IRL: Texas II: Indy Racing notebook 2003-10-09

Phil Casey golf event Oct. 13; Wheldon to sport Andretti's number, colors INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2003 -- The 13th annual Phil Casey Indy Racing Golf Tournament will take place Monday, Oct. 13 at the Tour 18 Golf Course in Fort Worth, ...

Phil Casey golf event Oct. 13; Wheldon to sport Andretti's number, colors

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2003 -- The 13th annual Phil Casey Indy Racing Golf Tournament will take place Monday, Oct. 13 at the Tour 18 Golf Course in Fort Worth, Texas, the day after the IRL IndyCarTM Series' season-ending Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The popular event attracts players from all aspects of the Indy Racing League, including drivers, team members, corporate sponsors and fans Proceeds from the charity golf tournament will benefit the Pediatric Diabetes Center at Valley Children's Hospital (VCH) in Fresno, Calif., and the Shriners Hospital.

"I watched my granddaughter struggle with diabetes, and I wanted to help other kids with the disease," said Casey, the Indy Racing League's senior technical director. "I really have a soft spot for kids."

Casey's granddaughter, Jennifer Burkhart, was treated at the Pediatric Diabetes Center at VCH, and the facility has received half of the tournament proceeds since the event's inception. A second charity, chosen annually by a driver, receives the other half of the donated funds. Two-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. has selected the Shriners Hospitals to receive funds from the 2003 tournament. Hornish is a member of the Shriners and the defending champion of the tournament.

Shriners Hospitals are located in 22 areas in North America. Patient care, transportation and surgery are provided free of charge for those under the age of 18. Services provided included spinal surgery, burn treatment, cranial/facial surgery, cleft-palate surgery and prosthesis.

"I am very grateful to have my charity chosen," Hornish said. "The money will go to many deserving kids."

Casey first organized a postseason golf tournament in 1990, following the CART race at Laguna Seca, Calif. Since then, the annual outing has raised more than $141,000. This year, organizers are hoping to surpass the $38,000 raised at the 2002 tournament, the highest one-day total.

"I really want to thank the racers over the years for supporting this event," Casey said. "The early years proved to be a struggle just to break even, but now with enthusiastic support from the racing community, we are starting to see great results."

Wheldon to sport Andretti's number, colors:

When Michael Andretti retired after the 87th Indianapolis 500 on May 25, rookie Dan Wheldon lost one of the most valuable teammates in IndyCar Series racing. But he also gained one of the best crews in the series, as Andretti's supporting cast moved to Wheldon's No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone beginning with the Bombardier 500 on June 7 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Since then, Wheldon has acquired much more from Andretti -- knowledge and information -- that has helped make him a familiar sight in and around the top five since mid-summer. Now as the series prepares to return to Texas for the season finale Oct. 12, Wheldon is picking up a few more things from Andretti -- his number, his colors and his sponsor, Team 7-Eleven.

Wheldon, who has driven his red-white-and-black No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam entry to within four points of the Bombardier Rookie of the Year crown, will try to secure that title and his first career victory behind the wheel of the No. 7 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. As a teammate to Tony Kanaan, Wheldon's ride will carry the predominantly green-and-white paint scheme that defined Andretti's car at the start of the season but also will include a significant Klein Tools and Jim Beam presence.

Wheldon, who has recorded four top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 13 starts this season, is hoping to add to Team 7-Eleven's impressive 2003 statistical record with his one-race contribution at Texas. In a combined 19 starts by Andretti and Kanaan this year, Team 7-Eleven entries have scored three poles, one victory, 10 top fives, 14 top 10s and have led 349 laps.

Castroneves in Vegas:

Helio Castroneves was in Las Vegas last weekend to attend the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation "Grand Slam" event Oct. 4 at the MGM Grand.

More than 6,300 fans crowded the facility to see Sheryl Crow, Billy Joel, Sir Elton John, Dennis Miller and Robin Williams, along with surprise appearances by Sarah McLachlan and Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears. Grammy Award-winning producer David Foster served as the musical coordinator for the eighth year.

More than 2,100 VIP's attended a pre-concert reception and dinner, during which Castroneves and his girlfriend, Isabella, sat with international singing artist Josh Groban and his date, January Jones of "American Wedding" and "Anger Management." After the concert, Castroneves went backstage to rub elbows with the entertainers before heading to the after party at Emeril Lagasse's New Orleans Fish House at the hotel.

The event featured a silent auction for which Castroneves donated a meet-and-greet, a ride in a two-seat IndyCar Series car, a ride in the official IndyCar Series Pace Car and a pair of tickets to next year's 2004 IndyCar Series season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which sold for $65,000. The event raised nearly $13 million overall for the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation.

Ray meets other No. 13's:

IndyCar Series owner/driver Greg Ray, a native of Plano, Texas, and driver of the No. 13 TrimSpa Special Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone, met other famous No. 13's of the Dallas sports scene, Bill Guerin of the NHL's Dallas Stars and Steve Nash of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks.

Guerin, an All-Star right wing, and Nash, an All-Star point guard, both sport the No. 13 on their jerseys. The "13 trio" met Oct. 8 before the Stars' home season opener, trading memorabilia and wishing each other luck.

"Obviously living in the Dallas area all my life, I've always been a big Mavericks' and Stars' fan," Ray said. "I'm a season-ticket holder with the Mavericks and go to Stars' games all the time. I'm a huge fan of Steve Nash, and Bill Guerin has been an incredible player ever since he became a professional. When I chose the No. 13 this year, I didn't really reflect on all the other great athletes that wear that number, as well."

Hot laps:

IndyCar Series standout Robbie Buhl will present a Chevy Tahoe to the national winner of the Clean Sweeps Giveaway just before the Chevy 500 on Oct. 12. Firestone, Purex and Chevrolet conducted the season-long promotion. Should Buhl win the race, the yet-to-be-named winner will earn an additional $100,000 -- Menards Infiniti Pro Series champion Mark Taylor recently was engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Vanessa Morgans. Taylor proposed on Morgans' birthday, Sept. 27.

-irl-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Mark Taylor , Greg Ray , Robbie Buhl , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Williams