IRL: Pep Boys Indy Racing League: Notebook 99-04-28

Simon thinks G Force may have found new secrets of speed By Dick Mittman and Paul Kelly INDIANAPOLIS, April 28, 1999 -- Dick Simon, a veteran of nearly 30 years in Indy Racing, knows that if you can hide the rear...

Simon thinks G Force may have found new secrets of speed

By Dick Mittman and Paul Kelly

INDIANAPOLIS, April 28, 1999 -- Dick Simon, a veteran of nearly 30 years in Indy Racing, knows that if you can hide the rear tires on a single-seat race car from the wind, the car will go faster. Simon believes the G Force engineers have found some secrets to do just that, and those tricks will make his driver, Stephan Gregoire, a top-five contender in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League VisionAire 500 May 1 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C. "The G Force engineers provided some suspension parts for our team at the Indy test (three weeks ago), which reduced the width at the rear of the car for high-speed tracks, and it worked really well," Simon said. "By reducing the rear track on our car and tucking the tires into the bodywork, we can reduce the wind resistance at high speed. And because Charlotte, like Indy, is a high-speed oval, we can still take advantage of the downforce created by the underbody wind tunnels on our G Force." Gregoire, the friendly French driver of the Mexmil-Tokheim-Viking Air Tools G Force/Aurora/Firestone, ranks 10th in the season points after two races. He started 25th and finished 16th in the opener at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla., and advanced from 19th to 10th at Phoenix International Raceway. He was running at the finish of both. "I have finished eighth place at Charlotte in my last two races there, so I know the track pretty well," Gregoire said. "Indy was a good test for me and it was the first time I have driven this car at high speed and it felt good." Gregoire added he is working well with Simon.


Teams lend helping hand: Many Pep Boys Indy Racing League teams are reaching out to Mark Kintgen, a teen-ager wounded in the tragic shootings last week at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. Kintgen is an avid Indy Racing fan, and league teams are helping to boost his spirits during his recovery by sending him notes, autographed pictures, hats, T-shirts and other racing memorabilia. Bradley Motorsports and driver Buzz Calkins will carry a "Get well Mark" decal on its Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear during the VisionAire 500 on May 1 at Charlotte, N.C. Calkins hails from Denver. Littleton is a Denver suburb.


First timers: Eight Pep Boys Indy Racing League drivers will be racing on the 1?-mile oval at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the first time May 1 in the VisionAire 500 at Charlotte, N.C. Two of those drivers -- Mike Borkowski and Robby McGehee -- also will be making their first Pep Boys Indy Racing League starts. Others participating for the first time will be Roberto Moreno, John Hollansworth Jr., Scott Harrington, Johnny Unser and Stan Wattles. Moreno, the worldly veteran from Brazil, will make his second start for the new Truscelli Team Racing, while Unser will make his initial season start as 1997 Charlotte winner Buddy Lazier's teammate with the Hemelgarn Racing. Hollansworth Jr. and Harrington both are contending for the league's Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year award. Harrington is ninth in the overall point standings after two races, Hollansworth 19th. Florida's Wattles rejoins the circuit after finishing 24th in the season-opening TransWorld Diversified Services Indy 200 at Orlando, Fla. *** New chief: Owner-driver Stan Wattles has hired John West as new chief mechanic for his Metro Racing Systems team, starting with the VisionAire 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C. West formerly worked for Dan Gurney's All-America Racers team in CART. *** Track owner: Driver Ronnie Johncox, who passed his Rookie Orientation Program test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier this month, is partner in the purchase of Michigan Ideal Speedway in Springport, Mich. The 3/8-mile asphalt oval is located a short distance northwest of his Jackson, Mich. home. *** Taking last step: One spot better: That's where Jeff Ward wants to finish in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League VisionAire 500 Saturday night at the Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C. Ward was chased down and beaten by Kenny Brack in last July's race on the fast 1 1/2-mile oval. Brack went on to win the next two races and won the Pep Boys Million as season champion. Ward returns this year with a new team. He joined Pagan Racing barely two weeks before the MCI WorldCom 200 at Phoenix International Raceway and quickly charged to second place behind winner Scott Goodyear. The pair of Dallaras team manager Jack Pegues brought to Phoenix had not raced since Stevie Reeves made his league debut with the team last summer at Charlotte. Crew chief Mitch Davis installed the update kit on the cars, and Ward did the rest. "It's hard not to be competitive with Jeff behind the wheel," team co-owner Allan Pagan said. Ward is excited about his chances, too. "I think we've got a handle on what the car's going to do and we'll be able to have enough adjustment in the car for me to be able to go whichever way I need to go without pulling into the pits," he said. "I love racing under the lights. It makes the cars even more spectacular."

