IRL: Pep Boys IRL Weekly Notebook 98-08-24

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 24, 1998 - Notes and quotes from the Pep Boys Indy Racing League: Roberto rewarded: The CBR team has hired driver Roberto Guerrero for the rest of the season after his impressive debut with the team during the Radisson 200 on...

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 24, 1998 - Notes and quotes from the Pep Boys Indy Racing League:

Roberto rewarded: The CBR team has hired driver Roberto Guerrero for the rest of the season after his impressive debut with the team during the Radisson 200 on Aug. 16 at Pikes Peak International Raceway, team spokesman George Giles said. Guerrero qualified 10th in the team's G Force/Infiniti/Firestone, tying the best qualifying effort ever by an Infiniti engine in the Indy Racing League. Guerrero was fourth during the race when his day ended after 106 of 200 laps due to an ignition problem. Guerrero joined the new team, owned by sports car driver Price Cobb, in mid-July. The team's next race is the Atlanta 500 Classic presented by MCI on Aug. 29 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.


Blast from the past: Pennzoil Panther Racing co-owner John Barnes and Hemelgarn Racing team manager Lee Kunzman have vivid memories of an Indy -style race in 1979 at Atlanta Motor Speedway as they return to Georgia this weekend for the inaugural Pep Boys Indy Racing League event at AMS, the Atlanta 500 Classic presented by MCI on Aug. 29.

Kunzman was a driver then, and Barnes was his crew chief. Kunzman raced three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford side-by-side for the victory in a 125-mile race April 22, 1979 at AMS but settled for second behind Lone Star J.R.

"I remember just how fast that place was and how exciting it was to race Indy cars in the South," Barnes said. "Kunzman drove a heck of a race, and we just came up about a half a lap short. It was our best race of the year."

Much has changed since those days. Barnes now is one of the owners of the Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Goodyear driven by Scott Goodyear. Kunzman manages the team that fields the Hemelgarn Racing-Delta Faucet-Coors Light Dallara/Aurora/Firestone driven by 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier.

Even the track is different this time. AMS was a 1.522-mile oval until a multimillion-dollar renovation project changed the track to a 1.54-mile quad-oval. There are many more grandstand seats and spectator amenities now, too.

"Coming back to Atlanta isn't anything like I remember it," Barnes said of the test. "The place is huge now. The facility is spectacular, and when the lights come on at this track you can't believe how fast the cars seem like they're travelling. The Pep Boys IRL series is going to put on an awesome show here. I can't wait."

Goodyear was one of the fastest drivers in prerace testing at 223.508 mph.


Cheever gets carded: Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine honored 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr. in its September issue by including a trading card with a photo of Cheever's Rachel's Gourmet Potato Chips-Team Cheever Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear at speed and an inset photo of Cheever in Victory Circle at Indianapolis.

The magazine includes trading cards of prominent athletes in every issue. Besides Cheever, this month's issue features cards of football players Bruce Smith and Eddie George, baseball pitcher Curt Schilling, basketball player Antoine Walker and tennis player Aranxta Sanchez Vicario.

Sports Illustrated for Kids has a circulation of 1.06 million.


Skiing for others: Greg Martin, fueler for the Metro Racing Systems team owned by driver Stan Wattles, has established a ski racing program for people with physical disabilities through the non-profit Ski For All organization in Seattle.

Martin is an avid alpine skier, climber and hiker. He also helps disabled hikers during the summer when he's not at the track. "It helps people with disabilities focus on what they can do, rather than what they can't do," Martin said of his charity work.


Cheever racing for a cause: Indianapolis 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr. will help young cancer victims with every lap that he completes in the Atlanta 500 Classic presented by MCI on Aug. 29 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Team Cheever has united with the CURE Childhood Cancer in a pledge-a-thon. Atlanta's CURE volunteers are raising pledges for every lap that Cheever completes during the 208-lap race. If Cheever completes the entire race, an average 10-cent pledge, for example, would raise $20.80 for Georgia's children with cancer.

Cheever, teammate Robby Unser and many other Pep Boys Indy Racing League drivers will take part in the "Rock and Race Suite" party Aug. 28 at AMS. The CURE teen-age group will watch Pep Boys Indy Racing League qualifying from one of the luxury suites, with no parents allowed. Cheever, Unser and other drivers will join the kids later that evening to sign autographs and take part in the festivities.


Speed racer: Gary Frost, the lead mechanic for standout rookie Robby Unser, set a land speed record recently at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Frost drove a 1966 Ford Mustang Fastback to a record speed of 233 mph in the D Blown Gas Coupe class Aug. 19 during Bonneville Speedweeks. Frost broke the record of 231 mph set by his father last year. In 1995, Gary set the record at 212 mph in the class.

The Frost's have raced the Mustang since 1993. They built the car together. Gary Frost now will concentrate on turning the wrenches on Unser's The Children's Beverage Group-Team Cheever G Force/Aurora/Goodyear this weekend during the Atlanta 500 Classic presented by MCI at Atlanta Motor Speedway.


Paper promotes pole day in Texas: The Dallas Morning News is sponsoring qualifying day for the Lone Star 500 on Sept. 18 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The Lone Star 500, the penultimate event of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League season, takes place Sept. 20 on the 1.5-mile quad-oval at TMS. Dallas Morning News Pole Day coupons became available in the Dallas Morning News on Aug. 14. The coupons can be clipped from the newspaper and exchanged for a general admission, pole day ticket beginning Sept. 1 at the speedway ticket office or on qualifying day at the gate.

"We are excited to be working with the Dallas Morning News on this endeavor," said TMS general manager Eddie Gossage. "The Dallas Morning News is one of the premier media outlets in the metroplex, and we believe the circulation of the newspaper will help promote our race weekend."


Next event: Atlanta 500 Classic presented by MCI, Aug. 29, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, Ga. Tickets are available by calling AMS at (770) 946-4211.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Scott Goodyear , Roberto Guerrero , Price Cobb , Stan Wattles , Robby Unser , John Barnes , Johnny Rutherford
Teams Panther Racing