PHOENIX, Wednesday, March 8, 2000 -- At the age of 5 in his native Toronto, Scott Goodyear stood in front of a hockey net and tried to block shots. Thirty-five years later, Goodyear still is trying to block shots. Only now he moves...
PHOENIX, Wednesday, March 8, 2000 -- At the age of 5 in his native Toronto, Scott Goodyear stood in front of a hockey net and tried to block shots. Thirty-five years later, Goodyear still is trying to block shots. Only now he moves on four wheels instead of two blades. On March 19, he'll try to block the best shots of his fellow Northern Light Indy Racing Series drivers as he seeks to win his second straight MCI WorldCom Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. "You've got people shooting at you all the time," he said of his short-lived hockey career. Goodyear quickly realized that he wasn't the next Terry Sawchuk, a Hall of Famer who had moved from Detroit to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the mid-1960s. He turned to go-kart racing, attended a driving school at 19, told his mother that racing was going to be his life's profession and then spent 10 years working his way through the ranks to finally reach the Indianapolis 500 in 1990. Since then, he has come close to winning the world's most famous race three times. You may take the hockey stick out of a Canadian's hands, but you never take hockey out of his heart. Goodyear now lives in Carmel, Ind., and drives for Pennzoil Panther Racing, based in Indianapolis. The Carmel Ice Dome is not far away from Goodyear's home, and his elder son, Christopher, 8, plays in a local youth league. As a goalie, of course. Goodyear's brother Mike, four years younger, also played goalie. But Scott's hockey ties don't end there. Gary Pedigo, one of the co-owners of the Panther team, purchased the minor-league Indianapolis Ice last year and moved them to the Central Hockey League. The team has been on a tear since Jan. 1 and climbed from last to first in the Western Division. When Goodyear isn't on the road testing or watching his son play, he can be found on game nights at either Conseco Fieldhouse or Pepsi Coliseum in Indianapolis watching the Ice. "Last Saturday we had a hockey party at the team headquarters," Goodyear said. He can see similarities between that sport and racing. "Those athletes are going through hard work, travel, being away from their families with an eye toward making it to the National Hockey League," Goodyear said. "It's the same thing I did as I pursued my dream in racing, the commitments, the communication, the sacrifice. "It's a dream, the goal is there." Goodyear purchased a satellite dish so he can watch his beloved Maple Leafs and the Dallas Stars, since he is a fan of Dallas winger Brett Hull. Goodyear also has close ties to another professional league, the National Football League. Another team co-owner is Jim Harbaugh, quarterback for the San Diego Chargers of the NFL. "I listen to what Harbaugh has to go through, too," he said. Other team owners are team manager John Barnes, Doug Boles and Mike Griffin. Goodyear scored his first Indy Racing victory last March at Phoenix, beating runner-up Jeff Ward by 4.738 seconds. PIR was the first oval he ever drove on in a February 1990 test session. He won his first CART pole there in 1993. Goodyear returns to PIR this March with a completely new chassis, engine and tire package and high expectations. Goodyear drives the Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. "We're clicking along better than last year," he said. "I'm expecting more, but you can't account for luck ... or lack of it." The team has switched chassis and tires and, like the rest of the competitors, has a smaller engine (3.5 liters, downsized from last year's 4.0). The move from G Force to Dallara was made because the team feels that chassis performs better on the 1.5-mile tracks and at Indy, Goodyear said. And in an unusual circumstance, Goodyear this year is racing on Firestones. Goodyear Tire withdrew from Indy-style racing after the 1999 racing season. Goodyear drove to fourth place in the season opener, the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway in late January. Test sessions at Las Vegas and Phoenix followed. Rain hindered the Vegas segment, but he ran 356 laps at Phoenix. "We are in a learning mode," said Goodyear, whose team spent 18 days on the road during the back-to-back preparation sessions. "We were out there running and learning. There were so many new pieces the guys wanted to try. We were trying to find the sweet spot with the engine." Goodyear kicked off the 1999 season like gangbusters, taking second at Disney and winning at Phoenix. At Indy, where he wants to win so badly, he finished 27th after engine problems. He rebounded to win at Texas only to have the season slide downhill from there. He slipped from first in the standings and eventually finished ninth, just 23 points out of third place. It's something he and the team are determined to avoid this season. "It was a big disappointment to not finish at Indy," he said. "The second half we didn't have any luck at all. "Right now we're singing along on all cylinders. If we didn't win by Indy, I wouldn't be that disappointed. But I saw last year what can happen. I'm very focused to have a very good season. We've got to get back out (if there is a minor mechanic problem) and run and run and run." Like in hockey, points count.
MCI WORLDCOM INDY 200 NOTEBOOK
Schedule: The MCI WorldCom Indy 200 starts at 2 p.m. (MST) March 19. MBNA Pole Qualifying starts at 10:45 a.m. March 18. Practice sessions start at 10:45 a.m. and 2:40 p.m. (MST) March 17, 8:15 a.m. March 18 and 9:15 a.m. March 19.
On the air: The MCI WorldCom Indy 200 will be televised live on ABC at 4 p.m. (EST) March 19. "Indy Racing 2Day" will be televised live at 11 a.m. March 19 on ESPN2.
ESPN2 will televise pole qualifying at 5:30 p.m. (EST) March 18.
The Indy Racing Radio Network will broadcast a 30-minute prerace show at 3:30 p.m. (EST) March 19, followed by the live race broadcast at 4 p.m. IRRN will broadcast a qualifying show at 4 p.m. March 18.
The IRRN race broadcast also will be available live on the Internet at www.indyracingleague.com as part of a partnership between Indy Racing Online and Yahoo!/broadcast.com, the world's leading Web broadcast site.
Tickets: Tickets for the MCI WorldCom Indy 200 are available by calling (602) 252-2227.