*** The night time is the right time: Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk will be in the television booth for SpeedVision's live broadcast of the VisionAire 500 on May 1, and he probably will have plenty of unique perspective about racing under the lights. Take this pithy observation about Lowe's Motor Speedway, for example: "It is always fun to drive under the lights," Luyendyk said. "And with the condos and high grandstands around the track, from the cockpit at high speeds it always reminded me of a giant fishbowl surrounded by Manhattan buildings." Luyendyk will make his Indy Racing farewell in the Indianapolis 500 on May 30. Sam Schmidt, his Treadway Racing teammate, will drive for the team in the VisionAire 500 and join Luyendyk behind the wheel at Indy. *** Exciting times for Cheever: Pep Boys Indy Racing League star Eddie Cheever Jr. has enjoyed quite a bit of excitement this week and is preparing for even more this weekend during the VisionAire 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C. Cheever was honored by the Florida House of Representatives when it passed a resolution making April 27 "Eddie Cheever Jr. Day" in the state. Cheever lives in Orlando. He also has won the TransWorld Diversified Services Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway twice. Florida Governor Jeb Bush, son of former President George Bush, also issued a similar proclamation April 19 honoring Cheever. "It is an incredible honor for me to be recognized by a state I love to call home," Cheever said. "I travel around the country and the world over 70 percent of the year on business, but I can't wait to get back to Florida. I deeply appreciate Florida allowing me the opportunity to represent them." Cheever also plans on plenty of thrills during the VisionAire 500 this weekend at Charlotte. He will use an Infiniti engine in competition for the first time after switching from the Aurora powerplant earlier this month. "With our decision to move to Infiniti, we are at the low end of the learning curve," Cheever said. "Charlotte is a godsend, which is allowing us more time with our new program. "I love coming here. Charlotte has always been an exciting venue for our cars, and with the recent tests here, teams have been reaching similar speeds to what we post at Indy. Doing 222 mph on a 2.5-mile track is one thing, but doing it on a 1.5-mile superspeedway, three deep into the turns, spells only one thing - excitement." *** Keeping busy: Veteran open-wheel driver Brian Tyler is searching for a ride for the Indianapolis 500, but he's also keeping busy in USAC open-wheel racing. As the USAC sprinters head into this weekend's trio of events, Tyler holds down a familiar position -- first -- in the point standings. Dave Steele, who will drive in the VisionAire 500 Saturday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., holds down fifth in the sprint standings. He trails Tyler, 134-68. Tyler drove in nine Pep Boys Indy Racing League events last year and in the season-opening TransWorld Diversified Services Indy 200 this year.


Goes for two more: Marc-Antoine Camirand of St. Leonard d'Aston, Quebec, seeks his second and third straight victories in the U.S. F2000 National Championship as the support races to the Pep Boys Indy Racing League VisionAire 500 Saturday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C. A 30-lap race will take place at 8 p.m. Friday night and a second set for 6 p.m. Saturday. Camirand won the season opener at Phoenix last month. The Pep Boys Indy Racing League sponsors the Road to Indy Oval Crown championship. Holding fifth in the standings after the first race is Mark Dismore, son of Pep Boys Indy Racing League standout Mark Dismore.

*** Hot laps: Driver Roberto Moreno and Truscelli Team Racing tested April 22 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, turning a best lap of 219.16 mph. Moreno turned many consistent laps around 219 mph in the team's Warner Bros. G Force/Aurora/Goodyear

League points leader Scott Goodyear was honored last week when his driver's suit from the MCI WorldCom 200 last month at Phoenix - his first league victory - was put on display in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum

"Track Talk," the weekly motorsports show on the Indy Racing Radio Network, continues to grow in popularity. The show added this week its 50th affiliate since its debut in January, WJFK-AM 1300 in Baltimore. WJFK also is the flagship station of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens

1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. will participate in a chat session with fans from 6-7 p.m. (EDT) May 3 at the team's World Wide Web site,

Pep Boys Indy Racing League standout Robbie Buhl visited youngsters April 28 at the Presbyterian Hemby Children's Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., as part of his work with Racing for Kids, a national non-profit organization that raises awareness for health care and fundraising for children's hospitals around the country.

Source: IRL/IMS

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buzz Calkins , Robby McGehee , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Jeff Ward , Arie Luyendyk , Mark Dismore , Scott Goodyear , Roberto Moreno , Kenny Brack , Marc-Antoine Camirand , Sam Schmidt , Dan Gurney , Dave Steele , Brian Tyler , Scott Harrington , Ronnie Johncox , Mike Borkowski , Stan Wattles , Johnny Unser , Stevie Reeves , Paul Kelly , Dick Simon