IRL: Texas: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-06-08

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- June 8, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Interest in Patrick memorabilia booming 2. Kanaan adopts Brazilian primates 1. Interest in Patrick memorabilia booming: If you're looking for that perfect gift, a...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- June 8, 2005

Today's IRL headlines
1. Interest in Patrick memorabilia booming
2. Kanaan adopts Brazilian primates

1. Interest in Patrick memorabilia booming: If you're looking for that perfect gift, a unique memento for the coffee table or an autographed collectible from the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing," there's an online deal difficult to ignore.

Added to the Danica Patrick mania sweeping the nation is the front left wing from her No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing car for auction on eBay.

Who would want to purchase a race car part (sold as is, visible damage and all) that's not suitable for framing? Evidently many people -- especially when it is part of Indianapolis 500 history and came off the car of one of the IndyCar Series' hottest young drivers.

Panther Racing made the wing (price new about $5,000 and with the blessing of Rahal Letterman Racing) available for auction, with proceeds donated to the team's charity -- Best Buddies Indiana.

"We thought we'd have some fun with this and help raise money for Best Buddies," Panther Racing co-owner John Barnes said.

Patrick will autograph the wing this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Bidding closes June 13. Log onto www.eBay.com and search "Danica Patrick" for more information or to place a bid.

Patrick's front wing was damaged as the No. 16 car spun on Lap 154 of the 500-Mile Race and made contact with the car driven by Panther Racing's Tomas Enge. The left wing was discovered in the wreckage of Enge's No. 2 ROCKSTAR Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

Her history-making drive, which saw her become the first woman to lead the race and then finish fourth, led to a huge spike in retail sales at Indianapolis Motor Speedway retailers. IMS retail officials had to reorder merchandise bearing Patrick's name and likeness several times during May. Two "re-orders," for thousands of T-shirts, took place for Miller Lite Carb Day and Race Day.

Official Patrick merchandise also was popular outside of the Speedway. Meijer retail and grocery supercenters in the Indianapolis area sold out its stock of Reebok Patrick T-shirts. The Lids on the Road trailer sold out of Patrick hats and T-shirts by May 28, and the company's Web site also was sold out of Patrick hats. Sales of Patrick merchandise also increased in Hat World/Lids locations in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Dallas and Chicago.

The swell of attention during May and since the 500-Mile Race has kept Patrick busy. She graces the cover of the current issue of Sports Illustrated, is the subject of articles in mainstream magazines such as Glamour and Us Weekly and Time, has been a guest on TV programs such as the "Late Show with David Letterman" and "Good Morning America."

Patrick also is the subject of an ESPN special at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) June 11, preceding the network's coverage of the Bombardier Learjet 500k from Texas Motor Speedway. During the race broadcast, undoubtedly a camera will show the 20-foot by 40-foot Patrick mural that sports artist David Arrigo has been painting this week on the track's marquee near I-35W.

"As far as the spotlight part of it, I always kind of had a feeling that good things and big things would happen if I performed well," she said. "And that's just it. So long as I perform well, I am different and it's going to cause a stir. I just hope that I keep doing that. I don't really think about the female part of it.

"I'm not silly enough to think that, 'Oh, I'm a driver and I'm going fast.' I didn't win the race. But things are going well. I am breaking certain records. It just so happens that en route to breaking male records, I'm going to break the female ones. It's a story and it's good. It's good for everybody.

"I've been working very hard to make sure that the attention was focused on Indianapolis, and I think we did a good job. My focus is solely on doing well."

The next challenge will be the high-banked 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth under the lights. Patrick said experiences from three weeks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will help the remainder of this season and for her career.

"I learned how patience can be beneficial," the 23-year-old Phoenix resident said. "I learned how mistakes can be very detrimental. But in results, staying calm in all situations is powerful. You do have to stay calm, and you have to take everything as it comes, take a deep breath." *** 2. Kanaan adopts Brazilian primates: 2004 IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan, the defending champion of the Bombardier Learjet 500k at Texas Motor Speedway, arrived in the Lone Star State on Tuesday and engaged in some lighthearted monkey business at the Dallas Zoo.

Kanaan blended the relaxing visit with important contributions to the area's most prestigious zoo and his native country. Knowing Kanaan's love for primates, Texas Motor Speedway adopted a chimpanzee and a pair of Brazilian monkeys on his behalf from the Dallas Zoo's adopt-an-animal program.

He was presented the official adoption papers and framed photos of his new "children" that consisted of Toby, a 48-year-old resident of the Zoo's Chimpanzee Forest, and the duo of Gizmo and Zahavi, which are both Golden Lion Tamarins. The tamarins, which will reside in the Tamarin Tree Tops zoo area that will open July 2, will be especially close to Kanaan's heart since they are an endangered species in his native country of Brazil.

"It's great that the zoo here in Dallas is helping out with the Brazilian tamarins," Kanaan said. "I heard they are currently in quarantine right now, but hopefully when I come to Dallas later this year I can visit with them. I really appreciate this, it is special to me."

Kanaan has had a love for monkeys and gorillas since he was a child and sports a gorilla tattoo on his right bicep. The primates supposedly bring him luck and adoring fans have responded over the years by sending him stuffed ones as gifts. Now he is enjoying the real deal -- and he relished the moment at the Dallas Zoo.

"I will be a proud parent," Kanaan said of Toby. Then he told Toby through a glass barrier, "Son, listen to me. If we get in trouble, we will go after them together!"

*** The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Bombardier Learjet 500k on June 11 at the Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast by ESPN at 8:30 p.m. (EDT) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Firestone 100 on June 11 at the Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast by ESPN2 at 3 p.m. (EDT) on June 16.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Enge , Tony Kanaan , John Barnes , Danica Patrick
Teams Panther Racing