to assist the National Center for Learning Disablilities in its efforts to increase public awareness of the various type of learning disabilities. Diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia at age 10, Wattles will also share his experiences in overcoming these disabilities.

NOT A FIRST: The Pep Boys Indy Racing League VisionAire's 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 1 is not the first time an Indy car race was held in Charlotte, N.C., in May prior to the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. But there aren't many people around today who remember the last time it happened.

In 1925, a 250-mile race at Charlotte was scheduled on May 11 at the Charlotte Speedway board track. Earl Cooper, driving a Miller, won it averaging 121.6 mph. Another race at Charlotte, this time on May 10, preceeded the 500 in 1926, and this time Earl DeVore, also driving a Miller, took the checkered flag with a speed average of 120.08 mph. In 1926, the Indy car regulars raced in Charlotte again in August and returned for a third appearance in November.

Charlotte remained on the schedule in 1927, but the dates were moved to September. Then the Indy cars did not race again in Charlotte until the Pep Boys Indy Racing League made its debut there in 1997, with Buddy Lazier winning.

There was one stop made at a track in Raleigh, N.C., in 1952. Troy Ruttman, who became at 22 the youngest winner ever (still is) of the Indy 500 that year, took home the trophy.

EDDIE DAY: Monday, April 26, 1999, will go down in the history books as Eddie Cheever Jr. Day in the city of Orlando. Mayor Glenda Hood made the announcement today.

Cheever, who is a Lake Nona (Orlando area) resident, won the TransWorld Diversified Services Indy 200 in Orlando in January at the Walt Disney World Speedway. The defending Indy 500 winner will officially receive his proclamation Monday at 2 p.m. during the City Council meeting in City Hall. The public is welcome to attend.

NEW SPONSOR: Treadway Racing has signed a two-race sponsorship agreement with Unistar Financial Service Corp. It will cover the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race on May 30 and the Longhorn 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 12.

Unistar Auto Insurance, a division of the Unistar Group, will be the title sponsor on Sam Schmidt's G Force/Aurora/Firestone at Indy and will become an associate sponsor at Texas.

"This is a unique opportunity to promote the Unistar Auto Insurance image in the marketplace," said Marc A. Sparks, chairman and CEO of the Dallas-based Unistar Financial Service Corp.

NEW VEHICLES: Tom Kelley, owner of Kelley Racing that features drivers Mark Dismore and Scott Sharp, has added a new motorized vehicle for sale through his Kelley Automotive business in Fort Wayne, Ind. At the recent Pep Boys Indy Racing League race at Phoenix, he met with officials of Titan Motorcycle Co. and agreed to sell their bikes. They cost from $30,000 to $50,000 each, and he has taken delivery of 30.

And the first proud owner of one? Tom Kelley.

AUCTION ITEMS: Three-time Indy 500 winner Johnny Rutherford, now special projects manager for the Pep Boys Indy Racing League, is honorary chairperson for the "On the Right Track . . . The Race to Prevent Brain Injury" benefit dinner for the Brain Injury Association of Indiana at Indianapolis Raceway Park on May 22.

In addition to the dinner and USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series race, there will be an auction of racing items. The list includes: An original line art drawing of Rutherford by Ron Burton; a 1:18 scale J.R. #9 sprint car donated by Gearheads Automobilia Shop; and a racing helmet signed by all the starting drivers in the 1999 Indy 500. Fifty limited prints of Burton's drawing, signed by Rutherford and Burton, will be sold. The door prize is a ride with Rutherford on a pace lap.

Tickets are $125 each or $1,150 for a table of 10. Anyone interested should call (317) 356-7722 by May 5.

NEW STATIONS: Two new radio stations -- WRAM, Monmouth, Ill., and WSLM, Salem, Ind.-- have been added to the growing national list carrying the "Track Talk" racing program.

Hosted by Mike King, "Track Talk" can be heard every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. EDT, on the Indy Racing Radio Network or live on the Internet at www.broadcast.com.

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VISIONAIRE 500 NOTEBOOK

Schedule: The VisionAire 500 starts at 8 p.m. (EDT) May 1. PPG Pole qualifying starts at 6:15 p.m. April 30. Practice sessions start at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. April 29, and 3:15 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. April 30.

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On the air: The VisionAire 500 will be televised live, starting with a 30-minute prerace show at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) May 1, on SpeedVision. It's the network's first live broadcast of a Pep Boys Indy Racing League race.

FOX Sports Net will rebroadcast the race May 6. Check local listings for air time.

SpeedVision will televise PPG Pole qualifying live at 6 p.m. (EDT) April 30.

The Indy Racing Radio Network will broadcast a 30-minute prerace show at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) May 1, followed by the live race broadcast at 8 p.m. The Charlotte-area IRRN affiliate is WSOC-FM, 103.7, Charlotte.

The IRRN race broadcast also will be available live on the Internet at www.indyracingleague.com as part of a new partnership between IRL Online and broadcast.com, the world's leading Web broadcast site.

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Tickets: Tickets are available for the VisionAire 500 on May 1. Call (704) 455-3200 for more information. Ticket information also is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.lowesmotorspeedway.com .

Source: IRL/IMS

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Buddy Lazier , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Scott Goodyear , Sam Schmidt , Stan Wattles , Greg Barnhart , Johnny Rutherford